The Nicaraguan Revolution: A Compiled Story
As my secondary project I am working with a museum in Central Leόn to collect and preserve the guides’ experiences from the Revolution. From that I am working with them to produce a small English language pamphlet for foreigners to use during their visit to the museum. In honor of the week of the Revolution – Friday July 17 is the anniversary of President Samosa’s flee from Nicaragua and Sunday July 19 is the anniversary of the day the FLSN took the capital, Managua – I compiled, translated and edited together parts of my interviews to help share their story. These stories all come from three men who fought in the 1970s.
“When Samosa was president there was a real separation of classes. I was born in Leόn, to a poor family who worked at a big house just down the street from here. My grandmother, mother and aunt cleaned the house during the day. They always invited me inside, but I never went. One day I did. I left the sandy, dusty streets of Leόn and what I found inside was a different world. There were closets of pants and shoes made of fine materials, while I owned one pair of long, dirty pants. Each family member had their own room and their own bed, while we had always shared. I found bicycles and tractors and expensive Toyota cars. We had none of this. After I saw the difference between that rich house and my own, I decided I would never return. Instead when I shared my experience, my feeling of disgust with the style of life some lived while others suffered, they told me ‘there’s an organization fighting just that.’ And so the Revolution grew from the seeds planted in the hearts of the poor. It grew from class differences and class separation. From some having everything and others having nothing.”
“I was born to a poor family in Leόn. I never could read as a child. Almost no one could read. I wanted so badly to go to school, to university, but this was not a reality for me. An organization came around doing tours in the cities, promising a fight for education. I was fifteen years old at the time. I left my family for the mountains to join the organization which promised we could learn. I did not want to be killed, but I believed in the opportunities I could gain for myself, for my brothers and for my friends. And so we fought for literacy, for access to information. We fought to end suffering and to end poverty through education.”
“I was born poor, to a mother who worked and father who was murdered when I was just seven years old. Early on we could no longer afford the uniforms and textbooks required for school. When I learned there was an organization of secondary students who fought for our education and for our fallen friends, people like my father, I joined. I was just a boy when I went into the mountains to learn with them. When I first got there, I knocked on the door. A young girl opened it and asked me ‘From where do you belong?’ I responded ‘I am not of Nicaragua, I am of the FSLN.’ And with that she let me in.”
“Throughout the 1970s the students took to the streets. They fought to draw attention to the gap between the lives of the rich and the poor and the corruption in the government. They fought for free healthcare and for education. They fought not with weapons, but with books and leaflets, yet they were murdered by the Guardia National [National Guard] in the streets. We returned to the mountains and we organized further.” “We did not want to take up arms, but we could not give in on our basic rights.” “In June 1979 we returned, this time in force. We fought outside of Leόn day in and day out in our homes, in churches and in the streets.” “We had to fight one step at a time. From house to house, from street corner to street corner.” “The streets were so bloody, the rats would swim by as we continued to fight.” “Finally, on July 7th we sang out, we cried out a song of freedom when we finally pushed the last of the Guardia from Leόn and freed [the prisoners at] El Fortín [a prison camp where political enemies of Samosa, namely Sandinistas, were tortured and murdered]. We flew our flag on our first major accomplishment. And then we pressed on. Step by step to Managua. Just over a week later, our pressure scared President Samosa. He fled his home and never returned to Nicaragua. Two days after that, we took Managua. That was Nicaragua’s greatest moment in history.”
“Yet just a few years later our young government was assaulted again when the US funded a Contra-Revolutionary War. What was left of the Guardia was assisted by the US and Honduras. We students were forced to fight again. Meanwhile we watched all we had worked for fall. Our brothers, sons and friends lost arms and legs. For years we fought, garnering almost no assistance from abroad.” “It was not until our first true election in the 2000s, that Nicaragua was back towards the path we had laid for it.” “The government is not perfect, but it has made strides towards our values, the accessibility of education and the elimination of poverty.”
“During the Revolution, my name was Roberto. I had to take a new name and learn to respond to it without hesitation, to protect myself and my family.” “During the Revolution my name was Bernando.” “My name was Oscar and I lost three of my brothers in our Revolution. But we started something of the people and fought for the people.” “To visit our museum is to participate in our legacy and to commemorate our hundreds of fallen friends.” “The seeds of our revolution still grow. They never were meant to grow from the fight, they always grew from our heart. And so they continue to grow in our hearts.”
Si la patria es pequeña, uno grande la sueña. Though the country is small, the dream is big.
-Ruben Dario, Nicaraguan poet and diplomat native to Leon; father of modernist poetry
Rebecca Duffy ’16