Women Revolutionaries

  • This series of images features three prominent women during the Sandinista struggle in Nicaragua.

    Each woman had a different and undeniable influence on the state of affairs in the revolutionary process, struggle and beyond.

     

    In order of appearance:

     

    Gioconda Belli – Nicaraguan author, novelist and poet and active member of the Sandinista Struggle

     

    Dora María Téllez – Nicaraguan historian and Military commander during the Civil War

     

    Leila – Info TBD

     

    Lea Guido Lopez

     

    Nora Astorga

  • Gioconda Belli


    Gioconda Belli, partly of Northern Italian descent, was an active participant in the Sandinista struggle against the Somozadictatorship, and her work for the movement led to her being forced into exile in Mexico in 1975. Returning in 1979 just before the Sandinista victory, she became FSLN's international press liaison in 1982 and the director of State Communications in 1984. During that time she met Charles Castaldi, an American NPR journalist, whom she married in 1987. She has been living in both Managua and Los Angeles since 1990. She has since left the FSLN and is now a major critic of the current government.

    In 1988, Belli's book La Mujer Habitada (The Inhabited Woman), a semi-autobiographical novel that raised gender issues for the first time in the Nicaraguan revolutionary narratives, brought her increased attention; this book has been published in several languages and was on the reading list at four universities in the United States. The novel follows two parallel stories: the indigenous resistance to the Spanish and modern insurgency in Central America with various points in common: women's emancipation, passion, and a commitment to liberation. In 2000, she published her autobiography, emphasizing her involvement in the revolutionary movement, El país bajo mi piel, published under the name The Country Under My Skin in the United States; it was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 2003. Belli continues publishing and maintains that poetry is her most important work.

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    Dora María Téllez

     

    As "Commander Two", at age 22, she was third in command in a daring operation on August 22, 1978 that occupied the Nicaraguan National Palace in Managua (home to the Nicaraguan National Assembly, in full session). They captured 1,500 civilian hostages, including children, and threatened to murder them unless their demands were met. The demands included a prisoner release and a $10 million ransom. They ultimately gained the release of key Sandinista political prisoners and a million dollars ransom money. Téllez, during the three days of the siege personally managed the negotiations that humiliated the dictator.
    This feat represented the first blow to precipitate the fall of the 50-year-old Somoza's dynasty of dictators, since it exposed Somoza's regime as vulnerable.


    Following the operation, thousands of youths and women joined the Sandinista ranks, unleashing a popular insurrection that culminated with the fall of the Somoza regime on July 19, 1979, less than a year later.

    She wrote a definitive book on Nicaraguan history that underscores the importance of the north-central region of the country to the nation's political and economic history. In 2004 she was appointed Robert F. Kennedy Visiting Professor in Latin American studies at the Harvard Divinity School, but was barred from obtaining an entry visa to the US on grounds that she was a terrorist due to the raid on the Nicaraguan National Palace in Managua. This prompted 122 members of the academic community from Harvard and 15 other North American universities to publish a statement in her defense, stating:


    “The accusation made by the State Department against Dora María Téllez... amounts to political persecution of those who have engaged in overthrowing the atrocious dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua...This regime was almost universally viewed as criminal and inhumane, and yet it was financially and militarily supported by the United States...In reference to dictatorships, just as the State Department cannot affirm that the activities of Nelson Mandela against the atrocious dictatorship of apartheid in South Africa were terrorist activities, neither can it affirm that Dora María’s activities against the atrocious Somoza dictatorship were terrorist."

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    Leila

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    Lea Guido Lopez

     

    Lea Guido was one of the pioneers of the growing women's movement during the Sandinista revolution. She was a member of the group that formed named Association of Women Concerned with National Problems, but is known by its Spanish acronym of AMPRONAC,

    Lea Guido Lopez has, in fact, already seen the inside of Nicaragua's jails, albeit briefly, but they seem unintimidated. “It's an extraordinary phenomenon,” Lea Guido Lopez said. “The movement is growing so rapidly, women are becoming aware of their rights and responsibilities and this is irreversible. Some women say we aren't feminist enough, but we seem to be going as fast as we can.”

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    Nora Astorga

     

    Nora Astorga was a Nicaraguan guerrilla fighter in the Nicaraguan Revolution, a lawyer, politician, judge and the Nicaraguan ambassador to the United Nations from 1986 to 1988. She was born into a upper-middle class family with strong ties to the Somoza family. During her time in college she became involved with Sandinista revolutionaries.

    She gained national attention for her participation in the botched kidnapping and murder of General Reynaldo Pérez Vega (nicknamed "El Perro," or "the dog"). Pérez Vega was deputy commander of Anastasio Somoza’s National Guard. On March 8, 1978, Astorga invited the general to her apartment in Managua, hinting to him that the sexual favors he had long sought would be granted. When he arrived, however, three members of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) — Hilario Sánchez, Raúl Venerio and Walter Ferreti — burst out of her bedroom closet and seized the general. The plan was to ransom him for jailed Sandinista revolutionaries, but Pérez Vega put up a struggle and was murdered. Later, with his throat slit, he was found wrapped in a Sandinista flag. Astorga said of his murder, "It was not murder. He was too much of a monster."

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