[Marxism] Bolivarian Revolution A Marxist Revolution or

Mike Friedman mikedf at amnh.org
Tue Aug 30 23:37:38 MDT 2005

Thanks Josh. Okay, I should learn to have your humbleness and open mind!

In any case, I'm reading a book now that takes a critical view of those
years, Adios Muchachos, by Sergio Ramirez, the former Sandinista
Vice-President. Ramirez is a Social Democrat, which has a somewhat
different meaning in Latin America than it does in an imperialist country.
For example, he had no problem with an armed insurrection against Somoza
and was/is a staunch anti-imperialist, willing to monkey-wrench President
Carter's plans for Nicaragua.

He presents some interesting data, anecdotal information and insight into
the Revolution, including the FSLN's contradictions within the agrarian
reform. He brought back a few memories of my own that contrast somewhat
with what I mentioned regarding the agrarian reform, without negating the
gist of it. For example, he believes that the reorientation of the
agrarian reform was rendered ineffective by the stipulation that
individual farmers couldn't pass their titles on to their kids. However,
other critical sources, such as Pensamiento Propio and Envio, provided
abundant testimony that the Plan Unico (that, I believe is what it was
called) contributed to what was called at the time the "strategic defeat"
of the contras: their loss of a social base and lines of supply in the
countryside, forcing them to operate in ever smaller gorups. They never
stopped screwing around completely, even after the Esquipulas accords, and
the U.S. was able to use them as a threat against the Nicaraguan people
through the elections in 90.

In 1985, I was mobilized in one place near the town of Muy-Muy in
Matagalpa for three months, where the implementation of the agrarian
reform had ended up creating a privileged, elite layer consisting of the
medium producers and state-farm administrators, while the small farmers
were literally starving. I remember some aspects of the conflict: INE (the
electric company) had installed electric lines, but the only ones who had
access were this elite. The state farm controlled disbursement of basic
grains to the small farmers, but the AFA was preferentially given to the
administration, and to a lesser extent, the workers on the farm, and the
medium-sized landowners.

He also talks about some of the blunders -- torture and executions, even
-- committed by inexperienced, sectarian and dogmatic FSLN cadre against
the campesinos, in some cases labeling everyone with the slightest bit of
property as "bourgeois," or "petit-bourgeois" or a contra-collaborator.
This also dovetails with memories I have. In one case, in a previous
mobilization, conflicts between urban members of my contingent and the
rural population lead to two deaths. In the aforementioned mobilization, a
young, Cuban-educated, rhetoric-spouting friend and member of my squad
(our "politico"), proved utterly unable to engage with the small farmers
because of religious issues. The latter had a humorous side, because my
friend was attracted to a young woman in the settlement. She was an
Evangelical Christian. Johnny (his real name) had quite an approach: the
first thing out of his mouth (after hello) was the slogan, "Entre
Cristianismo y revolucion, no hay contradiccion". I covered my face and
walked away... I'll eventually write some more on this topic when I have
enough time. I'd also like to review Ramirez' book. It is in Spanish, if
you're up to it.


Message: 12
Date: Mon, 29 Aug 2005 17:00:05 -0700
From: Josh Saxe <joshsaxe at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Marxism] Bolivarian Revolution A Marxist Revolution or
        dead end        tactic?
To: Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition
        <marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
Message-ID: <1cb67ac6050829170076cc4a86 at mail.gmail.com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1

Mike Friedman wrote:
"I'm not going to waste my time with a detailed explanation, since I
don't really see the need to convince you or anyone else of anything

Ok, but that was a startingly great response based on genuine
knowledge and experience and while I have read a modest amount on
Nicaragua (I have been working on a paper on the Central America
solidarity movement in the U.S., El Salvador and Nicaragua for the
last 6 months) I haven't seen such good analysis, so thanks.  Not to
say I'm not still skeptical in certain ways but I have no way of
responding to the evidence you raise.

Michael Friedman
Ph.D. Candidate in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior
City University of New York

Molecular Systematics Laboratory
Department of Invertebrate Zoology
American Museum of Natural History
79th Street and Central Park West
New York, NY 10024

Office: 212-313-8721

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