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The Sandinista Heritage

Clare Foster examines the history of revolutionary Nicaragua

A few months ago I was looking through the diary of a dead Sandinista soldier, Elman Luis Cortez, while his mother stood by, proud. Scribbled in pencil were thoughts about life, the war, the yanquis: 'What were the objectives of Sandino's struggle?'

Why should an eighteen-year-old have asked this question about a person who died more than fifty years ago? What was Sandino's struggle about? In revolutionary Nicaragua, one word answers both questions:

In this potted history, two major strands of the Sandinista heritage are clear: that for Nicaraguans their present struggle goes back to the nineteenth century, and the importance in that struggle of the slight figure with broad brimmed hat: Sandino.

'Sandinismo ... was not a phenomenon which was imposed theoretically or pulled out of books,' says Humberto Ortega. 'Through his struggle and his action, Sandino created the theory, and it is that which we have taken up.'

Like the FMLN (Farabundo Marti Front for National Liberation) in El Salvador, the FSLN (Sandinista Front for National Liberation) in Nicaragua bases itself on the example of a nationalist fighter of the twenties and thirties. Ahora se que Sandino manda was the slogan at the celebrations of the seventh anniversary of the revolution in 1986: 'now I know Sandino is in command.'

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