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Sandinista commanders: a necessary clarification

Sandinista commanders: a necessary clarification

Today, November 7, the digital edition of Página / 12 publishes an article with the title “Elections in Nicaragua: Who are the former commanders of the Sandinista Revolution backing? that incurs some inaccuracies or gaps that warrant a brief comment. The drop of the article says verbatim that “Of the nine members of the old collective leadership, only Bayardo Arce openly supports Daniel Ortega.”

To begin we must say that The FSLN was founded in 1961 and that the trends alluded to in the note from the Regional News Agency only appeared in 1976, in the middle of the war against Somoza, and they were dissolved months before the triumph of the revolution in 1979. Daniel Ortega joined the FSLN in 1963, two years after its foundation and in 1965 he assumed the military leadership of the Urban Resistance. It is true that there were two important defections among the commanders: Luis Carrión, someone who had a short career in the guerrilla; and Henry Ruiz, who did achieve notable merits in the guerrilla campaign but in the struggle for power within Sandinismo, in 1994, allowed himself to be seduced by the candidacy for Secretary General of the Front postulated by the MRS (Sandinista Renovation Movement) when this trend was still incorporated into the FSLN. Upon being defeated, Ruiz chose to leave the organization and years later to actively move to the remote-controlled dismissal opposition from the White House

But the same did not happen with others. Carlos Núñez died in 1990, while still an active member of the FSLN National Directorate. And Tomás Borge – who died in 2012 – supported Daniel Ortega until the last moment. Borge was the only founder who came alive to the triumph of the Revolution; the other founding member, Carlos Fonseca Amador, died in combat in Boca de Piedra in November 1976. One of the oldest commanders, Víctor Tirado López, distanced himself a few years from the Sandinista government but after the seditious offensive promoted by the United States in the 2018 rejoined the FSLN and now supports Daniel Ortega in a forceful way.

Jaime Wheelock is another story: he remained active assuming political responsibilities in the Front until the end of the 1990s. He always maintained a certain closeness with Daniel Ortega, but in 2018 he assumed hesitant positions in the face of the attempt to replicate in Nicaragua the Venezuelan “guarimbas” of the previous year. After that, he went over to the seditious side organized by Washington and demanded the resignation of Ortega. A similar case is that of Humberto Ortega, the president’s brother, who was in charge of the Army when the elections were lost in 1990; From that moment on, it remained in the Sandinista space, even more so after the return of Sandinismo to the government in 2007. However, the frustrated “color revolution” of 2018 pushed him into the opposition camp.. To summarize: Bayardo Arce is not the only historical member of the FSLN National Directorate who still supports the Sandinista government of Daniel Ortega. So does Víctor Tirado, as Carlos Núñez and Tomás Borge did, until his death. And so does the majority of the guerrilla commanders who emerged, on the battlefields, before and after the overthrow of Somoza, and who were not part of the founding nucleus of the FSLN.

As in any revolutionary process, there are those who stand firm and also those who desert or surrender to the enemy. After the war against US aggression, unleashed with fury after the 1979 victory and which materialized in the electoral defeat of the FSLN at the hands of Violeta Chamorro in 1990, many abandoned Sandinismo and opted for surrender. They badly metabolized the defeat and argued that the time had come for the FSLN to renounce socialism, anti-imperialism, popular struggle and the vanguard character of the Party. However, the majority of the Extraordinary Congress gathered to define positions in this regard (approximately 60% of the delegates) decided to maintain these principles. Months later those defeated in Congress left the FSLN and formed the MRS. In the 1996 elections, they obtained 1.5% of the vote while the Front obtained 36%. In 2000 and 2001 allies with the Front participated, but in 2006 they broke and ran on their own, obtaining 6%, while the Front 38%. When Sandinismo returned to government in 2007, these groups were extinguished as a political option. Their decline takes on a dramatic turn in the events of 2018, when they formed the military command of the failed coup attempt. By the way, a good part of those who held positions in the government and in the Front in the eighties abandoned the struggle in the following decade, allowing themselves to be seduced by the siren songs of the empire (money, prestige, recognition, social representation). However, the historical militancy as well as the current one are firmly aligned with the leadership of Daniel Ortega.

In relation to the latter, it should not be forgotten that in Nicaragua there were two wars: the liberation one, against the Somoza tyranny, and the one of the eighties, when Washington launched itself furiously to sow death and destruction in that country, arming, financing and granting diplomatic protection to the “contras” to overthrow the revolutionary government. He even ordered a high-ranking United States Army officer, Colonel Oliver North, to organize, at the request of President Ronald Reagan, an international network of drug trafficking and illegal arms sales to obtain the resources to finance the Nicaraguan “Contra”. A good part of today’s Sandinista militancy is made up of the generation that joined the Front in that war of the 1980s, at a very early age.

All these are nuances that we think it necessary to introduce for a better understanding of the note that we are commenting on, and that are intended to clarify a devilishly complex panorama. It is not only Bayardo Arce who supports Daniel Ortega. This clarification does not at all mean ignoring the existing problems in the Sandinista government experience, which could be improved like that of any other. But he does want to highlight that the criticism of officials or the media that demonize, in line with the script drawn up by Washington, Daniel Ortega and Nicaragua (and Cuba, Venezuela, Evo Morales, Rafael Correa, etc.) while consenting to and hiding the crimes of fiercely repressive governments such as that of Colombia (average of one assassination of a political or social leader every two days), or the criminal repression of Sebastián Piñera in Chile, that criticism, we repeat, is insanely dishonest and reactionary.

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