Memorial honoring student martyrs who were killed in the attack on the market. Juigalpa, 1978
Basic infantry training school (EEBI) for the National Guard. Managua, 1978
President Anastasio Somoza Debayle opening new session of the National Congress. Managua, June 1978
"No me voy ni me van...I'll neither go nor be driven out."
- General Anastasio Somoza Debayle, 1978
Recruits pass by official state portrait of Anastasio Somoza Debayle as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, 1978
Nicaragua in 1971
Population: 2.2 million
Government: Ruled by the Somoza family since 1936
Land: 5% of population owned 58% of arable land; Somoza family owned 23%
Wealth: 50% of population had an average annual income of $90
Housing: 80% without running water, 59% without electricity, 47% without sanitary facilities, 69% with dirt floors
Illiteracy: 57% nationwide, but 80% average in rural areas
Health: Endemic malaria, tuberculosis, typhoid, and gastroenteritis. Of every 1,000 children born, 102 died. Of every 10 deaths, 6 were caused by infectious diseases, which are curable.
National Guard on duty. Matagalpa, 1978
"An unarmed people's war is nothing like a military coup. It is a war of attrition, long and silent. Many have fallen. Thousands of its actions remain unknown. The news tells only of those that are most important. This is not something that started with these last offensives. We who live this struggle know that day by day there are confrontations, something happens. It is a long history, like building a house, stone by stone..."
–German Pomares, FSLN Commander. Died in combat May 28, 1979, in Jinotega.
Paramilitary forces, an extension of the National Guard, search for weapons. 1979
I used to get in the car as early in the morning as I could and just drive, looking for things that seemed unusual. One day I was driving on the outskirts of Managua when I smelled something. It was a very steep hill, and as I got closer to the top the odor overwhelmed me. I looked out and saw a body and stopped to photograph it. I don't know how long it had been there, but long enough for the vultures to have eaten half of it. I shot two frames, I think, one in color and one in black and white, then got out.
The images I made of the body were powerful partly because of the contrast with the beauty of the landscape. For me [the photo] was the link to understanding why the people of Nicaragua were so outraged. [On the other hand] the American public could not relate their reality to this image. They simply could not account for what they saw.
-S.M. from "Exposure 21," no.1 (1988)
"Cuesta del Plomo", hillside outside Managua, a well known site of many assassinations carried out by the National Guard.
Wall graffiti on Somoza supporter’s house burned in Monimbo, asking "Where is Norma Gonzalez? The dictatorship must answer." Monimbo, 1978