Stewart in 1963
William D. Stewart
|Died||June 20, 1979 (aged 37)|
|Cause of death||Execution by shooting|
|Known for||Murdered by the National Guard (Nicaragua)|
William D. "Bill" Stewart (1941 – June 20, 1979) was an American journalist with ABC News who was murdered by Nicaraguan government National Guard ("Guardia") forces while reporting on the Nicaraguan Revolution as Sandinista rebel forces were closing in on the capital city of Managua in 1979.Footage of his execution was repeatedly broadcast on network television, resulting in an uproar in the United States against the Somoza regime.
ABC News is the news division of the American Broadcasting Company (ABC). Its flagship program is the daily evening newscast ABC World News Tonight with David Muir; other programs include morning news-talk show Good Morning America, Nightline, Primetime, and 20/20, and Sunday morning political affairs program This Week with George Stephanopoulos.
The Nicaraguan Revolution encompassed the rising opposition to the Somoza dictatorship in the 1960s and 1970s, the campaign led by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) to violently oust the dictatorship in 1978–79, the subsequent efforts of the FSLN to govern Nicaragua from 1979 until 1990, and the Contra War, which was waged between the FSLN-led government of Nicaragua and the United States-backed Contras from 1981-1990.
The Sandinista National Liberation Front is a socialist political party in Nicaragua. Its members are called Sandinistas[sandiˈnistas] in both English and Spanish. The party is named after Augusto César Sandino, who led the Nicaraguan resistance against the United States occupation of Nicaragua in the 1930s.
Stewart was from West Virginia and was a 1963 graduate of The Ohio State University. While at Ohio State, he was active in many extracurricular activities including the Student Senate and the Sphinx honorary society, as well as a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity.He came to ABC News from WCCO-TV in Minneapolis. He was an experienced foreign correspondent, and his assignments included coverage of the Iranian Revolution in February 1979. He had been in Nicaragua for 10 days reporting on the civil war between the Somoza dynasty and the leftist Sandinistas.
West Virginia is a state located in the Appalachian region of the Southern United States, and is also considered to be a part of the Mid-Atlantic Southeast Region. It is bordered by Pennsylvania to the north, Maryland to the east and northeast, Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, and Ohio to the northwest. West Virginia is the 41st largest state by area, and is ranked 38th in population. The capital and largest city is Charleston.
Alpha Tau Omega (ΑΤΩ), commonly known as ATO, is an American social fraternity founded at the Virginia Military Institute in 1865. The fraternity has around 250 active and inactive chapters and colonies in the United States and has initiated more than 250,000 members. VMI Cadets are no longer associated with the fraternity. In 1885, the VMI Board of Visitors ruled that cadets could no longer join fraternities based on the belief that allegiance to a fraternal group undermined the cohesiveness of and loyalty to the Corps of Cadets.
WCCO-TV, virtual channel 4, is a CBS owned-and-operated television station licensed to Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States and serving the Twin Cities television market. The station is owned by the CBS Television Stations subsidiary of CBS Corporation. WCCO-TV's studios are located on South 11th Street along Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis, and its transmitter is located at the Telefarm complex in Shoreview, Minnesota.
On June 20, 1979, Stewart was traveling in a press van in the eastern slums of the capital city of Managua with his camera and sound crew when they were stopped at a roadblock run by the Nicaraguan Guardia, President Anastasio Somoza Debayle's main force. The van was clearly marked as a press vehicle as a precaution, which had become standard practice as the insurgency and revolution increased in intensity.On the previous day, the government newspaper Novedades had run an editorial describing foreign journalists as "part of the vast network of communist propaganda".
Anastasio "Tachito" Somoza DeBayle was a Nicaraguan dictator and officially the President of Nicaragua from 1 May 1967 to 1 May 1972 and from 1 December 1974 to 17 July 1979. As head of the National Guard, he was de facto ruler of the country from 1967 to 1979. He was the last member of the Somoza family to be President, ending a dynasty that had been in power since 1936. After being overthrown in an insurrection led by the Sandinista National Liberation Front, he fled Nicaragua and power was ceded to the Junta of National Reconstruction. He was eventually assassinated while in exile in Paraguay.
