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Augusto César Sandino

Augusto César Sandino

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Augusto Nicolás Calderón Sandino (May 18, 1895 – February 21, 1934) was a Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

n revolutionary
Revolutionary
A revolutionary is a person who either actively participates in, or advocates revolution. Also, when used as an adjective, the term revolutionary refers to something that has a major, sudden impact on society or on some aspect of human endeavor.-Definition:...

 and leader of a rebellion
Rebellion
Rebellion, uprising or insurrection, is a refusal of obedience or order. It may, therefore, be seen as encompassing a range of behaviors aimed at destroying or replacing an established authority such as a government or a head of state...

 against the U.S. military occupation of Nicaragua between 1927 and 1933. He was labeled a bandit
Outlaw
In historical legal systems, an outlaw is declared as outside the protection of the law. In pre-modern societies, this takes the burden of active prosecution of a criminal from the authorities. Instead, the criminal is withdrawn all legal protection, so that anyone is legally empowered to persecute...

 by the United States government
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

, and his exploits made him a hero throughout much of Latin America, where he became a symbol of resistance to United States domination. Drawing units of the United States Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 into an undeclared guerrilla war
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

, his guerrilla organization suffered many defeats, but he successfully evaded capture. United States troops withdrew from the country after overseeing the inauguration of President Juan Bautista Sacasa
Juan Bautista Sacasa
Juan Bautista Sacasa Sacasa was the President of Nicaragua from 1 January 1933 to 9 June 1936. He was the eldest son of Roberto Sacasa, 44th and 46th President of Nicaragua, and wife and cousin Ángela Sacasa Cuadra...

. Sandino was assassinated in 1934 by General Anastasio Somoza García
Anastasio Somoza García
Anastasio Somoza García was officially the President of Nicaragua from 1 January 1937 to 1 May 1947 and from 21 May 1950 to 29 September 1956, but ruled effectively as dictator from 1936 until his assassination.-Biography:Somoza was born in San Marcos, Carazo Department in Nicaragua, the son of...

, who went on to seize power in a coup d'état
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

 two years later, establishing a family dynasty that would rule Nicaragua for over forty years. Sandino's legacy was claimed by the Sandinista National Liberation Front
Sandinista National Liberation Front
The Sandinista National Liberation Front is a socialist political party in Nicaragua. Its members are called Sandinistas in both English and Spanish...

 (FSLN), which overthrew the Somoza government in 1979.

Sandino is currently revered in Nicaragua, and was unanimously named a "national hero" in 2010 by the nation's congress. Sandino's bloodline, along with his hat, boots, and writings from when he was evading U.S. Marines, continue to help shape the national identity.

Early life


Augusto Calderón Sandino was born May 18, 1895 in Niquinohomo
Niquinomo
Niquinohomo is a municipality in the Masaya department of Nicaragua. It is home to the oldest extant church in Nicaragua, as well as the birthplace of Augusto César Sandino, after whom the Sandinista movement was named. Sandino's birthplace is now a museum....

. Born out of wedlock, he was the son of wealthy landowner Gregorio Sandino and Margarita Calderón, a servant with the Sandino family. Sandino lived with his mother until the age of nine, when he moved into the home of his father.

In July 1912 when he was 17, Sandino witnessed the first intervention of United States troops in Nicaragua, to counter an uprising against President Adolfo Díaz
Adolfo Díaz
Adolfo Díaz Recinos was the President of Nicaragua between 9 May 1911 and 1 January 1917 and between 14 November 1926 and 1 January 1929...

, regarded by many as a United States puppet
Puppet state
A puppet state is a nominal sovereign of a state who is de facto controlled by a foreign power. The term refers to a government controlled by the government of another country like a puppeteer controls the strings of a marionette...

. Liberal general Benjamín Zeledón died that year on October 4 when United States Marines recaptured Fort Coyotepe and the city of Masaya
Masaya
Masaya, culturally known as the City of Flowers, is the capital city of Masaya department. It is situated approximately 14 km west of Granada and 31 km southeast from Managua. The town of Masaya is situated just East of Masaya Volcano , an active volcano from which the city takes its name...

 from rebels during the Battle of Coyotepe Hill
Battle of Coyotepe Hill
The Battle of Coyotepe Hill was the most remembered engagement of the United States occupation of Nicaragua. In October of 1912, as an American owned train, filled with marines, attempted to reach Masaya, rebels holding Fort Coyotepe opened fire resulting in a two day battle that ended with an...

. Zeledón's body was carried on an oxcart by the United States Marine Corps to be buried in Catarina
Catarina
Catarina is a feminine given name. It is a Portuguese and Italian form of the name Katherine. It may refer to:-Portuguese Infantas:*Infanta Catarina of Portugal , daughter of king Edward of Portugal...

. Sandino retained a vivid recollection of Zeledón's face.

In 1921, after attempting to murder Dagoberto Rivas, the son of a prominent conservative townsman who had made disparaging comments about Sandino's mother, Sandino fled to Honduras
Honduras
Honduras is a republic in Central America. It was previously known as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became the modern-day state of Belize...

