The Cold War defined geopolitics for much of the 20th century, often turning local conflicts and regional politics into large, proxy battles between the United States and Soviet Union. In 1979 the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) successfully ousted Nicaragua’s Somoza regime, ending four decades of dictatorship. Almost immediately after the revolution, though, the remnants of the old regime began fighting back. These new rebel fighters, the Contras, received support from the American CIA as early as 1981.
The revolution set the stage for one of the strangest episodes of the Cold War, the Iran-Contra affair, in which US officials, in the name of supporting rebel fighters in Central America, would turn to cloak-and-dagger deals with the Islamic Republic of Iran.