Inside Nicaragua’s Sandinista Revolution: 43 Years Resisting Imperialism

by Benjamin Norton, published on Multipolarista, July 22, 2022

Benjamin Norton reports from inside Nicaragua on the 43rd anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution. This mini-documentary explores the FSLN’s emphasis on social programs, popular participation, anti-imperialism, and internationalism.

Transcript

LYRICS: This is the war that can’t be held back, the ongoing war against the oppressor. What is the symbol? The people never give in. Never! What is the symbol? FSLN! (Sandinista National Liberation Front)

BENJAMIN NORTON: Hey everyone, I’m Ben Norton of Multipolarista. I am right now in the heart of the Nicaraguan capital, Managua. Today is July 19. It is the anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution.

On this day in 1979, the socialist Sandinista Front overthrew the US-backed right-wing dictatorship of Somoza, here in this plaza behind me.

And President Daniel Ortega, who led the Sandinista Front in the revolution, and returned to power through democratic elections, he is going to give a speech today talking about the importance of the revolution years after it succeeded.

President Ortega emphasized the centrality of sovereignty and anti-imperialism for the Sandinista Front. He reflected on the long history of the United States meddling in Nicaragua’s internal affairs, trying to overthrow the Sandinistas and reverse their revolution.

DANIEL ORTEGA: Why does the United States behave in that way? And when we say the United States, we are speaking of the North American rulers. Because when they dropped the atomic bomb above Hiroshima, they did not ask the North American people if the bomb should be dropped.

And they did a count of how many thousands the bomb could kill. And the higher the number was, that they calculated that the bomb could kill, the happier and more excited they were.

And they went ahead and dropped it, and killed, in one blow, hundreds of thousands of civilians, children, adults, because they dropped it on a city.

Right there, they killed, murdered many more civilians than all of those who could have died now in this war that the empires have started to try to destroy the struggle that humanity is carrying out to bring about the end of hegemony, and to create multipolarity on our planet.

That is the battle that is being fought over there in Ukraine, where Europe and the United States don’t want — they don’t want to see China growing economically.

It is from there, it is the evil that those powers have shown throughout history, the powers that colonized Africa, Asia, Latin America, the powers that brought slaves from Africa to these regions, to sell like them animals in slave markets.

When you asked me, and when it was asked, why not reach an understanding? They [the US] are not prepared to reach an understanding. They are prepared for nothing more than imposing, imposing, occupying, bombing, killing, as they have done throughout history.

BENJAMIN NORTON: Behind me, you can see hundreds of activists from the Sandinista Youth. They are the lifeblood of the Sandinista Front.

They’re grassroots activists. They’re all volunteers. And they are motivated by their political ideology and the project of socialism and anti-imperialism.

And here, when President Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo speak, they’re always joined by the youth, representing how important the future of the country is for continuing the Sandinista Revolution.

On July 18, tens of thousands of Nicaraguans flooded the plaza in the middle of Managua, and partied all night, until the early hours of the morning on July 19, celebrating the anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution.

In hundreds of humble barrios across the country, Nicaraguans held community block parties called vigilias to commemorate the revolution. This was a celebration held in the working-class neighborhood of San Antonio, Managua.

MUSICIAN: For more progress! For more houses for the people! For more free education! For more free healthcare! For more modern hospitals! For the best roads in Central America! For better technologies! For the subsidies for our peasants!

For peace, freedom, security, dignity! Long live Nicaragua! Long live the Sandinista Front!

BENJAMIN NORTON: Grassroots gatherings like these show that there remains massive popular support for the revolution, 43 years after the Sandinista Front first took power.

A June 2022 survey by the most respected mainstream polling firm in Nicaragua, M&R Consultores, found that President Daniel Ortega has a 77% approval rating, and 70% of people think he is leading the country in the right direction.

While the US government and foreign corporate media outlets constantly demonize Nicaragua, 73% of actual Nicaraguans say that Ortega is a democratically elected leader following the laws of his country, whereas just 20% agree with Washington’s claims that he is supposedly authoritarian.

Overall, 68% of Nicaraguans support the leftist Sandinista Front party, whereas 17% back the right-wing opposition.

The results of polls like these make total sense when you see the incredible enthusiasm that average working-class Nicaraguans show for the Sandinista Revolution. Everywhere you go, you see people driving with FSLN flags and wearing red-and-black clothing.

This support is especially strong in humble barrios, where low-income workers have benefited most from the social programs of the Sandinista Front, which has provided free socialized healthcare, high-quality education, and public housing projects.

The Sandinista government has drastically expanded access to electricity and clean water in impoverished areas that had been abandoned and ignored by previous right-wing governments. Today, Nicaragua has some of the best infrastructure in Latin America. And perhaps most important of all, it provides security and safety in a region that has been plagued by violence and organized crime.

At the 43rd anniversary celebration, Nicaraguan Vice President Rosario Murillo spoke about the ongoing legacy of the revolution. She also condemned US imperialism and emphasized the importance of anti-imperialism for the Sandinista Front.

