The Grenada Revolution Online

Bishop Speech - The Fighting Example
of Sandino Lives
[23 February 1980]

In Managua, Nicaragua at a rally to commemorate the 46th anniversary of Augusto César Sandino, PM Bishop addressed the crowd:

Comrades of the National Directorate of the F.S.L.N.

Cde. Haydée Santamaria

Comrade Members of the Junta of National Reconstruction

Esteemed Ministers

Distinguished Guests

Revolutionary people of Nicaragua

Comrades All

At this moment, words cannot adequately express our profound appreciation for the great honour you have accorded us by your invitation to visit your country and to address this gathering; nor can words convey the happiness that we feel in actually being here, and in being able to embrace you and salute you on the magnificent success of your revolutionary struggle against dictatorship and imperialism.

The honour bestowed on us is deeper in that today you commemorate the 46th anniversary of the death of your great martyr, father, patriot and revolutionary, Augusto Sandino, el General de Hombres Libres, victim of a cowardly act of assassination by the hideous Somocista dictatorship.

Augusto Sandino’s heroic struggle inspired you, the people of Nicaragua, to continue to fight against the Somozas, led by your valiant vanguard the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) until your ultimate and inevitable triumph in July 1979.

This is the first occasion since your revolutionary victory that you have the opportunity to honour your revolutionary father Augusto Sandino.

On this historic occasion, we of the People’s Revolutionary Government of Grenada and the people of Grenada salute him, and experience a deep feeling of togetherness and comradeship with you.

Our comradeship is real and deep for several reasons.

In 1979, the people’s revolutions in Nicaragua and Grenada were the outstanding events of this hemisphere.

Nineteen-seventy-nine was indeed the Year of the Fall of the Dictators worldwide—in Iran, in Uganda, in Kampuchea and Equatorial Guinea.

And here in the Caribbean—Central American region, the people of our two countries, after having endured several decades of the most brutal and corrupt dictatorships, the dictatorships of Somoza and Gairy, our peoples rose up to strike heavy blows for freedom against fascism, spawned by imperialism.

Forty-six years of the towering revolutionary image of Sandino today guides liberated Nicaragua.

For you, the patriots of the land of Sandino, the blood shed in 1934 has been fertilised to realise the flowering of Sandino’s great revolutionary dream.

Today as we look at this great sea of freedom fighters, we can feel the vision of one Latin America of which Sandino was so dear.

We can see the true meaning of the Nicaragua Revolution to the liberation of this region.

We can see the link between the Cuban Revolution, the greatest event in the history of this hemisphere in this century, and your own Revolution. We can feel today, the vast potential for the liberation of this entire continent.

We recall with pride that on June 23, 1979, only a few days after the announcement of the formation of your Provisional Junta, that our country was the second one in the world, after the Republic of Panama, to recognise your Junta as the legitimate Government of Nicaragua.

Since then, with a token and symbolic contribution from our own very limited resources, we have sought to demonstrate solidarity with you in the gigantic task of economic reconstruction of your country, ravaged as much by the long years of corrupt dictatorship as by the war of national liberation.

Our comradeship runs deep because of the similarities in our experiences of imperialism and dictatorship.

In Grenada, which is a small island of just over 200 sq. km. and 110,000 people, we endured three centuries of colonialism and almost three decades of the dictatorship of Eric Gairy.

Between then, by 1979, imperialism and Gairyism had thoroughly plundered our economy leaving it in a state of ruin.

Unemployment had reached 50 per cent; for the masses of our population, there were very low levels of nutrition, health, housing water—all the vital requirements of a decent life for our people.

In the midst of all this suffering, Gairy and a small clique of parasitic businessmen, monopolised the importation of vital food supplies, making large profits off our working people.

The dictator himself ran a string of night clubs and restaurants which were supplied by produce stolen from Government-owned estates.

The dictatorship also made alliances with international gangster and fascist countries both for illicit enrichment and for the expansion of fascism into Grenada.

Most notorious of all were the close links formed between Gairy and the murderous, fascist Pinochet regime in Chile.

The Pinochet regime undertook to train and supply Gairy’s so-called “Defence force”, a gang of thugs trained to murder, brutalise and generally repress our Party and our supporters in Grenada at that time.

Members of this “Defence Force” were sent to Chile for training, while Pinochet sent to Grenada a military training ship, “La Esmeralda,” as well as arms and ammunition.

But, like you, we never surrendered. With each blow the dictator struck, our determination stiffened; our people mobilised themselves, taking heart from your struggle, from the struggle of the people of Iran, from the historic struggles of the great people and parties of Cuba and Vietnam.

