By Kathryn Lewis
MANAGUA — In the biggest mobilisation of support for the FSLN since the UNO government of Violeta Chamorro came to power in 1990, more than 50,000 people attended the July 19 rally marking the 12th anniversary of the Sandinista revolution.
With 70% unemployment due to the implementation of the government's neo-liberal economic policies, the Sandinistas rallied around the theme "Employment to live". Addressing the enthusiastic rally, secretary general of the FSLN Daniel Ortega reaffirmed the commitment of the FSLN to the poor and marginalised. He condemned the poverty and misery that most of the population endures.
Ortega asked the crowd, "Do you want a police force like the one they have in Los Angeles?", to a mighty response of "no!". He explained that this was what lay behind the recent US decision to withhold $116 million in aid. The US wants the army and police force here to undergo "significant change" before aid is released. That means that the US wants an army and police force which will assist the former owners, the Somozistas, to take back the farms and dwellings which the revolution won for the poor.
The rally stressed solidarity with international liberation struggles. Delegates from the Third Forum of Sao Paulo, meeting here at the time, were guests at the rally. Solidarity was also expressed with the country's university students, who are campaigning to force the government to provide adequate funding for tertiary education.
Celebrations were also held in other towns and cities throughout Nicaragua. According to the newspaper Barricada, many new members of the FSLN received their membership cards at these rallies; for example, there were 70 in Rivas in the south, and in the north 200 in Somoto and 100 in Ocotal.
The situation is very tense at the moment, with many groups mobilising and demonstrating for change in the government's policies. The FSLN supports the UNO "Group of the Centre' within the UNO-dominated parliament so as to isolate the US-backed right wing.
The ultraright and Somozistas are campaigning for the reversal of the land reform and the creation of a reactionary army and police force. The votes of the Sandinista deputies give the minister of the presidency, Antonio Lacayo, Chamorro's right hand person, a bare majority in the National Assembly. The FSLN uses this situation to influence his policies.