By Nan McCurdy – Jun 1, 2023
[This is primarily a translation of accounts by Edwin Mendoza. Mendoza is a member of the July 19 Sandinista Youth Association. He has begun writing his own story and that of other young people about what happened during the 2018 US-backed coup attempt. I found the following accounts on his Facebook page and I also heard them read on Sin Fronteras, a tri-weekly analysis program on Radio La Primerisima with William Grigsby, journalist/analyst/historian.]
May 10, 2018
A group of about forty-five JS19J (Juventud Sandinista 19 de Julio / July 19 Sandinista Youth) went to the District 6 delegation office of the Managua Mayor’s Office, our only mission – to defend these facilities where, at that time, a large part of the heavy machinery used in the capital for the cleaning of drainage canals, restoration of streets and roads, public cleaning, etc., was kept. [Note: This was the machinery that in the future could be used to bring down the roadblocks still existing in that area.]
That night, the installations were attacked by about 50 armed delinquents on motorcycles. The JS19J, that only had its conviction, its wits, and about 20 homemade mortars, managed to repel their aggression.
They bombarded us all night long, and we were unable to leave for two reasons:
1. Our instructions were simple: safeguard the facility, don’t attack the aggressors.
2. In addition to those besieging the delegation, a large number of common criminals were also waiting for us when we left; they had taken over the UPOLI (Polytechnic University) installations a few blocks away just two weeks before and, from there, they were waiting for us to leave.
JS19J resisted all night.
At sunrise, the aggressors left.
May 11, 2018
In the morning there were reports that as they left, the aggressors murdered an inhabitant of the neighborhood. The population was alarmed and angry.
From neighbors, by word of mouth, we got a message….
“Kids, get out of here…. At night they are going to come to kill you. They want to burn you alive.”
Since April 20 [near the beginning of the coup attempt], Josué Sandino had been with us to defend the homeland. This kid had already been days without going home and without talking to his family. That morning, Josué woke up next to me, smoking a cigarette and screwing around, proud of what he’d done – “We accomplished the mission.” (Josué is from the Martha Quezada neighborhood, he joined the JS19J from the time he was little. He grew up with us and up to that point I didn’t remember ever seeing Josué angry. The kid was always happy.)
May 11, 2018, 6pm
On the main street of the Mayor’s Offices, a motorcycle with two riders passed by, noisily, accelerating rapidly, one of them with a gun in his hand starts yelling….
“Today we burn them alive, sons of bitches.”
“The dogs of the Juventud are there.”
“Tonight they are ours.”
My brothers and sisters – when the sun went down, our hopes for life went down too…
How unbelievable was the number of shots fired at the delegation!
How incredible the number of armed people!
More than 100 motorcycles!
That day we met the “Viper” [leader of the opposition gang that had taken over the university and was being provided with money, arms, drugs and alcohol to engage in violence and cause chaos] and his people from “Monimbo” who in reality were not inhabitants of that neighborhood of Masaya, but criminals coming from all over the country.
They threw contact bombs at us, high caliber firearm blasts, and screams…. Screams that psychologically defeated you.
A cameraman from Channel 4 [a Sandinista channel] managed to get to District 6 (my respect to this compañero) and he let the whole country know the situation, he started broadcasting live.
In those times when some people felt they had to hide their love for the Front [FSLN], I remember Ximena, Gaudy and Prado, going out live in that Channel 4 transmission and giving our version of what was happening…. One of these people said goodbye to her family “just in case” and made a call to the National Police: “Please act.”
I remember the calls parents made to their children….
“Son, what is that I hear, is that an AK47 I’m hearing, tell me and I’ll get over there, I’d rather they kill me.”
“Love, what are you doing there; you have a daughter, come home, don’t leave her without her mother.”
“Don’t be scared, you have to keep a cool head, I know you have a lot to lose, but if you are smart you can win; I know you will come back.”
“You have to stay down, there will come a time when they will have to leave, if that happens… move forward crouching down.”
“Come home now, your mom is crying….”
We endured hours.
In absolute fear.
They managed to surround us.
I want to emphasize something…
None of us had any military experience whatsoever; we were not up to combat level. We were outnumbered and outgunned. We only had two shotguns from the security guards and a comrade who carried his 9mm pistol.
