23 July 2015
Nicaragua's July 19: Celebrating Revolution in Latin America

Showers off Lake Xolotlan sprinkled the huge crowds massed on Sunday July 19 for the 36th anniversary of the triumph of Nicaragua's Popular Revolution over the murderous tyranny of Anastasio Somoza in 1979.

Nicaraguans come out in huge numbers to celebrate on the street.

The brief spell of rain did little to dampen people's enthusiasm for an event, which lasted over two hours, most of which was taken up with revolutionary music and song. The speeches by Cuban Vice-President Miguel Diaz Canel, Venezuelan Vice-President Jorge Arreaza and President Daniel Ortega lasted barely 45 minutes.

The crowd numbered well over 200,000 people, occupying all of Nicaragua's Plaza de la Fe and most of the roads and avenues leading to it. They traveled from all over Nicaragua in several hundred buses and trucks, carefully organized by remarkably low-key police and security services.

On a much smaller scale but in its own way equally impressive is the annual mobilization of international movements from all over the world in solidarity with the Sandinista Revolution. The event is at once a joyful national and international celebration, an emotional revolutionary music concert and an inspiring political rally.

This year the main speakers were accompanied by the Five Cuban Heroes recently returned from their successful visit to South Africa.

It is easy to forget what a forceful and global symbol of resistance and grassroots creativity the Nicaraguan Revolution has been. The Frente Sandinista's hymn declares the Nicaraguan people's ownership of their history as the architects of their freedom.

That in itself explains a great deal of the power drawing such great, diverse masses of people from Nicaragua, the region and the world to the annual celebrations of the revolutionary victory accomplished on July 19, 1979.

“I am not the slave of the enslavement that dehumanized my ancestors.”

The constant presence of leading political figures from Cuba and Venezuela at these anniversaries also explains much of the Sandinista Popular Revolution's liberating power.

It bears repeating what Frantz Fanon wrote in his book “Black Skins, White Masks” when he stated, “I am not the slave of the enslavement that dehumanized my ancestors.” Fanon was writing about the liberating power of people deciding their own identity against oppressive imperialist definitions.

One of several fundamental contributions of the anti-imperialism of Augusto Sandino, Blanca Arauz and their comrades to contemporary revolutionary resistance around the world has been their rejection of the identity the invaders and aggressors sought to impose on them and on Nicaragua.

They share that characteristic with all the other emblematic anti-imperialist struggles of peoples around the world.

Resistance contemporaries as diverse as Abd El-Krim, and Omar Mukhtar in North Africa or Mao Tse Tung and Ho Chi Minh in Asia and their respective comrades all prioritized independent national identity.

So the presence of Cuban and Venezuelan leaders every July 19 in Managua very much confirms the continuity between the heroic vision of historic resistance against the European colonial powers and contemporary resistance against the current imperialist assault by the United States and its allies on progressive and revolutionary governments in Latin America.

That is why President Ortega talked about the roots of the achievements of the Sandinista Revolution in the nature of Nicaragua's people and society.

He argued that only very deep human love and solidarity could explain the triumph of the Sandinista Revolution and similar victories of national liberation.

Ortega's interpretation of the common destiny of the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean highlights the victories by progressive and revolutionary governments throughout the region against the tyranny of global capitalism, which is imposed and maintained by imperialist aggression and intervention.

As a concrete example President Ortega evoked how Nicaragua has championed the cause of self-determination for the Puerto Rican people as a fundamental human rights issue for the region.

Daniel Ortega noted how inherent deep-seated racism is connected to imperialism, condemning the recent grotesque racist remarks of Donald Trump in the context of unending violence in the U.S. against people of African descent.

Invoking the heroic example of the Cuban Five, Daniel Ortega called for international solidarity and support for Puerto Rico and in particular for the liberation of Oscar López Rivera, Puerto Rico's independence hero who has been imprisoned now by the U.S. government for over 36 years.

Characteristically outspoken, Daniel Ortega noted how inherent deep-seated racism is connected to imperialism, condemning the recent grotesque racist remarks of Donald Trump in the context of unending violence in the U.S. against people of African descent.

He pointed out how that murderous racist violence negates claims by the United States government leaders to moral authority when they talk about human rights.

At the end of the activity Ortega spoke directly to Venezuelan Vice-President Jorge Arreaza and his partner Rosa, daughter of Hugo Chávez, saying, “So we continue in the battle, Jorge Arreaza. We continue in the battle!

“Please tell Nicolás that we follow all the battles you are waging there and that we are convinced that just as Comandante Hugo Chávez achieved gigantic victories, today in these new times we are living in our America, certainly Chávez will be present in the new victories you are going to win in the next elections for sure!”

Like Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez, Daniel Ortega is not just a great revolutionary but a great educator too. Maybe the deepest of the complex springs inspiring the activity in Managua on July 19 this year was the emotional commitment to the tens of thousands of Nicaraguan heroes and martyrs who gave their lives for their country's revolution.

The united front of solidarity presented by the leadership of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela on behalf of all of Latin America and the Caribbean is a true homage to that enormous sacrifice.  

Pulling together many diverse motifs and examples, Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo and their Sandinista comrades made of this year's July 19 anniversary a celebration of political unity, regional solidarity and the origins of Nicaragua's profound historical anti-imperialist identity.

Throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, those origins of human love, self-sacrifice and solidarity have made possible unquestionable recent political and economic gains by the region's impoverished majority. Most importantly, those gains and their origins have won the recognition and loyalty of new generations committed to defending and renewing the revolutionary sovereign victories of their peoples.

Nicaraguans gather to celebrate the anniversary of the Sandinista revolution.


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"Tortilla con Sal is an anti-imperialist collective based in Nicaragua producing information in various media on national, regional and international affairs. In Nicaragua, we work closely with grass roots community organizations and cooperatives. We strongly support the policies of sovereign national development and regional integration based on peace and solidarity promoted by the member countries of ALBA."

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