Celebration marks 32nd anniversary of Nicaragua's Sandinista revolution


LOS ANGELES - Nicaragua is a small tropical country and although it's the largest nation in Central America, it's also the second poorest in the western hemisphere. Thirty-two years ago, a Marxist-led national liberation movement forever changed the history and political dynamics of Nicaragua. 

Following the ideals of Nicaragua's legendary revolutionary Augusto César Sandino and inspired by both Russian and Cuban revolutions, the people of Nicaragua fought and won a revolution over the repressive U.S.-backed Somoza dictatorship on July 19, 1979.

Recently at the Los Angeles Workers' Center, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) celebrated its 32nd anniversary of the revolution and the 50th anniversary of the founding of the guerilla movement-turned political party. Nearly 200 people attended the celebration.

Representatives of the FSLN and the Salvadoran Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) addressed the crowd including Francisco Mayorga, FSLN's political secretary of Southern California.

Mayorga said he was honored to celebrate the group's anniversaries - 50 years since the founding of the FSLN and the 32 years since the FSLN "took down one of the most perverse dictatorships in Latin America at that moment."

Mayorga noted all the former guerillas in attendance and reflected on the armed struggle paying tribute to all those that fought in the revolution.

Augusto César Sandino led the first armed uprising against the U.S. military intervention in Nicaragua in the 1920s and 30s. He led battles against the U.S.-allied Anastacio Somoza García's regime. Those struggles later inspired Nicaraguans to lead a second wave of revolution against the Somoza's sons - Luis Somoza Debayle and Anastacio Somoza Debayle. Carlos Fonseca, a Marxist, and a small group of Nicaraguan socialists help found the FSLN in 1962.

Fonseca had traveled to Cuba and Russia in his early 20s and was heavily influenced by both socialist nations.

He once said, "It is not our job to discover the universal laws that lead to the transformation of a capitalist society into a society of free men and women; our modest role is to apply these laws, which have already been discovered, to the conditions of our own country,"

In 1976 the National Guard eventually killed Fonseca during combat. But on July 19, 1979 the Somoza dynasty was ultimately toppled.

In 1984, the FSLN called for elections and won.

During this time the Contra War had just started. The Contras, supported by the U.S., were remnants of the Nicaraguan National Guard. The Contras coupled with the U.S.'s economic blockade against the new socialist-leaning government, devastated Nicaragua.

Because of these factors-among others-the Sandinistas lost the elections in 1990 to the right-wing United National Opposition (UNO) led by Violeta Barrios de Chamorro.

After a 16-year Neoliberal rule that reversed several revolutionary government programs, Daniel Ortega and the FSLN won back the presidential seat in 2006. Prior to the 1979 revolution Nicaragua suffered more than 40 years of military right-wing rule.

Back at the Los Angeles Workers' Center, Carlos J. Flores, youth secretary of the FSLN in Southern California, spoke in support of the Sandinistas in this year's election.

Next Nov. 6 Nicaragua will hold presidential elections with its candidate and current president, Daniel Ortega, running on the FSLN ticket.

According to Flores current polls show FSLN ahead, just slightly over 50 percent.

"But," Flores warns, "We cannot think that we have it made and rest on our laurels-

Because that's what the right-wing wants."

Flores recalls in 1990, similar polls said the FSLN was ahead but the revolutionaries ended up losing the elections.

"There has been 16 years of Neoliberal rule which pretty much messed up the country," said Flores. "Venezuela and ALBA are helping Nicaragua. Cuba sends doctors. We send them our resources. It's a mutual cooperation," he added.

And it's not just the poor people of Nicaragua that understand this, notes Flores. The right-wing forces have subtly admitted to the vast improvements the Sandinista government has brought to the country, he said.

"Right now-we're in transition toward socialism. You can't go from capitalism to socialism right away," Flores said.

Augusto César Sandino, who after evading the U.S. marines in the mountains of his own country, once said, "Nicaragua shall not be the patrimony of imperialists. I will fight for my cause as long as my heart beats."

And although Sandino's heart has long since stopped beating, the movement he inspired toward a more free and equal society, where the public wealth of a nation is kept in the hands of workers that create it, lives on.

Photo: Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega looks on during an event marking the 32nd anniversary of the Sandinista's withdrawal to Masaya in Managua, June 25. The withdrawal to Masaya was a tactical move by the Sandinistas that was critical in the overthrow of Anastasio Somoza's dictatorship in 1979. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)


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  • To the poster "cuincr," stop with the right-wing propaganda! The Contras lost the war a long time ago. And were nothing to be proud of. The Contras where nothing more than a terrorist group, illegally funded by drug trafficking and weapon sales to Iran. Get over it and stop lying! In your response below you claim that the U.S. gave aid to president Daniel Ortega and that he "stole it," but in truth Ortega is one of the few Nicaraguan presidents that have rejected US aid, because of all the strings that come attached to it. Not to mention whenever he's been in office the US has cut aid because they don't like the Sandinista's or the fact that's he's a quasi socialist. In truth it is the US's own handpicked candidate Arnoldo Alemán, who served as president between 1997 to 2002 that stole US Aid money.