The coordinator of the JS19J of Managua, who I am sure never imagined himself in a situation like this, behaved as the leader that he is, approved the majority consensus: that the best defense was to attack.
It was decided that 20 colleagues would go out. No one was forced; you had to put yourself forward. The plan was to make them believe that the JS19J was ready for the confrontation and to put fear into them. The idea was that these brigades would go out every so often to prevent their advance, until daybreak….
One of the women made the selection; I begged her to let me and some other kids who want to accompany me go instead. Of those 20 who went out, eight were from my district 2. Ten of us were carrying mortar tubes, and the ten others had backpacks of ammunition for those tubes.
The first brigade included Josué Sandino and Carlos Miranda.
At the moment when we went out, a team of the national police was present – about ten police with motorcycles and shotguns. Firing shots in the air, they began to repel the attackers and create the conditions for the JS19J to leave….
I came out pressed against the right boundary wall, my pants were torn on the wall, I was almost naked. I went from north to south, watching for them. Josué carried the backpack with mortars and cigarettes. Juan was behind me with more mortars, that was enough for me and I didn’t pay attention to the rest…. A police officer was moving along with us; close to the left wall, throwing tear gas so that the smoke made it difficult for them to see that we were advancing. I went ahead. I went to the front, I was ready! I managed to advance. I threw the first mortar. I managed to get it in the corner where they were. I hid behind a tree and asked for another mortar; I wanted to hit them with the second one….
When I asked for the second one, I saw that I was alone. Josué and Juan couldn’t advance; they got stuck. The rain of bullets started again; I lay down. I heard screams. I scream too, “Advance sons of bitches! Advance!”
I was scared. I went back and told Juan, “Get up, we are not going to die here.” Lisandro, who was close by and had mortars, moved forward with me; we took position. After 15 minutes, from behind, they told us to go back. Something happened!
Everyone retreated. I couldn’t…. the shots were directed only at me. I was the most visible; I lay down next to the tree and I could see that the officer with the tear gas and I were the only ones left… [He yells,] “That’s as far as I can go! If I get up, I’m a dead man!” Hearing an AK47 shot grazing your head for the first time is an experience that I don’t wish for anyone….
I couldn’t go back; a couple of them were advancing….
All of a sudden, a toothless kid fought his way through the bullets,
He got on top of me.
The detonations blasted my ear,
I got up; he shot and they shot at us. This brother, he covered me with his life and managed to get me out, me and the officer…. And, oh my God, I love this son of a bitch. This was Lentt Perez Rivera.
When I was back in district 6, I was really angry with this Josué, how could he have stayed behind? He was carrying the mortars for me. How dare he leave me to die? They left me alone!
I grabbed a kid and I asked him….
What about Josué? Where is that son of a bitch Josué?
“Dog… An AK bullet went through Josué’s arm and into his chest. I think the guy is dead.
“But not only him, the kid from district 6 was hit. They blew out the bro’s chest.”
I asked, “With an AK47 as well?”
“Yes, he’s dead. And also, the policemen, they shot him in the throat….”
That’s why they didn’t advance. “I went as far as I could; can’t you see how I’m covered with blood.” From the adrenaline, I never paid attention to the guys behind me, I only looked ahead.
It was a massacre! Josué’s arm was left disabled. The police officer who was hit by a bullet in his throat—to be honest, I don’t know if he survived.
And Carlos Miranda, also in our group, he gave his life for the sovereignty of Nicaragua. He gave his life for me and for you. We could not even go to his funeral. (That very morning, Carlos Alberto Miranda had awakened and played soccer. Carlos was 19 years old, a proud JS19J member. He lived a few blocks from the District 6 Mayor’s Office. Carlos Miranda, like many FSLN members, understood from the beginning, that revolutionary theory does not work without revolutionary practice.)
That same day, to save our lives, we left the District 6 Mayor’s Office and they indeed set it on fire.
I did not survive by miracle, nor by luck. I am alive and I returned to the arms of my daughter and mother because Lennt Perez Rivera did not want me to die. Because even without teeth he had plenty of balls. And later I was able to return the favor.
I understood something that day,
The fight for the homeland was going to be to the death.
And the mortars were no longer enough… we had to dust off the iron….
Honor and glory to Carlos Miranda!
