1. Look what I found at the record store :-)

    This 1980 double LP tells the story of the FSLN from its formation until the victory of Nicaragua’s Sandinista Revolution in 1979; it commemorates important events like the 1978 assault on the national palace, as well as fallen heroes like Luisa Amanda Espinosa. I already have it on digital, but I couldn’t resist picking up this rare physical copy.

  2. A song from Nicaragua’s Sandinista Front that’ll teach you how to field-strip an M1 Garand. Recorded circa 1978.


  3. "Se trata, no de lograr simplemente un cambio de los hombres en el poder, sino un cambio de Sistema, el derrocamiento de las clases explotadoras y la victoria de las clases explotadas."
    — Carlos Fonseca, Comandante en Jefe del Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (1936-1976)
  4. Carlos Fonseca, founder of the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional and leader of the Nicaraguan Revolution, was killed in combat with the armed forces of the Somoza dictatorship 37 years ago today (Nov. 8th, 1976). The people of Nicaragua toppled Somoza less than three years later, bringing the popular FSLN to power.

    "Comandante Carlos, Carlos Fonseca, tayacán vencedor de la muerte. Novio de la patria rojinegra, Nicaragua entera te grita ¡presente!"


  5. The Comandantes, by Eduardo Galeano

    July 1979: Granada, Nicaragua

    Behind them, an abyss. Ahead and to either side, an armed people on the attack. La Pólvora barracks in the city of Granada, last stronghold of the dictatorship, is falling.

    When the colonel in command hears of Somoza’s flight, he orders the machineguns silenced. The Sandinistas also stop firing.

    Soon the iron gate of the barracks opens and the colonel appears, waving a white rag. "Don’t fire."

    The colonel crosses the street. "I want to talk to the comandante.”

    A kerchief covering one of the faces drops. "I’m the comandante,” says Mónica Baltodano, one of the Sandinista women who lead troops.


    Through the mouth of the colonel, this haughty macho, speaks the military institution, defeated but dignified. Virility of the pants, honor of the uniform. "I don’t surrender to a woman!" roars the colonel.

    And he surrenders.

    Memory of Fire: Century of the Wind, 1986



  7. In commemoration of the 34th anniversary of the Nicaraguan Revolution today, July 19th, 1979. (I wrote most of this a couple of years ago, and it’s just been sitting in my drafts folder… I hope you like it!)

    "What’s the confusion?" asked the sergeant,
    "Could it be that this bastard is the notorious Cadejo?"

    If there is one thing the Sandinistas took really seriously, it was the honoring its heroes and fallen comrades.

    The double-LP Canto Epico al FSLN, from which today’s song comes, features, among its 35 songs, 12 homages to martyrs of the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional dedicated to Casimiro Sotelo, Pedro Aráuz Palacios, Eduardo Contreras, Julio Buitrago, Luisa Amanda Espinoza, Carlos Fonseca, Leonel Rugama, José Benito Escobar, Camilo Ortega, Germán Pomares, Edgard Munguía, and the topic of today’s post, my all-time favorite revolutionary, Rigoberto Cruz… better known as Pablo Úbeda.

    Úbeda was one of the earliest members of the FSLN, having been a participant in the Nicaraguan Revolutionary Youth (JRN) of 1959 and the New Nicaragua Movement (MNN) of 1962, two of the predecessor organizations to the Frente. Unlike the primarily student-based FSLN membership, Úbeda was a worker, and thus valuable in his ability to both relate to, and blend in among, the general population.

    He participated in the FSLN’s first guerrilla action in 1963 commonly known as Raití-Bocay or the Río Coco and Bocay Operation, a spectacular failure that, for a short while after, pushed the group away from armed struggle and toward reformist politics. The analysis to later come from FSLN leader Carlos Fonseca stated that the failure at Raití-Bocay was due in large part to an incorrect choice of locations; the town of Raití was largely populated by Miskito Indians who spoke little Spanish and often had little interest in the guerrillas. Because their relationship to the land (and to the rest of Nicaragua) was different from mestizo peasants, the FSLN was unable to relate and win over supporters that could assist with intelligence and supply lines, nor did its presence inspire a pool of potential recruits. In addition, Sandinista commander Víctor Tirado López notes, in his essay El FSLN, un producto y una necesidad históricos, that the operation demonstrated an overemphasis on armed struggle without undertaking corresponding political work, that it showed that links with the peasantry must be strong rather than fleeting to create a solid guerrilla base, and that the long-established Nicaraguan tradition of preparing armed ‘invasions’ from across the Honduran or Costa Rican borders could not be successful (1).