, then Guatemala
Guatemala
Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...

, and eventually Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, where he found work at a Standard Oil
Standard Oil
Standard Oil was a predominant American integrated oil producing, transporting, refining, and marketing company. Established in 1870 as a corporation in Ohio, it was the largest oil refiner in the world and operated as a major company trust and was one of the world's first and largest multinational...

 refinery near the port of Tampico
Tampico
Tampico is a city and port in the state of Tamaulipas, in the country of Mexico. It is located in the southeastern part of the state, directly north across the border from Veracruz. Tampico is the third largest city in Tamaulipas, and counts with a population of 309,003. The Metropolitan area of...

. At that time, the military phase of the Mexican Revolution
Mexican Revolution
The Mexican Revolution was a major armed struggle that started in 1910, with an uprising led by Francisco I. Madero against longtime autocrat Porfirio Díaz. The Revolution was characterized by several socialist, liberal, anarchist, populist, and agrarianist movements. Over time the Revolution...

 was drawing to an end. A new "institutional revolutionary" regime was forming, driven by a wide array of popular movements to carry out the provisions of the 1917 Constitution
Constitution of Mexico
The Political Constitution of the United Mexican States is the current constitution of Mexico. It was drafted in Santiago de Querétaro, in the State of Querétaro, by a constitutional convention, during the Mexican Revolution. It was approved by the Constitutional Congress on February 5, 1917...

. Sandino was involved with Seventh-day Adventists, spiritist
Spiritism
Spiritism is a loose corpus of religious faiths having in common the general belief in the survival of a spirit after death. In a stricter sense, it is the religion, beliefs and practices of the people affiliated to the International Spiritist Union, based on the works of Allan Kardec and others...

 gurus, and anti-imperialist, anarchist
Anarchism
Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations...

, and communist
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 revolutionaries, embracing the anti-clericalism
Anti-clericalism
Anti-clericalism is a historical movement that opposes religious institutional power and influence, real or alleged, in all aspects of public and political life, and the involvement of religion in the everyday life of the citizen...

 of Mexico's revolution and the ideology of indigenismo, glorifying the indigenous heritage of Latin America. Sandino returned to Nicaragua in 1926 after the statute of limitations
Statute of limitations
A statute of limitations is an enactment in a common law legal system that sets the maximum time after an event that legal proceedings based on that event may be initiated...

 applied to his charges, finding work as a clerk at the San Albino gold mine, located in the Segovias mountains near the border with Honduras
Honduras
Honduras is a republic in Central America. It was previously known as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became the modern-day state of Belize...

.

Emergence as guerrilla leader


Shortly after Sandino returned to Nicaragua, the Constitutionalist War began when Liberal soldiers in the Caribbean port of Puerto Cabezas
Puerto Cabezas
Puerto Cabezas is a municipality in, and capital of, the North Atlantic Coast department of Nicaragua....

 revolted against Conservative President Adolfo Díaz
Adolfo Díaz
Adolfo Díaz Recinos was the President of Nicaragua between 9 May 1911 and 1 January 1917 and between 14 November 1926 and 1 January 1929...

, recently installed as a result of United States pressure following a coup. The leader of this revolt, General José María Moncada, declared that he supported the claim of exiled Liberal vice-president Juan Bautista Sacasa
Juan Bautista Sacasa
Juan Bautista Sacasa Sacasa was the President of Nicaragua from 1 January 1933 to 9 June 1936. He was the eldest son of Roberto Sacasa, 44th and 46th President of Nicaragua, and wife and cousin Ángela Sacasa Cuadra...

, who arrived in Puerto Cabezas in December, declaring himself president of a 'constitutional' government, which was recognized by Mexico. Assembling a makeshift army composed largely of gold miners, Sandino led a failed attack on the Conservative garrison nearest to the San Albino mine. Afterwards, he travelled to Puerto Cabezas to meet with Moncada. However, Moncada strongly distrusted Sandino because he set up hit-and-run operations against conservative forces independently of Moncada's liberal army. The unknown Sandino's requests for weapons and a military commission were denied; however, after the capture of some rifles from fleeing Conservative soldiers, the other Liberal commanders agreed to grant him a commission.

By 1927, he was back in the Segovias, inciting many local peasants to join his army, and staging increasingly successful attacks on government troops. In April, Sandino's forces played a vital role in assisting the principal Liberal Army column, which was advancing on Managua
Managua
Managua is the capital city of Nicaragua as well as the department and municipality by the same name. It is the largest city in Nicaragua in terms of population and geographic size. Located on the southwestern shore of Lake Xolotlán or Lake Managua, the city was declared the national capital in...

