Augusto Sandino's grandson to speak at Latin America 2010

Campaign News | Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Interview from the Morning Star

Augusto Sandino is one of Latin America's leading historical icons, an inspiration in struggles over liberation and self-determination for the region.

This December will see an opportunity to find out more about him as his grandson and biographer Walter Castillo Sandino will be a keynote speaker at the Latin America conference 2010 in London.

Before the event a member of the Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign spoke to Walter and his wife Marbely Cerna Castillo.

What do you consider to have been the most lasting achievements of your grandfather?

8 At international level the success of his guerilla army in expelling the US forces from Nicaragua provided an example to the world of anti-imperialist struggle.

His vision of Latin American unity and his guerilla tactics based on a political, economic, cultural programme at national and international levels served as a model for other struggles.

In Nicaragua his greatest achievements were his military and personal wisdom, his heroism, clarity and sacrifice that resulted in the formation of the revolutionary Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) in 1961.

Sandino also played a key role in the establishment of the co-operative movement and in equality for women and recognition of rights of indigenous peoples.

What is Sandino's legacy in Nicaragua and Latin America, particularly over the founding of left economic bloc the Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America and the Caribbean (Alba)?

8My grandfather provided an inspiration to many liberation movements in Latin America. For example, the grandfather of Hugo Chavez passed on to his grandson a profound respect for the struggles of Sandino and those who fought with him.

It wasn't only the example of his military struggles but also his faith and philosophical vision of humanity, and recognition of the intimate relationship between humanity and nature - all this is now being realised in different ways through the leaders of countries that make up Alba.

There is a direct line of anti-imperalist thought and action that comes from Simon Bolivar and Francisco Morazan through Jose Marti in Cuba, and Emiliano Zapata in Mexico. This vision and struggle has been strengthened through the example of Sandino, Fidel, Che and Salvador Allende.

Alba is the most advanced expression of this vision of unity, humanity, liberation and sovereignty. It is a revolutionary process to benefit the great majority who historically have been repressed, excluded and denied access to the resources of their own countries and the fruits of their own labours.

What role did women play in the struggles of Sandino?

Women were involved at every level in Sandino's Army for the Defence of the National Sovereignty of Nicaragua (EDSNN), some were involved in armed combat, others played decisive roles in intelligence and counter-intelligence, logistics, looking after the troops, managing information, planning strategies and negotiating locally with the enemy.

Some people attributed Sandino with supernatural powers because of his ability to mount ambushes against the US marines and to avoid capture. However, this was largely due to the success of women in providing accurate intelligence. Sandino's wife Blanca Stella Arauz played a key role in the struggle from the age of 16. Sandino credited her and the other women for many of the major achievements in those times of struggle.

What are the main achievements of the FSLN since they returned to power in 2007?

8The principal achievement, in spite of all the difficulties they have faced, is to put into practice an integrated vision of the national revolutionary project born with the triumph of the Sandinista revolution in 1979. These achievements include:

The reactivation of the state as a key promoter of economic prosperity and welfare of the country through programmes such as universal health care and education,

The reactivation of agricultural production through the promotion of co-operatives and numerous other programmes benefiting small and medium producers and businesses,

The elimination of illiteracy through the Yo Si Puedo literacy campaign supported through Alba by Cuba and Venezuela,

Integration into Alba which prioritises south-south relations between sovereign countries based on solidarity, mutual respect, equality and complementarity,

The launching of housing programmes for the most impoverished sectors of society,

The transformation of the electricity generation and distribution system and further plans to ensure that by 2017, 80 per cent of electricity supply is from renewables.

The development of direct democracy called Citizens Power. The effectiveness of this model has been demonstrated in the recent massive mobilisation to prevent an outbreak of leptospirosis from spreading

The defence of workers' rights through establishing a minimum wage and reactivating the Ministry of Labour responsible for ensuring compliance with employment norms

The transformation of the police force and army into bodies responsible to the ministry of the government - this has enabled Nicaragua to remain one of the safest countries in the region.

What is the significance of Nicaragua's integration into Alba in these achievements?

8Alba has played a vital role in the transformation of Nicaragua. The successes of the Sandinista government are undeniably due to the astute management of relations with partner organisations and governments in north America and Europe, in combination with its integration into Alba.

Walter Castillo Sandino and Marbely Cerna Castillo will be speakers at the Latin America Conference 2010 at Congress House on Saturday December 4. For tickets and full details contact (020) 8800-0155.

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