Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 288 | Julio 2005



Twenty-six Years On: Memories of Solidarity

“Internationalism” was a free and unconditional investment in Nicaragua’s Sandinista revolution in the eighties. What remains of such commitment in today’s globalized world? Does that massive solidarity with Nicaragua have any lessons to offer the current alternative world movement?

Iosu Perales

At noon on a day in December 1986, I was driving slowly down Managua’s Bolívar Avenue in my modest Suzuki, heading toward the old cathedral. I was just passing some magnificent, vividly-colored wall murals depicting moments in Latin American history when I saw a group of five or six people surrounding a traffic cop who for some reason seemed to me to be having problems. I stopped and approached the group, which I immediately identified as Italian. They were asking the police officer for directions to some place that he was unsure of, perhaps because he wasn’t originally from Managua. I was able to help them, and after thanking us both, they continued on their way, talking animatedly among themselves. All were using white sticks. Only one had any sight, and even that seemed limited, while all the others were blind. Steeped in confusion, the officer and I watched them, then looked at each other. He was clearly moved and I could feel tears coming to my eyes. I will never forget that scene.

That generous contribution from the US people

A group of blind Italians visiting revolutionary Nicaragua wasn’t all that unusual, as it turned out. People with all sorts of disabilities came in those years, part of a wave of solidarity from all over the planet. A large percentage of them came from the United States—men and women from different church denominations, union members, ecologists, feminists, war veterans and many more—often propelled by a complicated sense of responsibility to demonstrate their opposition to the policy of the Reagan administration. Many of them courageously went out into the rural war areas where the contras were operating to witness and later report on that policy to people back home. After their son Benjamin, a mechanical engineer, was murdered by the contras at his job site in the remote mountains, the Linder family pledged itself forever to the Nicaraguan people, as did his girlfriend Alison Quam. Ben’s brother John, with support from singer-actor Kris Kristofferson, whom we saw sing in Matagalpa at the July 19 anniversary of the revolution in 1987, kicked off a campaign of denunciations against the White House for supporting an army of indiscriminate assassins.

The assault on Vietnam veteran Brian Wilson in his own country also reverberated around the world. It happened when a group of pacifists, Wilson among them, held a sit-in to stop a train carrying armaments for the contras from reaching the port of San Francisco. The train, however, did not even slow down. The other protesters scrambled out of the way at the last minute, but Wilson sacrificed both legs to the seriousness of his opposition to war. He was known in Nicaragua for his extended trips out into the war zones, even on his prosthetics, to denounce the Reagan government’s support for the counterrevolutionary war. I remember Wilson’s emotional act of solidarity in Managua with a group of war disabled, hundreds of them in wheelchairs, giving thanks to the North American who tried to detain another shipment of military aid. The Sandinista government conferred its Augusto C. Sandino order on him.

Innumerable events demonstrated the generosity of the hundreds of thousands of American men and women who came to Nicaragua on almost always well-organized missions. Not very politicized but loaded with a radical sense of justice, they flew from Miami or drove down in caravans loaded with donations for this tiny, poor country newly flushed with self-esteem and a sense of purpose. They had no need for visas, as the Sandinista government had waived them to counteract the US government’s hostile position.

They could be found in the weekly vigils in front of the US Embassy, armed with banners and posters; conducting fasts in grassroots urban neighborhoods and poor rural zones; building clinics and schools; picking coffee and cotton; delivering manifestos to the media and holding press conferences to denounce their government’s policy. They were like a horde of ants, with their generally light-skinned faces protected from the tropical sun by straw hats or baseball caps. Veterans for Peace, made up of former recruits from the Korean and Vietnam wars, was a particularly important group. They toured Matagalpa and Jinotega, defying contra ambushes, eschewing any military protection and trusting in their white t-shirts. They slept on the floors of little rural schools and community centers and more than once arrived at a village shortly after a contra attack. The day they entered Wiwilí, near the Honduran border, hundreds of residents came out to welcome them carrying palm fronds, as if it were Palm Sunday.

The organized Germans
and the creative Italians

Nicaragua was a meeting point for all solidarity movements. The perfectly designed German one, closely linked to the grassroots committees back home, had its own martyr in Bernd Koberstein. He was killed on July 28, 1986, on the outskirts of Wiwilí, sister city with his birthplace of Freiburg. There were very nearly other German martyrs as well, as eight of them were kidnapped and force marched through the mountain forests for 24 days. They were released only after Helmut Köhl spoke directly with President Reagan.

