Tag Archives: International Solidarity

Summer research and the Partido Social Cristiano

Summer is here and with it comes more time to blog. Between conferences and the end of the semester this poor little blog was ignored. However, I am back in the thick of it. I am currently working my way through a number of microfilm collections and I will be making a research trip to the Truman Presidential Library next week. I found the posters below in the humungous microfilm collection of the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA). NACLA has thousands of documents covering the Nicaraguan Revolution from 1976 to 1990. The posters below belong to the Partido Social Cristiano (PSC), which opposed both the Somoza regime and the Sandinistas. The PSC was one of Nicaragua’s more popular political parties, placing fourth in the 1990 presidential elections. As you might gather from its name the PSC was a Christian political party. They relied heavily on biblical imagery, hence the dove and the Ichthys. I am not very familiar with the PSC so I can not say with certainty that pacifism was a central tenet of the party, but the posters make a strong case for that. Ironically many of the European and North American religious groups that operated in Nicaragua worked with the Sandinistas and not the PSC. This was due largely to the fact that the FSLN held power and therefore had more resources.

PSC poster #1
I’m not sure exactly who the JRSC is but I can assume that it is probably the youth division of the PSC. The message in the top right corner translates as “Nonviolence. The only path to peace and democracy.”

PSC poster #2
Clearly the PSC advocated against the violence in Nicaragua, and Central America more broadly. The message at the top of this poster translates as “No to violent solutions.” The Ichthys with PSC within, found in the bottom right, was the official emblem of the party.

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Green Aid to the FSLN


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


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


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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Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign


“Lawyer Henry Spooner and actors Alfred Molina and Maggie Steed taking part in a protest outside the US embassy in London demanding US recognition of the World Court verdict in London in 1987″

In the 1980s Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign (NSC) created a broad coalition that condemned U.S. military and economic aggression against Nicaragua. NSC became the nexus of Nicaraguan Solidarity in Great Britain, organizing protests, work brigades, and study tours. NSC also sent thousands of pounds to Nicaragua for the creation of hospitals and schools. According to their website the NSC “played a key role in counteracting the intense media campaign that in the ThatcherReagan cold war era depicted Nicaragua as a communist totalitarian dungeon with troops poised to storm the Texan border.”

Through my contacts in Newcastle I was able to reach out to NSC and I’m in the process of setting up a Skype interview with them. If time permits I may try to go to London while I’m in Europe and visit the NSC’s archives.

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Socialist International Congress 1978, Vancouver


At the Congress of the Socialist International in Vancouver in 1978, leaders of the world’s social democratic parties voiced their solidarity with the Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional (FSLN). Ernesto Cardenal (priest, writer, and leader of the FSLN) represented the Sandinistas and spoke out on the plight of the Nicaraguan people and their abuse at the hands of Anastasio Somoza. As a member of the “Group of 12,” Cardenal (pictured center-right) traveled the globe speaking out against the Somoza regime and garnering international attention for the revolution. Until the late 1980s, the Sandinistas enjoyed the strong support of the Socialist International and socialist parties from around the globe. The Socialist International proved a bastion of international support for the Sandinistas, promoting solidarity and generating aid for the revolution and the people of Nicaragua.

“Socialist International Congress 1978, Vancouver,” Socialist Affairs, January/February 1979, Socialist Internatinal Information, No. 1/79

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English Food Cooperatives and Nicaraguan Solidarity

Today as I was reading David Feathersone’s Solidarity: Hidden Histories and Geographies of Internationalism I came across a reference to two cookbooks detailing the relationship between a food cooperative in Newcastle, England and the Nicaraguan RevolutionFood Out of Chile: Recipes and Stories from Maria Figueroa  and Cordon Rouge: Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes from the Red Herring detail the history and cuisine of the Red Herring Worker’s Cooperative which ran “a cafe and shop in Newcastle upon Tyne that sold wonderful vegan and Vegetarian food.”  The cooperative was also a nexus for political action, due in part to Maria and Victor FIgueroa.  In 1976 the Figueroas fled to Newcastle after the U.S. backed coup in Chile, which ousted democratically elected president Salvador Allende and installed authoritarian general Augusto Pinochet. In Newcastle, Maria and Victor joined the Red Herring cooperative and became active members of the Central American Solidarity movement. They spoke out in solidarity with and advocated for the revolution, handing out leaflets and participating in demonstrations at the nearby university. In the end, the example of Chilean exiles living in northern England, working at a food cooperative, and demonstrating in solidarity with the people of Nicaragua is an excellent example of the revolution’s truly international character

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