ROSARIO MURILLO: Today we are walking in the path of that legacy, the legacy of everyone who physically is not here, or physically were not able to see the victory on July 19, 43 years ago, but they were there, and here they are, and they live on, because they are the ones who guide us, with their example, with their force of revolution, force of bravery, anti-imperialist force.

Because here, we have endured it (imperialism), but we have also expelled it, but we have also expelled it, and we have defeated it. at every moment.

Here, that yankee, the enemy of humanity, has met his match.

Here, no one surrenders. Here, we neither sell out nor surrender.

BENJAMIN NORTON: Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega just spoke tonight alongside some of the most important allies of Nicaragua, including representatives from China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and Cuba.

He also dedicated the 43rd anniversary of the revolution to the prime minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves. And this shows the important alliance between countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

And it shows how Nicaragua and the Caribbean nations are helping and leading an effort to replace the US-dominated Organization of American States, the OAS, with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean states, CELAC.

RALPH GONSALVES: When the revolution triumphed I celebrated in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Because the revolution in Nicaragua is our revolution.

I come from a small country in our hemisphere. But this small country believes in and subscribes to large principles: the defense of sovereignty and independence, non-interference and non-intervention in our internal affairs.

Now the empire doesn’t understand that. You have a country [the US] which is 350 million people. They are reputedly the strongest military force in the world. Nicaragua is 6.2 million people, a country in Central America seeking to develop itself and its people.

Why in God’s name, with a country so large, with so many resources, with such military strength, why would you want to pick on a small country like Nicaragua? I ask myself that question every day.

And know always, that with solidarity among the people and across our Latin American and Caribbean, and the world, no power, no weapon formed against the people of Nicaragua can ever prosper.

BENJAMIN NORTON: At the anniversary celebration, Ortega criticized those calling for him to hold a dialogue with the US government. He argued that Washington cannot be trusted, because it would be like negotiating with the devil.

DANIEL ORTEGA: And they [the imperialists] waged war among themselves, to take over the world. It was war between the European powers, before there was a European Union.

You know it, dear brother. England, France, Spain, wanting to dominate all Europe, and dominating all of Europe, later taking over Africa, Asia, all of the Americas.

A hegemonic mentality. A selfish mentality. A mentality that has nothing to do with being Christian, nothing to do with being Christian. And all of that, they did it with the blessing of the different churches that existed in that time.

When they asked Roosevelt, who was a good friend of Somoza, why he was so gracious and friendly with Somoza, Somoza being a criminal, Roosevelt responded, in English, “He is a son of a…” How do you say it? “He’s a son of a bitch.” Yes, that is how he replied. “But he is OUR son (of a bitch).”

Yes, “He is a son (of a bitch), but he is OUR son (of a bitch).” That was the cynical response of the yankee.

I’m answering why there is no dialogue. Dialogue is impossible. Impossible. Dialogue is for one person to put a noose on your neck, and you to put your neck in the noose.

Look, dear brother, what dialogue can you have with the devil? As Che said, the yankees, the imperialists, you can’t trust them even a little bit, not even a little bit. Because it will end you. It will end you.

BENJAMIN NORTON: At the celebration of the 43rd anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution, President Ortega and Vice President Murillo were joined by representatives of some of the country’s most important allies, including China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and Cuba.

Also on stage at the anniversary celebration was a diplomat from the new left-wing government in neighboring Honduras. Vice Foreign Minister Gerardo Torres Zelaya explained why it is important for Honduras and Nicaragua to strengthen their relations.

GERARDO TORRES: Nicaragua and Honduras are neighbors. They are countries that have historically been brothers. We share our largest border with Nicaragua. And our relationship is respectful, fraternal, and one of cooperation.

We are here as a country, as a government, saying that the message is that Central America should integrate itself, grow closer together, and work for the common good.

BENJAMIN NORTON: I spoke to Edgardo García Aguilar, who leads a leftist peasant organization called the Association of Rural Workers, or ATC. The ATC is independent from the Nicaraguan state, but it strongly supports the Sandinista government and the revolution. Edgardo explained why.

EDGARDO GARCÍA: 43 years since July 19, we reaffirm the commitment of the generation of that time [1979], when the student youth protested, to tell Somoza that the situation was not fair, and that a change was needed.

There was no attention to the demands of the people, to the aspirations of the youth, to the plight of the peasants. There was no attention to the need for literacy. There was only support for the oligarchs.

Somoza said that he had a baton for the opposition, lead [bullets] for the rebels, and money for the oligarchy. And we insisted that we needed to have our rights.

We always have to be in the struggle. Because it is in struggle that we can lead to new times and changes. And the struggle against covid, the struggle against poverty, the struggle for work, the struggle for electrification, the struggle for social services, it is a constant struggle that is in the conscience of all the popular sectors, from the peasants, the Indigenous, the students, to the commercial sector, of small producers, and even some patriotic sectors of private businesses.

We know that we have that struggle to provide solutions, to meet people’s needs, to rise out of poverty, and to maintain anti-imperialism, because imperialism wants to crush us.

Long live the revolution on its 43rd anniversary!


 

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