The Third International after Lenin

Monday, December 5, 2016

The rise and political degeneration of the FSLN

....The FSLN was named after Augusto César Sandino, a peasant and mine worker who led a seven-year war that forced U.S. marines out of Nicaragua in 1934.

The Sandinista National Liberation Front came to power on the heels of a popular revolution that overthrew the Somoza dictatorship in July 1979. During the initial years of the Nicaraguan revolution, the FSLN leadership, despite errors and political hesitations, pursued a course that promoted the organization and mobilization of the workers and peasants of Nicaragua. The new government increasingly used its power to advance the toilers' class interests against the exploiters at home and abroad.

The actions by the workers and peasants regime gave a boost to struggles against the U.S.-backed landlord-capitalist tyrannies in El Salvador and Guatemala, linked up with the revolution in Grenada, and gave a powerful new impetus to political steps forward by the workers in Cuba.

The Sandinista leadership's initial course was in continuity with nearly two decades of revolutionary work by the FSLN, codified in the Historic Program of the organization drafted by Carlos Fonseca and first published in 1969.

This program pledged to destroy the dictatorship's "military and bureaucratic apparatus" and "establish a revolutionary government based on an alliance of workers and peasants and a convergence of all patriotic forces opposed to imperialism and the oligarchy." The new regime would establish broad democratic rights and initiate social, political, and economic measures to "create a Nicaragua that is free of exploitation, oppression, and backwardness."

The program pledged to "expropriate the landed estates, factories, companies... and other enterprises fraudulently acquired by the Somoza family [and] their accomplices"; to "nationalize the holdings of all foreign companies that exploit mineral, forest, maritime, and other natural resources"; to "establish workers control over the management of factories"; and to "plan the national economy, putting an end to the anarchy characteristic of the capitalist system of production."

The Historic Program called for "a massive campaign to immediately wipe out illiteracy" and measures to uproot discrimination suffered by women and by Blacks and Indians living on the Atlantic Coast and elsewhere in Nicaragua.

On international perspectives, the program declared that a workers and peasants government would "actively support the struggle of the peoples of Asia, Africa, and Latin America against both traditional and modern forms of colonialism, and against the common enemy: U.S. imperialism." The entire text of this document appears in New International no. 9 (see ad below).

The revolutionary government's steps to organize workers and farmers to carry out this program were electrifying to workers, peasants, and youth throughout the region and even around the world. Washington, having stood behind Somoza to the last ditch and failing to economically pressure the new government to change its course, began by late 1981 training and financing a counterrevolutionary army headed by former members of Somoza's officer corps.

Over the next six years the U.S.-organized contras mounted a murderous war to destroy the revolution.

Despite the toll on the country's economy, the 30,000 lives lost during the fighting, and the tens of thousands of maimed and wounded, the workers, peasants and youth in the Sandinista army defeated the contras by late 1987. But during that period the leadership of the FSLN abandoned the organization's historic program, transforming the FSLN from a revolutionary organization to a radical bourgeois electoral party by the end of the 1980s. Land reform and other revolutionary measures came to a halt and the government forged a "social pact" with landlords and capitalists, demoralizing workers and peasants.

Thus the workers and farmers government was defeated before the February 1990 elections, when the FSLN lost the vote to the National Opposition Union (UNO) -an amalgam of liberal bourgeois forces that had been part of the anti-Somoza fight in the 1970s, conservative politicians and businessmen, contra leaders, and two Stalinist organizations that had opposed the FSLN. The group was backed and financed by Washington.

Full 1996 article here:

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