The Return of the Nicaraguan Revolution

Yesterday we posted an article discussing 5 myths still perpetuated in the media’s myopic coverage of the Nicaraguan Revolution. Here we share David Wilson’s article from Truth Out from earlier this week, that raises many of the same themes, but through the lens of his personal experience as a volunteer with TecNica in 1985 and 1987. A fascinating account that reinforces the need for far more nuance in presenting the Nicaraguan Revolution, the experiences of the people in Nicaragua, and the motivations of solidarity activists.

Nicaragua’s 1979 revolution is back in the news, at least in New York City.

On September 23 The New York Times ran a front-page article on the decades-old Nicaragua solidarity activism of Bill de Blasio, now the frontrunner in New York’s November 5 mayoral election. Some two dozen other articles quickly appeared in the local and national press, most of them recycling old perspectives on the thousands of us who, like de Blasio, traveled to Nicaragua in the 1980s to demonstrate our opposition to the Reagan and Bush administrations’ efforts to overthrow that country’s government.

Journalists on the right naturally tended to repeat Cold War charges against the solidarity activists: We ignored atrocities allegedly committed by the leftist comandantes of the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN); deluded by ideology and our government minders, we failed to hear the “whispered anguish” of Nicaraguans in the streets and the market places. Other writers were more balanced in their articles, but no less patronizing. We were “young,” they insisted; “fresh-faced,” “idealistic” and “more than a touch naïve.”

The media consensus was clear: We were credulous communist dupes or else, at best, credulous but idealistic hippies. “Sandalista” was a favorite media putdown back in the 1980s.

Young Idealists, Aging Cynics

The Nicaraguan reality was far more complex and interesting than the picture the US press presented then and continues to present now.

I visited Nicaragua in 1985 and 1987, both times as a volunteer with TecNica, a California-based organization that sponsored tours by North Americans who could provide technical assistance and training in fields like computer programming and machine repair.

Some of the volunteers did seem to be young idealists, but at least half of us had reached middle age and many were veterans of the sectarian infighting that accompanied the decay of the 1960s student movement. “Disillusioned” or even “cynical” would describe us better than “naïve.” We were regularly on the lookout for party apparatchiks and Stalinist distortions. It wasn’t hard to find problems: We were free to go where we wanted and to talk to anyone who wanted to talk, as long as we stayed away from army installations and the zones where the US-sponsored “contra” insurgents were carrying out military operations.

Read the rest of the article at Truth Out

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