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Journal 21 - Testimony of a former Sandinista Guerrilla

April 18, 2006

Gallery 6
gallery 6
This morning I had some more lessons that go beyond Spain, but still have everything to do with a world of violence and neo-colonization.  I had the opportunity to sit in on a class who had a guest speaker who grew up in the midst of Nicaragua’s violent years and took arms himself in the Sandinista Guerrilla effort.

He told about how the Samoza family military dictatorship, which was formed with the support of the U.S., was responsible for the deaths of as many as 12,000 Nicaraguans.  He said they were able to maintain order and control in the country through military power and depriving citizens of literacy and education opportunities that would equip them to challenge the government.  The Sandinista movement (FSLN) formed initially not to struggle for the indigenous groups or for land reform, but to remove the Samozas from power and install a popular democracy.  The speaker said that “in order to achieve was right, we used means that were wrong.”   He told of how as the violence escalated, all sorts of morals are thrown away and people begin to act like animals.  He remembers clearly from when he was 7 years old, three U.S. soldiers came for his father, beat him, and carried him away to where he was tortured by North American and Spanish soldiers. From an early age, he learned to hate North American and European nations.

The Sandinistas were able to gain control of the country between 79 and 90.  According to the speaker, it was a time to begin promoting literacy, agrarian reform and other programs that were missing in during the dictatorship.  Also during those years, Reagan was carrying out his global campaign against communism.  At first, he said the Nicaraguans didn’t want to have anything to do with the Soviets. However, as the US financed the Contras to resist the Sandinista government and they began to accept the financial support of the Soviets.  This was the “dirty war” as he called it, and the means of war continued to worsen.  The speaker was one of many youths that served in the Sandinista forces.  Thousands of these young people were killed in battle.  In the group of 30 (all younger than 18) that he served with, he is the only one who lives today.

In time the Sandinista government corrupted and weakened, and lost power to the Contras.  When the elections took place, the Sandinistas lost.  The speaker said that was a great disappointment for the Sandinistas to see that the people chose to turn their backs on the movement.  The people were tired of war.  At that point, he and other Sandinistas chose to leave the country for their safety, and he has been in Spain since then.

He was adamant that the neo-colonizing means of globalization and the host of NGO’s that have filled Nicaragua today don’t have the answer either.  His plea was for international solidarity and said that at this point he is more effective talking in schools than fighting in Nicaragua.  He says the leftist movements that are growing in South America should continue, and the international community should support the cultural distinctiveness and respect fair economic systems.

I left his presentation feeling quite helpless in a world that continues to be filled with violence daily.  The news is filled each day with the tragedy in Israel/Palestine and Iraq, and now tensions gain between the U.S. and Iran.  What can be done?  The cycle of violence and international tension repeats seems to repeat time and time again.  “The first problem with war is war itself,” our speaker had said.  The world must come together, as he also suggested: “another world is possible.”