. Having received arms and funding from Mexico, the Liberal army of General Moncada seemed on the verge of seizing the capital. However, the United States, using the threat of military intervention, forced the Liberal generals to agree to a cease-fire. On May 4, representatives from the two warring factions signed the Espino Negro accord, negotiated by Henry Stimson, appointed by U.S. President Calvin Coolidge
Calvin Coolidge
John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was the 30th President of the United States . A Republican lawyer from Vermont, Coolidge worked his way up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, eventually becoming governor of that state...

 as a special envoy to Nicaragua. Under the terms of the accord, both sides agreed to disarm, Díaz
Adolfo Díaz
Adolfo Díaz Recinos was the President of Nicaragua between 9 May 1911 and 1 January 1917 and between 14 November 1926 and 1 January 1929...

 would be allowed to finish his term, and a new national army would be established, the Guardia Nacional
National Guard (Nicaragua)
In Nicaragua, the National Guard was a militia and a gendarmerie created during the occupation of that country by the United States from 1909 to 1933. It became notorious for human rights abuses and corruption under the regime of the Somoza family.-Creation:...

 (National Guard), with United States soldiers remaining in the country to supervise the upcoming November 1928 Presidential election. Later, a battalion of United States Marines under the command of General Logan Feland
Logan Feland
Major General Logan Feland was a United States Marine Corps general who last served as Commanding General of the Department of the Pacific...

 arrived to enforce the agreement.

After the signing of the Espino Negro accord, Sandino refused to order his followers to surrender their weapons, and returned to the Segovias. During this period Sandino married a young telegraphist, Blanca Arauz, of the village of San Rafael del Norte
San Rafael del Norte
San Rafael del Norte is a town in Jinotega Department in Nicaragua. It lies to the North of Jinotega, about a forty-minute bus ride along a road that is mostly paved, and getting more so every day. The Catholic church in town is home to several beautiful and well-done murals illustrating the usual...

. Blanca Arauz was related to Ambrosia Ubeda, also of (San Rafael del Norte). At the beginning of July, Sandino issued a manifesto condemning the betrayal of the Liberal revolution by the "vendepatria" (country-seller) Moncada and declared war on the United States, whom he described as the 'Colossus of the North' and 'the enemy of our race.' At the height of his guerrilla campaign, Sandino claimed to have some 3,000 soldiers in his army, although, in later years, official figures estimated the number at only 300. Later that month in the wee hours of the 27th, Sandino's followers attacked a patrol of U.S. Marines and Nicaraguan Guardia Nacional that had been sent to apprehend him in the village of Ocotal
Ocotal
Ocotal is the capital of the Nueva Segovia Department in Nicaragua, Central America.-Description:Ocotal is the capital of the Nueva Segovia Department in Nicaragua with light industry and crafts. The main agricultural production is coffee. The city, which has a population of 31,932 , is located...

. Armed primarily with machetes and 19th-century rifles, they attempted to besiege the Marines, but were easily repulsed with the help of one of the first dive bombing attacks in history, conducted by five Marine de Havilland
De Havilland
The de Havilland Aircraft Company was a British aviation manufacturer founded in 1920 when Airco, of which Geoffrey de Havilland had been chief designer, was sold to BSA by the owner George Holt Thomas. De Havilland then set up a company under his name in September of that year at Stag Lane...

 biplanes. The Marine commander estimated than 300 of Sandino's men died (the actual number was about 60), while the Marines suffered only two casualties, one dead and one wounded, and the Guardia three dead and four taken prisoner. After these heavy losses, Sandino learned from his mistake and concentrated on ambushes and sudden raids rather than frontal attacks.

As his successes grew, Sandino transformed his own name to Augusto César Sandino and renamed his band of followers "The Army in Defense of the National Sovereignty of Nicaragua". Efforts by the Marines to kill or capture Sandino over the summer failed due to the Sandinistas' superior knowledge of the local terrain, superior military intelligence capabilities, and skill at camouflaging their movements. In November 1927, U.S. aircraft succeeded in locating El Chipote, Sandino's remote mountain headquarters east of San Albino Mine. However, by the time the Marines succeeded in reaching it, they found it abandoned and guarded by straw dummies, Sandino and his followers having long since escaped. In January 1928, US Marines successfully located Sandino's war base in Quilali and were ambushed. Despite repelling the assault and successfully capturing Quilali, the Marines were unsuccessful in preventing Sandino and his most of his men from escaping.

After escaping to the mountains of Neuva Segovia, Sandino smuggled a message to Mexico City stating:

I will not abandon my resistance until the . . . pirate invaders . . . assassins of weak peoples . . " are expelled from my country. ... I will make them realize that their crimes will cost them dear. . . . There will be bloody combat. . . .

"Nicaragua shall not be the patrimony of Imperialists. I will fight for my cause as long as my heart beats. ... If through destiny I should lose, there are in my arsenal five tons of dynamite which I will explode with my own hand. The noise of the cataclysm will be heard 250 miles. All who hear will be witness that Sandino is dead. Let it not be permitted that the hands of traitors or invaders shall profane his remains."

