Sandinistas show popularity with turnout at political rally
By GLENN GARVIN
Herald Staff Writer
MANAGUA -- Torn by internal division and scandals, the battle-scarred
party proved it could still flex its muscles Monday, drawing 30,000 supporters to
celebrate the 20th anniversary of the overthrow of Nicaragua's old Somoza
The crowd -- which arrived in bus caravans from all over the country,
some of them
two miles long -- was much bigger than expected. Even party leaders seemed
surprised and delighted.
``They say the people don't believe in the [Sandinista] revolution
shouted Tomas Borge, the party's only surviving founder, as the crowd cheered
wildly. ``In that case, who are all these people here? Are you all ghosts? Is the
foreign press hallucinating you?''
Borge and two other men founded the Sandinista National Liberation
1961, a guerrilla insurgency intended to topple the Somoza family dynasty that
began ruling Nicaragua in the 1930s.
On July 19, 1979, two days after the last Somoza fled into exile,
marched victoriously into Managua to form a revolutionary government. But its
Marxist leanings soon touched off another civil war, one that finally ended in 1990
when the Sandinistas lost internationally supervised elections.
Since then, the party has been buffeted by financial and sexual
have steadily shrunken its support. But Borge dismissed the party's dissidents --
who were holding their own rally across town, with a crowd numbering only about
300 -- as ``the liars and the resentful.''
``There's no room for intellectual arrogance in the Sandinista
party,'' Borge said,
referring to the dissidents. ``The party won't be tamed by fear of its own decisions,
nor by verbal terrorism of the latest lynch mob.''
Former president Daniel Ortega got an even bigger response from
the crowd with
a long attack on the free-market economic policies of President Arnoldo Aleman's
``They've privatized health,'' Ortega said. ``They've privatized
even privatize God if they could.''
Monday's rally didn't attract any of the luminaries of the international
routinely attended during the 1980s when the Sandinistas were in power and the
guest speakers included people like Cuban President Fidel Castro.
But Sandinista officials nonetheless said that about 100 representatives
countries and leftist organizations around the world attended, including
delegations from Cuba and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a
Marxist guerrilla group threatening the Bogota government.