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New Left Review I/111, September-October 1978

Gabriel García Márquez

Sandinistas seize the National Palace!

The plan seemed too simple to be sane: take the National Palace in Managua in broad daylight with a force of only twenty-six, and hold the members of the House of Deputies hostage in exchange for the release of all political prisoners. The National Palace, a tasteless old building with pretensions of grandeur, takes up a whole block. The edifice is flanked by numerous windows; the columned façade of this banana parthenon looks out upon the desolate Square of the Republic. Besides the Senate, on the ground floor, and the Chamber of Deputies, on the first, it houses the Exchequer, the Ministry of the Interior and the Directorate-General of Revenue. Of all the Government buildings in Managua, it is the most public and the most heavily staffed. There is always a policeman, armed with a shotgun, stationed at every entrance, two more on the staircases leading to the first floor and several of the Ministers’ and Deputies’ armed bodyguards wander about the place. During working hours, between the basement, hallways and offices, no fewer than 3,000 people, employees and members of the general public are in the building. However, the leadership of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (snlf) did not consider the storming of this marketplace of bureaucracy insanely simple, but just the opposite: a crazy masterstroke.

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Gabriel Garcia Marquez, ‘Sandinistas Seize the National Palace!’, NLR I/111: £3

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