||The 1979 Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua,
which toppled the 45-year dynastic regime of the Somoza dictatorship,
inspired people around the world. Throughout the 1980s, people flocked
to Nicaragua to see the new experiment in
democracy and social justice. Many of the visitors were artists,
who joined the Sandinistas' cultural and educational
program of painting murals throughout the country.
In 1981, a group of Chilean exiles, along with a team of Nicaraguan
helpers, painted a mural on Managua's main
downtown street. Called El Sueño de Bolivar, the mural told
the entire history of Latin America, from the Spanish
conquest to the Sandinista revolution.
That same year, the Reagan administration launched the counterrevolutionary,
or contra, war against the Sandinistas.
After years of military battles and economic blockade, the Sandinistas
were voted out of power in the elections of 1990.
The new president, Violeta Chamorro, headed a program of rolling
back many Sandinista social and cultural programs.
She offered no objection as the mayor of Managua, Arnoldo Alemán,
launched a "beautification" campaign in 1991 that
included removal of the now famous murals throughout the city.
But nicaragüenses would not let the mural go without a fight.
They responded with grafitti, which the government
repeatedly painted over. The fight that played out on the wall in
downtown Managua was about public space and
historicial memory. Who controls the public space and the right
to express opinions? What happens when historical
memory is quite literally erased? Can ten years of revolution be
By 1997, after Alemán's election to the presidency in 1996,
the wall had been painted again, this time with a
bright-colored graphic design that is grafitti-proof. But the Alemán
government has not been able to wipe out the traces
of the revolution as easily as he did the murals. The Sandinistas
are still the single largest party in Nicaragua and hold 40
percent of the seats in the National Assembly. Tens of thousands
of nicaragčenses continue to celebrate the triumph of
the revolution every July 19.
This website is designed to reclaim that public space by showing
the original mural and the battle that ensued over its
removal. Sandinista founder Tomás Borge once said that the
Nicaraguan revolution had no borders because its example
was inspirational worldwide. The rise of the internet and its ability
to cross borders brings a new opportunity for the
revolution to inspire. It also helps to recreate the public space
within Nicaragua. The mural is no longer on the wall - but
it can be downloaded from this site, printed out, and put on many
walls in Nicaragua and around the world.