Nicaragua: Paul Berman writes to de Blasio

Michael Totten links to Paul Berman on Nicaragua

Paul Berman wrote an open letter in The New Republic to New York City’s mayor-elect Bill De Blasio who apparently is a long-time sympathizer with the Sandinistas, the Nicaraguan communists who briefly ruled the country after the overthrow of the previous tyrant Anastasio Somoza.

Anyway, he takes De Blasio to task specifically for praising the Sandinistas’ health care system in the town of Masaya, the same sort of error that has appeared almost daily in my comments section since I returned home from Cuba.

Indeed, the “excellent free Cuban healthcare” lie lives on as one of the most enduring in history.

Berman’s article, Why Bill de Blasio’s Nicaraguan Work Worries Me explains (emphasis added),

It is about Masaya, the town whose Sandinista health campaign you have praised in a recent speech. This happens to be the town where I conducted my own most extensive research as a reporter. You will remember that Masaya is a wonderfully creative artisan center. Some people in Masaya labor on the outlying farms, but a great many other people work at making shoes, hammocks, furniture, and all kinds of things. The people of Masaya are also, as you will recall, famously rebellious. The revolution against the Somoza dictatorship got started in the plazas of that very town as a protest against a teargas attack by Somoza’s National Guard on a Catholic protest mass. The Sandinistas were the beneficiaries of that uprising, but not its originators. And when the Sandinistas came to power, they recognized their debt to Masaya, and they lavished special attention on the place, “the cradle of the revolution.”

Mr. de Blasio, you are right to have observed “a youthful energy and idealism” among the Sandinistas of the 1980s, and some of that energetic idealism led to indisputably excellent results. The Somoza dictatorship established electric power in Masaya, but the young new Sandinistas extended the grid into the poorer neighborhoods. They paved additional roads. These were big achievements.

And yet, certain of the other Sandinista programs ran into a problem that you do not mention, brought about by one other Sandinista program, the biggest program of all. This was the goal of subjugating every last corner of Nicaraguan life to the dictates of the Sandinista Front, whose own political structure mandated obedience to the nine uniformed comandantes of the national directorate, whose political structure had been assembled, in turn, by Fidel Castro, their hero. These hierarchical commitments ended up wreaking a devastating effect on every last thing the Sandinistas ever did, including the best things.

Read the full article, part 1, and part 2.

New York has reason to worry.

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4 Responses to “Nicaragua: Paul Berman writes to de Blasio”

  1. Old Timer Says:

    Re: Rural education by the Sandinistas. They sent city youth out into the campo to teach reading, writing and arithmetic. A friend told me the math books would show photos of 4 grenades plus 2 grenades equals 6 grenades….7 rifles plus 2 rifles equals 9 rifles. I tried to get one of the books but never could find a source.

  2. Fausta Says:

    I had heard of that, OT, but have not been able to locate any of the books, either.

  3. ricardo Says:

    I personally had copies of the didactic material you mention when I worked in C.A. in the ’80′s.

    It mysteriously disappeared in 2000 together with many other Sandinista-related documents when I put it in storage. I recovered some of it from sources I gave copies to, but the same thing happened again in 2005 — it all mysteriously disappeared in storage! I use the word “mysterious” appropriately — I carried the documentation around with me for years and across thousands of miles and four different countries without losing anything before.

    I am currently trying (for the third time) to get copies from other sources again — if I succeed this time I will spread it all over the web so it will be impossible for anything to disappear again.

    You can read pert of the story here:

  4. Fausta Says:

    Thank you Ricardo. Adding your link to Monday’s post