Then victory came, as it had to, in March 13, 1979. Our People’s Revolutionary Army quickly dissipated Gairy’s brutal army of thugs, and in short time we had full control of the country, backed by the overwhelming majority of our population.

The People’s Revolutionary Government assumed full power to transform our people, our economy, our whole way of life.

The best news we had, shortly afterwards, was of your own victory after a long bloody struggle in which so many thousands of your brothers and sisters died; so many permanently maimed; so many becoming refugees in their own country or abroad. We mourned the loss of those who died and felt the suffering of the injured and destitute.

For both our revolutions, 1979 was the “Year of Liberation”. And for you, 1980 is “El año de la Alfabetización”, just like for us 1980 is the “Year of Education and Production.”

Now, to redeem the sufferings of your people and ours, to provide a better life in freedom for our own populations and for their children, we face two monumental and related tasks: first, the consolidation of our Revolution and the security of our countries against counter-revolutionary plots both internal and external, and secondly, the task of national reconstruction—to guild our economic sectors, our infrastructure, our social services, to provide real benefits to the masses in our country.

We are also aware of the imperialist intrigues against your own Revolution, first to keep Somoza in power, then to maintain Somocismo without Somoza.

We recall that these manoeuvres were stemmed by your own firmness, determination and clarity that only you, the brave people of Nicaragua, could determine your own future.

Your heroic stance was backed by the solidarity of progressive-minded government and forces within the region, culminating with the OAS unequivocally calling for an end to the Somoza regime and rejecting efforts to install a so-called OAS Peace-Keeping Force, thus showing that the lessons of the Dominican Republic of 1965 had been learnt.

Imperialism had to beat a hasty retreat because of the tremendous and total solidarity shown by progressive and democratic governments’ movements, and people of the region with your heroic revolution.

That solidarity demonstrated once again the historic truth that a united, conscious and determined people can never be defeated.

Like you, our second major task is one of national reconstruction. The most fundamental of these tasks is the development of our productive sectors—the main ones being agriculture, agro-processing, fisheries and tourism.

The substantial reduction of unemployment rests mainly on the expansion of these sectors.

Tied to the expansion of production is the improvement in the quality of life of our peoples—in their levels of health, in the quantity and quality of their housing, water supplies, sewerage facilities; in their education improvement, involving the removal of illiteracy, the democratisation of educational opportunities, and the acquisition of all the technical and scientific skills we need to develop our country.

These basic improvements will provide us with the resources to launch a full programme of transformation, including providing for the care of our elderly—the grandmothers and grandfathers—and our very young, the babies, with guaranteed food supplies, day care centres, and more.

The success of our Revolution cannot be an isolated event. The very world-wide nature of imperialism attests to the need for revolutionary solidarity among oppressed peoples everywhere.

Hence one of our first major acts of international policy was to join the Non-Aligned Movement [NAM].

This great body, began as a bulwark in the struggle against colonialism, today upholds the major principles of our international policy: resolute opposition to imperialism, colonialism and neo-colonialism, total rejection of fascism and Zionism; rejection of all imperialist military blocks; full support for peaceful co-existence of states; and the endorsement of the principles and aims of détente and, in particular, the world disarmament and hence for SALT II.

We condemn colonialism or racism, wherever they attempt to hold on, hence our unflagging support for our brother people of Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa.

The freedom-loving people of Zimbabwe are in particular need of the support and solidarity of this historic rally in Managua today.

The people of Zimbabwe are today says away from achieving their inalienable right of self-determination, their right to be free and not subjected to colonialism and racism in their own land.

But days could easily become months or years if the racists, colonialists and imperialists have their way.

We must stop their sinister plan to reverse the liberation of Zimbabwe by their intimidation, by their continuing murders of the freedom fighters, by their shameless use of racist South African troops, by their assassination attempts on the lives of Comrade Mugabe and other leaders of the Patriotic Front.

Only our international solidarity and effort can now keep the racists from re-installing Ian Smith and the puppet Muzorewa in power.

Let our voices from this rally go forth to the racists and imperialists today. Hands off Zimbabwe. Let the peoples’ demand for independence, freedom and majority rule win.

Long live the freedom-loving people of Zimbabwe!

We fully endorse the rights of all peoples to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty; hence our recognition of the Polisario Front as the legitimate government and representative of the people of Western Sahara.

We resolutely support the people of Palestine in their just struggles against Zionism, imperialism and now capitulationism by Egypt.

Our resolve to stand up to imperialism wherever it rears its ugly head was recently exhibited in the case of the struggle of the people of Afghanistan in the face of imperialist machinations to turn back the Afghan people’s revolution. We were only one of two countries in this Hemisphere to vote against the recent Western inspired resolution in the United Nations.