    It is worthwhile here to refer again to the writings of Carlos Fonseca in order to lay the groundwork for understanding Ubeda’s contribution. In Fonseca’s 1969 declaration, Nicaragua Hora Cero (Zero Hour), he points out that this defeat, along with the general decline of the Nicaraguan popular movement around 1963 (2), shattered the FSLN and thrust it into a period of quasi-reformism. While the Frente still maintained that armed struggle was the only way to achieve victory, “the reality was that for a while the practical work to continue preparing for armed struggle was interrupted. In addition, it is true that after the defeat in 1963, our movement emerged seriously conflicted, but didn’t know how to find the proper way to overcome this internal crisis.” (Obra Fundamental, pp. 152-153) Fonseca doesn’t argue against the period of recuperation, but rather notes that the FSLN failed to use this time to collect resources or train new combatants for a renewed attempt at waging war against the veiled dictatorship of the Somoza family.

    During this time between 1964 and 1966, the FSLN engaged in quasi-legal organizing with an organization known as the Republican Mobilization in urban areas, attempting to develop a broader anti-Somoza front.

    Ubeda, however, was one of the few members to remain in the mountains during this period of strategic confusion. As a leader of the Frente’s clandestine work during its brief above-ground phase, his assignment was to develop contacts with potential allies and collaborators and to seek out the prime location for the resumption of armed struggle. In the process, he became an organizer of some of the first peasant unions in Nicaragua, alongside fellow Sandinista Bernardino Diaz Ochoa. The work of Ubeda is summed up quite succinctly by Tomás Borge, commander and founder of the Frente, in his 1985 essay Marginal Notes on the Propaganda of the FSLN:

    Three consecutive years of underground work visiting everyone, hut by hut, household by household, ravine by ravine, from Pancasán passing through Peñas Blancas in Jinotega and following the Tuma River until he arrived on the Atlantic Coast where he traveled the long footpaths through the mining areas… Without his organizing work, Pancasán would never have been possible.

    In 1967, Ubeda was killed, along with FSLN founding member Silvio Mayorga and the rest of his unit, during the Pancasán campaign. While also a failure, the Sandinistas analyzed that this was a failure of a different type than that of Raití-Bocay; whereas the latter had been a failure on all fronts, Pancasán demonstrated a military failure but one in which political groundwork had been successfully laid—in part by the efforts of Úbeda—to maintain the activities of the revolutionary struggle.

    We will note in the lyrics that Carlos Mejía Godoy makes various references to Nicaraguan particularities; the opening stanza, for example, refers to animals and plants that I had never heard of before (and which you can read about by clicking the links I provided). We hear about Carlos Reyna, the National Guard, the cadejo, a juez de mesta, three towns, and three kinds of crops useful for hiding.

    Anyway, I hope you all dig the song and the little history lesson! You’ll find an English translation below.

    (1) On a few occasions before the formation of the FSLN, opposition groups, largely under the hegemony of the Conservative Party, attempted armed invasions of Nicaragua to overthrow the Somoza family’s hold on power. The 1959 El Chaparral guerrilla operation in which Carlos Fonseca participated (as a member of the Nicaraguan Socialist Party) was an unmitigated disaster, and ended up being the last attempt by the mainstream opposition to overthrow Somoza with force.

    (2) Fonseca attributes this to the farcical election of René Schick, a Somoza family ally, as president in the 1963 election and the natural decline of the revolutionary energy following the Cuban Revolution, at that point 4 years past.


    Se disfraza de espadillo, se disfraza de mozote
    y se convierte en pocoyo, conejo, garrobo, cusuco, pizote.

    Pablo Ubeda pasó ayer mismo muy temprano,
    Carlos Reyna lo encontró allá en el comisariato.

    Pero cómo sucedió? Si ayer en la madrugada
    el juez de mesta lo vio cruzándose la cañada.