The solidarity movements of both the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the German Democratic Republic (GDR) were very effective. Many professionals, including doctors, nurses and technicians of all kinds, came from the GDR. Its unions built a large, high-tech hospital on Managua’s Northern Highway, which they named after Karl Marx. West Germany’s internationalists were a mosaic of Libertarians, Sparticists, Communists, Social Democrats, gays, ecologists, feminists, pacifists, Lutherans, Catholics... The general headquarters of this impressive deployment, I seem to recall, was in Managua’s Primero de Mayo neighborhood, not far from the well-known Roberto Huembes Market. They were the first to organize a chain of stores in their own country to market Nicaraguan coffee, or at least the most efficient at doing so.

Italian solidarity was something else. Latin, like Spanish solidarity, it lacked the organizational precision of German solidarity, but was a champion at inventiveness and had bottomless human resources. In reality, Italian men and women are the joy of any international event, proof of which can be still be seen by anyone attending the World Social Forum. In the Nicaragua of the eighties, its solidarity was powerful and was made up of all kinds of people, from the very young to old partisans. The Italo-Nicaraguan Association alone had over three thousand members organized into 150 circles that never stopped inventing activities all over Italy. Union, Catholic, political and university associations organized cultural fundraisers and pressured their own government to increase its bilateral development aid to Nicaragua and channel more assistance through Italian NGOs. It was easy to connect with the Italian solidarity groups and make friends as we all spoke loudly and knew the same songs.

Scandinavians, Swiss, French...

Scandinavian solidarity was quiet, reserved, but with powerful economic resources. Finnish, Norwegians, Danes and Swedes were into building: they put together a complete cabinet-maker’s workshop in Chontales, a fully-equipped school in Carazo, fifty houses in Río San Juan, a regulation baseball field in Chinandega and a cement factory on the old highway to León. Even if it didn’t seem like it, they were really into what they were doing. Or, better said, are still into it. Nordic solidarity, mainly that of the unions, has weathered the political defeats better than any other. It may be a question of character, or it could be that they were more prudent in their expectations of the revolution than others of us and less inclined to confuse the Sandinista people with the government or the ruling party’s leadership. It’s an issue worth looking into further, but in any case they have persevered.

Swiss solidarity was always very firm in its convictions. I, poor fool that I was, believed that Switzerland was a country of people dedicated to skiing and enjoying their high standard of living. But I met Swiss men and women in El Salvador who were working as medics in guerrilla zones, dodging the bombings as best they could. In Nicaragua they also paid a painful price for their ideals. In 1986 agronomist Maurice Demierre was ambushed and killed, as was cooperant Yvan Leyvraz who was traveling with Koberstein. Maribel Wolf, a solidarity veteran and friend of mine who today works for Terre des Hommes, knew Maurice: “I remember Maurice enjoying the Nicaraguan ballet under the stars in the ruins of the Gran Hotel one evening. I later learned of his death and still recall him when I see the stars.”

A few years after the Sandinistas lost the 1990 elections, Swiss committees decided to give their support to the Sandinista Democratic Left [one of two major political currents within the FSLN at the time], shaking off political depression and showing that they considered the struggle far from over. Dieter Drussel, an old friend from Zurich, explained to me what this political current was about and encouraged me to get in touch with its members.

Maribel Wolf told me about French solidarity: “We were from different ideologies and religious beliefs, but we were all Sandinistas.” She reminded me of the death of Joel Fieux, son of a friend of hers named Bernadette. “The contras killed him when he was on his way back from a mission fixing radios in threatened cooperatives. They wounded him then finished him off as he lay on the ground. Joel was rebellious and had left France because he refused to do his military service. His mother hadn’t seen him in five years when he went to meet her at the airport. He told her he would be back in a few days and that they would spend a week’s vacation together, but then he was killed and Bernadette had to attend his burial alone. No one from the French Embassy showed up because he was a conscientious objector.”

How can one appraise so many acts of love?

