Monday, February 22, 2010

How Sandinistas Remembered Their Martyrs

The struggle against the Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua was long and bloody. The FSLN itself -- the Sandinista Front for National Liberation -- was formed in the early 1960s by a number of young Nicaraguans from varying backgrounds. Only one of the original founders survived to see the revolution's success in 1979. Nicaragua is not a huge country, and when I stayed there for the summer of 1986, it was clear that a kind of intimacy remained with all those who had fallen at the hands of the dictatorship's US-backed military. There were lots of wall murals and posters memorializing the FSLN's martyrs, and even small monuments marking the spot where some hero or heroine had fallen. Here's another batch of photos I took, showing some of these memorials. Click the label "photography" below for more of my Nicaragua photos. Click on the photos themselves to see them larger.

Rigoberto Lopez Perez was the assassin of Anastasio Somoza (father of the dictator the FSLN finally overthrew) in the 1950s. He was a poet and composer, and shot the dictator after infiltrating a party; he was killed in the attack. This wall stencil in Managua reads, "Con el heroismo de Rigoberto, Seguimos en Frente con el Frente" or "With the heroism of Rigoberto, We Stay Ahead with the Front"

This Managua mural marks the "Heroes and Martyrs of the William Diaz Neighborhood" especially Carlos Calero: "Companero Carlos Calero Presente Presente": "Comrade Carlos Calero Still Present."

The Nicaraguan revolution captured the imagination of young people in the 1970s: many of those who were gunned down by the forces of Somoza were teens. I don't know the name of this young girl heroine, whose small shrine was tucked into a Managua street corner.

A billboard set up for the anniversary of the revolution celebrations reads "Nicaragua Victoriosa: Ni Se Rinde, Ni Se Vende" "Victorious Nicaragua: Neither For Sale or Surrender." It shows Rigoberto Lopez and FSLN founder Carlos Fonseca sandwiching Sandinista namesake Augusto Cesar Sandino, the revolutionary who tried to drive out US forces in the early 1930s.

This mural in Granada honors fallen FSLN founder Carlos Fonseca Amador. Fonseca was the main theoretician of the FSLN, and was killed in the guerrilla phase of the revolution in 1976. The mural reads, "We're trying not to simply change the men in power, but to change the system; for the defeat the exploiting classes and the victory of the exploited classes."

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