Evading detection, Sandino surprised the Marines by moving southward and raiding the coffee plantations of Matagalpa
Matagalpa
Matagalpa is a city in Nicaragua, the capital of the department of Matagalpa. The city has a population of 109,100 , while the population of the department is more than 480,000. Matagalpa is Nicaragua's fifth largest city and one of its most commercially active outside of Managua...

 and Jinotega
Jinotega
Jinotega is the capital of Jinotega Department in the north central region of Nicaragua.-About:The capital city of the Department of Jinotega is the City of Jinotega. The Department of Jinotega produces 80% of the nation's coffee. It has a population of about 51,000 living inside a vast valley...

. In February 1928, Carlton Beals interviewed Sandino in the town of San Rafael del Norte. The interview, published in The Nation
The Nation
The Nation is the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the United States. The periodical, devoted to politics and culture, is self-described as "the flagship of the left." Founded on July 6, 1865, It is published by The Nation Company, L.P., at 33 Irving Place, New York City.The Nation...

, was the only one Sandino ever granted to a North American journalist. Afterwards, Sandino and his forces moved eastward toward the Mosquito Coast
Mosquito Coast
The Caribbean Mosquito Coast historically consisted of an area along the Atlantic coast of present-day Nicaragua and Honduras, and part of the Western Caribbean Zone. It was named after the local Miskito Indians and long dominated by British interests...

. In April, the Sandinistas destroyed the equipment of the Bonanza and La Luz gold mines, the two largest mines in the country and both owned by two United States investors named James,G. Fred and D. Watson Fletcher. the three brothers of US Ambassador to Italy Henry Fletcher; With aerial support, the Marines attempted several riverine patrols from the east coast of Nicaragua up the Río Coco during the height of the rainy season, frequently having to use native dugout canoes. While these patrols succeeded in limiting the movements of Sandino's forces and in securing tenuous control over the principal river of northern Nicaragua, they failed to locate Sandino or to effect a decisive victory.

Sandino's seal shows a U.S. Marine about to be beheaded.

However, the Nicaraguan public backed the US Marines By April 1928, the US Marines thought Sandino was finished and was only trying to evade capture. One month later, this claim was debunked after Sandino's army ambushed another marine post and killed five marines. After destroying the two Fletcher Brothers mines, Sandino wrote that he was now targeting not just US Marines, but also Americans within Nicaragua who "uphold the attitude of Coolidge." In December 1928, Marine located Sandino's mother and managed to convince her to write a letter asking him to surrender. This attempt failed and Sandino stated he would continue to fight until US Marines left Nicaragua.

Despite massive efforts, United States forces never captured Sandino, although he felt it necessary at one point to stage a fake funeral for himself. The United States Congress also did not share the same ambitions of capturing Sandino as President Coolidge did and backed away from funding operations for doing so. US Senator Burton Wheeler even argued that if United States soldiers intended to "stamp out banditry, let's send them to Chicago to stamp it out there. ... I wouldn't sacrifice...one American boy for all the damn Nicaraguans."

Efforts at winning recognition



The struggle


Having addressed his declaration of war against the United States to the whole of the 'Indo-Hispanic race', Sandino saw his struggle in racial terms, as the defense not only of Nicaragua but of the whole of Latin America. At the beginning of his rebellion, Sandino appointed Honduran
Honduras
Honduras is a republic in Central America. It was previously known as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became the modern-day state of Belize...

 poet, journalist and diplomat Froylán Turcios
Froylán Turcios
Froylán Turcios was a Honduran writer, journalist and politician. He is considered one of the most important Honduran intellectuals of the early twentieth century.-Background and political roles:...

 as his official foreign representative. Residing in Tegucigalpa
Tegucigalpa
Tegucigalpa , and commonly referred as Tegus , is the capital of Honduras and seat of government of the Republic, along with its twin sister Comayagüela. Founded on September 29, 1578 by the Spanish, it became the country's capital on October 30, 1880 under President Marco Aurelio Soto...

, Turcios was the recipient and disseminator of Sandino's communiques, manifestos and reports, as well as his connection to sympathizers who provided him with arms and volunteers. Working with a number of prominent Nicaraguan exiles, Turcios sought to build support for Sandino's struggle in other Central American nations and in Mexico, which had backed the Liberals during the Constitutionalist War. In the latter country, Sandino's principal representative was a Nicaraguan exile, Pedro Zepeda, who had previously served as the liaison between Sacasa and the Mexican government.

Sandino's principal demands were the resignation of President Díaz, withdrawal of U.S. troops, new elections supervised by Latin American countries, and the abrogation of the Bryan-Chamorro Treaty
Bryan-Chamorro Treaty
The Bryan-Chamorro Treaty was signed on August 5, 1914 under the approval of the Taft administration. The Wilson administration changed the treaty by adding a provision similar in language to that of the Platt Amendment, which would have authorized U.S. military intervention in Nicaragua...

 (which gave the United States the exclusive right to build a canal across Nicaragua). The elections held under the supervision of the U.S. military in October 1928, which led to the election of José María Moncada
José María Moncada Tapia
José María Moncada Tapia was the President of Nicaragua from 1 January 1929 to 1 January 1933.- Political career :...

