(a) Relationship between the "Juventud Sandinista 19 de Julio" (19th July Sandinista Youth) and the Nicaraguan Military in 1980-81 and present; (b) whether it was an offense for a volunteer to quit the "Juventud Sandinista 19 de Julio" in 1980-81 and present; (c) relationship between the "Frente Sandinista" and the military [NIC9635]

The "Juventud Sandinista 19 de Julio" (19th July Sandinista Youth) in 1980 was led by Bayardo Arce who was also the President of the Council of State (Christian 1986, 218).
Arce assumed direction of a broad range of activities having to do with propaganda and ideology. This covered two crucial areas: the media and the Sandinistas mass support organization, such as the block committees and the Sandinista Youth (Ibid.).

According to a representative of the Comisión Permanente de Derechos Humanos de Nicaragua (CPDHN) (Permanent Commission for Human Rights In Nicaragua), the Sandinista Youth movement was active in a belligerent fashion between 1980 and 1987 on both high school and university campuses by denouncing (and expelling) teaching staff who were not in accord with Sandinista Government policies (7 Nov. 1991). Furthermore, when the obligatory military service (Patriotic Military Service) was instituted in mid-1983, the Sandinista Youth were active in drawing up lists of students over the age of 16 eligible for military service (Ibid.). After the literacy crusade ended in 1980, "Fernando Cardenal became director of the Sandinista Youth, a part of the [Frente Sandinista para la Liberación Nacional] FSLN and a more obviously political part than running the literacy program" (Christian 1986, 250).

According to the CPDHN representative, the Sandinista Youth were acting under the orders of Sandinista army officers (7 Nov. 1991).

The problems between the Permanent Commission [for Human Rights] and the Sandinistas worsened after Gonzalez, during a trip to Europe in early 1981, met with Pope John Paul II and told him that Nicaragua

had eight hundred political prisoners ... When Gonzalez got back to Managua on February 13, several hundred supporters, including leaders of opposition political parties and various trade unions, went to the airport to meet him. But several hundred members of the Sandinista Youth and other pro-Sandinista elements rode onto the airport grounds in army troop trucks, and a slugfest resulted (Christian 1986. 327).

Today, according to the CPDHN representative, the Sandinista Youth is still active on high school and university campuses but there is no direct relationship between the Army and the Sandinista Youth (7 Nov. 1991).

The same source added that in 1980-81, the Sandinista Youth were backed up by the state's security apparatus and although participation in the movement was theoretically voluntary, it facilitated access to state-sponsored scholarships and other benefits (7 Nov. 1991). At that time, withdrawing from the Sandinista Youth would have been perceived by other members of the organization as an act of treason (the person would be considered a traitor by other members) and with the influence of the security forces, the person could have been subjected to pressure tactics to resume participation (Ibid.).

Today, the Sandinista Youth is faced with opposition from other youth organizations and although participation is voluntary the movement is less active (Ibid.). The same source added that the situation today is very complex and that it is possible that someone who in the past may have rejected the Sandinista Youth may still be seen as an enemy by active Sandinista Youth members (Ibid.).

In 1980-81, the relationship between the FSLN and the army was a direct one with the head of the army (Humberto Ortega) being among one of the top members of the ruling junta (Ibid.).

Currently, the constitutional head of the armed forces is the President of the Republic, Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, although Humberto Ortega still maintains the Defense Minister's position. When Violeta Barrios de Chamorro assumed the presidency in April 1990, in exchange for respecting the integrity of the EPS (Ejército Popular Sandinista) and the Ministry of the Interior ... Chamorro received three things [one of which being] ... the security forces would be "depoliticized": no member of the armed forces would be allowed to hold a leadership position in a political party and all parties would be free to proselytize among the rank and file (Norsworthy 1990. 53).

According to the CPDHN representative, it is still too early to tell whether the two roles have been differentiated (Ibid.). Following the above-mentioned agreement, Humberto Ortega resigned from the FSLN but his motives are questioned as the resignation could signal an attempt to convert himself into the sole leader of the army (Ibid.).

Further information on the subject could not be found among the sources currently available to the IRBDC.

Christian, Shirley. 1986. Nicaragua, Revolution in the Family. New York: Vintage Books.

Comisión Permanente de Derechos Humanos de Nicaragua (CPDHN), Managua, Nicaragua. 7 November 1991. Telephone Interview with a Representative.

Norsworthy, Kent. 1990. Nicaragua: A Country Guide. Albuquerque, New Mexico: The Inter-Hemispheric Education Resource Center.

Angel, William D. 1990. Youth Movements of the World. Essex: Longman Publishers. Pp. 403-404.

Norsworthy, Kent. 1990. Nicaragua: A Country Guide. Albuquerque, New Mexico: The Inter-Hemispheric Education Resource Center. Pp. 50-55.