The ladinos always called us pata rajada ["cut-up feet;' i.e., not owning
and caitudo [dumb
and we had to call the senoras nifias [virgins
even if they had five children. We had to take
you know, but I said to
myself someday this will end and they'll have to treat us as equals ... then
we'll come out better because of all our work and sufferings. Some people
used to feel insulted but I always felt proud to be an Indian.
-Dona Adelaida Aguilera, Monimb6,
There are no real Indians in Matagalpa.
Political secretary of Matagalpa,
"We woke up in
Santos Perez's understanding of the Nicaraguan
revolution-a transformation of social relations that had little to do with the
Frente Sandinista-was an extreme formulation of a vision shared by many
indigenous people. The revolution indeed raised expectations of land reform
and political autonomy that it could not meet.
It is not so remarkable that the
refused to grant the fundamental
demands of the Comunidades Indigenas. Following the worker and peasant
mobilizations during the first two years of the revolution, the government
restrained most forms of autonomous struggles. Thus, indigenous efforts to
gain political and economic space from the revolutionary state should be
viewed within the framework of the Sandinistas' attempt to mute class and
gender contradictions that threatened their own vanguard role and their
strategic multiclass coalition.
There was, however, something unique about Sandinista policy toward the
Comunidades Indigenas that reflectd the revolutionary organization's deep
immersion in the myth of Nicaragua mestiza. Shortly before the
tions I interviewed the regional political secretary of the
After briefly summarizing some of my research interests in the cafiadas, I
asked how the
was responding to the demands of the Comunidad