I can’t say that I had ever thought much about the organizational problems associated with running a guerrilla movement. For example, that they would need PR people to help bolster their image hadn’t really occurred to me, but when you think about it, makes perfect sense. That’s more or less the role that Gioconda Belli played for the Nicaraguan Sandinistas, though she also did the occasional gun-running.
My friend Bethany recommended Belli’s memoir, The Country Under my Skin: A Memoir of Love and War, which she had read in a class on Latin American women writers. It was an excellent suggestion. I found the book most interesting for the ‘war’ side, the look into life as a Sandinista. The ‘love’ side strengthened the story though, made it more personal and engaging. Really, the two are closely intertwined since Belli found herself falling in love with one after another of her fellow revolutionaries. (And even Fidel Castro makes a pass at her.)
I found it surprising that Belli never really seems to struggle with her decision to join the Sandinistas. She never questions or even tries to justify, at least in this book, that violence was the right course of action. I wonder if it seemed so obvious to her that she really never even questioned it.
She also seemed to place a higher value on autonomy (from the United States particularly) than on democracy, which was an interesting perspective to ponder.
I was impressed by her ability to admit when she was wrong. It would have been easy enough to gloss over that in a memoir, but Belli fully admitted several times where the way she had thought was the right way may not have been.
Gioconda Belli is a novelist and a poet as well. Her most well-known novel seems to be The Inhabited Woman. I almost picked that one up at the library instead of The Country Under my Skin and maybe I will pick it up sometime in the future.