Sandino Without Frontiers introduces and demystifies Augusto César Sandino, the anti-U.S. rebel and patron saint of the Nicaraguan Revolution. Karl Bermann’s prologue and chapters by Nicaraguan Vice-President Sergio Ramírez and modern Sandinista founder Carlos Fonseca accurately describe Sandino and help dispel recent distortions of his historical significance.
Bermann’s prologue is particularly good. It succinctly lists most of the eclectic and improbable known influences on Sandino, which range from traditional Nicaraguan Liberal party attachments to anarcho-syndicalism, acquired from the Mexican labor movement, and from Freemasonry to the Zoroastrianism of Joaquín Trincado’s theosophistic “Magnetic-Spiritual School”. Bermann sets Sandino apart from those Marxists of his own era who favored a communist project, but correctly describes him as a true revolutionary. He also reveals how Sandino has been adapted by the modern Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) revolutionaries—both what they borrow from Sandino and what they leave out (e.g., his mysticism). Sandino is correctly portrayed as an anti-United States, pan-Latin Americanist, anti-imperialist rebel, a true non-Marxist revolutionary with hemispheric pretensions.
Overall, the 19 documents—mainly letters and political manifestos—effectively represent Sandino’s writings during his struggle against the last U.S. occupation of Nicaragua (1927-33). This collection is smaller than Sergio Ramírez’s (in Spanish), but its coverage of the range of Sandino’s thought and its quirks is probably better than Ramírez’s. Also included are a short bibliography, a Sergio Ramírez essay with an excellent capsule history of Nicaragua and a concise biography of Sandino, and an excerpt from Viva Sandino by Carlos Fonseca, founder of the FSLN. A last short piece by Sergio Ramírez shows what the modern Sandinistas have taken from their namesake. Bermann’s volume is an excellent short introduction to Sandino (those needing a more comprehensive analysis should use Donald Hodges’s 1986 Intellectual Foundations of the Nicaraguan Revolution) and a valuable resource for classes on Central American or Latin American history or politics.