    ¿Qué será esta confusión? se preguntaba el sargento,
    ¿no será que este cabrón es el mentado Cadejo?

    Lo vieron en Kuskawas, en La Tronca y en Waslala,
    ya no lo verán jamás, se lo tragó la montaña.

    Lo ayudan los vientos, las siete cabritas
    lo oculta el chagüite, lo esconde la milpa.

    La guardia dispara contra el cafetal…
    y sale Pablito sereno, pajito, bordeando el cañal.


    He disguises himself as espadillo, he disguises himself as mozote
    and he becomes a pauraque, a rabbit, an iguana, an armadillo, a coati.

    Pablo Ubeda passed by very early yesterday,
    Carlos Reyna (1) found him there in the commissary.

    But how did it happen, if yesterday morning
    the juez de mesta (2) saw him crossing the ravine?

    "What’s the confusion?" asked the sergeant,
    "Could it be that this bastard is the notorious Cadejo (3)?

    They saw him in Kuskawas, in La Tronca and in Waslala (4),
    but they will never see him again, he was swallowed by the mountain.

    He is helped by the winds, by the seven young kids,
    he is obscured by the banana stalks, he is hidden by the cornfield.

    The National Guard shoots at the coffee plants….
    and Pablito comes out calm, covered in straw, walking along the canal.

    (1) Carlos Reyna was an early member of the FSLN, joining the Frente after participating in the MNN. He was killed during the 1967 Pancasán operation along with Úbeda, Commander Silvio Mayorga, and a full third of the guerrilla force.

    (2) In Somoza-era Nicaragua, a juez de mesta was a middle/upper-class person in the countryside designated to resolve land disputes between peasants. During the Sandinista revolution, jueces de mesta were converted largely into a network of informants for the National Guard, during which time they were also called orejas, or ears.

    (3) The cadejo in Central America is a mythical dog known to accompany those who wander late at night. In most countries, it is believed that there are two cadejos: the white, which is considered a benign protector and is compared with the Christian concept of a guardian angel, and the black, which is the embodiment of evil and is the opposite of the white (racist). Pablo Úbeda’s informal title was El Cadejo de las Segovias, the Segovias being a forest in north-central Nicaragua.

    (4) Three remote areas northeast of Matagalpa in north-central Nicaragua.


    1. Borge, Tomas. “The Patient Impatience”.

    2. Zimmerman, Matilde. “Sandinista: Carlos Fonseca and the Nicaraguan Revolution”.

    3. Baracco, Luciano. “Nicaragua: The Imagining of a Nation”.



    "I am the armor piercer, I am the guide,
    I’m forever an expert of the night
    The happy firefly of the guerrilla,
    I am the compass of a tough bullet.”

    Carlos & Luis Enrique Mejia Godoy's 1979 album Guitarra Armada may not have been a musical perfection; the rhymes were often simplistic, the singing sometimes subpar. Still, this remains one of my favorite albums if only for its incredible historical significance.

    Recorded shortly after the Sandinista National Liberation Front’s (FSLN) overthrow of Anastasio Somoza Debayle and its arrival in Managua on July 19, 1979, the album features a collection of songs which had dispersed among the revolutionary forces during the course of the popular insurrection, which had begun on a national scale in the final months of 1978 as a result of both the assassination of Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, editor of La Prensa, that January and the FSLN’s assault of the Presidential Palace in August.

    Despite this bold action, in 1978 the FSLN was a small, weak, and divided organization. Its leader, Carlos Fonseca, had been killed in action two years earlier, it was split into three factions, and by the beginning of that year had a membership of likely less than 200 militants, including its rural guerrilla army of 11 people.

    But as the insurrection took hold in previously inactive sections of the population, the FSLN took note that, despite the courage and audacity of the people, most had little to no military training, either in tactical maneuvering or in in the use of arms. Weapons manuals were not widely available, and would not do much good anyway: around half of the Nicaraguan population was functionally illiterate.

