Afew things need to be explained at once, especially for the North American people whose culture has developed in an uneven way. Whereas science and technology are very advanced in the United States, the sociology of antagonistic struggles in the Third World has remained backward and there is not a full or even significant appreciation of the social changes that have occurred and are continuing to occur in the world. The truth is that there is no genuine revolution which does not have its own original characteristics, for mechanical imitation of the processes of change is not a revolution in the strict sense of the word. Revolutions can be called revolutions when the changes they bring about are the result of concrete conditions; when they have their roots in the soil and their fruits are natural and not imported. In the same way, Nicaragua is one country where apples cannot be produced, but medlars, pineapples and other kinds of fruit are grown instead. That does not mean that we cannot import fertilizer or other contributory elements that form part of human capital on the land. Indeed, we cannot really speak of an original revolution without taking into consideration the experience of other countries, the laws of historical development.

Our revolution is based on the ideas of a worker who was also a craftsman and to some extent a peasant—ideas which, by a kind of natural genius, transcended the conditions of their time and reached out towards the future. Sandino said, for example, that only the workers and peasants will go all the way in a process of social change; and he said it without having read Marx, at a time when Marxist ideas had not yet reached Nicaragua. However, Marxism, which is a conception of the world and of reality, establishes certain laws of historical development that can be realized or interpreted even outside any actual knowledge of Marxism; in the same way that a person who does not know the laws of gravity and has never heard of Newton knows from experience that if an object is dropped it will fall to the ground. The laws of physics are fulfilled independently of the theoretical knowledge that we have of them, and it is the same with the predictions made by great thinkers about historical development—at any rate those predictions which are sound and establish a harmonious relationship between theory and practice. We did not receive a comprehensive Marxist education—you could say that we received a comprehensive Christian education. We were not isolated from Marxist theories, but nor were we well versed.

Just yesterday I was talking with the comrades from the Pablo Ubeda forces of the Ministry of the Interior, who had previously described their fighting troops as having a low political–ideological level on account of their scant knowledge of revolutionary theories. And I said to the comrades: ‘Maybe they have a low theoretical level, you could even say a low ideological level; but they are at a high political level.’ In fact, some people I know can recite whole chapters of Marx’s Capital, or have learnt by heart the philosophy of Engels or Hegel or read Montesquieu, but are incapable of risking, not their lives, but a miserable lock of hair in defence of their ideas, while these lads show themselves willing every day to give up their lives. They have never read Marx or only have a very vague notion of Marxism; they don’t know the Bible and haven’t read Hegelian philosophy, nor will they ever. But they can be like lions when it comes to defending their interests as part of a social sector that is bringing about a profound revolutionary change in Nicaragua. It has not been knowledge of Marxism or of the Bible that has created this revolution but the objective conditions of this country—together with the good fortune of having a leader who was able to interpret the laws of historical development and to find the right organizational forms, methods or strategy and the appropriate tactics to bring down the Somoza dictatorship and initiate major change.

Of course a visionary like Carlos Fonseca would have been of little use if a whole series of objective conditions had not favoured revolutionary changes. Ours was a poor country, or rather a country made poor, with an obsolete industry, and capitalism was unable to develop precisely because of the special conditions that the Somoza regime adjusted itself to. Instead, a savage, cruel, thieving family oligarchy essentially limited the body of the country’s exploiters to its own family and friends, preventing any other sector from developing into a modern bourgeoisie. So the bourgeoisie was not able to lead the kind of transformation that took place elsewhere in Latin America—in Mexico, for example, or in the Southern Cone where democratic changes have also been led by the bourgeoisie. Insofar as it existed apart from the Somoza dynasty, the weak, sluggish Nicaraguan bourgeoisie remained politically very dependent on the United States, incapable of organizing itself or shaping a political alternative inside the country. Only at the last minute did a party representing such bourgeois sectors emerge, and by then it was too late. Out of this situation arose a broad-based movement led by Carlos Fonseca—not a movement restricted to a small social sector but one which, interpreting the interests of middle layers and even sections of the national bourgeoisie, impelled and placed itself at the head of a revolutionary change.

This gives our process a natural originality. Since it was not easy to see the prospects for such change—even revolutionary forces in the world had not grasped the imminence of victory and had adopted a rather indifferent attitude—we did not receive support during the war from any of the socialist countries, except Cuba. The Soviet Union and others did not support us because they believed that only the Latin American Communist parties were the representatives of revolutionary changes, and it was not possible for them to think otherwise at that time. They had been through a whole series of experiences, developing ideas in distant countries that divorced them from particular realities. Even the Earl Browder leadership of the cpusa was, in its time, a token of that distance and of that subjective interpretation of Latin American reality. I am not blaming those countries, simply pointing out an objective fact. Here in Nicaragua it was not us but the socialist party, the Nicaraguan Communist Party, which maintained relations with the socialist countries. It cannot be said—in that idiotic language that is sometimes used—that Nicaragua’s revolution was the fruit of Moscow gold. Not even the Soviets, the Soviet revolutionaries, believed in revolutionary change in Nicaragua. So how were they going to help us!