San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Ortega Talks Tough During Anniversary of ‘Repliegue’

MASAYA – Mixing promises of peace and reconciliation with talk of war, President Daniel Ortega warned his political adversaries this week that the Sandinista Front will defend its ideals and government by all means necessary.

“We love peace, but we are also ready to use the steel of war if they try to topple this government,” Ortega warned.

“As Rubén Darío said, we are capable of raising the steel of war or the olive branch of peace. If they try to topple the Citizen Power, those who now call us a dictatorship will once again find a new insurrection of the people, of the masses, the insurrection of the poor,” Ortega said, accusing his opposition of being “sellouts” who are “financed by the yanquis.”

Ortega went on to warn his opponents to not “provoke” the people of Nicaragua.

The president’s speech wasn’t all hostilities. Ortega also signed into a law a new presidential decree that will double and triple the amount of pensions for war victims and their families. Under the decree, mothers of fallen soldiers will have their monthly pensions raised to $77, up from the $10- $23 they earned before Ortega took office in 2007. Widows of fallen soldiers will now earn $64, up from $20. Orphans will now earn $32, up from $11. And veterans will earn more than double their old pensions – $58 to $118, depending on the severity of their disabilities.

Ortega’s speech came last Saturday during the 29th anniversary of the Sandinistas’ “tactical retreat” to Masaya – a June 27, 1979 military maneuver that then led to the fall of the Somoza dictatorship three weeks later. Each year to celebrate the event – known in Spanish as the “Repliegue Táctica” – the Sandinistas march 28 kilometers from Managua to Masaya to commemorate the moment when thousands of civilians joined hundreds of Sandinista rebels in retreating to Masaya, which at the time had already been abandoned by Somoza’s National Guard and was considered “liberated territory.”

The weeks that followed the repliegue marked some of the worst repression of the insurrection, when Somoza’s National Guard bombed the city of Masaya and indiscriminately shot people on the street from helicopters.

Yet after regrouping in Masaya, the Sandinista rebels launched their final push, taking over neighboring cities and eventually Managua on July 19, 1979.

Twenty-nine years later, the Repliegue remains one of the most honored Sandinista holidays, second only to the July 19 celebration of the triumph of the revolution.


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