On 7 November 1979, more than one hundred thousand people packed the
Plaza de la Revolución in Managua, Nicaragua, to honor Carlos Fonseca
Amador, the founder of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (Frente
Sandinista de Liberación Nacional, fsln). The demonstrators were over-
whelmingly young men and women from poor barrios and rural villages,
participants in the insurrection that, only a few months before, had toppled
the four-decade-long Somoza dictatorship and swept the fsln into power.
Many thousands came to the rally armed, and they waved their rifles in
the air when the crowd chanted, ‘‘Comandante Carlos, Ordene!’’ [At your
It was the third anniversary of the date Fonseca died fighting Somoza’s
army, and his remains had been exhumed and brought to the capital for
reburial. The fsln had planned a more low-key event, one that would
commemorate not just Fonseca but several of the movement’s most impor-
tant martyrs. But the announcement of plans to rebury Fonseca, like the call
for a ‘‘final o√ensive’’ against Somoza six months earlier, generated a re-
sponse that went beyond anything fsln leaders anticipated. A simple cere-
mony planned for the remote town of Waslala, near the forested hillside
where Fonseca died, was overwhelmed by the hundreds of peasants who
arrived on mule, on horseback, and on foot, some walking for more than a
day. A helicopter flew Fonseca’s remains to the town of Matagalpa, his birth-
place. Nearly fifty thousand turned out, virtually the entire population of the
town plus many who trekked in from the surrounding countryside. People
gathered beside the highway and in small villages along the way as a car
caravan carried the bones from Matagalpa to Managua.
Carlos Fonseca, though no longer alive, was the popular hero of the
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