Nicaraguan Ambassador to Mexico Tamara Hawkins de Brenes opened her home to friends and colleagues on Tuesday, July 19, to celebrate the 37th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution, which was led by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) and which resulted in the ouster of the oppressive Somoza family dynasty that ruled the Central American country between 1936 and 1979.
“Since its very conception, the FSLN set out to overthrow the dictatorship through political and social unity,” Hawkins de Brenes told her guests at the start of the afternoon event.
“The FSLN is the only Latin American party that has triumphed not only in the face of armed confrontation by also through the electoral process.”
Hawkins de Brenes went on to say that the Sandinistas, which took their name from Augusto César Sandino, who led Nicaragua’s resistance against U.S. occupation in the 1930s, were a symbol of both anti-imperialism and national sovereignty.
The FSLN is now the ruling party in Nicaragua, under the leftist Daniel Ortega, a former Sandinista revolutionary-cum-politician that has helped to curb the incidence of poverty and social marginalization in the second-poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
“Nicaragua suffered a terrible earthquake in its capital in 1972 that severely damaged infrastructure and the economy,” Hawkins de Brenes said.
“And in 1979, it was criminally bombarded with the destruction of six cities and several other smaller towns.”
The brutal war against Anastasio Somoza DeBayle — the last member of the Somoza family to lead Nicaragua — ended with his resignation on July 17, 1979, but left the country impoverished and plundered, with more than 50,000 dead and 150,000 people in exile.
A five-member junta, led by Ortega, subsequently took control of the capital city of Managua with promises to work toward political pluralism, a mixed economic system and a nonaligned foreign policy.
But Hawkins de Brenes said that two years into the new junta’s administration, the United States — which had backed Somoza and his repressive regime, threatened to “reduce Nicaragua to dust” if it did not cut its ties with Cuba and stop sending military support to guerrilla insurgents in El Salvador.
“Nicaragua refused to give in and a decade-long war was launched,” she said.
In 1984, the government of the Junta of National Reconstruction filed suit against the United States for its unlawful intervention in Nicaragua with the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
“The judgement of that suit was a condemnation of the United States,” Hawkins de Brenes said.
“In 1990, we achieved peace, but we suffered a period of political instability for the next five years, during which there were constant social struggles to maintain the goals of the Sandinista Revolution. We struggled to maintain our land and the companies that were the rightful property of the Nicaraguan people.”
Hawkins de Brenes said that in the mid-1990s, Nicaragua underwent a period of neoliberalism which lasted until 2006, when the Sandinista National Liberation Front once again gained control, this time as a purely political entity.
“We are dedicated to national reconstruction and we are a government of reconciliation and national unity,” the ambassador said.
“Political reconciliation has been achieved.”
Hawkins de Brenes said that, through agrarian reform and the recapitalization of private-sector industries, Nicaragua has now become a mixed economy where small- and medium-sized farms coexist with private corporations.
“As a result, we can proudly say that we have the most secure country in the region today, with the highest indexes of development and stability,” she said.
“Nicaragua had an armed and authentic revolution that overthrew and destroyed the old power.”
Hawkins de Brenes said Nicaragua is now working to eliminate poverty and develop an even more equalitarian society where foreign companies are welcome and offered tax incentives to invest and all citizens are offered opportunities for development.
Nicaragua, with a current population of 6.1 million people, registered an impressive 4.9 percent growth in 2015 and has averaged 5.2 percent growth for the last five years.
“Today, we celebrate our national day, which opened the door to our new history of freedom, dignity, fraternity, democracy and national liberation,” Hawkins de Brenes said.
She then raised a glass of wine and offered a toast for both Nicaragua and Mexico.
Nicaragua and Mexico signed a free-trade accord in 1997 and have a combined two-way commercial exchange of about $1.5 billion annually, according to Mexican government sources.
Mexico is Nicaragua’s third-largest direct foreign investor, with capital holdings of about $183 million, including representation from América Móvil, Cementos Mexicanos (Cemex), Grupo Bimbo and Grupo Lala.
Mexico’s main exports to Nicaragua include electronic appliances, copper wire, medicines and vehicles, while Nicaragua’s main exports to Mexico include vehicle parts, peanuts, vegetable oil, sugar and textiles.