Ivan's Place
In honor of the greatest moralist who never lived
Copyright © 2004 by Bill Becker

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The International March for Peace in Central America
December 10, 1985 — January 24, 1986

Nicaragua — Around Town

Return to Introduction and La Marcha Table of Contents.

I don't have dates or locations for the photos on this page. They represent our activities in Managua and probably some outlying areas I can't identify.

  Steve flashes a big smile as we prepare to march in Managua's Barrio Sandino.

  Photo by Sonja Iskov.

These young Nicaragaun women are happy we have come to show our solidarity with them.

  We prepare to march down Managua's main street, in the direction of Lake Managua. The famous Hotel Intercontinental, designed like a Mayan pyramid, dominates the background. The Intercontinental hotels in the world's capital cities are the preferred hangouts and watering places for the international press corps. The Sandinistas kept up the tradition, and provided foreign reporters and visiting diplomats with the service, food and beverages to which they were accustomed.

To the right of the divider one of Central America's ubiquitous vendors of flavored ices anticipates a better-than-average day—not least from my frequent purchases. Small plastic bags were used to hold shaved ice doused with syrup. One twirled the top closed, bit off a bottom corner of the bag, and sucked the cold juice out. If I recall correctly, tamarind was my favorite flavor.

  We march with disabled victims of the contra war. A Nicaraguan girl rides on Bruce's lap.

I don't have the name of the marchista pushing Burce's wheelchair.

  Photo by Sonja Iskov.

Here a close-up as the Mothers of the Heroes and Martyrs express their feelings about President Reagan's attack on Nicaragua. In Rivas, the mothers had made it clear to us that they were determined that their sons should not have died in vain:

"Ask President Reagan not to be so cruel to us. We are organized to support our sons who are defending us. We stay in the rear, but we can also take up a weapon."

For Our Children We Will Defeat the Imperialist Aggression:
They Will Not Return

A wider view of las madres, just to the right of the preceding picture. Perhaps they were taken at nearly the same moment.

  Steven Zrucky and Eve Anne carry a banner.

A symbol of Nicaragua's defiance of U.S. power. Those who (said they) feared a communist take-over of our hemisphere, led of course by the evil Sandinistas, will naturally note that this monument is virually identical to some Soviet patriotic statuary.

It is more accurately seen as a motif long prevalent in Latin American anti-imperialist murals.

  A Sandinista Defense Committee billboard proclaims We are a communal force, We are the popular power.

As I remember it, the defense committees were modeled after those in Cuba, and were set up in the barrios and towns to organize for civic improvements and for defense against contra activity. Reporting any suspicious activities that might lead to sabotage and/or demoralization were also part of the CDS mandate. Under the circumstances, why not?

Predictably, the CDSs were roundly, and dishonestly, criticized by the U.S. mainstream press as evidence of the Sandinistas' totalitarian tendencies. I have long theorized that the Fourth Estate was so eager to bring President Clinton down just so as to purge its well-deserved image as a subsidiary of President Reagan's propaganda machine.

For Country, For Peace, For The Future — We Will Follow Through.

(Translation correction welcome.)

  More kids. Look at those smiles.

Knowing what these children had to live through, reviewing these various pictures of them has been rather painful.

  Here I'm sitting on one of Somoza's tanks, rusting away in downtown Managua.

On December 23, 1972, an earthquake centered beneath Managua, and lasting two hours, killed upwards of 10,000 people and left 300,000 homeless.

Washington's favorite dictator, Anastasio Somoza Debayle, received millions of dollars in foreign aid for urban renewal and repair. Somoza pocketed virtually all of the money, which turned even his former cronies against him—one factor which led ultimately to his downfall. (Visible in the background is Managua's still-devastated central portion. With the contra war going on, the Sandinistas could not possibly take on the project of rebuilding the city.)

The other factor was the cold-blooded murder, on June 20, 1979, of ABC television correspondent Bill Stewart by Somoza's National Guard. Stewart had gone to cover a firefight between the Guard and Sandinista insurgents. The killing was filmed in it's entirety by Stewart's cameraman, who had remained at a distance, and who successfully smuggled the film out of Nicaragua. When Stewart's murder was shown on the U.S. evening news, it led to such outrage that even the Republicans in Congress had to abandon their Pavlovian resistance to President Carter's somewhat reluctant efforts to persuade Somoza to step down.

According to Wikipedia, "in a strange diplomatic twist, the United States government refused to help ABC and Stewart's family bring Stewart's body back to the United States; eventually, the German government stepped in and made the arrangements." (Let me assure the visitor that I wrote my quip on the Republicans before hitting on the Wikipedia site for information on Stewart. I welcome information on the Carter Administration's alleged "refusal" to help Stewart's family recover his body.)

This concludes this section. To continue with the Nicaragua portion of La Marcha, return to the Introduction.

Return to Introduction and La Marcha Table of Contents.

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