    The Mejía Godoy brothers Carlos and Luis Enrique, both members of the FSLN, took it upon themselves to try something creative. Given the small size of the Frente, it did not have the capacity to teach everyone street fighting or weapons use. So the brothers began writing and recording songs with the intention of creating easily dispersible and memorizable tracks with full instructions in military training. This song, called The Munitions, was written to instruct participants of the insurrection on the purpose and use of different kinds of ammunition—standard ammunition, incendiary bullets, tracers, and the fragmentation grenade. Four singers each take on the perspective of a particular ammunition and sing about their qualities in different battle scenarios. [Unfortunately I do not have the album booklet and can’t recognize any of the women singers except that of Mexican folk musician Amparo Ochoa, who takes on the perspective of the standard bullet.]

    This creativity and ability to respond to the moment was immensely helpful in allowing the FSLN (reunited into a single organization in January of 1979) and the Nicaraguan people to defeat Anastasio Somoza’s National Guard, one of the most disciplined and best armed military forces in Latin America, and to begin a revolutionary process based in new institutions of popular power.

    You’ll find an English translation below, done to the best of my abilities. Enjoy!


    Compañero, estas balas fueron recuperadas en la caida de Matagalpa. O sea, son balas que sirvieron al enemigo. Pero ahora que las tenemos nosotros, ya no son las mismas. Sabes por que, compita? Porque estas balas nos estan sirviendo ahora para conquistar la libertad.

    Echele borona compita Venancio, de las municiones écheme un sermón
    yo prefiero hermano, que por separado, haga cada bala su presentación.

    Yo por ser la común y ordinaria, me siento en un nivel muy inferior
    Soy la bala certera endemoniada, henchida de eficacia y de rigor
    Cobriza como un indio americano, por ser de furia voy a lo que voy
    desde que salgo al viento, voy buscando el mero corazón del opresor

    Yo soy la munición por excelencia, sin despreciar a nadie en esta lid
    mis posibilidades en la guerra explican el porque yo estoy aquí
    Como incendiaria grito “siempre lista!” y como perforante rauda voy
    Yo soy la rojinegra sandinista, yo soy por vocación la munición

    Yo soy la trazadora combativa, anaranjado vivo mi color
    No tengo propiedades expansivas, pero hago lo que puedo en mi fulgor
    Yo soy la quiebra placa, soy la guía, baqueana de la noche siempre fui
    Luciérnaga feliz de la guerrilla, soy brújula del recio proyectil.

    Yo que puedo decir de mis valores, si ni siquiera tengo proyectil?,
    Es como sin tener mecha ni llama, quisiera ser antorcha o ser candil
    En mi viudez de cápsula vacia, va el alma del hermano que cayó,
    lanzando en el umbral de su partida una granada de fragmentación.


    Compañero, these bullets were recovered during the fall of Matagalpa. In other words, they are bullets that served the enemy. But now that we have them, they are no longer the same. Do you know why, comrade? Because these bullets are now serving us in the quest for freedom.

    Sing it, comrade Venancio, give me a sermon about our munitions
    and I’d prefer, brother, that they each give me a separate presentation

    I, being the common and ordinary one, feel like I’m on an inferior level
    I am a damn accurate bullet, bursting with efficiency and rigor
    Copper like an indigenous American, in my fury I go where I wish
    from the time I enter the wind, I search for the heart of the oppressor

    I am the most excellent bullet without belittling anyone in this contest
    my potential in war explains the reason that I am here
    As an incendiary I shout “always ready!”, and as an piercer I am swift
    I am the Sandinista red-and-black, I am a munition by profession

    I am the combative tracer, bright orange is my color
    I don’t have expansive properties, but I do what I can with my glow
    I am the armor piercer, I am the guide, I’m forever an expert of the night
    The happy firefly of the guerrilla, I am the compass of a tough bullet

    What can I say of my value if I don’t even have a projectile?
    It’s like not having a wick or flame, I’d love to be a torch or candle
    In my empty-capsule widowhood goes the soul of a fallen comrade,
    launching a fragmentation grenade on the eve of his departure


  9. Sharing this song in commemoration of the 34th anniversary of the Nicaraguan Revolution of July 19th, 1979.

    And I think, Casimiro, that you fly and elevate.
    You—avid pilgrim of sad songs,
    with your upright passion—walk in your sandals in the rain,
    through classrooms and streets, awaking the people.

    Casimiro Sotelo was a student leader at the Central American University during the formative years of the Sandinista National Liberation Front in Nicaragua. His participation was crucial in forming a base of support for the Sandinistas in the universities, as well as in developing some of the early urban guerrilla cells.

