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Central American University - UCA  
  Number 461 | Noviembre 2019


Central America

Utopias in Central America (part 3): From disillusion to April in Nicaragua

The youth who rebelled in Nicaragua last year have helped us envision new dreams. Their utopias seem more comprehensive, as they expanded their dreams into the cultural dimension and the protection of nature, and they were capable of sacrificing themselves for them. Their utopias are both bigger and smaller than those of the 80s, and a transgenerational arc links us to these utopian youth.

José Luis Rocha

Throughout his life and work German philosopher Immanuel Kant attempted to answer three major questions: What can I learn? What must I do? And what can I hope for? In sum, he was asking about the limits of knowledge, about morality,, and about the purpose of life. Kant declared that the purpose must be happiness and that it had to be achieved in society, by fulfilling one’s duty. The question of what we can hope for is linked to utopia and is the same question that inflamed the soul of Central Americans, concerned social analysts and inspired people of letters, as discussed in the first two parts of this article.

Many truncated dreams

In recent years, many men and women throughout Central America who hoped for a change in the system and risked their skin to achieve it ended up disillusioned. Former combatants and supporters of El Salvador’s Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) are definitely in that category, according to a friend of mine, the widow of a peasant fighter.

Having once been very committed to that revolutionary party, she told me “ARENA [the rightwing Nationalist Republican Alliance party] and the FMLN are now one. After the war we experienced something we hadn’t expected. It’s hard for those of us who gave our entire youth and the blood of our family to achieve a different country.” The country her family got with the 1992 peace agreement was one they couldn’t have anticipated and wouldn’t have wished for.

The many other testimonies of ordinary men and women on the streets and in the houses of grassroots urban barrios and rural villages reveal the state of the utopia and allow us to explore how their subjectivities experienced or suffered the Central American utopias and how they have been marked by so many truncated dreams.

Directionless postwar violence

US anthropologists Ellen Moodie and Irina Carlota Silber toured barrios and villages of El Salvador in order to portray in their doctoral theses how ordinary Salvadorans experienced a country strewn with fears and the aftereffects of both the war and the “peace” that followed. With the exception of certain documentary films, I don’t think anything similar has been done as systematically in any other Central American country.

Their respective research resulted in the books Las secuelas de la paz (The Consequences of Peace) (2017) and Cotidianidad revolucionaria (Revolutionary Daily Life) (2018), both of which bring together indispensable testimonies to gauge the strength of the utopia among common Salvadoran citizens once the war was over.

Moodie subtitled her work Criminalidad, incerti¬dumbre y transición de la democracia en El Salvador (Criminality, Uncertainty and Democratic Transition in El Salvador). The democracy she dissects was not the hoped-for dream, as the crime wave that flooded El Salvador aborted the democratic dreams through carnage that was worse than the war. In 1995, barely three years after the peace accords were signed, “The Prosecutor General’s Office would report 7,877 intentional homicides for a murder rate of 138.9 for every 100,000 inhabitants, greater than the annual rate of violent deaths during the war, the highest in the Americas and the second highest in the world, only after South Africa.”

It was a bitter violence, with no direction and none of the glory of the previous war-provoked violence, because the Civil National Police had depoliticized it, “turning the violations of law into atomized, decontextualized acts.” As a result, argues Moodie, citing Marx, each man, before becoming a cadaver, was nothing more than “an individual withdrawn into himself, in the confines of his private interests and private caprices.”

“Today there is neither
cause nor struggle”

Salvadorans were conscious of living in a changing world. They were entering one in which the sense of belonging had eroded. That’s why “people described the postwar danger as an increasingly personal, more private experience.”

This statement is at the hinge of the postwar-utopia relationship because during the war, the violence was fed by “a socially motivated passion, by patriotism or by nationalism (whether of the Left or the Right),” by the dream of a better world. And while that combination is paradoxical from more than one perspective, the verifiable fact is that ideologically motivated violence is more manageable: “Yes, the situation is terrible today because during the war you knew what the guerrillas were all about; I wasn’t afraid they’d kill me or do something to me because I’d explain to them and then everything was okay. But with the Army, I was afraid if I came across them at the checkpoints because they didn’t ask questions or wait for explanations…. And I feel it’s possibly worse today. The thing today is that you never know where the delinquency is or who’s involved. It could be anyone and at any moment, because today you see criminals armed to the teeth in the latest model cars with polarized windows, who suddenly stop you on a corner.”

