Benjamin Ernest "Ben" Linder (July 7, 1959 – April 28, 1987), was an American engineer. While working on a small hydroelectric dam in rural northern Nicaragua Linder was killed by the Contras, a loose confederation of rebel groups funded by the U.S. government. Coming at a time when U.S. support for the Contras was already highly controversial, Linder's death made front-page headlines around the world and further polarized opinion in the United States.
The California-born Linder graduated from Adams High School in Portland, Oregon in 1977. While in College at the University of Washington, Linder enjoyed juggling and was often seen around Seattle riding a 5-to-6-foot-tall (1.5 to 1.8 m) unicycle. He graduated in 1983, with a degree in mechanical engineering. He left his Oregon home that summer and moved to Managua, the capital of Nicaragua.
Linder felt inspired by the 1979 Sandinista revolution, and wanted to support its efforts to improve the lives of the country's poorest people. The Reagan administration, however, saw the Sandinistas as a beachhead of Soviet Communism in the Western Hemisphere, and was determined to cripple the revolution. Beginning in 1981, the Central Intelligence Agency secretly trained, armed and supplied thousands of Contra rebels. A major element of the Contras' strategy was to launch attacks on government cooperatives, health clinics and power stations the very things that most exemplified the improvements that had been brought about by the revolution...
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