Nicaraguan Revolution, Peronism and Moreno

Mike Friedman mikedf at amnh.org
Fri Feb 8 22:23:15 MST 2002


Carlos,

    I actually agree with your posterior assesment of the FSLN, as opposed
to Lou's assertion, if I understand Lou correctly, that, "the FSLN's
collapse cannot be attributed to some sort of ideological failure. After
all, sometimes the workers are outnumbered and are forced to fight with
inferior weapons."
    Tomas Borge, in 1984, pointed out in an interview in Pensamiento Propio
something to the effect that "lo nuestro es un proceso enredado, y al pueblo
no le gustan los enredos". I would attribute the FSLN's collapse and
subsequent "pactism" to a political failure, of sorts.  How else would you
explain the elimination of popular democracy and continuous political and
economic concessions to bourgeois elements -- who repayed the kindness with
continuous decapitalization and political sabotage -- while imposing
increasing austerity and restrictions on working people. For over five
years, working in INPESCA and participating in various mobilizations, I
watched co-workers become increasingly demoralized and cynical, for just
these reasons. Our INPESCA party structure was quite corrupt by 1987,
enjoying all sorts of perks and allocating all sorts of resources to those
they favored, together with the institute's bureaucracy and the union
leadership. With the elimination of any sort of rank-and-file control over
any of these entities, corruption and demoralization were logical results.
There were still exceptional and principled individuals present when I left
in 1987, but when I returned in 1990, I learned that most had been forced
out of INPESCA during the following year. One, a party militant, threw his
button away. So, there were political choices made, and in brief, the FSLN
fucked up, and continued doing so in the ensuing years.
    When I went down last summer, I was rather pleasantly surprised -- at
first. There was an effervescence in the universities and neighborhoods that
I hadn't seen for many years. The neighborhood committees had been
revitalized and were mobilizing their bases. Students were mobilizing to the
sounds of Ali Primera and Carlos Mejia Godoy (the song Nicaragua,
Nicaraguita no longer has the phrase "pero ahora que ya sos libre,
Nicaraguita...). However, the mobilizations had one and only one goal: the
FSLN's electoral campaign, and the university students were mobilizing
primarily around the election and raising funds and collecting food for
neoliberalism's starving victims in the countryside (the starvation, itself
facilitated by the FSLN's pact with Aleman). Nevertheless, my
brother-in-law, an ex-party militant and ex-officer in the EPS, who had been
royally screwed by the FSLN and EPS leadership, became a born-again
supporter of the FSLN, and my sister-in-law and a close friend were both
heads of their barrio committees, and quite hopeful that the mobilizations
would continue. I was skeptical. After the elections, I asked my
sister-in-law what had happened to the supposedly revitalized organizations.
She told me that they had gone back to sleep.
    However, having said all this and perhaps bad-mouthed the FSLN, I would
also acknowledge that the FSLN's political failure did not take place in a
vacuum. U.S. imperialism was finally able to win its war, not by -- or not
only by -- force of arms, although they were certainly part of it. Their
policies favored bourgeois elements and pro-bourgeois tendencies within the
FSLN, pushed them to the fore.
    In 1989, during the electoral campaign that put Violeta in power, one
former neighbor said, why should we vote for the frente and its lies, if we
can vote for the bourgeoisie and know that we're going to get fucked.
Borge's words were prophetic.
    The last point I would make, Carlos, is that no-one knew this was going
to happen in 1979-1980. The FSLN was not monolithic, and, as Borge noted,
there was no clear direction (as in north, south, east or west) to the
revolutionary process. The leadership all concurred that they wanted
socialism. They all concurred that the first task was to build unity against
the impending imperialist aggression. The Simon Bolivar Brigade was kicked
out of Nicaragua because it flagrantly defied orders from the FSLN,
conducting agitation against the FSLN's policies. As foreigners in a country
at war with imperialism, they had no business or right to do that. Period.
They certainly weren't "helping" the better elements within the FSLN, but,
rather were sowing division when unity was needed. The FSLN was right in
"helping" them to leave.

Mike



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