    He was captured by the National Guard on November 4th, 1967, tortured, and killed along with other Sandinista militants. Exactly two years later, the FSLN executed two operations in commemoration: first, guerrilla commanders Juan José Quezada and Pedro Aráuz Palacios successfully held hostage a Lanica Airlines plane, and second, a militant cell including Sandinista poet Leonel Rugama and Roger Núñez conducted a successful bank expropriation in Managua.[1] 

    This song was released on the 1980 album, Epic Song of the FSLN, a collaborative effort of Sandinista militants and international supporters who united to tell the story of the Frente from its founding in 1961 to the triumph of the Nicaraguan Revolution on July 19th, 1979. You’ll find a basic lyrical translation below!


    Casimiro Sotelo, amigo, camarada,
    corazón rojinegro, caminante del alba.
    Nos prometimos juntos plantar un mundo nuevo
    a partir de este dulce furor de nuestros sueños.
    Te fuiste con el aire, hermano Casimiro,
    para andar clandestino por variadas y montes.
    Te vestiste de barro, de limpio barro rojo,
    para estar en la fresca tinajita del pobre.

    Y pienso Casimiro que vuelas y te encumbras.
    Avido peregrino de canciones dolientes,
    con tu pasión erguida, tus sandalias de lluvia,
    por aulas y caminos, agitando a la gente.
    No te imagino ahora, hermano Casimiro,
    en el espacio frío devorando galaxias.
    Te digo simplemente hermano Casimiro,
    corazón rojinegro, caminante del alba.


    Casimiro Sotelo, friend, comrade,
    the red-and-black hearted, a walker of the dawn.
    We promised each other to create a new world
    from the sweet furor of our dreams.
    You left with the wind, brother Casimiro,
    to walk clandestinely through all terrains and mountains.
    You covered yourself in clay, in clean red clay,
    to be in the fresh mold of the poor.

    And I think, Casimiro, that you fly and elevate.
    You—avid pilgrim of sad songs,
    with your upright passion, your sandals of rain,
    through classrooms and streets—awaken the people.
    I don’t imagine you now, brother Casimiro,
    in the cold of outer space devouring galaxies.
    I call you simply brother Casimiro,
    the red-and-black hearted, a walker of the dawn.

  10. ay Nicaragua, Nicaragüita… la flor mas linda de mi querer… abonada por la bendita, Nicaragüita, sangre de Diriangén… ay Nicaragua sos mas dulcita que la mielita de Tamagás… pero ahora que ya sos libre, Nicaragüita, yo te quiero mucho mas.



  11. "The Sandinista experience has always suggested to me what I have called an “ecosystem approach” to revolutionary strategy. That is to say that real-life revolutions are not simply the result of the triumph of a single correct line over all the assorted incorrect lines, but rather a convergence or synchronization of sometimes competing but ultimately complementary strategies on the part of differently situated actors. Sometimes this occurs within a party or a formal front, but often not. I think, for example, of the role of Left SRs and anarchists in the October Revolution and its immediate aftermath. One trend is almost always primary in this relationship, but success depends on the contributions of multiple formations. This doesn’t mean its not important to struggle over the correct line, but it does mean that we should expect some of those struggles to be incomplete in their resolution and for trends that divide in order that certain forms of work are able to mature can come back together in later moments."
    — Chris Day

    (Source: kasamaproject.org)


  12. "Now the Eagle has suffered one of its greatest injuries:
    Nicaragua hurts him, he is hurt by the love.
    And it hurts him that children are going healthily to school,
    because from that wood of justice and affection,
    he cannot sharpen his claws.”

    One of famed Cuban trovador Silvio Rodríguez’s most underrated songs is this beautiful salute to the people of Nicaragua, first released on the album Unicornio in 1982—3 years after the July 19th victory of the Sandinista Revolution that I’m commemorating today through posting these songs. Titled Urgent Song for Nicaragua, its release coincides with the heightening of US intervention in the country through mass funding of the right-wing Contra rebels, at a time when Nicaragua was particularly on alert against a direct military invasion by the empire.

