Museum of the Revolution, Tourist Attractions, Culture
Imagine living in a country ruled by a monarchy with very little regard for the welfare of its people. Imagine living at a time when the words ‘revolution’ are a mere whisper in the air. Then imagine this fragile concept taking a sudden and violent turn; rocking the very foundations of your homeland and completely reforming the political situation that had caused the people of your land so much despair. For many it may sound like something out of a movie, but for the people of Nicaragua, it was very much a reality only a few short decades ago.
Prior to the Sandinista Revolution, the Somoza family had ruled the country for just over four decades and they had been doing very little to help improve the lives of the people. The people of Nicaragua were by and large unhappy with the state of the country, but the final straw probably came in 1972 when a massive earthquake leveled Managua killing some 10,000 people and leaving approximately 250,000 homeless. International aid was sent to the country to help rebuild its capital city but instead of being used for this purpose it was embezzled by Somoza’s National Guard. While people mourned the death of those lost in the earthquake, they could not even afford to bury them properly and they faced the elements without food, clothing or shelter, the president’s personal finances rocketed to a whopping US$400 million within just two years of the tragedy. The injustice of the situation was clearly evident and even those who had previously supported the government now called for an overthrow due to lack of compensation. Suddenly Somoza was ruling over a country filled with subjects who simply could not stand for his rule. Minor skirmishes with guerilla forces started to become the order of the day. In December 1974, a guerrilla group infiltrated the house of the Minister of Agriculture and seized several government hostages. The minister himself was killed and fourteen Sandinista prisoners were released from jail. Of course the Somoza government fought back in all the underhanded ways that one would expect but Somoza had dug his own grave and it was only a matter of time before he was wounded and later killed. The people were liberated and the Sandinistas took power. During the initial twelve years that they were in power, the Sandinista National Liberation Front established democratic elections and a national constitution as well as instituting many other necessary governmental functions. Today the Sandinista National Liberation front is still an active political party known as the FSLN.
Fortunately many of Nicaragua’s battles today are merely political ones. The violence of the revolution has become a thing of the past and, while it is still very much a part of the nation’s identity, it can safely be said that history will not be repeating itself soon. In Leon you will find a little treasure known as the Museum of the Revolution – a museum dedicated to the blood, sweat and tears of the revolutionaries who fought so bravely for the liberty of their country. It is here where the ideals of the revolution are most alive. The museum features many books, photos and other memorabilia relating to the revolution and the town itself is scattered with murals, statues and other forms of homage to the local hero’s who fought for a better legacy for their children.