The level of uncertainty is greater because the violence of the war would follow certain patterns: places (checkpoints), people in uniforms, interrogations, searches… The postwar violence is anarchic in the sense that it isn’t ruled by protocols that make it at least minimally predictable.

That’s why the person interviewed by Moodie added: “You learned how to recognize when there was danger, how to act in a dangerous environment. We knew you couldn’t go to a certain place at a certain time. We knew there were zones you couldn’t enter easily. You learn to handle different types of danger…. To a certain extent you learned to follow the game rules. But not today. Today we don’t know. There’s no one enemy, or friend. There’s no cause, or struggle generating the violence. Just delinquency.”

Disillusionment in peacetime

The theme that runs through Moodie’s book is criminality and its presentation in the media and in politicians’ speeches as an individual, atomized, asocial phenomenon, above all one devoid of politics. It’s the dregs of war, the harvest of peace: de-utopianized violence is anarchy because it isn’t governed by guidelines or even a minimal code.

Carlota Silber’s theme is that in such circumstances, the lack of utopia affecting ordinary citizens is even more painful for those who fought to make that utopia a reality. She subtitled her work Género, violencia y desencanto en la posguerra salvadoreña (Violence and Disenchantment in the Salvadoran Postwar). The disillusionment she illustrates with anecdotes and reflections is that of former combatants who, like the characters in the novels of Castellanos Moya, Huezo Mixco and Mario Roberto Morales (see part 2 of this article), bitterly recall their experiences in the war and/or caustically evaluate the results of peace. They are what she called the “entangled aftermath” of the war and the displacement. Entangled because the combatants’ lives now appear mired, trapped, confused and interwoven.

“In this tangle,” Silber explains, “people reflect on the lies of both the revolution and democracy,” on the utopia that nourished the war and the one that believed in the peace. The lives of these people on both sides have become entwined because after being combatants they have been asked, as the Robocop was in Castellanos Moya’s novel, to recycle themselves into “true neoliberal subjects… the community members are contradictorily asked to renounce their identities as ‘revolutionaries’ and develop a new sense of themselves as productive postwar citizens.”

All they got was sadness

The leaders paid no attention to the traumatic way their organization’s rank and file experienced the transition because they were disconnected from them. Perhaps that disconnection occurred at the negotiating table or perhaps before. But whenever it was, that was the moment they renounced the utopia.

In agreement with the writer Morales, Silber asserts that the guerilla organization should have extended the negotiations to drag more concessions out of the government and that the ones they did obtain when they signed the peace accords “conspire to again marginalize the inhabitants of the destroyed communities, subordinating them to a neoliberal and conservative political agenda

This meant that widespread disillusionment has followed the activism of the war: “In daily conversations when people are visiting their neighbors and relatives, riding on the bus, sitting around in local stores or participating in events, it’s not at all uncommon to hear discussions about how they’ve gotten nothing but sadness and loss for their participation in the war.”

Referring to the dream that ended in very pedestrian acquisitions, some remark that “many people see those four chairs, dining table and stove the demobilized were given as a benefit. But the truth is that the struggle wasn’t worth dining furniture and a stove.”

“People no longer believe
in making sacrifices”

The aspirations that led them to participate in a form of violence during the war weren’t fulfilled and they only saw another form of violence emerge after the war, one Moodie’s interviewees described as “omnipresent and arbitrary.” They recognized that it lacked the same appeal because “unlike the martyrs of the war, those who die in these conditions don’t intentionally choose a path that will probably end in death.”

Given all this, the postwar is a constant struggle against deception in the form of the utopia and its demands, which are severely judged: “People are no longer willing to sacrifice today’s ‘happiness’ for a happiness that might arrive 200 years from now. Nor to continue sacrificing today for future generations. In reality, at bottom, I believe people have understood that the struggle is to be happy today…. Tomorrow too, but also today. The historical leaders can’t continue requiring the same sacrifice as in that period, not only because the conditions are different now, but also because subjectively people no longer believe they must keep making that same kind of sacrifice for something that seems very far away if not impossible....”

In the search for today’s happiness, the happiness of concrete men and women, people came up with another utopia: the American dream. In 39% of the households in the municipality Silber studied, at least one member has emigrated to the United States.

The utopia of peace was also lost

The magical and all-encompassing hope of the revolutionaries languished, which had many consequences. Although utopia isn’t only a regulatory framework, it is largely that: a reference point that not only embodies ideal criteria for judging the existing situation but also, as we saw in Moodie, generated certain “protocols” that make violence a relatively predictable risk.