The views of our enemies on this question are of no concern to us. But to our friends who have raised questions with us about how we relate our Afghanistan vote to our stance on non-alignment we say the following:

Non-alignment to us is a positive concept embodying beliefs in positive principles. As we see it, our first duty as a young revolutionary country that believes in non-alignment is always to support the further development of the world revolutionary process, always to take consistent positions of principle, regardless of how others might interpret or misinterpret our position, and regardless of what retaliatory actions imperialism might contemplate as a result.

Our international principles have a special meaning for our relations with our neighbours in the Caribbean-American region.

We of the New World were the early creations and victims of imperialism and colonialism, and their tool of physical and psychological emasculation and racism.

Imperialism not only exploited us: it divided us into various languages and cultures in an attempt to reproduce European chauvinism and hostilities in this hemisphere.

For centuries our peoples were fed with the propaganda that we were French or Spanish or English or Dutch and more recently American; that our destinies lay with continue subjugation to our respective colonial masters in Europe and more recently U.S.A.

Today, however, Caribbean and America peoples are for self-determination and genuine independence; notwithstanding, on one common, irreversible anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist struggle.

We will win and progress together—imperialism will cease to divide and rule over us. That common struggle must rid our region of colonialism. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Puerto Rico and the rest of the Caribbean in their struggle for self-determination and genuine independence.

There is no better occasion than this rally to restate our continued firm solidarity with the patriots of Puerto Rico in their fight to liberate their country from the grips of imperialism.

Reduced to second-class citizens, the people of Puerto Rico are not free to move in their own country.

They still see large “Out of Bounds” signs on Vieques and other parts of their beloved homeland.

They still see their people jailed for preserving the peace and rejecting illegal military escalation in their homeland and fighting poverty and degradation.

But the release of the heroic “Puerto Rican Four”, Lolita Lebrón and the freedom fighters, has given new meaning to the struggle.

Today, the people of Puerto Rico are more united than ever; and draw closer to their independence.

Our common struggle must free the region of all attempts to seize territory from other peoples. Right here in Central America, the bestial Guatemalan dictatorship aims to deny the people of Belize their national territory, thus delaying their just right to independence and full sovereign control over all their present land.

We recognise at the same time the just claims of Bolivia for access to the sea.

The success of our revolutions, particularly of our economic transformation, calls for greater and greater cooperation among our governments and peoples in many areas of economic and technical cooperation.

Concrete measures for cooperation in these fields can consolidate our revolutions and our democracies, deepen our friendship, stem the forces of imperialism and bring real benefits to our peoples.

But these benefits can only come if we are allowed, peacefully, to build our own process in our own way and free from all forms of outside pressures and interferences.

On this historic occasion therefore, Grenada would like to restate our position on certain fundamental issues affecting the conduct of external powers in their relation with our region.

We believe it is essential to the peaceful and progressive development of our peoples and region for the following principles, at a minimum, to be firmly upheld, promoted and respected.

1. The recent resolution passed at the OAS General Assembly meeting in La Paz, Bolivia, in October 1979, declaring that Latin America and the Caribbean region should be recognised as a Zone of Peace must be respected in practice.

Military task forces and air and sea patrols of the region must be outlawed. All military bases and installations must be removed from the territories of Latin American countries that do not want them.

The people of the region must be free of aggressive military harassment by any military power.

There must be an end to the Monroe Doctrine, and all other doctrines aimed at perpetuating hegemonism, interventionism and backyardism in the region.

Likewise, there must be an end to all attempts to use the so-called peace-keeping apparatus of the OAS to intervene militarily in the region to roll back progressive movement.

All genuine regional attempts at resolving regional problems and disputes must be accepted, respected, encouraged and supported.

2. The right of self-determination for all peoples must be recognised and respected in practice.

As we speak here, here are still 25 territories being held in colonial subjugation by the British, French, Dutch and Americans, telling us that region still has a long way to go to achieve political, far less economic, independence.

This massive, humiliating and debilitating insult to our region, represented by the continuing presence of so many colonies, must be brought to an end.

3. The principle of ideological pluralism must be respected in practice. The peoples of the region must be allowed to build their own processes, in their own way, free from outside interference, free from all forms of pressure, free from the threat of use of force, free from intimidation, undue influence, duress and bullying.

There must be no more invasions, no more landings by Marines, no more gunboats, no more Bay of Pigs, no more slaughters and overthrowings of our Sandinos, Allendes, Juan Bosch, Arbenzs.

There must be an end to the financing, supporting and encouraging of mercenaries. There must be an end to the use of other countries as a sanctuary base and theatre of continuous subversive activities for deposed dictators.