    Hurricane Mitch struck Nicaragua in 1998, Ortega WAS NOT PRESIDENT in 1998, Arnoldo Alemán was and he stole most of the Aid money that was given to Nicaragua for victims of the hurricane. Get your facts right and stop lying. Arnoldo Alemán looted the country of $100 million dollars! In 2004, Transparency
    International named him the ninth most corrupt leader in recent history! The US also fully supported Violeta Chamorro who served as president from 1990 to 1997, How much money does the Chamorro family have? Where did they get most of it? How much money did her son in law steal? How many people did he have killed? I never hear Ortega haters like you put any blame on any of Nicaragua's other presidents, and we don't even have to go back to the Somoza days. For 16 years, since 1990 Nicaragua was run by right-wing, US backed presidents, not Daniel Ortega or the Sandinistas.

    And so what if Survivor filmed in Nicaragua, that's great, I never watched the show up until they did that and I was really proud to have my country shown on that reality TV series, and it has helped tourism but so has the Nicaraguan tourism board. And yes the USA has quadrupled trade with Nicaragua under CAFTA, a deal that was signed by George W. Bush and Enrique Bolaños, president of Nicaragua at the time. NOT Ortega! You also make the claim that the Venezuela government is involved with "illegal drug manufacturing," yet provide no proof of this. Maybe you're confused, for it was the US backed Contras who were running drugs. Remember Iran / Contra? It almost got president Ronald Reagan impeached! All the killings, rapes, kidnappings, terrorism the Contras, CIA and U.S. State Department committed, including to the Miskito people, the drug running, the illegal weapon sales to Iran, it's your guys who did this, NOT Ortega or Venezuela! So what's your point to all of this? What's fueling your hatred and lies? It's like your mad that Nicaragua continues to prosper, or is it that you're mad that it's been prospering and moving forward under Ortega and the Sandinista government? I believe that's what your real beef is here, so that's why you have to lie and distort the facts.

    Again, to those not in the know, Violeta Chamorro was president of Nicaragua from 1990 to 1997, Arnoldo Alemán was president between 1997 to 2002, Enrique Bolaños served as president from 2002 to 2007. So what did 16 years of right-wing PLC and UNO rule get, aside from more sickness and more poverty? Not the statistics and improvements Ortega has gotten. Under his administration poverty has fallen to 57 percent of the population from 65.5 percent in 2005, according to government and World Bank statistics. Tourism has grown in leaps and bounds under his administration. Roads and infrastructure have been greatly improved. Ortega also signed a deal with Oil-rich Venezuela who sends up to $500 million a year to Nicaragua under a cooperation agreement. He has also formed a tight friendship with President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. That money has been used to fix existing roads, build new roads, and alleviate rolling blackouts that the country once was plagued with. I speak from experience btw! And have seen these things with my own eyes.

    In your post you also said "so why, in God's name, don't the Nicas take this fruitcake out and free their country?" Because Nicaragua is free moron! They like Ortega and the Sandinista's, just as I do and I'm Nicaraguan! Just because you don't like him doesn't mean others don't. If you don't like the Sandinista party that's fine, and if you don't like Ortega being president that's fine too, that's your right, but don't lie and distort things, and make up your own facts. If you guys want to win elections run better candidates, stop being sore losers. You went on to say in your post that "this diseased old goat and it's fleas needs to go! Until then, the USA needs to cut the aid and trade NOW! Let this drug cartel country rot in their own apathy." Again, in all your blind hatred, you failed to mention that in his second five-year term he succeeded in reducing extreme poverty in Nicaragua by 40%, that the Nicaraguan economy is the fastest growing in the region and that foreign investment rose by 60% in 2011, an election year. It's sad that you're also wishing ill will on the people of my country, shame on you. BTW, Ortega has lost and surrendered power in elections. Please reduce your bias and be more informative and STOP LYING! ¡Viva la Revolución!

    To Luis Rivas, good article, pretty much hit the nail on the head with a crash course in the political history of Nicaragua. Kudos!

    Posted by Terrence, 07/26/2012 2:55am (3 years ago)

  • Imagine how things would be had foreign countries not interfered.

    Posted by N3, 07/22/2011 12:50am (4 years ago)

  • thoroughly enjoyed this account of Nicaragua's tumultous political past, present, and a look into the future. Very engaging article and full of sound reflection exemplified in the last paragraph.

    Posted by Frankie Metro, 07/21/2011 2:30pm (4 years ago)

  • Since 1990 the USA alone has given Nicaragua $10's of millions in aid every year to help the severally poverished country's people. Some of this aid was proven to be illegally absorbed by Dictator Ortega and his mafia crew. The USA gave $106 million in aid and manpower to rebuild Nicaragua from the devastation of Hurricane Mitch in 1998. Again, Danial Ortega was found slithering into the aid funds and resources for his ongoing regime. The USA promoted the “Survivor Nicaragua” series which stimulated tourism 100 fold and turned the negative public relation view into hopeful one. In the last 2 decades, the USA has quadrupled trade to +$300 million purchasing products from Nicaragua. So now and once again, Danial Ortega, backed by the illegal drug manufacturing Venezuela government is on track to corrupt yet another upcoming presidential election in Nicaragua. The list is long and wide of Ortega's misleading values and demonic actions against his own people from the late 70's through today. So why, in God's name, dont the Nicas take this fruitcake out and free their country? This diseased old goat and it's fleas needs to go! Until then, the USA needs to cut the aid and trade NOW! Let this drug cartel country rot in their own apathy.

    Posted by cuincr, 07/20/2011 4:25pm (4 years ago)

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