Women and children took up arms with the Sandinistas to overthrow Somoza.
We heard, too, that the people burned
the house of a doctor, a relative of ours
who was with the Somoza national guard.
Another relative, an engineer, we are told
is on the Sandinista list. A female relative, a Marxist, jailed by Somoza, was recently freed by the Sandinistas. It is the
same with just, about every Nicaraguan
Nicaragua is the largest country in
Central America and yet the most sparsely populated (fewer than 2.5 million people). In a small country everyone's related.
Almost every family in Nicaragua lost a
relative in this war. Everyone was involved.
Not only the men but the women and
children took up arms against Somoza —
13-year-olds were fighting and dying. A
month before Somoza was deposed, he
started drafting women.
I keep thinking of Somoza as another
product of the U. S. military, just like the
rest of the military products designed to
keep communism away from the American people. Never mind that those products hurt, maim, kill people in other
countries such as Vietnam, Nicaragua,
Iran (the shah was another military product). Our government supported the shah
and Somoza almost to the end, as it continues supporting the production of more
weapons and other military products governing other Latin American countries.
One of the things that turned the
American tide against Somoza was the
slaying of an American TV news reporter.
Now that was really going too far—thousands of Nicaraguans were killed; but, how
can they kill one American? It was as if
his life was really the only important life
taken during the conflict. U. S. Vice Con
sul John Bargeron said, "This is a war of
murder . . . Nicaraguans are killed like
that every day." The government of Mexico broke diplomatic relations with Somoza last May charging him with "genocide
against the people of Nicaragua."
It seems strange that Somoza, the ultimate dictator, can own so much property
in the U.S., the ultimate democracy. I
wonder if the American people associate
Somoza's investments in the United States
with the plunder of the Nicaraguans. After the Managua earthquake, it was reported in the U. S. that Somoza appropriated
relief food for the national guard and
loans for his private enterprises. Was this
the monev he used to purchase his U. S.
loans for his private enterprises. Was this
the money he used to purchase his U. S.
properties? Isn't the acceptance of stolen
goods as punishable by law as the act of
stealing itself? But then maybe all this going around the law is necessary "to keep
communism away." I wonder if a Marxist
regime would be much worse for the
Nicaraguans than Somoza's "benevolent
And what is going to happen to Nicaragua now? One of my sisters and I discussed that this morning. It occurred to
me while we were talking that two years
ago, even in May of this year, I doubted
that the Sandinistas could depose Somoza. He kept saying he would not leave
until 1981, and with strong U.S. backing
and Israel continuing the sale of arms, I
could only think that he would indeed
stay forever. (Strange alliance indeed between "oppressed" Israel and the despot
But the Sandinistas deposed Somoza.
And now how to reconstruct Nicaragua-
the economy is in a shambles and thousands of refugees are without food and
shelter while Somoza lives in luxury. I
was told that at some community shelters
children were given one tortilla a day to
keep them alive. Stores have been ransacked. Businesses are closed.
The junta says all properties belonging
to Somoza, his family and his allies will
be assigned to state control as part of the
"national patrimony." The government
will thus own his farm, factories, and
even La Nica, the national airline!
At the moment, it seems to me that reconstruction is impossible. But that's
what I thought in May about Somoza
leaving Nicaragua. I know that the immense courage and sense of purpose of
the Nicaraguan people will make reconstruction happen.
The U.S. ambassador to Nicaragua,
Lawrence Pezzullo, said in Washington
last week that the United States played
a large part in ousting Somoza. "Our role
was to get Somoza out," he said, "and
we did it...there was great foresight on
the part of the U.S. government in
seeing the problem and bringing about
a solution through political change."
In spite of what Pezzullo says, the
solution will be brought about by Nicaraguans for Nicaraguans, as the war was
fought by Nicaraguans for Nicaraguans.
Other nations will be helping in the best
interests of Nicaraguans. I hope the
United States will be one of them.
Cilia Teresa is a Houston businesswoman.
She is a former national NOW board member and currently serves on the Board of
Directors of the Ms. Foundation.
JULY/ AUGUST 1979