, proved a major setback for Sandino's claim to be acting in defense of the Liberal revolution. Prior to the election, he attempted with three other marginal factions to organize a junta to be headed by Zepeda. In the pact aimed at establishing the junta, Sandino had himself made Generalissimo
Generalissimo
Generalissimo and Generalissimus are military ranks of the highest degree, superior to Field Marshal and other five-star ranks.-Usage:...

 and the sole military authority of the republic. Following the election, Sandino ruled out negotiations with his former rival, declaring the elections unconstitutional. In an attempt to outmaneuver Moncada, Sandino expanded his demands to include the restoration of the United Provinces of Central America. This would remain a central component of his political platform. In a letter he wrote in March 1929 to Argentine President Hipólito Yrigoyen
Hipólito Yrigoyen
Juan Hipólito del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús Irigoyen Alem was twice President of Argentina . His activism became the prime impetus behind the obtainment of universal suffrage in Argentina in 1912...

, "Plan for Realizing Bolívar's Dream", Sandino outlined an even more ambitious political project. He proposed a conference in Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina, and the second-largest metropolitan area in South America, after São Paulo. It is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata, on the southeastern coast of the South American continent...

 to be attended by all Latin American nations that would work toward their political unification into an entity he called the 'Indo-Latin American Continental and Antillean Federation'. This entity would resist further domination by the United States and guarantee that the proposed Nicaraguan Canal would remain under Latin American control.

Solidarity with foreign nations


As Sandino's success grew, he began to receive symbolic gestures of support from the Soviet Union and the Comintern
Comintern
The Communist International, abbreviated as Comintern, also known as the Third International, was an international communist organization initiated in Moscow during March 1919...

. The Pan-American Anti-Imperialist League, which was supervised by the South American Bureau of the Comintern, issued a number of statements applauding support of Sandino. The U.S. branch of the Anti-Imperialist League played a central role in opposing the war in the United States itself. Sandino's half-brother Socratés, who lived in New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, was featured as a speaker at a number of rallies against United States involvement in Nicaragua organized by the League and the U.S. Communist Party. The Sixth World Congress of the Comintern, meeting in Moscow in the summer of 1928, issued a statement 'expressing solidarity with the workers and peasants of Nicaragua and the heroic army of national emancipation of General Sandino.' In China, a division of the Kuomingtang army that seized Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

 in 1928 was named the Sandino brigade.

The following June, Sandino appointed a representative to the Second Congress of the World Anti-Imperialist League in Frankfurt
Frankfurt
Frankfurt am Main , commonly known simply as Frankfurt, is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a 2010 population of 688,249. The urban area had an estimated population of 2,300,000 in 2010...

, which was attended by Jawaharlal Nehru
Jawaharlal Nehru
Jawaharlal Nehru , often referred to with the epithet of Panditji, was an Indian statesman who became the first Prime Minister of independent India and became noted for his “neutralist” policies in foreign affairs. He was also one of the principal leaders of India’s independence movement in the...

 and Madame Sun Yat-sen.

Time in Mexico


Sandino's relations with Turcios soured, as Turcios disliked the Junta proposal and Sandino criticized him for siding with Honduras
Honduras
Honduras is a republic in Central America. It was previously known as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became the modern-day state of Belize...

 in a border dispute with Guatemala
Guatemala
Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...

, which Sandino saw as a distraction from the goal of Central American unification. Conflict between the two men led Turcios to resign in January 1929, largely cutting off the flow of arms to Sandino's forces and leaving them increasingly isolated from potential supporters outside Nicaragua. Sandino's army would suffer a major blow in February 1929 when Manuel Maria Jiron, the general who masterminded his raids, was captured by US Marines. More defeats for Sandino's army at the hands of the US Marines soon followed. In an effort to secure military and financial support, he wrote a number of letters appealing to various Latin American leaders. Sandino looked to revolutionary Mexico, but the country's revolution had taken an anti-communist turn under de facto ruler Plutarco Elías Calles
Plutarco Elías Calles
Plutarco Elías Calles was a Mexican general and politician. He was president of Mexico from 1924 to 1928, but he continued to be the de facto ruler from 1928–1935, a period known as the maximato...

. After failing to negotiate his surrender in exchange for a withdrawal of U.S. troops, Mexican President Emilio Portes offered Sandino asylum, and he left Nicaragua in June 1929.

In the climate of the Maximato
Maximato
The Maximato was a period in the historical and political development of Mexico ranging from 1928 to 1934. That period was named after Plutarco Elías Calles, who was known as the Jefe Maximo of the Revolution. Elias Calles was president in the period 1924-1928, but in the next six years, there were...

, Sandino's radicalism received a hostile reception. In order to appease the United States, the Mexican government confined Sandino to the city of Mérida
Mérida, Yucatán
Mérida is the capital and largest city of the Mexican state of Yucatán and the Yucatán Peninsula. It is located in the northwest part of the state, about from the Gulf of Mexico coast...

