Like all revolutions, the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua is about the present and the future - idealistic dreams of a new society built on impatience and anger with the dark reality of today. Like all colonial revolutions, it is also about the past. There is a half-remembered sense of a past which has to be restored: a more glorious time which must have preceded the arrival of the occupying invaders, a past when the people had their own sovereignty, their own dignity, their own freedom to make mistakes. The very name 'Sandinista', from Augusto Sandino who in 1934 was murdered by the National Guard with the complicity of the then US Ambassador in Managua, invokes the restorationist content of a movement whose leaders were, without exception, too young to have known Sandino as anything but a legend. Yet it is this basic element which the power-brokers of the Reagan Administration cannot understand. The core of Sandinismo is not an 'imported' ideology, but its exact opposite: resistance to 'exported' foreign domination. Omar Cabezas's vigorous, funny and self-deprecating account of his four-year odyssey in the mountains of northern Nicaragua as a young guerrilla volunteer expresses the spirit of Sandinismo more fully than any other available work in English.
LRB 19 December 1985 | PDF Download