Living in a country in which the scars, glories, and hopes of a revolution are so fresh or raw has got me to thinking of what the hell does ´revolution´ mean to an Irish person in 2010.
Here in Nicaragua, taxi drivers or people you meet in the pub are keen to talk politics. They are divided, they are passionate, they fight on the streets when the elections come around, but they don´t just sit around moaning in the pubs like people do back home.
The current President, Daniel Ortega, was one of the revolutionary heroes. Anyone over a certain age can remember vividly the struggle against the right wing dictator Somoza in the 1970s or the fight against the US-backed ´Contras´, who had no mandate from the people, in the 1980s.
All Brian Cowen is currently famous for is his love of a pint, a cigarette, and the destruction of an economy.
Ortega is by no means an angel, but I´ve become tired of all the Americans I´ve met here who condemn him for all this nation´s ills.
When he started, he fought against a Fascist Dictator because he believed in change and giving the people a chance. Can the same be said for your average FF County Councillor or US Republican?
It was the good old US of A, after all, which responded to a rebellion of the people by sending marines into Nicaragua as far back as 1912. It was the USA who spent the next two decades installing presidents it favoured and ousting those it didn´t like, namely those who wanted to give some of the country´s wealth back to the people.
It was the US that signed a treaty to build a canal through Nicaragua, to link the two oceans, even though they never had a notion of building a canal here. Already, they had their eyes fixed on Panama, a country they invaded as recently as two decades ago.
Yes, they messed around with a little country in their own back yard so that nobody else could get the rights to a canal project which would have made a huge difference to one of the world´s poorest nations.
It was the USA which backed the awful Somoza regime for decades and then supported the Contras after the Somozas had been overthrown in a popular rebellion. And it was the USA who imposed a cruel embargo on the Sandinistas in the 1980s, ensuring that Ortega lost power because the economy was wrecked by outside forces in the years after the war.
As a ´lefty´teenager in Galway in the 1980s, I wanted to come to Nicaragua and join the fight against the world´s biggest imperial power. Over two decades later I finally got here and, while I´ve been disheartened by the poverty and lack of hope, I have developed a huge admiration for the revolutionary spirit of the people.
So what makes me think about Ireland so far from home?
Well, as a white, European former colony, people in countries such as Nicaragua and Palestine look to us for inspiration and hope for a better future.
Little do they know that we replaced the Brits, who ruled our isle with an iron fist for 800 years, with corrupt b--tards of our own.
Even going back to 1916 and our own rebellion, the nice middle class people of Dublin hurled abuse at Padraic Pearse and his cronies when they dared to attack our British rulers. It was only when the Brits executed our revolutionary leaders in cold blood that Sinn Fein gained massive support throughout the land.
After our civil war, we got two right wing parties who were no better than Maggie Thatcher and the Tories, the only difference was that the FFers and FGers spoke with Irish accents and didn´t oppress the Catholic majority.
But, apart from which side they were on back in the 1920s, can anyone tell the difference between the two parties?
Instead of visionaries and revolutionaries, we have people like Frank Fahey TD, who loved to collude with the property developers and bankers during the so-called ´boom´ years. A man who, somehow, manages to own 20-plus properties.
A man who told the young people of Galway in January 2009 that there was ¨never a better time¨ to buy their first home. I sincerely hope that nobody was listening to Frank, because prices have tumbled ever since then.
Yes, Ireland from far away looks just like George Orwell´s Animal Farm. It took us 800 years to overthrow our British masters, but we just replaced them with pigs of our own.
And instead of offering hope to the people of Palestine, that cruel oppressors and invaders can be overthrown; or to countries like Nicaragua, that former colonies can eventually develop their economies and bloom; we became a greedy, self-centred nation, obsessed by property, cars, and material things.
Instead of fighting in the UN for the rights of poorer former colonies, the Irish became the ´cute hoors´of Europe with tax incentives to attract the big American multinationals into the country and tax breaks for our own developers.
Ireland, after all of its troubles, should be a beacon of light for less fortunate lands, but in our rush for wealth over the past decade and a half our nation of mass emigration even became racist against Eastern Europeans and Africans.
The people who once stood on the Kilburn High Road, looking for any work they could get, instead wanted ´pads´in Marbella, SUVs in Salthill, and cappucinos in overpriced cafes, as they discussed how immigration had blighted the land.
In six years time, we will be commemorating 100 years of our own revolution, but we´ve forgotten what people like Robert Emmett, Daniel O´Connell, and our so-called ´terrorist´grandfathers struggled for down through the centuries.
Here in Nicaragua, at least they know who the ´terrorists´are, that they can just as easily wear the uniforms of the State as join clandestine organisations in the back rooms of Derry or Tyrone.
For me, Ortega is far less of a terrorist than Ariel Sharon, Ronnie Regan, or George W. Bush were, with their vast military strength, wealth, and power. And Martin McGuinness had a justified 'war' after what the Brits, the authorities, did in Derry on Bloody Sunday when they murdered 14 innocent people.
Perhaps it´s time for another revolution back home!
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