The Long War: Dictatorship and Revolution in El Salvador

By James Dunkerley | Go to book overview
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The issue isn't Somoza but Nicaragua and the security interests of the US. This Sandinista uprising is a Cuban, Venezuelan, Panamanian, Costa Rican operation. It's another Vietnam and it's in this hemisphere.

US Congressman John Murphy

Somoza painted us as Marxists. We have some Marxists with us but the Frente is much wider. The concept of the prolonged people's war was not marxist. It is a military concept which will lead to taking the advantage of the favourable moment.

Comandante Tomis Borge, FSLN

The victory of the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional was far more than an exhilarating example for the rest of the national liberation forces in Central America; it became their model. National differences were identified, as befits parties dedicated precisely to the task of national liberation. But given that the FSLN had taken power, that its politics were broadly similar to those of the other groups, and that Central America is a balkanised region marked by great similarities between its constituent nation states, the lessons of the FSLN's success were taken as applicable on a general scale. Nicaragua was seen as embodying the successful realisation in the specific conditions of Central America of the lessons learnt from anti-imperialist struggles elsewhere in the world since the Second World War.

July 1979 also marked a watershed in US strategy for the region. As Regis Debray puts it, 'the revolution revolutionizes the counterrevolution'. This is an old dialectic, as familiar to Machiavelli as to Hegel, but it should not be read as a cast-iron guarantee for the wholesale revision of errors, let alone a complete volte-face, which in this case was quite patently impossible. None the less, the Carter


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The Long War: Dictatorship and Revolution in El Salvador


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