Benjamin Ernest “Ben” Linder (July 7, 1959–April 28, 1987), a U.S. engineer working on a small hydroelectric dam in rural northern Nicaragua, was killed by the U.S. CIA funded Contras. Linder and two Nicaraguans—Sergio Hernández and Pablo Rosales—were killed in a Contra ambush on April 28, 1987. Linder was wounded by a grenade and then shot at point-blank range in the head.
In addition to volunteering as an engineer, Linder participated in vaccination campaigns, using his talents as a clown, juggler, and unicyclist to entertain the local children.
Linder’s mother said at his funeral, “My son was brutally murdered for bringing electricity to a few poor people in northern Nicaragua. He was murdered because he had a dream and because he had the courage to make that dream come true. … Ben told me the first year that he was here, and this is a quote, ‘It’s a wonderful feeling to work in a country where the government’s first concern is for its people, for all of its people.'”
The story is described in The Death of Ben Linder: The Story of a North American in Sandinista Nicaragua from Seven Stories Press. The free downloadable teaching guide, Inside the Volcano, includes a lesson on Ben Linder.