It is inexcusable and almost impossible to visit Nicaragua and not learn about the revolution.
The revolution began in 1979 and ended in 1990.
The Iran-Contra Scandal: The US government portrayed Nicaragua as a Communist nation that threatened United States democracy. The implementation of this fear tactic empowered the US government to support international terrorist groups in the Middle East and simultaneously fund a government takeover in Nicaragua. United States Coast Guard occupied Nicaragua, fought with the Contras and imposed inhumane treatment upon many Nicaraguan citizens who were considered supporters of the Sandinista Party.
The US helped appoint Anastasio Somoza García as president of Nicaragua. He imposed a strict dictatorship. He appointed his sons into influential government roles to ensure that his family would remain in power after his death. His youngest son, Anastasio Somoza Debayle led one of the most stringent dictatorships in modern history. In 1979, he was overthrown by Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN), ending the Nicaraguan Revolution.
There was a strong sense of community in Nicaragua. Many Nicaraguans were exceedingly kind, open and generous. After hearing from Gloria/ Sonya, who fought as a Sandinista for four years and another survivor of the Revolution, I had a deeper respect for the people of Nicaragua and for all affected by the war. They lost their youth, loved ones and endured more than I could imagined. They sacrificed for a cause that was bigger than themselves.
The Sandinistas developed as a movement of people who wanted a better life for everyone. The fight for a more equitable society was very apparent in visiting the Museum of Carlos Francesco and hearing from Mario. Mario was very knowledgeable about Nicaraguan history and social influences. He spoke on Somoza’s privatization of education and how healthcare is now available to all Nicaraguans. These differences caused me to reflect on the current social conditions in the United States. Limiting the availability of education and healthcare implies the despicable idea that some citizens deserve life more than others. This idea is the basis of inequalities in United States, Nicaragua and worldwide.
I learned that the current government has adopted some of Somoza’s practices and differs from the original Sandinista government. I would venture to say that the effects and of the revolution were beginning to be reversed. The Sandinista movement was initiated by a just cause, but is now more idealistic than realistic. Many are sold into the idea of revolution so much that they no longer question to intent behind government intentions, propaganda and decisions.
I also learned that there were now opportunities for social advancement through hard work. In the United States people are privileged, and opportunities and resources are taken for granted. In Selva Negra, we witnessed another’s privilege. The owner of the resort was very unconcerned that some of my peers were in danger in hiking on one of the resort’s trails. She was nonchalant and unconcerned because she was not in a position of danger. Privilege can make it more difficult to fathom and emphasize with hardships of others. Empathy is a choice and necessary for the progression of society. I feel many people in developed countries are unconcerned with global affairs, because they have not been forced to develop a sense of empathy or community.
Privileges such as social elevations, money, public education and citizenry barricade many from thoughts of life being harder elsewhere. An abundance of resources often translates to an under appreciation of those resources. In Nicaragua, many citizens make the most for all that they have- their jobs, the environment and their relationships. Relationships and feeling compassion are what make the communities in Nicaragua so sustainable, inspiring and resilient.
I believe that community is what allowed led to the success of the revolution. Individuals believed in and were willing to sacrifice for something bigger than themselves- a better future for their families and their decedents.
“United States citizens view developing countries as distant, and many ignore the fact that the Americas are composed of countries other than the United States. Despite how Central America is portrayed, the influence of US greed, diplomacy, oppression and scandal are very much a part of Nicaraguan history, government and social bureaucracy.” -Kalen Russell
Additional sources on Nicaragua’s History: