SPECIAL - Thirty years of envío: The road traveled so far
On Thursday, December 1, envío celebrated its 30th anniversary (1981-2011)
with a special event at the Institute of History of Nicaragua and Central America.
Our editor-in-chief offered the following look back over our past
and forward toward our future.
María López Vigil
We are celebrating our birthday today. Three decades. Thirty years. They say that’s proof of maturity.
We were born in February 1981, with the revolution, which is why today we are remembering our life of paper and ideas in the shadow of a portrait of General Sandino. The General is here! We are here, General!
We were born with the revolution and because of the revolution, as were so many other dreams, projects, commitments, tasks, loves...
We were inspired by what the Sandinista Revolution meant for Nicaragua, emerging from a dictatorship, after a thousand lost battles. We were determined to talk to many people in many places of the world of this people that had suffered so much and therefore had so much to teach.
We christened ourselves envío [dispatch] because we wanted to “send” the world good news of the revolution. These days, there are those who confuse us with a parcel and remittance delivery company… But by now, no matter.
After a couple of years the news we were dispatching from Nicaragua was being read with growing interest within the country and we were also reaching many other countries. We were even being read in English. Right up to the present day, the English version of envío is one of the things we are most proud of.
We are a magazine of the Jesuits. Father César Jerez and Father Álvaro Argüello, who are no longer with us, were the first to be involved at that birth, and many others came later to help this child walk on its own two feet. Some of them are here tonight.
They say the Jesuits are characterized by their obedience to their superiors. The obedience asked of those of us who came from far and near to produce the magazine, not all of us Jesuits, was to make envío a medium that would provide “critical support” to the revolutionary process.
But as the Jesuits also “disobey” when the cause merits it, the reality is that we supported more than we criticized.
We tried to be critical, but didn’t always succeed. Like many others, the revolution infected us with triumphalism.
Despite that contagious enthusiasm, we managed to put together an independent critical discourse on various subjects.
This is something we achieved when writing about the revolution’s policy on the Caribbean coast side of the country. From 1982 we distanced ourselves from the official discourse on the Atlantic Coast [as the region is still known in Nicaragua] and during those years, we wrote about the challenges, hopes and problems of that half of Nicaragua over 30 times. During those years envío almost became a “Coast” magazine.
We were also critical of the revolutionary government’s relations with the Catholic Church. And vice versa: also critical of the Church hierarchy’s relations with the revolution. Again and again we expressed our view of old hackneyed words we didn’t share.
We also distanced ourselves from the rural policies, from the agrarian reform, from the revolution’s relations with the peasants, those Nicaraguans who provide our food but aren’t birds that can live from the wind, or fish that can live from the sea…
We were never censored in the eighties. But because we were so critical of the rural policies, they warned us when things got hairier in the last years of the revolution that if we wanted war “then war we would have”…
The real war—the war funded by the United States that was being fought in the interior of the country—was so serious and drawn out that we didn’t have a war on paper… and in the end nothing happened.
The war, with all its cruelty, filled the pages of each and every edition of envío during those years. If you look back over them, you’ll see that these are the least critical articles. Because war blinds us. War diverts us into rage and damages us in the most profound way. It took us a long time to understand that those on the other side were brothers, even though we already knew we were brothers killing each other.
So in those years we documented all the efforts being made inside and outside Nicaragua to achieve peace. We dreamed of the day it would come. But the February 1990 elections came before the peace, with results that we, like so many other people, weren’t prepared for.
It was the end of a world. Everything changed in Nicaragua with the revolution’s electoral defeat and the very difficult transition from war to peace. And envío changed as well.
Ay, Nicaragua Nicaragüita… you’re no longer the center of Central America.
Life is one big school. And we learned from that body blow. The first lesson we learned was to turn our focus to the whole of Central America, where the war continued and peace hadn’t yet come.
We started to write about the unequal war in El Salvador, about the dramas of Honduras, about the genocide of indigenous villages in Guatemala, trusting that the future of our Central America would one day be without a cage, without any of our homelands caged in.
Since then and right up to today we’ve tried to provide a voice for the whole of Central America; one that talks, shouts, denounces and announces from Nicaragua.
The nineties were confused years: the end of one world and beginning of another. In 1993 we got the idea for a monthly debate and reflection session aimed at “learning to think,” where we could all come together to “teach ourselves to act.”
Those analyses of the reality, still known among us as “la coyuntura,” a term for which there is curiously no adequate translation into English, have included the collaboration of women and men who are here accompanying us in this celebration. You can’t imagine how happy it makes us to see them again. They have given us the gift of their ideas, their experience and their words, published in our “Speaking Out” section. And in so doing they taught us to think. We’ve learned from all of them to act to transform Nicaragua.
In alliance with them, we’ve learned to continue believing in this country, this country of poets and crazy people, this country that today continues building its future against the brutal wind of betrayals…
During these 30 years we’ve also learned many other things. We learned to be feminists. We learned how important it is to understand that we can’t be good Christians if we’re not feminists, because feminism is a beautiful and urgent expression of Christian humanism.
And having learned that, we started to write about the life and survival of women. We wrote of those realities we hadn’t talked about before due to pain, embarrassment and fear: the epidemic of sexual abuse, the incest naturalized in so many minds and so many homes, the right to abortion, the violence and the poverty, all of which hit women hardest…
We also wrote about so many initiatives in which the revolution was never defeated, initiatives that are giving women life, a life in which they are winning back another landscape…
We learned as well during these years to pay very special attention to and write about two of the biggest challenges currently facing Central America’s most impoverished youth: gangs and emigration.
We have prioritized both the youth in search of an identity, which they find in the various gangs known in the region as maras or pandillas; and those in search of work and a life who find it abroad, emigrating and sustaining our countries, those who vote with their feet and change countries because they can’t change their own country.
Today we celebrate 30 years and look back on the histories of our country and our sister countries in Central America, histories that continue living in the pages of our magazine and on that magical library called Internet. And as we do so, we come across that bitter-sweet mix that always marks life: joy and sadness, despair and hope, war and peace, pacts and fraud, struggle and passivity, resignation and resistance, doubts and certainties, the past trapping us and the future calling us…
With all of that, we want to live for at least another 30 years… It’s a promise. Put a seal on it.
We know that despite everything that has already happened and whatever might happen, there will be a future.
Yes, there will be a future.