That criterion is used again and again by people Moodie and Silber interviewed. They employ it to evaluate today’s violence in contrast to that of the past. Today’s is merely criminality, while that of the past was inspired by ideals. And although one of the characters created by Castellanos Moya—perhaps representing the writer’s own thinking—concludes that there’s no difference between the two, given the magnitude of deaths in each and their resistance to predictability, the postwar violence is perceived as a more tangible and omnipresent threat.

Also, because there is no utopia anymore, today’s violence is occurring in a disillusioned world. Moodie observes that in the previous world people rightly or wrongly “thought that generally speaking other people in their communities worried about each other and looked after each other in a humanistic way.”

And she adds: “When many Salvadorans said the postwar violence ‘is worse than that of the war,’ they weren’t only talking about safety on the street. They were talking about a changing social self-image, a loss of community, a solidarity that was getting away from them—a loss of all the hopes longed for after the 1992 Peace Accords. It was a democratic disillusionment.” In short, they talked about losing not only the utopia of system change, but also the utopia of peace.

The utopian decline in the region as a whole

The Central American utopias had a collective quality, not because they were the product of the dream of a collective unconscious, but because they were vehicles for visions of the future for a collectivity, not just for the individual who dreams of them.

There were revolutionary, reformist, developmentalist and liberal utopias, or a mixture of two or more, but they were all social utopias. The revolutionaries inspired insurgent movements that were actors in the wars of the 1970s and 80s. They were utopias about changing the system but, repeating the concise judgment of sociologist Edelberto Torres-Rivas, they didn’t even produce a social democracy.

The utopia of peace that succeeded them didn’t materialize either. Due to that accumulation of disenchantments we can say that the utopian decline that sociologist Karl Mannheim believed he saw in the early 20th century didn’t happen in Central America until the 21st century due to the reconfiguration of reality: the transformation of the agrarian society in the isthmus into another society, with a different socioeconomic structure and with the concomitant cultural changes that included a farewell to the old dreams.

So why do utopias fail?

The extinction of utopias isn’t an evil—or a blessing, some would say—affecting only Central America.

Sociologist Zygmunt Bauman wrote that it would seem we no longer believe we have a task or mission on the planet, that there is a legacy we feel obliged to preserve or be guardians of. And when there is a legacy, it no longer arouses the same kind of dedication as before. As a general rule, Bauman adds, manifestations of devotion to something (or someone) distinct from oneself, even if sincere, ardent and intense, stop short of sacrifice today. He offers the example of dedication to the “green” causes, which he says seldom goes so far as to adopt an ascetic life style, or even partial self-denial.

The time of great doubts and small certainties Eduardo Galeaano wrote about is a time in which the revolutionary hangover is a scrap heap of collective utopian dreams and personal aspirations that will never become reality, but to which the writer Erasmo Aragón, a lead character in Castellanos Moya’s novel Morongo, resorts to time and again “as if life were a list of what one would have liked to be, of which all that remains is nostalgia, and it reminds me of a friend with whom I shared the dream of us becoming what we never succeeded in being.”

Why do utopias fail? In a thesis that partially agrees with the more general ones of Torres-Rivas and writer Mario Roberto Morales, Spanish philosopher Adolfo Sánchez Vázquez, defines five reasons that lead to the failure of utopias, specifically addressing the case of Quixotism: 1) the inverting or idealizing of what is real; 2) the disproportion between the ambitious and noble tasks don Quixote proposes to achieve and the diminished and deteriorated physical forces he has at his disposal; 3) the mismatch of goals and means; 4) the hostility of a hierarchical and absolutist society in its maximum counter-reform, which closes all avenues to the humanist ideals don Quixote embodies; and 5) the insufficiency of Quixote’s noble and generous individual effort to realize goodness on earth, given that its social character and the collective effort required mean it cannot be reduced to an individual enterprise, no matter how noble and selfless it may be.

The failure of Central America’s utopia

German philosopher and sociologist Jürgen Habermas’ own reason for why Quixotism fails touches on Sánchez Vázquez’s first and third reasons: The utopia must remain aware of the possibility of unpredictable changes that could end up devouring it at a given moment. And from a utopia destroyed in the very course of being brought into being, a situation could emerge that is categorically different from the utopian prediction and in which new impediments, difficulties and encumbrances could appear.

