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NICARAGUA: William Walker and anti-Americanism

The bunking and debunking of historical figures has become a cottage industry, and it is often hard to know who are the bunkers and who the debunkers. This is especially true of Nicaragua. where the US got involved in the fight between Liberals and Conservatives, two rival groups of similar ideology. In 1855 , the Conservative General Fruto Chamorro died (since Nicaragua is a banana republic, guess what the "fruto" was). Seeking to regain power, the Liberals hired a soldier of fortune from Tenneseee, William Walker, to bring a force of Americans to fight for them. His gang beat the Conservatives, and he seized effective power by taking command of the Nicaraguan army. He called for Nicaragua's annexation by the US as a a slave state. It was all tied in with Vanderbilt and the struggle for a canal route. The US sent Marines to save Walker, who faced Central American armies, and he left the country. He made four attempts to reenter Nicaragua and resume power, but he was caught in Honduras and executed by firing squad. Ever since, many Nicaraguans have viewed the US with suspicion, fear, and even hatred.

This brings back an unpleasant memory. Soon after I arrived at Stanford, Stanford Press received a mss about Walker from someone unknown to me (possibly a Southerner), making him out to be a great American and a great hero. I agreed to read the mss. as a labor of love, and I wrote a report saying that it turned history upside down and made no sense to me. The author was furious, and the director of the Press, Donald Bean, who probably scarcely knew where Nicaragua was, wondered what the row was all about.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, confronted by critics of US support for that SOB Somoza, is reported to have replied: He may be an SOB, but he's OUR SOB". All this background should help understand our running discussion of Sandino. WAISers can judge for themselves who are the bunkers and who the debunkers.

Ronald Hilton - 4/3/02