. Sandino was kept in a hotel and was still able to maintain contact with his supporters. He managed to travel to Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

 and meet with Portes Gil, but his request for support was quickly rebuffed. The Mexican Communist Party
Mexican Communist Party
The Mexican Communist Party was a communist party in Mexico. It was founded in 1911 as the Socialist Workers' Party by Manabendra Nath Roy, a left-wing Indian intellectual. The PSO changed its name to the Mexican Communist Party in November 1919 following the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia...

 offered to pay for Sandino to travel to Europe, but the offer was withdrawn after he refused to issue a statement condemning the Mexican government. In April 1930, as Sandino's relations with the Communists grew increasingly cool, they leaked information suggesting that Sandino was critical of Portes Gil's government, causing him to flee the country and return to Nicaragua.

EMECU


During his period in Mexico, he had become a member of an organization the Magnetic-Spiritualist School of the Universal Commune (EMECU
EMECU
EMECU is an acronym for Magnetical-Spiritual School of Universal Commune . Founded in Buenos Aires in 1911 by a Basque philosopher named Joaquín Trincado Mateo,, in Buenos Aires, Argentina...

). Founded in Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina, and the second-largest metropolitan area in South America, after São Paulo. It is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata, on the southeastern coast of the South American continent...

 in 1911 by a Basque
Basque people
The Basques as an ethnic group, primarily inhabit an area traditionally known as the Basque Country , a region that is located around the western end of the Pyrenees on the coast of the Bay of Biscay and straddles parts of north-central Spain and south-western France.The Basques are known in the...

 electrician named Joaquín Trincado, the EMECU blended the political ideals of anarchism with a cosmology which was an idiosyncratic synthesis of Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...

, Kabbalah
Kabbalah
Kabbalah/Kabala is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the esoteric aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. It was systematized in 11th-13th century Hachmei Provence and Spain, and again after the Expulsion from Spain, in 16th century Ottoman Palestine...

 and Spiritism
Spiritism
Spiritism is a loose corpus of religious faiths having in common the general belief in the survival of a spirit after death. In a stricter sense, it is the religion, beliefs and practices of the people affiliated to the International Spiritist Union, based on the works of Allan Kardec and others...

. Rejecting both capitalism and Bolshevism, Trincado's own brand of communism centered a 'spiritism of Light and Truth' that would supersede all existing religions in the final stage of human history. This stage, which would arise from the political conflicts of the 20th century, would witness the establishment of the 'universal commune', in which private property and the state would be abolished, the hatred caused by false religions would disappear and all of humanity would be part of one race (Hispanic) and speak one language (Spanish). Sandino's only communication with Trincado was through a series of letters, but after his return, his manifestos and his personal affiliations were increasingly shaped by his attempt to apply the ideals of the EMECU. He named Tricado one of his official representatives and replaced the old seal of a campesino beheading a United States Marine with the symbol of EMECU. His distrust of his former Communist associates led him to break off relations with one of his most trusted lieutenants, a Salvadoran named Farabundo Martí
Farabundo Martí
Augustín Farabundo Martí Rodríguez was a social activist and a revolutionary leader in El Salvador.-Early life:Martí was born in Teotepeque, a farming community located in Departamento de La Libertad, El Salvador...

, accusing Martí of spying on him for the Communists. In February 1931, Sandino issued his 'Manifesto of Light and Truth,' which reflected a new millenarian tone in his beliefs. The manifesto proclaimed the coming of the Last Judgement, which will witness "the destruction of injustice on the earth and the reign of the Spirit of Light and Truth, that is, Love." Nicaragua had been chosen to play a central role in this struggle, and his army was an instrument of divine justice. "The honor has fallen to us, brothers, that in Nicaragua we have been chosen by Divine Justice to begin the prosecution of injustice on earth."

Return to Nicaragua, U.S. withdrawal, Sandino's death


Even though Sandino had been unable to secure any outside aid for his forces, the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

 made overseas military expeditions too costly for the United States. In January 1931, Henry Stimson, then Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

, announced that all United States soldiers in Nicaragua would be withdrawn following the 1932 election. Responsibility for dealing with Sandino's forces was handed over to the newly-created Nicaraguan National Guard
National Guard (Nicaragua)
In Nicaragua, the National Guard was a militia and a gendarmerie created during the occupation of that country by the United States from 1909 to 1933. It became notorious for human rights abuses and corruption under the regime of the Somoza family.-Creation:...

 (Guardia Nacional), which
would continue to be commanded by United States officers. That May, an earthquake
1931 Nicaragua earthquake
The 1931 Nicaragua earthquake devastated Managua, Nicaragua on 31 March 1931. It had a magnitude of 6.0, and killed 2000 people....

 destroyed Managua, killing over 2,000 people. This earthquake weakened the central government and gave Sandino the leverage he needed to revive his fight with the Americans. Over the summer of 1931, Sandinista bands were active in every department north of Managua, conducting raids into the southern and western parts of the country, the departments of Estelí
Estelí
Estelí, officially Villa de San Antonio de Pavia de Estelí is a city and municipality within the Estelí department. It is the third largest city in Nicaragua, an active commercial center in the north and is known as "the Diamond of the Segovias."...