Like Quixotism, one reason for the failure of the Central American utopia was that the situation changed in the most radical and immediate sense with the collapse of the real socialisms. Moreover, we are no longer in agrarian societies, whose decline has been so accelerated by globalization and its consequences—the greater economic weight of the services sector, migration and urban growth—that the leftist dream-makers have been left open-mouthed or repeating the same slogans of 40 years earlier.

It is striking, although not surprising, that most urban writers made no mention of the fact that the utopia had been pro-agrarian. Gioconda Belli and Francisco Goldman were the only ones to explicitly address the issue of the type of utopia being fought for in Central America, not only of its bitter remains. The others forgot the content of the utopia and concentrated on the horror of the means employed and on the corruption of the lead actors.

Curiously, it was precisely the agrarian sector, in the shape of the Nicaraguan peasants in the armed counterrevolution—that attempted to bring to the Sandinista government back down to earth and apply the breaks through its resistance to a state-centered agrarian reform. But the government totally ignored the peasantry’s resistance for many painful years, failing to consider the consequences such a reform could have on the agrarian sector. In a chain of inherited utopias increasingly unsuitable to the new territories and new times, the Nicaraguan revolution adopted this and many other aspects of the Cuban model, which in turn had followed the Soviet Union’s instructions.

The utopia of the “here and now”

The disillusionment brought about by the larger failed utopia produced what British cultural theorist Raymond Williams in The Politics of Modernism called a sense of “the loss of a future.” Many former combatants and even ordinary citizens in Central America suffered the feeling that both their future and also their past had been lost because the struggles that had previously shone with the glory of a cause sometimes appeared in retrospect as simple homicides. Furthermore, it came to light that some presumed executions of infiltrators were nothing more than Cain-like murders to hold on to power.

That led to the utopia of the here and now in the form of a commodified utopia. The concept of commercializing the utopia alludes not only to the cult of the market and faith in its invisible hand, one of the manifestations of a utopia that has become eminently pragmatic, but in fact encompasses a more ample syndrome.

On the one hand, we have the extinction of utopia noted by theologian and economist Franz Hinkelammert, in which the utopian ingenuousness returns “in the name of anti-utopia, of the utopia of a society without utopias.” For that reason, he proposes opposing such utopianism, which he sees as the worst that has ever existed, a rational relationship with the utopian world that to some degree has accompanied all of human history. The new utopias are disguised as anti-utopianism to appear more disenchanted and secularized, less quixotic.

On the other hand, Mannheim came to the conclusion that utopia was in the process of disappearing because people were more adjusted to reality. And, at the end of his life, Bauman held that “retrotopias” are emerging. In a book with that title published a week after his death, he defined retrotopias as “ideal visions located in a lost/robbed/abandoned but undead past, instead of being tied to the not-yet-born and so inexistent future to which the utopia was tied.”

The commodified utopias

Retrotopias may be more of a European phenomenon, although it’s worth contemplating that those in the Central American isthmus have some expressions of it, such as nostalgia for authoritarianism, which prospers all over Latin America any time insecurity increases.

In Central America, the supposed adjustment to reality engenders a utopianism looking to be realized right now and in each individual. Bauman observed the same phenomenon in Europe that is more recently coming to our region. He describes how the privatizing/individualizing of the idea of progress and the search for improvements in life via neoliberalism was something the established powers wanted very much to sell (and the majority of their citizens bought) as a form of liberation: a break with the hard requirements of subordination and discipline, but at the price of losing social services and the State’s protection.

Neoliberalism brought no liberation in Central America, however, just the expansion of informal labor, self-employment, piecework, and job insecurity, which provided a breeding ground for the commodified utopia. The cult of prosperity and personal fulfillment promoted by the neo-Pentecostal churches is the best example of this new commodified utopianism. It’s not just about faith in the market. The idea is that we will be rewarded if we behave appropriately and have faith—or think positively, in its secular version.

This commodifying also implies that the whole notion of “good”—a category that has run through Western thinking at least since Aristotle—is centered not on contemplation, harmony in society or the absence of evils, but on catching the opulent life train, in which the preachers are the model and living proclamation that God materially rewards those who serve Him.

A disenchanted utopia
is required today

The essential basis of this shift is a transfer of responsibility to individuals. As Bauman sees it, we have a situation in which it now corresponds to each individual human being to seek and find (or interpret) individual solutions to socially produced problems and apply them to each problem deploying their own personal ingenuity and their own skills and resources.

