Date: Wed, 4 Aug 1999 23:05:51 -0500 (CDT)
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An Insider's View of the Sandinista Movement
By Nefer Munoz, IPS, 3 August 1999
SAN JOSE, Aug 7 (IPS) - Nicaraguan writer Sergio Ramirez presented in Costa Rica his latest work, "Adios Muchachos" (Good-Bye Fellows), a book of memoirs which offers an insider's view of the Sandinista revolution 20 years after its triumph.
Ramirez says that although in its decline, the movement ended up burying the dreams of thousands of young people who took up arms, its main legacy was the establishment of democracy in Nicaragua.
Put out by the Alfaguara publishing house, the book has awakened great expectations as the story of an intellectual who lived the Sandinista revolution on the inside.
Ramirez, age 57 today, was a member of the First Junta of National Reconstruction, which governed after the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) overthrew the Somoza family dictatorship on Jul 19, 1979.
"When they called us up to fight for the revolution, each one of us went with our own trappings, and mine were those of a writer," Ramirez, who for years represented the political face of the armed movement, said at the presentation of "Adios Muchachos".
The author said his new book should not be seen as the work of a historian, but as an account by someone who remembers, a person who has written his own truth, while remaining aware that other truths are possible.
"At noon on Jul 20, 1979 the guerrilla columns triumphantly entered the Plaza de la Republica in Managua, baptised that day the Plaza de la Revolucion," states the opening paragraph.
In the 318-page book, the writer narrates the experiences of hundreds of anonymous youths who fought and died for the ideals of the Sandinista movement.
"In tremendous disarray, the combatants arrived on foot, in military trucks and requisitioned buses, atop the decrepit small tanks wrested from the troops of the dictatorship, and mingled with the crowd that was there waiting to celebrate with them the biggest 'fiesta' of their lives," writes Ramirez.
The revolution was an effort to change Nicaragua's fate in every sense, said the author, who in the 1980s served as vice- president of Nicaragua under the government of Daniel Ortega.
"It is a very brave, noble memoir," described Costa Rican historian Oscar Aguilar Bulgarelli, who stressed the richness of Ramirez's text, which he said blended together both human and ideological aspects.
According to journalist Carlos Morales, nations have short memories, and "Adios Muchachos" deals a blow to oblivion, depicting an experience that should help people avoid committing the errors of the past.
Ramirez, estranged from politics today, believes the Sandinista revolution failed to bring the justice that was so longed-for by the oppressed or the wealth and development that its leaders intended to create.
Many ethical dreams were smothered under the avalanche of the movement's debacle, writes the author.
"But as its best fruit, (the revolution) left democracy, sealed in 1990 by the recognition of an electoral defeat which, as a paradox of history, is its most visible legacy, if not its most enthusiastic proposal," he adds.
Ramirez, who over the years has been critical of the Sandinista revolution, was awarded the Alfaguara prize in 1997 for his novel "Margarita, esta linda la mar" (Margarita, the Sea Is Lovely).
Before the presentation of his book, Ramirez told the magazine Ancora (published by the newspaper 'La Nacion') that writing "Adios Muchachos" served as a catharsis, because he remained obsessed with the ghosts of that era.
"The revolution's big frustration was that it failed to mature, in a positive sense," he said.
The author added that his book of remembrances had paved the way for a novel he was now writing, involving fictitious characters immersed in the Sandinista revolution.
But at the presentation of his new book, Ramirez said that despite everything, the Sandinista revolution "was worth the trouble."
"I have no doubt that (the dreams of the revolution) will return sooner or later, embodied by another generation which will have learned from the errors, weaknesses and falsifications of the past," he said.
Weakened by accusations of corruption and political intransigence, the FSLN was defeated in the elections of 1990. The party remains, however, the second strongest political force in Nicaragua today. (END/IPS/tra-so/nms/dm/sw/99)
Origin: Montevideo//ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT/BOOKS-NICARAGUA/
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