It is not my intention to tediously recount all of the expressions of solidarity. They came from many countries and organizations and the number of brigade members defies counting. Enumerating the acts of abnegation, the deeds and the successes, even just the significant anecdotes, would be a long-winded enterprise. But it is only logical that I write a few lines about our solidarity, about the men and women of Spain. What can I say? How does one appraise so many acts of love? Many people sold their cars or other belongings to pay for their trip and stay for a while in Nicaragua. A huge number put their relationship, even their marriage, on hold because they had to come to Nicaragua. Others left jobs or studies. Many collected money in small towns and large cities, selling calendars, holding raffles or whatever to fund brigades to Nicaragua. Some went, others returned and still others prepared hopefully for their chance. Each brigade sowed a furrow and the fruit of hope multiplied in neighborhoods, universities, workplaces, associations and solidarity committees. It was an ongoing fiesta. Not a week went by without some act to defend Nicaragua: in Zaragoza or Talavera de la Reina, in Oviedo or Bilbao, in Barcelona or Madrid, in San Sebastián or Granada, in Marinaleda, Santa Coloma, Alcorcón, Vigo, Gijón or the Canaries. Throughout the country you could hear the music of Carlos Mejía Godoy and see red and black Sandinista flags.

In Managua, the headquarters of Spanish solidarity opened in the 14 de Septiembre neighborhood and was named after Ambrosio Mogorrón. But Basque solidarity had two centers of its own in Managua, according to their different political sensibilities: one in the Linda Vista neighborhood and the other in Pancasán, at the home of Mertxe Brosa, a solidarity activist who years earlier had bought property in Malpaisillo to live out her ideals. This division was motivated by the political conflict in our own country, but in Nicaragua we all came together. The solidarity of the Spanish as a whole had it all: commitment, courage, conviction, generosity, joy, coherence, radicalness, mobilization, persistence and ingenuity. It was one enormous family united by its decision to support the Sandinista popular revolution. Its members met each other on planes, in demonstrations both large and small, at harvests, in the festivals held at La Piñata in Managua, in dance clubs, in popular restaurants in León, at the beaches or on the island of Ometepe getting in a little tourism climbing volcanoes. For all that, we were no different from the solidarity brigades of other countries.

We gave and were given,
and we all learned so much

What was the real mortar, the force of ideas that united the pieces of that gigantic solidarity puzzle? Internationalism was a free and unconditional investment in Nicaragua, and thus was authentic rather than a mere projection of personal or group interests. It involved an inter-human, social relationship with a dual dimension: the objective work expressed in innumerable concrete deeds and the subjective world of proximity, humanity, passion, tenderness, visual and manual contact. And the simultaneity of both dimensions revealed the approximation to suffering, the internalizing of ideas, the exemplariness. That altruistic form of solidarity took root in the most genuine human nature. It wasn’t calculated or instrumental; it was humanity itself represented in its best values, the opposite of individualism and indifference, which are human qualities. It was a solidarity with convictions that defended and attacked, loved and hated. That collective solidarity was learning, fleshing out the ideals, sentiments and generic dispositions with accumulated knowledge, an increasingly complex vision of reality. And it was learning, side by side with the Nicaraguan governmental organizations, to be more practical and effective. It became increasingly better organized, more fluidly connecting what was being done on the ground with the extensive rearguard of active solidarity in cities and towns sprinkled across the world map.

The conflictive, risk-filled setting helped us perceive that solidarity is built in struggle, that justice is forged against very powerful forces that act on all fronts. It also showed us that such a battle requires developing a more holistic perspective, since the future was being formed in all trenches, not only in politics but also in culture, in life styles; it requires taking charge of the whole of reality and shouldering it as Sandinismo did.

It wasn’t enough to be politically firm; you had to be worthy, capable of sealing friendships and profound loyalties, willing to do whatever needed to be done, with humility in both form and essence, and an austere life style. And many were. Solidarity expressed in such a manner was more than a movement for a future project; it was rooted in the present and revealed that the most difficult things could be faced with the strength of passion, volition and no surrender. It was both present and circular, since Nicaragua, its people, the Sandinistas, reciprocated what they received, and taught us to “need” others. They gave back according to their possibilities and their talents, giving us poetry, literature, hospitality and lodging, food, affection, welcome, stories, guidance, household medicines, songs, laughter, reasons to cry, friendship, a way of seeing the world and political solidarity when we needed it. It was thus a solidarity in dialogue, a highly ethical give and take fiercely rooted in life.

