The Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), founded in 1961, at first posed little threat to the Anastasio Somoza Debayle dynasty. After the assassination of opposition journalist Pedro Joaquin Chamorro in January, 1978, however, violent rebellion against President Somoza spread throughout Nicaragua as the moderate opposition joined forces with the Sandinista guerrillas. A seesaw military struggle culminated in Somoza’s flight into exile in July, 1979.
Christian does not believe that the political history of Nicaragua can be interpreted as a simple conflict between rich and poor. Somoza was overthrown, she says, not because of a mass revolt of the peasants, but because he was finally opposed by Nicaraguans of all classes, including most of the wealthy.
Once the Sandinistas began to consolidate their power, there was opposition to what the author says was a movement toward totalitarianism from many groups in the society. Not only did the wealthy landowners protest cooperatization of their land, but, also, trade unionists protested official harassment, the Roman Catholic hierarchy fought against the formation of a progovernment People’s Church, and the Miskito Indians rebelled against encroachments on their traditional autonomy.
For Christian, the Sandinista leaders are not well-meaning social reformers, driven toward Moscow by the hostility of Ronald Reagan’s Administration, but instead power-hungry Marxist-Leninist...
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