Nicaragua – Augusto Sandino, National Hero

Augusto Cesar Sandino was an early 20th century fomenter and practitioner of Latin American revolutionary idealism against American cultural and economic domination. Although Sandino received some degree of support and recognition from the Soviet Union and other communist governments and political parties of the day, his struggle was not strictly one of ideology. Sandino strived to advance the rights and freedoms of his fellow Nicaraguans that he believed were subservient to the interests of rich American industrial and agricultural interests.

Born in 1895 in rural Nicaragua, Sandino was galvanized by the circumstances of the 1927 intervention by United States Marines that tilted the balance in Nicaragua’s Constitutionalist Wars in favor of the entrenched conservative landowning elite. Sandino himself assumed the leadership of the liberal forces and achieved remarkable success against repeated attempts by the US Marines to defeat and apprehend him. By the early 1930s and with the Great Depression sapping the will of the US government to continue, US forces were withdrawn from Nicaragua.

By this time, Sandino had emerged as an inspirational focus for all Latin Americans who felt that the United States was an exploitive and imperialistic power. His betrayal, capture and execution by future Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1934 ended the active threat to conservative forces in Nicaragua and Latin America, but his stature as a symbol of Nicaraguan patriotism and resistance to American domination only grew as the decades passed. In 1979, Sandino may be said to have received his revenge when the Sandinista National Liberation Front led by Daniel Ortega overthrew Somoza’s son, at that time the dictator of Nicaragua. Today, Managua’s Augusto C. Sandino International Airport celebrates the man who remains an inspiration to Nicaraguan and Latin American patriots.