Nicaraguan Youth and Solidarity through Song

Since last week, Nicaragua has been featured on the news because of the protests that are taking place in the Central American nation over pension reforms. The resulting movement against the government of Daniel Ortega, of the Sandinista National Liberation Front, has lead to one of the most violent protests in the country.

Although the protests were called by the private business sector, an ally of Ortega during his eleven years in power, the street protests have been lead and represented by students from the country’s public universities, who had been supporters of the president in the past. Students have promised to keep with the protests until the president and his wife and vice president, Rosario Murillo, are out of power.

Students were also crucial for the Nicaraguan Revolution (1962–1990). Together with Carlos Fonseca, Silvio Mayorga, and Tomás Borge, student activists from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua founded this organization, which saw the victory of the Sandinista National Liberation Front against the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza in 1979.

I found and did a little of research on a vinyl of the Nicaraguan nueva canción band, Grupo Pancasán, which had been passed down to me last summer. Also named Pancasán, their first album was recorded in Managua, Nicaragua and produced in Costa Rica in 1977, two years before the Sandinista Revolution. It includes songs such as “Se está Forjando la Patria Pueva” (“The New Homeland is Forged”), “General de Hombres Libres” (“General of Free Men”), and “Trabajadores al Poder” (“Workers to Power”). 

Grupo Pancasán (1977)

The first members of the group were Berta Rosa Guerra, Donald Aguirre, Marta Sandoval, Danny Montenegro, Laura Amanda Cuadra, Agustín Sequeira, Marlene Álvarez, Martín Fonseca and Francisco Cedeño. They were members of the Frente Estudiantil Revolucionario (Revolutionary Student Front), and as students, rehearsed on whichever classroom they found open at the Universidad Autónoma de Nicaragua located in Managua, the capital of the country. 

The relevance and involvement of the university students from the seventies and eighties compared to nowadays seems to point to a common theme, evidenced in this album. Grupo Pancasán was part of a movement that supported the Sandinista Revolution. In a way, this movement to strive for an ideal Nicaragua, is mirrored today – almost four decades later. However, this time, they are fighting to take down the Sandinismo of Daniel Ortega, who also goes back decades ago, since he was one of the nine commanders who led the Sandinista Revolution.

I present to you Compañero Estudiante, a song that encourages solidarity among students. Here’s a loose translation of the third verse of the song: “Fellow student, who is persecuted / Who has fallen while fighting / My song is for you / Your example, may it serve to grow / Ideas and thoughts, to fulfill your ideal”.