The objective of this turnaround, Bauman wrote, is not to obtain a better society—since improving it is for all intents and purposes a vain hope—but rather to improve one’s individual position within one’s essential but definitely incurable society. Instead of a few rewards shared by some collective efforts at social reform, what’s at play today is to individually capture through competition a greater slice of the dwindling pie accessible to the population in general.

Individuals who shoulder all the responsibilities of their social position and its achievements have to use practical means to get ahead. Their demand for prosperity can only be satisfied by means the market makes available. Such people must have faith/positive thinking, but that’s not all that’s required. It’s also important to take the right courses, develop the capacities the market is interested in, adopt the advice about personal advancement and know how to sell oneself.

From this perspective, the old ideological utopias—to change the system—best fit the magical mentality. The modernity that has come to Central America on the back of globalization requires a disenchanted, practical utopia, one more Sancho Panza-like than Quixotic. We have gone from magical utopianism to a commodified one. The French sociologist Yvon Le Bot understood this very well when he labeled the old-style utopianism of the 1994 Zapatista uprising as a re-enchantment of the world, in contrast to modernity’s construction of disenchantment.

Confidence in utopia

Any warning bells and critiques regarding utopias must be applied with a discriminating eye rather than with the goal of renouncing the regulatory nature and inspirational strength of dreams. People who are disillusioned or deny the existence of utopias are sometimes the first to succumb to camouflaged ones.

Guatemalan anthropologist Ricardo Falla, who in the 1980s was totally committed to the revolutionary utopia from his pastoral accompaniment of the Ixcán rainforest population in resistance, neither denies nor hides his devotion to those years of social change. In his 2018 book Las lógicas del genocidio guatemalteco (The Logics of the Guatemalan Genocide) Falla, a Jesuit, wrote “We not only trusted in the future of the Guatemalan revolution, but also that we could contribute to it through our faith…. We could not hide then nor can we now. That’s the way we were and the way we still are.”

Reviewing the texts he wrote decades ago years ago in the heat of the struggle, and that he has brought together in “the dusk of his life” for publication in nine pithy volumes, Falla doesn’t renounce the utopia and thus limits any updating of his old texts: “After 20 years, my 2017 corrections will perhaps be seen as a shift, product of the revolutionary movement’s strategic defeat, from which other generations will surely have already recovered.” His objective, however, is to open us up to the idea that our perspective on revolutionary utopias can change and allow for a more benevolent look and even inspire us to take them up again with the necessary changes.

Waslala: A utopian novel of poets

Where have all the dreamers gone? Is there no longer a place for them and their castles in the air? Despite Mannheim’s argument that utopias are incongruent, he doesn’t see their disappearance as totally positive.

He holds that only the groups on the extreme left and extreme right believe there is unity in the development process and participate from that vision of totality that harbored utopia. But he knows the loss of that sense of totality leads to the disappearance of the idea of a goal and of transforming dreams. He concludes that the total elimination of the elements that transcend our world’s reality leads to pure facticity, which unquestionably heralds the decadence of the human will.

The late French philosopher Jean Paul Ricoeur wrote that: “We cannot imagine a society without utopia because this would be a society without goals.” And he went even further in his defense of utopia, describing how the assumed order suddenly manifests itself as eccentric and contingent.... In a period in which he admitted to pessimistically believing all things are blocked by systems that have failed but cannot be defeated, he saw utopia as our recourse… which could be an evasion but also a weapon of criticism.

And what about stories? Are they only that or can they also serve a purpose? Castellanos Moya reviles the “horrible mediocre leftist poets who sell hope.” But in the novel Waslala by Nicaraguan writer Gioconda Belli, the poets construct the utopia. Waslala is their invention. First it’s an idea, but later it is a place governed by them. This vision fits in with the neoliberal model of utopia, as it is based mainly on trust in the power of ideas as a regulator of mundane affairs. But unlike the liberal humanitarian utopia, Belli’s refines the idea of progress by introducing the concept of crisis, which both precedes and succeeds the realization of the utopia and accompanies it during its short life, as happened in Nicaragua’s socialist utopia. That factor mitigates its quixotism.

Utopia’s pulling power

The changes in Central America’s reality are assessed in a variety of ways by both analysts and writers of literature. While negative appraisals predominate, Belli takes responsibility for her ambivalent character. Those changes bear the seeds of the obsolescence of the utopia because its anti-hegemonic character is rooted in the reality they oppose. Reality changes, but in part due to the intervention of the utopia. Once that intervention has occurred, the utopia has to transform itself, because everything else has transformed: both the reality and the agents of the utopia.

