– Sandinistas vs. Monsanto (Veterans Today, June 10, 2013):
It is better to see something one time than to hear it one hundred times.
Miraflores Cooperative, Nicaragua – August 3, 1986
We arrive in the box of a dump truck to a lush, fertile area near the Honduran border. We are guests in the Sandino section of this potato cooperative, which was decimated by a contra attack on May 20th. The CIA-backed terrorists came in the night- burning homes, cutting babies from pregnant women, castrating and skinning men alive. They tacked the head of a respected village leader to a post at the cooperative entrance and blew up a warehouse full of seed potatoes which had just been harvested.
Their main objective, under orders from Washington, is to undermine the economic base of the cooperative system and to terrorize residents into giving up this communal way of life. The Sandinista revolution for the Nicaraguan poor is based on expropriated Somoza family land. The Somozas had owned 60% of the country’s land before being overthrown in 1979. The seed potatoes stored in the warehouse were intended to supply every cooperative in Nicaragua. Millions of cordobas- profits from the seed potato crop- were to be distributed the very next day to members. Instead, no one received a centavo, whole families were butchered and their village, fields and school were destroyed.
Unhindered, campesinos dressed in military fatigues continue to vigilantly work the land today. Others tend livestock- though much of the cattle herd has also been killed- or dig trenches around the coop’s perimeter to defend against the inevitable next attack. I eagerly join the trench brigade. I am here with a group called Witness for Peace, which opposes Reagan Administration support for the contras and sends several delegations a year to monitor the atrocities of these “freedom fighters”.
After a long day’s work, coop members show their appreciation by butchering one of their two remaining cows in our honor. After dinner a mother tells me how the contras had gone around killing wounded civilians by cutting them up into little pieces. Another man tells me that the leader of the contra raid was a tall white-skinned man with blond hair who he is sure was North American. Teenage girls are busy teaching older folks to read. Teenage boys are shining their AK-47 assault rifles.