For 29 hours, beginning the morning of August 7, 29 Witness for Peace (WFP) members, 14 journalists, and nine Nicaraguan crew members were held hostage by contras in Costa Rica.
Before the Witness for Peace team left Managua to travel the San Juan River, which separates Nicaragua and Costa Rica, they received indication that their trip would be dangerous. On Sunday, August 4, Eden Pastora, leader of the Revolutionary Democratic Alliance (ARDE) contra force, said his soldiers would shoot at Witness for Peace members on the river. After much prayerful consideration, the team decided to go ahead with its "Peace Flotilla."
They left El Castillo, Nicaragua, on Tuesday, August 6, and began heading down the river to La Penca. They spent the evening there and were on their way back to El Castillo on Wednesday, August 7, when a shot was fired across their boat and contras pulled them over to the Costa Rican side of the river. When the team was released the next morning—unharmed—we were extremely grateful.
On August 15, in our Washington, B.C. offices, we interviewed Ed Griffin-Nolan, co-coordinator of WFP in Managua, who was among those taken hostage, and his wife Elizabeth Griffin-Nolan, Managua coordinator of short-term delegations, who worked throughout the crisis in the Managua office of Witness for Peace.
The story behind the incident and a full accounting of the kidnapping and the identity of their captors follows. —The Editors
Sojourners: How was the project to take a Witness for Peace delegation on the San Juan River conceived?