    You’ll find an English translation at the bottom. Note that Silvio’s use of “Eagle” here refers to the United States. I also recommend watching this video, which is a live recording of this song being performed in Managua, Nicaragua in 1984, and best of all it has embedded English subtitles! Enjoy!


    Se partió en Nicaragua otro hierro caliente
    con que el águila daba su señal a la gente
    Se partió en Nicaragua otra soga con cebo
    con que el águila ataba por el cuello al obrero

    Se ha prendido la hierba dentro del continente
    las fronteras se besan y se ponen ardientes
    Me recuerdo de un hombre que por esto moría
    y que viendo este día-como espectro del monte-
    jubiloso reía

    El espectro es Sandino con Bolívar y el Che
    porque el mismo camino caminaron los tres
    Estos tres caminantes con idéntica suerte
    ya se han hecho gigantes, ya burlaron la muerte

    Ahora el aguila tiene su dolencia mayor
    Nicaragua le duele, pues le duele el amor
    Y le duele que el niño vaya sano a la escuela
    porque de esa madera, de justicia y cariño,
    no se afila su espuela

    Andará Nicaragua su camino en la gloria
    porque fue sangre sabia la que hizo su historia
    Te lo dice un hermano que ha sangrado contigo
    te lo dice un cubano, te lo dice un amigo.


    In Nicaragua another hot iron has been broken
    with which the Eagle branded its subjects.
    In Nicaragua another hangman’s noose has been broken,
    that the Eagle would attach to the neck of the worker

    The grass of the continent has caught fire,
    the borders kiss and begin to burn.
    I am reminded of a man who died for this
    and who, seeing this day as a specter in the mountain,
    laughed with joy.

    The specter is Sandino with Bolivar and Che,
    because the three all walked the same path.
    These three walkers with the same destiny
    have become giants, they have laughed at death.

    Now the Eagle has suffered one of its greatest injuries:
    Nicaragua hurts him, he is hurt by the love.
    And it hurts him that children are going healthily to school,
    because from that wood of justice and affection,
    he cannot sharpen his claws.

    Nicaragua will walk its road in glory,
    because it was wise blood that made its history.
    I tell you as a brother that has bled with you,
    I tell you as a Cuban, I tell you as a friend.

  13. 34 years ago today, the Sandinista National Liberation Front entered Managua, after a year and a half of mass people’s insurrection, and officially overthrew the flailing Somoza dynasty that had ruled Nicaragua as a proxy for U.S. interests since 1936. President Anastasio Somoza Debayle had fled the capital two days earlier.

    Photo by Marcelo Montecino, who has a great Flickr page here.


  14. "Long live the Sandinistas, Nicaragua is ready!"

    This is a traditional cueca recorded by the Chilean ensemble ¡Karaxú! either the day of, or in the days right after, the victory of the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua on July 19th, 1979 (we are celebrating the 34th anniversary today). ¡Karaxú! was a group formed in exile in 1974 that was politically supportive of the banned Chilean MIR (Revolutionary Left Movement) and originally led by Patricio Manns. This album, officially untitled but known colloquially as “La Bahía,” was released in 1979 and recorded in Copenhagen, Denmark; ¡Karaxú! toured European countries playing shows and raising funds for the resistance to the Chilean military dictatorship.

    In the song we can hear references to “liberated Managua” and “the tyrant [Anastasio Somoza] and his [familial] dynasty.” It’s very short (1:46), as are most cuecas, and well worth a listen if you’re interested in marking this anniversary with me! Viva Nicaragua!

    la vida
    se me enciende, se me enciende el corazón
    la vida por el pueblo, por el pueblo ‘e Nicaragua
    la vida como quisie’, como quisiera este día
    la vida ver Managua, ver Managua liberada
    la vida se me enciende, se me enciende el corazón

    caiga el tirano, caiga, y con él su dinastia
    que dos mil amapolas florezcan en este día
    caiga, el tirano, caiga, y con él su dinastia
    su dinastia, sí, obreros y campesinos
    van tomando los pueblos por el nombre de Sandino
    caiga, el tirano, caiga, obreros y campesinos
    que vivan los Sandinistas, Nicaragua ya se alista!

  15. 34 years ago today, the Sandinista National Liberation Front entered the Nicaraguan capital of Managua and officially ended the 43 year old Somoza political dynasty. Viva Sandino!