, León
León (department)
León is a department in Nicaragua. It covers an area of 5,107 km² and has a population of 389,600 . The capital is the city of León.- Municipalities :# El Jicaral# El Sauce# La Paz Centro# Larreynaga# León# Nagarote# Quezalguaque...

 and Chontales
Chontales
Chontales is a department in Nicaragua. It covers an area of 6,481.27 km² and has a population of 182,000 . The capital is Juigalpa.-Municipalities:# Acoyapa# Comalapa# El Coral# Juigalpa# La Libertad# San Francisco de Cuapa...

. Although they managed to briefly occupy several towns along the nation's principal railroad, linking Managua to the Pacific coastal port of Corinto, Sandino's army did not try to capture any of the nation's urban centers, although it did succeed in briefly occupying some smaller cities like Chinandega
Chinandega
Chinandega is a town and the departmental seat of Chinandega department in Nicaragua. It is also the administrative centre of the surrounding municipality of the same name. The city has a population of 121,793 inhabitants with 151,000 in the municipality...

.

In accordance with the Good Neighbor Policy
Good Neighbor policy
The Good Neighbor policy was the foreign policy of the administration of United States President Franklin Roosevelt toward the countries of Latin America. Its main principle was that of non-intervention and non-interference in the domestic affairs of Latin America...

, the last United States Marines left Nicaragua in January 1933, following the inauguration of Juan Bautista Sacasa
Juan Bautista Sacasa
Juan Bautista Sacasa Sacasa was the President of Nicaragua from 1 January 1933 to 9 June 1936. He was the eldest son of Roberto Sacasa, 44th and 46th President of Nicaragua, and wife and cousin Ángela Sacasa Cuadra...

 as the country's president. 130 Marines were killed in their tour of duty to Nicaragua. After the US marines departed from Nicaragua, Sandino stated "I salute the American people" and vowed he would never attack a working-class American who visited Nicaragua. Sandino met with Sacasa in Managua the following February, during which he pledged his loyalty to the President and agreed to order his forces to surrender their weapons within three months. In exchange, Sacasa agreed to give the soldiers in Sandino's army who surrendered their arms squatters rights
Squatting
Squatting consists of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied space or building, usually residential, that the squatter does not own, rent or otherwise have permission to use....

 in the Coco River Valley, require that the Coco River Valley would be guarded by 100 Sandinista fighters under the government's orders and give preference in employment to Sandinistas on public works in northern Nicaragua.

However, Sandino still remained dedicated to fighting the Nicaraguan National Guard. Sandino saw the National Guard as unconstitutional, because of its ties to the United States military, and insisted on the guard's dissolution. Sandino's attitude towards the National Guard's leader Somoza and his officers made him unpopular with the National Guard. Without consulting Sacasa, Somoza gave orders for Sandino's assassination, hoping it would also help win him loyalty among the guard's senior officers.

Death


On February 21, 1934, Sandino was ambushed by the National Guard and betrayed along with his father, brother Socrates two of his favorite generals, Estranda and Umanzor, and the poet Sofonías Salvatierra (who was Sacasa's Minister of Agriculture) under Somoza's order, when he returned from new rounds of the talks with Sacasa. While these six men were leaving Sacasa's Presidential Palace, they were stopped at the main gate by local guardsmen and ordered to leave their car. After brushing aside Sandino's father and Salvatierra, the guardsmen then took Sandino, his brother Socrates and his two generals to a crossroads section in La Reynaga and executed them. His remains were buried in the Larreynaga neighborhood of Managua by a group of National Guard troops under the command of one of General Somoza Garcia's confidantes, Major Rigoberto Duarte, father of Mr. Roberto Duarte Solis, Minister of Social Communication during President Arnoldo Aleman's tenure. The following day, soldiers from the National Guard descended on Sandino's army and wiped it out in less than a month. Two years later, Somoza García forced Sacasa to resign and declared himself President, establishing a dynasty which would dominate Nicaragua for the next four decades.

The full details of Sandino's murder and what became of his remains are among Nicaragua's most enduring mysteries. However, after he was executed, there were witnesses who claimed they peered from their nearby cabins and saw the guards prod Sandino and the other three captives with him to the ground and fire a number of gunshots into their bodies before burying them. After his body was discovered, Sandino's followers reburied him. His body, however, was never found afterwards. As Sandinista lore has it, General Somoza's assassins vengefully decapitated and dismembered Sandino before supposedly delivering his head to the U.S. government as a token of loyalty.