Stewart and his 26 year-old Nicaraguan interpreter Juan Francisco Espinoza exited the vehicle and approached the barricade.Stewart presented official press credentials issued by the office of the Nicaraguan president. When they were a few meters away from the soldiers, cameraman Jack Clark began filming from inside the van. A guardsman ordered the men to separate, and Stewart was ordered first to kneel and then to lie face down on the ground. A soldier approached him, kicked him once in the ribs, then stepped back and shot him behind his right ear, killing him instantly. Espinoza was shot to death off-camera by a different soldier, apparently before Stewart was killed, after he approached the guards to ask their permission for an interview. Pablo Tiffer López was driving the ABC van, and he testified that a soldier remarked of Stewart, "I'm sure he's no journalist. He's a dog." He also testified that the soldiers commanded the news crew to report that a Sandinista sniper was responsible.
Stewart was 37 years old. He was survived by his wife Myrna and his parents.His body was retrieved by his crew and flown on an Air Force C-130 from Nicaragua to Panama, then transferred to an airplane sent by ABC and returned to the United States. He was buried in Ashland, Kentucky.
Ashland is a home rule-class city in Boyd County, Kentucky, in the United States. Ashland, the largest city in Boyd County, is located upon the southern bank of the Ohio River. The population was 21,684 at the 2010 census. Ashland is a part of the Huntington-Ashland metropolitan area; with a population of 363,000. Ashland is the second-largest city within the MSA, after Huntington, West Virginia. Ashland serves as an important economic and medical center for northeast Kentucky and is part of the seventh-largest metropolitan area in Kentucky. As it is the largest city in North Eastern Kentucky the Kentucky population of Huntington West Virginia's Metropolitan area was 85,804 in 2018. Making it the seventh largest metropolitan area in the state, and tenth largest population center when including micropolitan areas.
The news crew smuggled the footage out of the country and sent it to New York.ABC, NBC, and CBS all ran it on their evening news broadcasts and repeatedly rebroadcast it in the following days. Millions of viewers in the United States and worldwide reacted with shock and outrage towards the Somoza regime. All three networks protested the killings by withdrawing their personnel from the country, with only CBS leaving a single correspondent to cover the conflict. President Jimmy Carter issued a statement describing the murder as "an act of barbarism that all civilized people condemn."
The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) is an American English-language commercial terrestrial television network that is a flagship property of NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast. The network is headquartered at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, with additional major offices near Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia. The network is one of the Big Three television networks. NBC is sometimes referred to as the "Peacock Network", in reference to its stylized peacock logo, introduced in 1956 to promote the company's innovations in early color broadcasting. It became the network's official emblem in 1979.
CBS is an American English language commercial broadcast television and radio network that is a flagship property of CBS Corporation. The company is headquartered at the CBS Building in New York City with major production facilities and operations in New York City and Los Angeles.
James Earl Carter Jr. is an American politician and philanthropist who served as the 39th president of the United States from 1977 to 1981. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served as a Georgia State Senator from 1963 to 1967 and as the 76th Governor of Georgia from 1971 to 1975. After his presidency, Carter has remained active in the private sector; in 2002, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in co-founding the Carter Center.
Shortly after the killings, the Nicaraguan national guard reported that they had arrested Corporal Lorenzo Brenes ("Brenis" in some reports), the corporal responsible for Stewart's murder, and that he would be "brought before legal officers".Brenes had been in command of the roadblock, and he testified before a military tribunal that he had not witnessed the shootings. He said that Stewart's killer was a "Private González" who was killed in combat later the same day. Brenes testified that the private related to him that he had killed Stewart "because he tried to run away". The ultimate fates are not known of the Guardia soldiers responsible for the killings of Stewart and Espinoza due to the chaotic demise of Somoza's military regime. Somoza fled Nicaragua for Miami on July 17, and the regime was overthrown on July 19, 1979, less than a month after Stewart's murder.
A fictional version of Stewart's murder was told in the 1983 film, Under Fire , starring Gene Hackman, Nick Nolte, and Joanna Cassidy.Hackman's Alex Grazier and Nolte's Russell Price are amalgamations of Bill Stewart's life and career as a journalist and war correspondent. In the film, Stewart's death is presented differently: Hackman's character is shot in the chest while standing up, and his death is captured in a series of still images by Nolte's character, who escapes from the scene in a hail of gunfire. As in Stewart's case, the images are shown to television audiences around the world, and the public outcry signals the end for the embattled Somoza dictatorship.
Nicaragua is the third least densely populated nation in Central America, with a demographic similar in size to its smaller neighbors. It is located about midway between Mexico and Colombia, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. Nicaragua ranges from the Caribbean Sea on the nation's east coast, and the Pacific Ocean bordering the west. Nicaragua also possesses a series of islands and cays located in the Caribbean Sea.
