Carlos Fonseca Amador Museum

Located just one block south of the Ruben Dario Park in Matagalpa, Nicaragua, a humble nondescript building is home to an array of items that chronicle the life of a man who became the founder of Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) – a guerilla movement that rose up against the dictatorship of Anastacio Somoza – thereby changing the history of the country of his birth. Carlos Fonseca Amador was born in Matagalpa to Augustina Fonseca Úbeda on June 23, 1936 and went on to become a teacher and librarian as his line of work, although his real passion lay in politics and correcting the injustices he saw.

In the early 1950s, while Fonseca was attending secondary school, he became involved with political groups which led to him joining the Unión Nacional de Acción Popular (UNAP). It was during this time that he came into contact with the political ideology of Marxism, which led him to join the Partido Socialist Nicaraguense (PSN). He broke ties with UNAP, apparently disappointed that they were reluctant to oppose the Somoza government and in 1954, together with some school friends, Fonseca began to publish a journal called Segovia.

Fonseca’s political aspirations let to him travelling to the Soviet Union in 1957 as a PSN delegate, attending an event organized by the World Federation of Democratic Youth. This visit made a great impression on him and featured prominently in a book he later wrote where he expressed his admiration for the accomplishments of the Soviet government. Spurred on by Fidel Castro’s taking of power in Cuba in January 1959, an increase in armed action against Somoza rule in Nicaragua was experienced, with Fonseca participating in one of the resulting uprisings. In February 1959, Fonseca traveled to Cuba together with other radical Nicaraguans. In mid-1959, he joined a Nicaraguan guerilla brigade in Honduras, later being arrested in an ambush by combined Honduran and Nicaraguan troops. It was at this point that Fonseca and the PSN parted ways, with the PSN being of the opinion that a revolution in Nicaragua was not possible – a viewpoint which Fonseca disagreed with.

Upon his release from the military hospital in Honduras, Fonseca went to Cuba where he held political meetings and met up with people who shared his vision and later became part of the FSLN. Following various guerilla type skirmishes, in June 1964 Carlos Fonseca and Victor Tirado were arrested in Managua and accused, along with four others, of plotting the assassination of Anastasio Somoza Debayle. While in prison Fonseca wrote From Prison, I Accuse the Dictatorship in which he detailed his accusations against Somoza. Upon release, Fonseca continued to lead the FSLN, losing his life in a skirmish in the Nicaraguan mountains on November 8, 1976.

Now transformed into a small museum, the childhood home of Carlos Fonseca displays a series of pictures, images, newspaper clippings and personal belongings, including his glasses and an AK-48. These chronicle the life of this Nicaraguan hero, from his childhood with his family, through his political career along with his fellow activists, and include a newspaper clipping reporting his death, which sadly took place three years before the Somoza dictatorship was overthrown. Nonetheless, Carlos Fonseca played an important part in the history of Nicaragua and the museum is well worth a visit when in Matagalpa.