I’ve been thinking a lot about revolution. As we trek the Nicaraguan highlands from cooperative to cooperative, it’s tough to imagine that only three decades ago, 800 heavily-armed, Reagan-backed, Contra mercenaries marched on the 40 Sandinistas living in this area of the Miraflor natural reserve. Some of those people, like Doña Lucia, still live here today as a part of the all-women’s cooperative Nuevo Amanecer, which roughly translates to A New Rising.
After hearing her story and walking back to my cabin, I see the book I finished last night, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz. Diaz follows a Dominican family through their country’s revolution, and tracks its extensive impact on each relative. As I read, two single mothers, La Inca and Beli, stood out as incredibly strong and resilient. Though these two females are fictional, the idea that women are present, if not at the forefront of the fight for a more equitable society is not. Yet when we talk about revolution, or any major event in history for that matter, we rarely talk about women. It is, after all, his-story.
Doña Lucia shared Her story with us today. She told us about creating the women’s cooperatives and fighting to be accepted as competent workers. She spoke on memories of sheltering Sandinista leaders from the cities when the government was trying to suppress their voice. She reminisced on the fear when the contra rebels were forming an army and her community had little to protect themselves. She didn’t have to say a word to communicate how proud she is of what Nuevo Amanecer has become—her smile was evidence enough.
Nowhere in the The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao are La Inca and Beli referred to as revolutionaries, but its important we view them as such. If we don’t, they are forgotten. Their impact, erased.
I came to Nicaragua in search of the Sandinistas, the bold and brave revolutionaries who fought valiantly for their own self-determination; it’s important I recognize that I’ve found them. If I don’t, if we don’t, they too will be forgotten.
And now it’s 10:00 pm and I’m sitting in bed and the dogs outside are barking and Doña Lucia is probably asleep across the street and for some reason all I can think is that nobody is toasting to her. Somewhere in the world they are raising their glass to Che, Fidel, Napoleon, Washington, Mandela, maybe even Sandino—Donia Lucia sleeps across the street. Unrecognized.
So here is to Nuevo Amanecer, to La Inca and Beli and Doña Lucia. To the women who facilitate revolution. To the Sandinistas.