There must be an end to propaganda, economic and violent destabilisation; an end to blockades, assassinations and politics of isolation and divide and rule.

4. There must be an end to the arming and financing of counterrevolutionaries and anti-popular anti-democratic or anti-progressive regimes.

There must be an end to the manipulation of regional and world tensions for electoral purposes.

There must be a firm commitment to the ideals of disarmament and world peace. Imperialism must no longer be allowed to hold back forces striving to undertake new forms and processes; to achieve structural transformations, to build new ways of life, to construct new civilisations for their people.

5. There must be respect for the sovereignty, legal equality and territorial integrity of our countries. Our relations must be characterised by the fundamental principle of mutual equality, regardless of size of country, size of population or extent of resources.

We must be seen and recognised for what we are—big revolutionaries in small countries.

Sandino was a big revolutionary; Fidel is a big revolutionary; the leaders of the Sandinista Revolution are big revolutionaries, and we of the progressive Third World will produce many, many more big revolutionaries.

6. Each of our countries must be free to join whatever international organisations we want and to create any regional and subregional groups which are in the best interests of our peoples.

Our fundamental right to join with all other exploited countries of the world to form organisations, to press for a New International Economic Order [NIEO] to bring greater social and economic justice to the poor of the world, must be fully respected.

Aid with political strings or unreasonable conditions aimed at creating economic hardships on the people or consolidating or entrenching the rule of the minority and the trans-national corporations, or holding back internal political processes working in the interests of the people must also be banned forever.

We call on all popular, democratic and patriotic forces in the region to join together to fight for these principles so as to ensure an end to the continued colonialist, neo-colonialist and imperialist domination and exploitation of the region.

We owe it to our peoples, our countries, our region and the world to band together to fight in a firm and principled manner for the achievement of these noble objectives.

The alternative is continued exploitation, continued domination, continued indignity, continued loss of pride, continued enuchisation, continued backyardism.

Our Revolution is for peace, justice and social progress: for food, for shelter, clothing, adequate health care, and creative cultural and recreational facilities for our people.

We base our struggles on international brotherhood among all anti-imperialist people. Among these your people have an honoured place.

So now, we look forward to March when esteemed members of your government will come to our country to join with us in the first anniversary celebration of our Revolution.

Every Grenadian will be looking forward to the presence in our country of our beloved comrades from Nicaragua, because every patriotic Grenadian wants to be a Sandinista.

And Every Grenadian will look forward to the day, let us hope not too far away, when other members of the leadership of the Junta will be able to join us for an official state visit.

We have come to your country filled with expectations. We have seen the evidence of the devastation, the bombs, the fury, the destruction of the vicious Somoza tyranny.

We can now better understand the extent of the work of national reconstruction that lies before you. But we have also felt the warmth, the vigour, the hope and confidence of your people; we have seen the vitality, the beauty and the courage of your youth and young women as they proudly bear the arms that will defend your country from all forms of external aggression and internal counter-revolutionary manoeuvres.

And we know that your Revolution is safe, sound and healthy and will go forward to greater and greater victories.

We are truly proud of the extraordinary achievements and advances made by your Revolution after only seven months.

We are very conscious of the fact that internal counter-revolutionary elements backed, supported, encouraged and inspired by external forces will do all in their power to destabilise your government and to roll back your revolutionary process.

But we are confident that your people will deal with them and will bring the full weight of your Revolution to bear on them.

And you can be confident that in our people in Grenada and in our Revolution, you will always have a most consistent and sincere friend; a reliable ally that will make any sacrifices to ensure that your Revolution goes on and is not defeated.

On this historic occasion, we salute the memory of your revolutionary father, Comrade Augusto Sandino; we salute you, the brave revolutionary government and people of Nicaragua.

We thank you, the people of Nicaragua, for your outstanding courage, for your exemplary spirit, for your revolutionary determination, for your lasting example to our region and the world.

Down with imperialism!

Down with colonialism!

Down with neo-colonialism!

Down with racism!

Down with Fascism!

Long live the fighting example, the noble spirit and the revolutionary courage of Sandino!

Long live the vanguard and progressive role of the Frente Sandinista de Liberatión Nacional!

Long live the Junta de Gobierno de Reconstruccion Nacional!

Long live the just struggle of the liberated people of Nicaragua for peace, genuine independence and social progress!

Long live Grenada-Nicaragua friendship, solidarity and cooperation!

Long live the revolutionary government and people of Cuba!

Long live the heroic struggles of the freedom-loving peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean for their liberation and an end to tyranny and injustice.

Long live the forces of progress internationally!

Long live the international solidarity of working people!

Forward ever! Backwards never!

Back: Bishop Speech List

Home Page: Index        Site Map