By Natalia Burdyńska Schuurman
Last week, Alliance for Global Justice (AFGJ) was among the thousands of Nicaraguan citizens, youth and international delegates present at the 44th Anniversary celebration of the Sandinista Popular Revolution in Managua, Nicaragua. I was honored and ecstatic to be part of this shared space to rejoice in the sustained peace, prosperity and gains for the Nicaraguan people with fellow internationalists committed to uplifting Nicaragua’s example of resilience and self-determination to the world.
For decades, Nicaragua has been the target of countless interventions, militarism and economic as well as ideological warfare. Struggles for freedom from colonial rule, dictatorship and frequent attempts by the U.S. military and mercenaries like William Walker to invade Nicaragua eventually culminated in the overthrow of the U.S.-backed Somoza regime by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) in 1979. In the formation of a broad coalition of anti-Somoza and leftist forces, the FSLN consolidated political power and embarked on its journey of revolutionary reconstruction that persists to this day.
July 19 is an important day for the Nicaraguan people. Older generations recall the terrors of the Somoza regime and U.S.-sponsored Contra War. Younger people remember the violent 2018 U.S.-backed coup attempt in Nicaragua. Every year marks an important milestone for the nation’s political stability and progress. The Sandinista Popular Revolution continues to make strides in poverty reduction, economic growth, sustainable development and infrastructure, educational attainment, health outcomes and overall quality of life. Nicaragua is a global leader in gender equality and is among the highest-scoring countries in the World Happiness Report. This July, we celebrate Nicaragua’s “threat of a good example” and continued resistance to the forces of imperialism that persist relentlessly in their attempts to destabilize its movement towards liberation.
As many of our long-time supporters know, AFGJ’s participation in this year’s 44th Anniversary celebration marks the continuation of a long history of solidarity and friendship with the Nicaraguan people that began when our organizational co-founders first formed the Nicaragua Network in February of 1979. This became the leading North American solidarity organization that led coffee and cotton picking brigades and helped the construction of schools, health clinics and houses following the overthrow of the Somoza dictatorship. Four decades later, AFGJ continues to stand in unwavering solidarity with the Sandinista Popular Revolution.
On my second trip to Nicaragua, I was left with nothing but a boundless appreciation of Nicaragua – its people, its history, its struggles and its achievements. I was grateful to have met with countless solidarity activists from around the globe – from labor organizers to independent journalists, from college professors to international human rights lawyers, from grassroots activists to political party leadership. I spoke with numerous individuals visiting Nicaragua for the first time in decades overjoyed to witness the incredible progress made under the Sandinista government in spite of nearly two decades of U.S.-backed neoliberal governments (from 1990-2006) that rolled back many of the initial gains of the revolution. I watched the fireworks as the clock struck midnight on July 19 at the Plaza La Fe with thousands of Nicaraguans of all generations and backgrounds proudly waving their flags to the sounds of revolutionary music that could be heard across the city.
I’m happy to say so much has materialized from this trip: strengthened solidarity and dedication to uplifting Nicaragua’s achievements and defending its sovereignty; new working relationships between people and organizations in political education and advocacy; and a renewed inspiration to share our impressions of Nicaragua with our communities back home.
A strategic center of geopolitical interests and threat to U.S. hegemony in Latin America and the Caribbean, Nicaragua is constantly demonized by Democrats and Republicans alike, mainstream media and those who accept its mischaracterizations at face value. I invite those of you curious to get to know the true reality of Nicaragua and understand the foundations of popular support for the Sandinista government to see the country with your own eyes by joining one of our upcoming delegations. What you’ll find, I’m convinced, is a level of political participation, community empowerment and life satisfaction at all sectors of society that far transcends anything I have ever witnessed in the United States or elsewhere.
Our next delegation to Nicaragua this coming January co-sponsored by Casa Benjamin Linder, “Rights of Afro-Descendant and Indigenous Peoples in Autonomous Caribbean Coast Communities,” is an opportunity to experience and learn from the 23 autonomous territories that comprise 31% of Nicaraguan land. Please email [email protected] to apply to participate in this delegation.
May the Nicaraguan people continue to enjoy peace, prosperity and progress, and may the international community continue to learn from and celebrate Nicaragua’s inspiring example. As the Sandinistas say, “¡siempre más allá!” (“always more ahead!”).