He left loving the Sandinista Youth,
Loving his country,
Loving the FSLN.
(I am not ashamed to tell you that I cried while writing this).
CARLOS ALBERTO MIRANDA…
Sometimes, we stop telling the story of comrades like Carlos Alberto.
The population is then persuaded to believe the opposition story….
They put Carlos Miranda’s picture on a poster and marched “for him” after he was murdered. [It was common for them to kill Sandinistas then say that they were “their” dead, killed by the Sandinistas.] They also said that the JS19J had burned down the District 6 Mayor’s delegation….
And that it was us who stole buses and left them at the UPOLI, etc.
Our history has to be told, the people have to know that there are kids like Carlos Miranda,
Honor and glory comrades.
[Here we go back to very early in the 2018 coup attempt and we see the historical connections: Sandino, Clara Rosa Huerta, Jacoba Huerta, her children who participated in the insurrection against Somoza and in the defense against Reagan’s Contras. These included Lilliam Patricia Rivera and her son, Lennt Perez Rivera, who defended his country during the 2018 coup attempt.]
When his wife Blanca Segovia died in childbirth, General Sandino entrusted the care of his daughter Blanca Sandino to a peasant woman named Clara Rosa Huerta. Clara Rosa Huerta had just given birth to her daughter Jacoba and, in addition to taking care of her daughter, she became the wet nurse of the General’s daughter until Blanca was transferred to Cuba.
When she grew up, Jacoba (Clara Rosa Huerta’s daughter) had children, among them Roberto Rivera Herrera and Roger Rivera Herrera – both heroes of our revolution.
Also, Lilliam Rivera was born to Jacoba and, from a very young age, joined the struggle for our sovereignty. Lilliam Rivera gave birth to Lennt Perez Rivera, who in 2018 gave continuity to the defense of sovereignty that throughout its lineage this family has been able to defend, even with their lives….
This is where I, Edwin Mendoza, get to be part of their story…
April 20, 2018
After the liberation of the National Engineering University (UNI) [from the violent opposition aka “peaceful” protesters] and protecting the Central Delegation Offices of the ALMA [Alcaldía de Managua – the main Managua Mayor’s Offices] we moved to different sectors of the capital as groups of Sandinista youth, ready to protect our FSLN party offices.
Relevant fact for history: we had been incommunicado all day.
In my case, I was with the Managua coordinator’s brigade which was in charge of the actions in this district. Within my brigade is Lennt and many comrades whom I esteem and who are part of the structures of District 2 (the district where we grew up).
One block away from the Giant store, there by the Guanacaste (a tree and landmark in this district for giving directions), we observed a considerable number of people trying to burn down our party office. They were launching mortars, burning tires, throwing rocks and firing guns….
We immediately joined the confrontation and we were able to defend the district and make the whole country see that District 2 would never be burned. This is the district where the President lives, no kidding!
We did not know that it was the mothers of many of our friends and companions that had been defending our party office for hours, alone, and with more bravery than many others showed. They stood with their own incredible courage and confronted the aggressors for hours. And while their children were in another trench, they decided they would never back down.
Among those mothers was LILLIAM PATRICIA RIVERA. And yes… I write it in capital letters.
When Lentt found Lilliam there that day, she did not know that Lennt had escaped from work and joined the defense. When she saw him, she urged him to continue the fight, in memory of his uncles who were heroes of the revolution, for her, for him, for her daughters and for the sovereignty of Nicaragua….
That was the day that Lennt lost his teeth trying to save the lives of six compañeros and of the FSLN political secretary of District 4. The aggressors threw a rock at his face.
He left the hospital two days later and rejoined the brigades. Lilliam started to support our brigade in many ways, to the point that her house was shot at one night….
But Doña Lilliam also knew how to defend herself!
Friends, in District 2 of Managua we did not allow the building of one single roadblock!
The latter thanks to many colleagues of whom we will speak in due course.
But without a doubt, it is because of people like Lilliam that there are young people like Lennt….
Blessed is the womb that gave birth to a Sandinista son.
Happy birthday my mother.
With much, much love, respect and appreciation.
Nan McCurdy is a United Methodist missionary with the General Board of
Global Ministries. She and her missionary husband, Miguel Mairena, are
serving as Mission Advocates for the Western Jurisdiction of The United
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