New Internationalist

Revenge

Issue 400

Using the words of the Sandinista freedom fighter, Tomás Borge.

My personal revenge will be your children’s right to schooling and to flowers. My personal revenge will be this song bursting for you with no more fears.

My personal revenge will be to make you see the goodness in my people’s eyes, implacable in combat always generous and firm in victory.

My personal revenge will be to greet you ‘Good morning!’ in streets with no beggars, when instead of locking you inside they say, ‘Don’t look so sad.’ When you, the torturer, daren’t lift your head, My personal revenge will be to give you these hands you once ill-treated with all their tenderness intact.

Luis Enrique Mejía Godoy translated from the Spanish by Dinah Livingstone

Nicaraguan singer/songwriter Luis Enrique Mejía Godoy wrote this song, using the words of the Sandinista freedom fighter, Tomás Borge.

People like Borge gave the lie to Washington’s propaganda of the Sandinistas as militant despots. Borge underwent seven years of imprisonment and torture at the hands of the Somoza dictatorship’s National Guard; his wife was also tortured, sexually abused and eventually died at the hands of her tormentors.

After the Sandinista Revolution in 1979 Tomás Borge became Nicaragua’s Justice Minister. Many of the former National Guard were now prisoners for whom he was responsible. Under Borge’s direction the prison system was completely overhauled. Prisoners received progressively more humane treatment for good behaviour until they could visit home at weekends and guard themselves. The story goes that Borge came face to face with his torturer and responded by saying: ‘For your punishment, I forgive you.’ When the man was freed, he went to Miami and became a leader of the counter-revolutionary contras. Borge reflected that the man didn’t understand forgiveness.

On a larger scale the Sandinistas’ ‘revenge’ was a vision of an inclusive, humane society for a country they all too briefly governed. In 2006, the Sandinistas again achieved power in Nicaragua when Daniel Ortega was re-elected President with nearly 40 per cent of the vote.

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