Augusto C. Sandino, who's complete name was Augusto Nicolás Calderón de Sandino y José de María Sandino, was a Nicaraguan revolutionary and leader of a rebellion between 1927 and 1933 against the U.S. military occupation of Nicaragua. He was called a "bandit" by the United States government; his exploits made him a hero throughout much of Latin America, where he became a symbol of resistance to United States domination. Sandino drew units of the United States Marine Corps into an undeclared guerrilla war. The United States troops withdrew from the country in 1933 after overseeing the election and inauguration of President Juan Bautista Sacasa, who had returned from exile. The recall of the Marines was largely due to the Great Depression.
Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Cardenal was a Nicaraguan journalist and publisher. He was the editor of La Prensa, the only significant opposition newspaper to the long rule of the Somoza family. He is a 1977 laureate of the Maria Moors Cabot Prize of the University of Columbia. He married Violeta Barrios de Chamorro who later went on to become President of Nicaragua (1990-1996). In 1978, he was shot to death, one of the precipitating events of the overthrow of the Somoza regime the following year.
Anastasio Somoza Portocarrero is a Nicaraguan heir, Colonel and businessman.
Francisco Urcuyo Maliaños was a Nicaraguan politician, who served as Vice President of Anastasio Somoza Debayle from May 1967 to May 1972. He was born in Rivas.
Miguel Obando y Bravo was a Nicaraguan prelate of the Catholic Church. He was the Archbishop of Managua from 1970 to 2005. Pope John Paul II created him a cardinal in 1985.
La Prensa is a Nicaraguan newspaper, with offices in the capital Managua. Its current daily circulation is placed at 42,000.
Adolfo Calero Portocarrero was a Nicaraguan businessman and the leader of the Nicaraguan Democratic Force, the largest rebel group of the Contras, opposing the Sandinista government.
Carlos Alberto Brenes Jarquín was the President of Nicaragua from 9 June 1936 to 1 January 1937. He was a member of the Nationalist Liberal Party. Brenes was the president of the lower chamber of National Congress of Nicaragua in 1933. He was installed as president by national guard commander Anastasio Somoza Garcia following a military coup on 9 June 1936, and remained in office until Somoza became president on January 1, 1937.
Nora Josefina Astorga Gadea de Jenkins was a Nicaraguan guerrilla fighter in the Nicaraguan Revolution, a lawyer, politician, judge and the Nicaraguan ambassador to the United Nations from 1986 to 1988.
Édgar Chamorro Coronel is an ousted leader of the Nicaraguan rebel Contras who later became a critic of the rebels and their Central Intelligence Agency sponsors, even cooperating with the Sandinista government in their World Court case, Nicaragua v. United States. He is a member of the prominent Chamorro family that provided five of Nicaragua's past presidents.
Under Fire is a 1983 American political thriller film set during the last days of the Nicaraguan Revolution that ended the Somoza regime in 1979 Nicaragua. Directed by Roger Spottiswoode, it stars Nick Nolte, Gene Hackman and Joanna Cassidy. The musical score by Jerry Goldsmith, which featured well-known jazz guitarist Pat Metheny, was nominated for an Academy Award. The editing by Mark Conte and John Bloom was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Editing. The film was shot in the Mexican states of Chiapas and Oaxaca.
Tomás Borge Martínez was a cofounder of the Sandinista National Liberation Front in Nicaragua and was Interior Minister of Nicaragua during one of the administrations of Daniel Ortega. He was also a renowned statesman, writer, and politician. Tomás Borge also held the titles of "Vice-Secretary and President of the FSLN", member of the Nicaraguan Parliament and National Congress, and Ambassador to Peru. Considered a hardliner, he led the "prolonged people's war" tendency within the FSLN until his death.
Idania de Los Angeles Fernandez, born July 23, 1952 in Managua, Nicaragua, assassinated in captivity in Leon, Nicaragua April 16, 1979. Martyr of the Nicaraguan Revolution. Scholars in US universities have placed her name next to Camilo Torres Restrepo, Che Guevara, José Martí in that they shared a profound sensitivity toward injustice.
In 1979, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) overthrew Anastasio Somoza Debayle, ending the Somoza dynasty, and established a revolutionary government in Nicaragua. Following their seizure of power, the Sandinistas ruled the country first as part of a Junta of National Reconstruction. Following the resignation of centrist members from this Junta, the FSLN took exclusive power in March 1981.
Canal 6 is a Nicaraguan terrestrial television channel broadcasting from the city of Managua, owned and operated by the Government of Nicaragua.
Camilo Ortega Saavedra (1950-1978) was a Nicaraguan revolutionary and the younger brother of Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega and former Nicaraguan Minister of Defense Humberto Ortega.