Tag Archives: European Solidarity

Mapping the Revolution

I’ve been mapping the transnational networks of the Nicaraguan Revolution for a few years now and I thought that I would share some of the data I have accrued. Below are a few visualizations and the accompanying data. You can download the spreadsheets and upload them to Palladio in order to recreate these visualizations.


Grants


Twinning and Sister Cities


Gabi Gottwald – Political Connections

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French Feminist Solidarity

Last week I received a package in the mail from Toulouse, France, which contained a booklet from a feminist Nicaraguan-solidarity organization in Paris. I had originally found a copy of this booklet in the Gabi Guttwald collection at the Archiv Grünes Gedächtnis, but while looking into the organization I found a copy online. I have not found many sources from French solidarity groups, this booklet being my only piece so far.

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“Nicaragua Women”

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Printed shortly after the fall of Somoza in July 1979, this booklet contains accounts of events in Nicaragua and Nicaraguan women’s efforts in helping to oust the Somoza regime. Early in its history the FSLN adopted a policy of gender equality within its ranks, allowing women the same rights and opportunities within the organization as its male members. During the revolution women served in support as well as front line positions. After the revolution women remained in significant roles in the organization and by the mid-1980s one quarter to one third of the leadership positions in the FSLN government and party were held by women.

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I was not able to track down this Sandino quote and I do not know French well enough to give it a proper translation, or at least one that makes sense.

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“Women and Armed Struggle”

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“The Women’s Struggle After Victory”

Karen Kampwirth, Women and Guerrilla Movements: Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chiapas, Cuba (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2003)

Victoria Gonzalez and Karen Kampwirth, Radical Women in Latin America: Left and Right (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001)

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Green Aid to the FSLN

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The image to the left is of an article from La Prensa Grafica, a Salvadoran newspaper, dated October 27, 1989. The article discusses the efforts of the German Greens to raise funds for the FSLN. The article states that the Greens raised 300,000 marks for Daniel Ortega‘s presidential campaign against Violeta Chamorro. By the late 1980s European support for the FSLN had significantly dwindled in the face of U.S. political and economic pressure as well as growing relations between the Sandinistas and the Soviet Union. Although state support was on the decline, grassroots solidarity groups on the far-left of European politics continued to support the FSLN. A number of the factions that made up the Greens espoused solidarity with Nicaragua in its struggle with U.S. aggression, providing material and moral support. These groups channeled some aid, such as that mentioned in the article, through umbrella organizations like the Greens, while others used their own organizational apparatus to support the FSLN. This resulted in extremely complicated transnational networks with grassroots groups in Germany pursuing an individual program of support while simultaneously coordinating with other groups under the aegis of broad coalitions.

Solon Lovett Barraclough, Aid That Counts: The Western Contribution to Development and Survival in Nicaragua (Washington D.C.: Transnational Institute, 1988).

Eusebio Mujal-León. “European Socialism and the Crisis in Central America.” Rift and Revolution: The Central American Imbroglio (Washington D.C.: American Enterprise Institute, 1984).

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Reagan the Bozo

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Above is another image from the Nicaraguan Solidarity Campaign’s collection of Roger Sanchez’s cartoons, however this cartoon was drawn by British cartoonist Steve Bell. Since 1981 Bell has been the editorial cartoonist for The Guardian newspaper and is best known for his political cartoons. The above cartoon is a satirical depiction of Ronald Reagan, which Bell adequately explains.

Apart from depicting Bell’s attitudes, the image is an excellent representation of broader Western European sentiments towards Ronald Reagan. Because of his antagonistic rhetoric and actions towards the Soviet Union, many Europeans viewed Reagan as a threat to the Cold War status quo on the continent. Those opposed to Reagan’s policies saw the Nicaraguan Revolution as an opportunity to challenge U.S. hegemony. Although although many Europeans held idealistic concerns about human rights abuses in Nicaragua, it also presented a pragmatic opportunity to hamstring U.S. policy.

I’m going to make an effort to cite some relevant works so I’m not just blowing smoke with my blog posts.

Eusebio Mujal-León. “European Socialism and the Crisis in Central America.” Rift and Revolution: The Central American Imbroglio (Washington: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 1984)

Wolf Grabendorff, Heinrich-W. Krumwiede, Jorg Todt. Political Change in Central America: Internal and External Dimensions (Boulder: Westview Press, 1984).

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Merry Christmas from Nicaragua via Great Britain

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I recently ordered a collection of Roger Sanchez’s cartoons published by Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign, a British solidarity organization. The cartoon above highlights Israel’s role in the conflict in Central America in the 1980s. Israel was one of the region’s largest arms providers, even giving substantial amounts of weapons, many seized from the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, to the Contras. Between 1982 and 1984 the U.S. Congress attempted to limit the amount of U.S. weaponry going to the Contras, but the Reagan administration turned to Israel who acted as a middle man, allowing Reagan to sidestep the Boland Amendment and continue arming the Contras. A Honduran soldier is shown at the base of the tree because the Contras operated out of Honduras and much of the arms being used against Nicaragua moved through that small country.

Although international solidarity sought to strengthen and protect the Nicaraguan Revolution, there existed an international counterrevolutionary consensus bent on crushing it. The Reagan administration stood at the vanguard of this counterrevolutionary current, often aided by Israel, Honduras, and other proxies. However, that is not to say that both revolutionary solidarity and counterrevolutionary consensus were monolithic in nature: fissures existed within each.

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Postermania

Images are a powerful means of protest. Much like the cartoons of Roger Sanchez, the posters of European solidarity organizations conveyed a message of resistance to U.S. imperialism.  Some posters advertised rallies and protests, aiding in the organization of mass demonstrations. Others, like the one above, carried a message that challenged the policies of the United States. This poster features a monstrous Ronald Reagan, shaped like North America minus Canada, about to devour tiny Nicaragua. The heading roughly translates as “The USA makes Nicaragua broken. We want the establishment of a free Nicaragua to continue.” The image in the bottom right corner indicates that  The Greens of North Rhine-Westphalia created the poster. Although some details are unclear, such as when this branch of The Greens printed this poster, it is not difficult to discern their stance on the situation in Nicaragua.

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Merry Christmas from Nicaragua via Deutscheland

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Nicaragua‘s resistance of U.S. imperialism in Central America, as well as its call for international solidarity, took many forms. In the 1980s Roger Sanchez‘s political cartoons challenged the United States, drawing international attention to the increasingly bloody situation in Nicaragua. Sanchez was the official cartoonist of Barricada, the daily newspaper of the Sanidinistas. He satirized the United States, often depicting the U.S. as a meddling and ill-willed Uncle Sam intent on killing Nicaraguans and overthrowing the FSLN. Solidarity organizations from Europe and North America published collections of Sanchez’s cartoons to raise funds for those affected by the U.S. embargo and the war against the Contras. The cartoon above is from a collection published by the German solidarity group Informationsburo Nicaragua, which published many documents about the plight of Nicaragua. Solidarity groups in the United States and Great Britain also published similar collections.

Although he worked at the official Sandinista newspaper, Sanchez called attention to the failures of the FSLN government. For example, Sanchez highlighted the overwhelming political influence of the Sandinistas in a cartoon featuring an enormous runner with FSLN on his jersey preparing to run against three much smaller runners representing the nation’s opposition parties. Sanchez also commented on Nicaraguan social inequality, represented in the cartoon above. Whether he spoke out against the United States, the FSLN, or poverty in Nicaragua, Sanchez proved to be one of the most influential voices to come out of the Nicaraguan Revolution.

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