To defend Nicaragua,
we defended a new humanist culture

The origin of this solidarity lay in many political readings. By that I mean that while its beginning and its end points were the Nicaraguan people, internationalism had varied ideological sources in Paris or Madrid, in Brussels or Bilbao. Solidarity was frequently the expression of many political defeats. We were living in a period of scant optimism when the Sandinista-led popular insurrection brought down Somoza. May 1968 was a memory, a nostalgia that brought with it a taste of impotence. Che had fallen. News reached us of the horrors in the countries of the socialist bloc. Salvador Allende had been unseated then killed in a military coup and hundreds of thousands of Chileans had fled to Europe. In our own country, Franco’s death had not led to the hoped-for political break with what he represented: it was all too bound together. And then suddenly, with the revolution in Nicaragua, everything began to be different. A little ray of light peeked through the clouds and it was enough to unite into a common enterprise thousands of men and women influenced by the same events but with different ideas and beliefs. Something beyond the political defense of the Sandinista revolution was bonding them, and that something was humanism. A radically humanist solidarity such as the Sandinista revolution itself had at its moral philosophical roots. As Martin Buber wrote, the desire for what is just can only be realized in the human community, not in the individual.

That was precisely the great task of the “army of cheles” in its mission of accompanying the revolutionary process: to forge an alliance among human beings separated by geography, economy, development and cultures in order to jointly create another humanity. This eager desire for a new humanity was also in internationalism, and even though we participated in the revolutionary leadership’s erroneous approaches, the mission of humanizing everything was a laudable aim. In fact, in carrying out pro-Nicaragua and anti-imperialist activities in our own societies, we were working to change the prevailing values. In practice we were publicizing this good news beating at the heart of humanism: the idea that happiness is the right of all, including a small, poor country. And that was how we watered the garden of universal values, conceiving of the world as a place of common human fate. By defending Nicaragua we defended universalism as a new and feeling world, a new culture and a new civilization, the first rough sketch of a new human reality.

We did more right than wrong,
and the rightest thing was to be there

The movement of solidarity with Nicaragua was the largest since the Vietnam war. While it was surely smaller, it incorporated the religious and academic worlds and the incipient nongovernmental organizations. It triggered a new globalization of joint responsibility in those years of the take-off of neoliberalism, which was already beginning to spread a culture bearing countervalues and hindering the autonomy of peoples. The phenomenon of solidarity was expressed as the peaceful invasion of a small country that called us to join in the fight against the empire and defense of the humble. The solidarity was also political and centered its determination on a small country’s resistance to US imperialism and right to self-determination. That was why the “chele army” sang with such force that line from the Sandinista anthem that says, “We fight against the Yankee, enemy of humanity.” Civil society was rising up against the structures of power—against their own governments that were not doing enough to defend Nicaragua’s right to live freely—and was issuing a moral cry. The new globalization was constructing an interdependence of social actors, an alliance of values, struggles and proposals. A platform of global thinking was consequentially erected, together with powerful sentimental bonds.

This movement committed errors, not the least of which was occasionally to try to push Nicaraguan reality toward its own models. It never succeeded and always had to rectify its actions. In addition, if one overall criticism could and should be made of the internationalists that lived in and loved Nicaragua, we should concentrate on a way of thinking and the behavior linked to it: we weren’t critical enough. We were excessively complacent about the things we didn’t like. We were loyal, unconditional, true believers and submissive followers. All those were the qualities of an infantile illness, but were also the expression, like it or not, of total and complete generosity.

Today, looking back, it occurs to me that those errors were a small thing compared to what we did right, of which the rightest thing of all was to be there.

We’re worried about what’s
happening in Nicaragua today

My criticism—which is also a self-criticism—of the solidarity movement with Nicaragua doesn’t focus on the eighties, but on the nineties. The electoral defeat crushed us, much more than we’ve been able to accept. We moved progressively from initial confusion to a distancing from if not blanket censure of the Sandinistas, in a kind of catharsis that made up for our previous lack of criticism. From a perhaps extreme idealism we moved to unbarred pessimism.

Admittedly, news of the piñata was weighty enough to invite the retreat of the Nicaraguan solidarity movement. If those we had believed in so much had failed us, wasn’t it best to discretely pull up stakes? But we had sworn our moral loyalty to the common people—free from the war but now being harassed by the new neoliberal forces in power and the revenge-seeking Somocista Right. Then there were the organized grassroots groups of women, peasants, young people and the like that moved quickly to resist the hardships caused by judicial violence that was stomping on their rights and by the new government policies. And there were the long-time Sandinistas who over time have been testing out new forms of association and are still patiently waiting for their time, the time of popular Sandinismo. Nonetheless, the historic vanguard let us down and we distanced ourselves from Nicaragua.

After 1990, solidarity with Nicaragua virtually disappeared, or at the very least it lost its free, grassroots quality and began to be mediated by the agencies that were financing development projects. NGOs replaced a good part of the previous solidarity networks and everything became denser, more calculating, less generous. But the NGOs aren’t responsible for that: they’re doing what they can. We’re the ones responsible because we couldn’t rise above the decline of a movement. We solidarity veterans have remained silent with the passage of time, never speaking out against events that gravely concern the Nicaraguan people, and that concern us as well if we truly believe we merged with and became part of them.

