Week9: Commerce, Coercion, and America’s Empire


For this week’s post, I want to focus on the manifesto written by Augusto Sandino which was included in Dawson’s text.

The first line of the text, “To the Nicaraguans, to the Central Americans, to the Indo-Hispanic Race:”, clearly states his target audience (this line is not included in Dawson’s writing but included in the other English translation http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/sandino/sandino7-1-27.htm). Also, unlike Plan de Ayala from last week, the manifesto is written in the first person which makes the text seem more of a call for action rather than a collective opinion of the people in the region.

Throughout his writing, Sandino repeatedly uses the word “patriot” and “homeland” which I found very interesting. He expresses his love for his country with other phrases as well. The second sentence “The man who doesn’t ask his country for even a handful of earth for his grave deserves to be heard, and not only to be heard, but also to be believed” is one example. He emphasises that his actions are driven purely by his affection for his nation. This line also creates a clear contrast between Sandino and the three politicians mentioned in later paragraphs.

Another point that caught my attention is the progression in the ways the United States is described. At first, the U.S. is referred to as an “enormous eagle with its curved beak “. We can assume that Sandino is pointing to the States although it is not clearly stated. As we read further, we can see words more clearly associated with the U.S., such as “Yankee”, “Washington”, “White House”, until finally the name of the nation is addressed in nearly the end of the text. This progression from a more ambiguos suscripción you a specific one could have been to build up the negative image of the United States in the readers mind. By depicting the North American super nation as violent bird killing Nicaraguans or as a rapist paints a more negative image of the nation than just calling the country by its name.

One last section I want to touch upon is Sandino’s words of assurance to the governments of Latin American nations. He goes out of his way to reassure the governments that he has no intention of over throwing them. This seemed a bit odd to me since he strongly criticizes the Nicaraguan government.

Discussion questions:

  • Why do you think Sandino described the U.S. in this particular style?
  •  In the very last sentence “Because keep in mind that you can fool all of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time” do you think Sandino is referring to the States, the Nicaraguan government or both and why?

1 thought on “Week9: Commerce, Coercion, and America’s Empire

  1. Maiya

    It is very interesting to discuss Sandino’s references to the United States. I think by avoiding direct reference to the US by name he draws attention to the US’s character. That is, there is power in being able to have readers connect his descriptions to the US without ever naming the country.

    To answer your second question, I would say both and more, it feels global. He addressing all oppressors, letting them know their actions will not go unnoticed. It reminds me Castro’s “History will absolve me”, but almost reversed: “History will condemn you”


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