Sergio Ramirez on the History of Nicaragua

This story is set against national turmoil and political unrest.
Sergio Ramirez on the History of Nicaragua  A young man is culled from the population to serve as a resource for identifying insurgents.

This is a translation from an interview with Sergio Ramirez, who was born in Managua and has lived there since he was five years old. He graduated as a lawyer at Universidad Centroamericana and worked for several years as a journalist before becoming director general of the National Institute of Culture. In this interview, he talks about his life growing up in Nicaragua during the Sandinista revolution; how it affected him personally and professionally; what happened to INC after Somoza’s fall; and why he left Nicaragua in 1990. The original Spanish text can be found here.

The history of Nicaragua

I grew up in a family that had been living in Nicaragua for generations. My father came from León when he was very young, but my mother’s side comes from Granada. I have always felt Nicaraguan because we were part of our country. We didn’t live in poverty or anything like that, but we did suffer some hardships. When I was little, I remember seeing people selling things outside their houses, trying to make money so they could buy food. That made me feel sad. It wasn’t just us: everyone suffered then. But even though we weren’t poor, we still went hungry sometimes. There are many stories about those times, which I will tell you later.

When I was six years old, I started going to school. At first, I only attended kindergarten classes, but soon enough I began attending primary school. Then one day, I saw a poster saying “We want free education!” So I decided to go back home and ask my parents if I could join the movement. They told me no, that I couldn’t do something like that. But I insisted, telling them that I wanted to help others get educated too. Finally, they agreed. From that moment on, I became involved in politics.

In 1972, I joined the Sandinistas. I knew nothing about Marxism-Leninism yet, but I liked the idea of helping other countries develop economically. And I also thought that communism would bring peace to all nations. After joining the party, I learned more about Marxist theory and Leninist principles. Soon afterwards, I got into university. I studied law at UNAN and journalism at UCAM.

In 1978, I participated in the student protests against Anastasio Somoza Debayle. During these days, I met Daniel Ortega, whom I consider a friend today. I helped organize demonstrations and teach students how to use weapons. Later, I organized meetings between students and members of parliament. One time, I gave a speech in front of the national assembly where I said that the government should not continue its repression policies. This caused quite a stir among the opposition parties. Some of them accused me of being pro-Sandinista, while others called me names. However, most people respected me.

Afterwards, I continued working as a journalist. For example, I wrote articles criticizing the regime for using violence against civilians. I also criticized the way the army treated women. These actions led to threats against me by the police and military intelligence services. Because of this, I moved out of Managua to San José del Sur, a small town near Chinandega. I stayed there until 1984, when I returned to Managua.

At that point, I realized that the situation in Nicaragua was getting worse.

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