History in the Making

Document Type



In June 1979, Sandinista forces in Nicaragua successfully overthrew a decades-long multi-generational United States-backed military dictatorship. The vanguard, a diverse coalition of secondary and university students, youth, clergy, and peasants, defeated the highly-trained Guardia Nacional (National Guard) and ended the authoritarian Somoza regime. This paper examines how Carlos Fonseca and other Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) leaders resisted the liberal reformist model inherited by student-youth of the late 1960s to demand a more radical political platform. By bringing a relatively isolated student movement into the masses, this paper seeks to understand how a privileged class of university students became active participants in the revolutionary struggle. In addition, an analysis of contemporary student-youth activism in Nicaragua sheds light on how university organizing by the FSLN has shaped student activism outside the confines of the university space itself, particularly in examining the student-led mass mobilizations of 2018.