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A New Nicaragua Only After the Fall of the Dictatorship

Declaration from a meeting of German brigades that worked in solidarity with Nicaragua, reunited 40 years after their arrival in Nicaragua

Participants of the meeting “At 40 years – International Production Brigades to Nicaragua”. // Photo: Courtesy

Confidencial Digital

18 de febrero 2024


On December 20, 2023, marked 40 years since the departure of the first German work brigade to Nicaragua. Between 1983 and 1990, several thousand people, mostly young, traveled to Nicaragua to express their solidarity with the Sandinista revolution by participating in coffee harvesting, housing construction, health care, and other projects. We wanted to support the Sandinistas in building a free and self-determined society. After the fall of dictator Somoza, the goal was to build a new fair economic system, reshape global relations, and involve solidarity activists in the political process (agrarian reform, housing construction, and improvements in education and health).

We identified largely with these objectives. After many years of military dictatorships and US interventions in Latin America, Nicaragua became a beacon of hope because the Sandinista revolution was an attempt to combine social justice, political pluralism, and humanistic ethics. The work brigades combined practical assistance with political symbolism, specifically their use as human shields against the threat of US intervention. The missions of the brigades were not only a practical criticism of German policy in Central America and a means of direct solidarity, but also a learning opportunity for global connections, a political signal, as well as an action that boosted identity and awareness with a lasting effect on all involved.

We, former brigade members and sympathizers, have gathered today to commemorate this campaign, share experiences and memories, and discuss how our objectives, analysis, and political actions have changed since then. In particular, we also discussed our own activities and idealizations of Sandinismo in a self-critical way (for example, regarding authoritarianism, the role of women, indigenous movements). We have taken different paths in the following years, but our attitudes towards exploitation, the neo-colonial conditions of the world market, capitalist economy, democratic participation, and global justice remain the same. Forty years later, the task of internationalist solidarity is even more urgent.

We realize that Daniel Ortega, the first president of a free Nicaragua, together with his wife Rosario Murillo, have in recent years turned the country into a brutal family dictatorship. With an absurd electoral fraud, the repression of massive peaceful protests in 2018 with over 375 deaths, the synchronization and absolute control of all state institutions, the banning of more than 3,800 NGOs, the elimination of any freedom of assembly, association, and expression, they cling to power. Political prisoners are tortured and mistreated, with women and members of the LGBTIQ+ community suffering the most. To date, 316 unwanted individuals have been denationalized, and their assets and those of their families have been confiscated. Nicaragua is experiencing the largest wave of migration in its history.

The solidarity movement faces the tasks of critically analyzing its past, supporting the democratic movement, and carrying out a committed human rights policy. We are deeply convinced that a new Nicaragua can only emerge through the fall of the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship and that the Ortega-Murillo family must answer for their crimes before national or international courts and return properties looted from public funds.

We demand the immediate release of all political prisoners and the restoration of all democratic rights in Nicaragua.

We call on all institutions, organizations, and political figures to support Nicaraguan exiles and refugees in solidarity and grant them asylum.

Approved by the 65 participants with 5 abstentions and no votes against, on February 3, 2024.

This article was published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by Havana Times. To get the most relevant news from our English coverage delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to The Dispatch.


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Confidencial Digital

Confidencial Digital

Confidencial es un diario digital nicaragüense, de formato multimedia, fundado por Carlos F. Chamorro en junio de 1996.