Legacy


Sandino became a hero to many leftists in Nicaragua and much of Latin America as a Robin Hood
Robin Hood
Robin Hood was a heroic outlaw in English folklore. A highly skilled archer and swordsman, he is known for "robbing from the rich and giving to the poor", assisted by a group of fellow outlaws known as his "Merry Men". Traditionally, Robin Hood and his men are depicted wearing Lincoln green clothes....

 figure who opposed domination from wealthy elites and foreigners, such as the United States. His dislike of the American presence was tempered by the love he said he felt toward Americans in the same situation as himself. His picture and silhouette complete with the oversized cowboy hat became recognized symbols of the Sandinista National Liberation Front
Sandinista National Liberation Front
The Sandinista National Liberation Front is a socialist political party in Nicaragua. Its members are called Sandinistas in both English and Spanish...

, originally founded in 1961 by Carlos Fonseca
Carlos Fonseca
For the Brazilian boxer with the same name see Carlos Fonseca .Carlos Fonseca Amador was a Nicaraguan teacher and librarian who founded the Sandinista National Liberation Front...

 and Tomás Borge, among others, and later led by Daniel Ortega
Daniel Ortega
José Daniel Ortega Saavedra is a Nicaraguan politician and revolutionary, currently serving as the 83rd President of Nicaragua, a position that he has held since 2007. He previously served as the 79th President, between 1985 and 1990, and for much of his life, has been a leader in the Sandinista...

. He was also idolized by leftists everywhere such as Che Guevara
Che Guevara
Ernesto "Che" Guevara , commonly known as el Che or simply Che, was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, intellectual, guerrilla leader, diplomat and military theorist...

, Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz is a Cuban revolutionary and politician, having held the position of Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and then President from 1976 to 2008. He also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from the party's foundation in 1961 until 2011...

, and Hugo Chávez
Hugo Chávez
Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías is the 56th and current President of Venezuela, having held that position since 1999. He was formerly the leader of the Fifth Republic Movement political party from its foundation in 1997 until 2007, when he became the leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela...

. His brand of warfare was used by Castro, FARC in Colombia, and the Sandinistas as well as by the FMLN in El Salvador.

In 1979, Somoza's son, Anastasio Somoza Debayle
Anastasio Somoza Debayle
Anastasio Somoza Debayle was a Nicaraguan leader and officially the 73rd and 76th President of Nicaragua from 1 May 1967 to 1 May 1972 and from 1 December 1974 to 17 July 1979. As head of the National Guard, he was de facto ruler of the country from 1967 to 1979...

, was overthrown by the Sandinistas, political descendants of Sandino. Managua International Airport
Managua International Airport
Augusto C. Sandino International Airport is the main airport in Managua, Nicaragua. Inaugurated as Las Mercedes Airport in 1968 it was later renamed Augusto C. Sandino International Airport during the Sandinista regime in 1980s and again in 2001 to Managua International Airport by then president...

 was named "Augusto C. Sandino International Airport" after him during the 1980s. Former president Arnoldo Alemán
Arnoldo Alemán
José Arnoldo Alemán Lacayo was the 81st President of Nicaragua from 10 January 1997 to 10 January 2002.-Biography:Alemán was born in Managua and received his early education at the La Salle institute in Managua...

 renamed it Managua International Airport in 2001. The airport was again renamed in honor of Sandino in 2007 by President Daniel Ortega
Daniel Ortega
José Daniel Ortega Saavedra is a Nicaraguan politician and revolutionary, currently serving as the 83rd President of Nicaragua, a position that he has held since 2007. He previously served as the 79th President, between 1985 and 1990, and for much of his life, has been a leader in the Sandinista...

. The Nicaraguan portrait artist Róger Pérez de la Rocha
Róger Pérez de la Rocha
- Early life :Róger Pérez de la Rocha’s parents were Teresa Pérez Rocha and Luis Franco Cortés. He was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church as Róger Antonio...

 has created many portraits of Sandino — whose image was banned by the Somoza dictatorship — and of his associates, adding to the country's iconography.

Quotes

  • Addressed to the American forces in Nicaragua:


Come on you pack of drug fiends, come on and murder us on our own land. I am waiting for you on my feet at the head of my patriotic soldiers, and I don't care how many of you there are. You should know that when this happens, the destruction of your mighty power will make the Capitol shake in Washington, and your blood will redden the white dome that crowns the famous White House where you plot your crimes.
(quoted in Zimmermann)uti
  • The sovereignty
    Sovereignty
    Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

    of a people cannot be argued about, it is defended with a gun in the hand.

Texts

  • Hodges, Donald C. Sandino's Communism: Spiritual Politics For The Twenty-First Century. University of Texas Press (1992)
  • Macaulay, Neil. The Sandino Affair. Duke University Press. (1985) [1967].
  • Navarro-Génie, Marco. Augusto César Sandino: Messiah of Light and Truth. Syracuse University Press (2002).
  • Ramírez, Sergio and Conrad, Robert Edgar trans., "Sandino: The Testimony of a Nicaraguan Patriot 1921–1934" Princeton University Press (1990)
  • Wünderich, Volker. Sandino: Una biografía política. Editorial Nueva Nicaragua (1995). In Spanish.
  • Zimmermann, Matilde. Sandinista: Carlos Fonseca and the Nicaraguan Revolution. Duke University Press (2000).

External links