A Revolution inside the Revolution

“If you think your life cannot make a difference, you have never been in bed with a mosquito.”

A revolution inside THE revolution, erased from history. The Sandinista National Liberation Front was a left-wing political party in Nicaragua that came to power in 1979 after they overthrew the dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle. During the last two years of revolution, women’s participation in the movement grew very fast. Dora Maria Tellez was a female leader of the Sandinista movement instrumental in the overthrow of Leon, leading all Sandinista troops to victory. Dora was a commander in the guerilla war against the Somoza dictatorship and went on to hold several positions in government including Minister of Health and Minister of Education. Upon taking power of Nicaragua the Sandinistas implemented a series of social reforms which were headed by many women who fought in the revolution. These reforms were aimed at improving the lives of the country’s poorest and most marginalized citizens.

The Sandinistas created the Ministry of Culture which created a universal healthcare system which provided free medical care to all Nicaraguans. The Ministry of Culture implemented education reforms which included a literacy campaign that aimed to increase literacy rates among Nicaragua’s adult population, the Ministry included an array of arts from cinema to poetry to music. The 1980 literacy campaign raised the literacy rate from 50% to 88% and Nicaraguans felt empowered by this education. With influence from the states the people of Nicaragua read Emily Dickinson and Allen Ginsberg. The Ministry of culture played a key role in supporting cultural initiative and promoting cultural and artistic expression in Nicaragua only to be erased by the next dictator in the following years. This beautiful display of art and culture throughout Nicaragua with women led programs was inevitably too good to be true.

The Sandinistas worked tirelessly to improve the lives of Nicaragua’s rural population by distributing land to poor farmers and supporting the development of cooperatives. This reform was met with opposition from the United States and other conservative forces, who viewed the Sandinistas as a socialist threat. Reagan provided support to anti-Sandinista forces during the 80’s which led to their downfall. The current government in Nicaragua does nothing about teen pregnancy, rapists, and womens’ healthcare. The Nicaraguan government believes a woman’s life is worthless and President Ortega himself is a rapist who sexually assaulted his own stepdaughter. The memory of the women who fought for their country under the Sandinistas and their social reforms have been erased from history. The dictatorship led by Daniel Ortega has been in power since 2007. These women continue to fight today to revive the culture and society they created. A society that is literate, has universal healthcare, and cares about women. Dora Maria Tellez, one of the women who fought for Nicaragua’s freedom from dictatorship 20 years prior, founded the MRS to push for democratic reforms in the present day. By questioning capitalism as a system the Sandinistas created a perfect medium that was destroyed by Ronald Reagan himself and his backwards ideas on communism.

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Rowan Mathews

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