Gioconda Belli’s purpose is at first glance poetic. But she assumes the transformations both in her memoirs and in Waslala. Waslala was transformed and so were her surroundings. This copy of the Sandinista revolution that is Waslala, a sort of metaphor of the country as a whole, expressed the dialectic of the utopia.

Belli isn’t wrong: insofar as the dream inspires and produces the reality it proposes, it ceases being just a chimera. As Moodie noted, we know we want the idealized State we desire “because we think we’ve lived something like it. It’s not a utopia, a place that doesn’t exist. We think we’ve experienced something real, something we want so much that we imagine having experienced it.”

Ernst Bloch warns of the dangers of dreaming awake: the dreamer at times runs after a future fire, detouring from the path. But he’s not sleeping, nor is he sinking down into a fog. There are dangers because any utopia has a paranoid quality; for every genuine precursor there are hundreds of dreamers, fantasists and maniacs.

Gioconda Belli and Sergio Ramírez recognize the mistakes, but also the undeniable pulling power of utopia and its capacity to keep us afloat. Perhaps their less disillusioned tone results from the fact that both were part of the Sandinista elite. Or is it because they saw—and lived in—a country revolutionized by a utopia?

That revolutionary victory and the realization of its dream produced such a different experience in those Nicaraguan writers, marking their work with hopeful hues more favorable to utopias in general even though that dream degenerated into a nightmare in the second Sandinista government—as it also was for many in the first one.

Nicaragua’s April utopia

Postwar Nicaragua saw the revolutionary utopia stagger in the early 90s then collapse once and for all in a bloody din with the murders that repressed the April 2018 rebellion. But it has shown signs of being inhabited by new utopias.

Thousands of utopian youths participated in the April rebellion. They are utopian not because their aspirations are unreachable, but because they are lofty and represent long-term goals. The April rebellion has largely been led by feminists and inspired by ideals and proposals that living fossils have labeled “gender ideology.” Their dreams are acquiring a more concrete form each day. The changes they are promoting will come “yes or yes,” as the British geographer Anthony Bebbington wrote. They are part of a global current of changes that have elicited criminal reactions among their many well-armed adversaries. Hence so many femicides as a rejection of gender equity.

Daniel Ortega is one of the most extreme faces of the dominant macho archetype. His continuing status as a Sandinista icon reveals the putrefied state of his party. In relation to this indicator, the regime appears as one barricade, among millions on the planet, where patriarchal domination has dug in to be exercised with the greater crudity and gall.

Ortega and Murillo are expressions of a domination that resists death but writhes with bloody death rattles like Hollywood monsters that survive a hundred deaths before collapsing, wounded but still lashing out furiously, still determined to rip the movie’s heroes to shreds.

The all-encompassing utopias of April’s youths

The utopian youth who rebelled in April 2018 have helped us envision new dreams and new enemies, or more reasons to fight against the same enemy. They have put both our deficiencies as a society and authoritarianism and violence in the spotlight, foreshadowing a new Left or a progressivism that is more all-encompassing, tolerant yet critical than the analyses skewed by politicians’ opportunism. These young people aren’t expecting a repetition of July 19, 1979, or a radical change like February 25, 1990. They expect something more than either, much more. Something new. They want to take the heavens by storm. They have shown us that the 21st century can produce non-mercantile and non-agrarian utopias.

Their utopias seem more expansive, more global and less targeted, or more maximalist and less minimalist, as British historian Alan Knight has described it. They extended their dreams upward to the cultural sphere and downward to the protection of nature, leaving the social aspect, perhaps for later? Are their struggles more intermittent and fluid? We don’t know for sure, as we still don’t have a clear perspective.
What we do know, and have known for more than a year, at least in Nicaragua, is that it is in no way justified to claim that these causes for liberty and feminism have been defended in any cautious or miserly way. Unlike the struggles Bauman criticized, those of April 2018 did not stop in the face of sacrifice nor motivate only partial abnegation.

What can and must be said is that today’s utopias are at the same time greater and smaller than those of the 1980s. Nonetheless, a transgenerational arc unites us and encourages us to fervently sing as we did before: “There will come a day when all, upon lifting our eyes, will see a land that has established liberty.”

José Luis Rocha is a researcher affiliated with the Institute for Research and Projection on Global and Local Dynamics of the Rafael Landívar University in Guatemala and with the José Simeón Cañas Central American University in El Salvador.

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