I’m thinking of the restoration policies of three Liberal governments that have seriously undermined the conquests of the revolution. Two examples suffice: illiteracy was drastically reduced during the eighties but it is now soaring again while the health system has ceased being universal and is now only for those who can pay.

But I’m also thinking of the FSLN’s policies, particularly the part of its pact with the government of Arnoldo Alemán relating to the courts. The overall course of this bipartite direction is negative, but particularly negative is the sharing of judicial power between the two parties only to protect their corruption. Why has the FSLN under Daniel Ortega’s leadership worked to put justice in the hands of these two political parties? Has the official Sandinista leadership stopped to think of how much the lack of a division of powers has damaged democracy? Of how much the state’s legitimacy is hurt by Sandinista judges protecting criminal acts by Sandinistas and Liberal judges doing the same for their followers? That’s what is happening.

The eighties will never return

My critical Sandinista friends say we have to be patient. They are waiting for the moment when it will be possible to regenerate the movement and the party. But I sometimes think there’s no time to lose, since change needs a push. At such times I ask myself what role solidarity can play.

It’s absurd to think that the old solidarity can be recovered. The Zaragoza Solidarity Committee knows that well enough, even though, like the Swiss, they have always continued to have a presence in Nicaragua. So do those solidarity activists from Catalonia—among them the indefatigable Pablo Otero, Joan Palomés and Sonia Potoy, native of the island of Ometepe—who have no problem supporting the proposals linked to the leftist current of Sandinismo.

There is no wind blowing in Nicaragua with either the force or the intensity of those years and it never will again. The urgent solidarity work lies in Palestine, against wars and for peace. The new internationalism leans toward global causes and points its finger at the powerful of the earth. It has the virtue of a holistic, transnational vision that can grasp the relationship between the global and the local. This is an important step that brings us closer to an empowering, civilizing proposal, which we relinquished in the past and thus impoverished the Left. One of its dimensions is the “globalization of solidarity,” a proposal that does not aim to place itself within the so-called coordinates of progress, as if it progress were a close and sure ally of the aspirations of liberation. Rather, it is emerging with uncertainty, knowing virtually nothing about the future and accompanied by a certain tragic consciousness.

This new internationalism has rightly steered clear of grand statements and finished utopias, but not of utopia understood as tension, as path, as permanent struggle for what isn’t yet but we want to be. In the past, the belief that events and history would end by proving us right gave us security but also an ideological arrogance that was the lever of dogmatism and sectarianism; everything we did, each act, had as its backdrop the conception that history moves in a simple, unilateral, ascendant and correct direction according to the dialectic of Hegel and Marx. The new internationalism now believes less in history and more in what it can do at each particular moment. What counts is the present and the real social force. For that very reason we move with insecurity and are more prudent. But the very idea that the future is insecure, unverifiable and that, far from closing the circle of issues, we must open it up to debate, as there are no longer any pre-established schemes showing the way, makes us more revolutionary.

Transformation can no longer be decreed, even under the authority of history. It is time to develop an intellectual, spiritual and practical force, a critical faculty toward everything, an attitude of investigation, knowing that the longed-for social change is neither inevitable nor the certain result of the contradictions within capitalism. The post-capitalism to which the new internationalist movements aspire is emerging as what is desirable amid the threat of neoliberalism and also as an exercise of critical reason.

We have to fight without
knowing how much we’ll achieve

It could seem that I’m proposing the replacement of an optimistic concept of history with an equally weighted pessimistic one, but I’m not doing anything of the kind. It is rather about conceiving of life as an ongoing battle to shake off all complacent thought about what is called progress. We now know that history’s movement is not a wheel of lights in jubilant expansion toward the future. In reality, the literature and proclamations of the social and political Left contained a lot of conservatism that trusted in the famous revolution by stages. It was Rosa Luxembourg who said that life alone, in its effervescence, unimpeded, is capable of producing thousands of new ways of living, of improvising, of making creative forces arise and correcting all erroneous attempts. If that is indeed the case, historic determinism no longer has a place in what must be the new subjective world of the social and political Left. Struggling for equality and justice without knowing how much we’ll be able to achieve constitutes a moral adventure of radical and purely humanistic inspiration.

