INTRODUCTION: Two years after Sandanist guerrillas ousted the Somoza dynasty in Nicaragua the revolutionary government there is struggling to revitalise the devastated country without compromising its ideological aims.
Managua, Nicaragua, 1980. GVs & SVs Scenes depicting the Sandanist revolution (6 shots)
Masaya, 1979. SVs National Guard firing automatic weapons in the countryside (2 shots)
GV & CU Armoured vehicle along road as government T-33 jet fighter flies overhead (2 shots)
SV National Guardsmen walk along road
Sebaco, 1979. Sandanist guerrilla spraying initials on wall as others run from sporadic gunfire (2 shots)
SV Smoke rises from Matagalpa as arms are distributed to Sandanists (3 shots)
CU Armed Sandanists run through streets
CU Burned corpse PAN TO bodies of tortured Sandanists in outskirts of Managua (3 shots)
CU ZOOM OUT TO GV Old man recruited into National Guard and others lined up for training and boarding truck (2 shots)
SV Sandanist calling through loudhailer and National Guard laying down arms and taking off uniforms (2 shots)
Managua, July 20, 1979. GV & TV Sandanist flag raised from cathedral as junta members walk through crowd of thousands of supporters who cheer them (2 shots)
19 July 1980. LV, GV & SV Cuban President Fidel Castro mounts rostrum in front of revolutionary billboard and speaks to crowd (3 shots)
GVs Wrecked buildings and factories (3 shots)
Esteli, March 1981. Government official talking to farmers and looking at crop (5 shots)
SV & LV Farmers hoeing crop, and ox-drawn plough working field (3 shots)
CU PULL BACK TO GV Esteli National Development Bank
SV INTERIOR Farmer asking for loan and signing papers
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Background: INTRODUCTION: Two years after Sandanist guerrillas ousted the Somoza dynasty in Nicaragua the revolutionary government there is struggling to revitalise the devastated country without compromising its ideological aims. But the economic and political pressures are enormous. The change of government in the United States has meant a change in attitude to supplying the aid that the Nicaraguan economy desperately needs. Loans from the United States were suspended recently after accusations that Nicaragua was supplying arms to guerrilla fighting in other parts of Central America. Part of the suspended credit was going to be spent on the purchase of wheat when Nicaragua had only a month's supply left. A government spokesman stated that the Nicaraguan people must have bread, but he maintained they would be pressured politically by the United States.
SYNOPSIS: The story of the Sandanist revolution has been depicted in a bright mural in the capital of Managua. It tells the tale of extreme hardship and a war which devastated the country's economy before the Somoza family dynasty was forced to flee from the country. The mural also promises a brighter future.
In 1979, National Guardsmen -- defenders of the government of Anastasio Somoza staged their last offensive against the guerrillas. The Somoza family had ruled Nicaragua with an iron hand for four decades.
Somoza's men were equipped with the latest military hardware and had the advantage of a squadron of jet fighters. Somoza was determined to defeat the insurrection.
The resistance movement originated almost two decades ago with the founding of the Sandanist movement. Originally a band of students and young intellectuals--some of them Cuban trained Marxists, the Sandanists grew to embrace both peasants and the upper middle class, fed up with years of repression. The Sandanists split into three groups in 1974--one faction advocating urban military action, one which preferred rural guerrilla warfare and one that espoused political and industrial organising. Then on May 29, 1979, they joined forces in what they called their final offensive.
But even as the Sandanists moved closer to victory some of their members suffered death by torture at the hands of the National Guard. Estimates of the final death toll range from ten to forty thousand.
The National Guard's depleted ranks were filled in the final days by old men and young boys, quickly outfitted and sent into battle with a day's training. Many had collaborated with the National Guard and felt they had little choice but to join.
But by July 18, 1979 the National Guard were in complete disarray and the news travelled fast that their leaders had deserted them. Hearing that the Sandanists were in full control, the Guard abandoned their arms and stripped off their uniforms.
Managua, July 20. The red and black flag of the Sandanists flies from the city's cathedral in the square renamed "Plaza de Revolucion". The day marked the first successful revolution in Latin America in twenty years. Junta members were swamped by thousands of people celebrating their victory.
A year later -- President Fidel Castro of Cuba was one of the main guests, as Nicaraguans celebrated a year of Sandanist rule. But Nicaragua's close relationship with Cuba, and its avowed support of other revolutionary movements in Central America, has resulted in criticism from the United States, and has put potential foreign aid from the West in jeopardy.
Damage as a result of the war was catastrophic. The government estimates that the economy was put back almost 20 years, and the average income fell to 1972 levels as a result of the 1979 escalation.
But by the end of 1980 the government claimed to be putting things right -- and progress equivalent to 15 years of development had been made. The country apparently has the potential to provide a good life for all its two and a half million inhabitants. These farmers once worked in semi-feudal conditions for the deposed Somoza family -- now they negotiate for government money to help develop their own land.