These objectives provide an idea of direction, but cannot resolve the institutional shape they may take. Replacing a harmonious vision with more modest utopias, far from being a demobilizing factor, must motivate the exact opposite: a daily rebellion against terror. What weakened the Left was believing it had the future in its hands and knew all the solutions. This belief was doubly damaging: first because it was illusory and second because it ignored delving deeper into problems that, in reality, we only knew through superficial statements. Seen in this light, we have reason to view the new movements as a breath of fresh air that inspires the “other possible world.”

Global changes need local ones

The alternative world movement has its weak points. I’ll focus on two that are relevant to Nicaragua. One has to do with the gap between the movement’s global media impact and its fragile local rooting. I think there has been a displacement, a unilateral marked shift, from localized internationalism identified with concrete struggles to an internationalism that proposes global battles. Global opposition is much needed and permits a world vision, a vigilance of the shadow powers, a critical look at international relations, an assessment of delocalized, deregulated capitalism. The problem is that these battles are scheduled leaps on a global agenda of continental and worldwide meetings and mobilizations. There is little local rooting established in agendas that could incorporate a larger number of people around more tangible objectives.

Internationalism localized in solidarity with concrete peoples has the advantage of concentrating all force on attaining reachable targets, such as supporting a peasant community, a municipality that is pushing for participatory budget design, a social movement and its struggles, a political current that proposes to head up a societal project. The solidarity groups still loyal to the Nicaraguan people are participating in the alternative world movement but are also simultaneously supporting and accompanying concrete resistance efforts and struggles for social and political transformation within a concrete country. The alternative world movement must find its feet in very local social processes or risk remaining closeted in a discursive and ideological dimension. Global changes need local changes; otherwise they are not possible. Conversely, what is achieved locally is always vulnerable without overarching change.

The Left: Forever the opposition?

A second issue that concerns me is the political question of power. It is currently in vogue in some segments of solidarity that power isn’t important, that what matters is overseeing existing power from what is known as civil society. This reminds me of Daniel Ortega’s slogan of “governing from below,” something that has been shown to be unviable. Those who govern are the ones in government and those who exercise power are those who have it.

That is not at all to say that we do not have to question the top-down conception in which the conquest of the state is the essential factor when it comes to transforming society, relegating all others to a subordinate role, including the role of society and its movements. Long experience has shown that this approach is the source of a bureaucratic, authoritarian and conservative power structure. Rescuing a central and leading role for society and its organizations is basic to the attainment of economic, social and political democracy. But it is a mistake to believe that the historical function of the social and political Left is to remain permanently in opposition to thus better preserve the purity of its conduct.

Conversely, to advocate the centrality of social movements without very sincerely considering their limits and their own deviations is also to adopt an erroneous position. Returning again to Nicaragua, the Right in its different versions needs to be defeated and political power needs to be recovered for a renovated, regenerated Left. That objective requires a previous internal revolution that shoves aside the hegemony structured around Ortega in favor of a democratic leadership faithful to the historic underpinnings of the Sandinista social and political philosophy. And if it doesn’t happen from within, it will have to happen from outside. Achieving this clearly requires the existence of a powerful sovereign social movement, independent of the political forces and capable of advancing according to its own agenda and negotiating with the political arenas occupied by a new Sandinismo.

Back to the mountains

Both issues—the need to base solidarity around concrete social and political processes, be it in Nicaragua, Chiapas, Bolivia, Venezuela or Brazil, and the recovery of the comprehensive, holistic sense of politics—make me think that it is in fact important to return to the country that offered us such good years in the eighties. It is not about an invitation to the impossible. It’s a simple issue, really: isn’t it time for the forces of solidarity that are still sensitized toward Nicaragua to place their support in political sectors that sooner or later will have to head the recovery of the Sandinista commitment?

It’s legitimate to ignore that question, but I think it’s also a moral obligation of an entire generation not to forget what we experienced and, above all, to oppose the liquidation of those achievements that benefited the majorities. Moreover, it doesn’t seem to me that indifference or “neutrality” toward what is taking place within the Sandinista movement corresponds to the collective attitude of involvement and commitment of the internationalism of the eighties. It is possible that the attempts of critics, dissidents and opinion-makers from various arenas have a long way to go and that future success is not a sure bet. But perhaps it’s worth gambling on those men and women who have metaphorically returned to the mountains.

Josu Perales is head of statistics at the development NGO “Paz y Tercer Mundo.” This text is taken from his book Nicaragua en la Memoria (Editorial Icaria,
Barcelona, 2005).

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