From Rebel to National Hero
Augusto Nicolás Sandino was the leader of the rebellion against United States occupation of Nicaragua from 1927 to 1933. Labeled a bandit by the very men he fought against, Latin America saw him and still see him as a hero who fought for his country against the United States growing reach. Five years ago he was named a national hero by the nation’s congress and his influence through his actions and writings continues to resonate today among his political descendants.
Augusto was born May 18, 1895 to Gregorio Sandino and Margarita Calderon. Augusto’s father was a wealthy landowner of Spanish decent and his mother was a servant for the Sandino family. Illegitimate until the age of nine when his father took him into the family home and provided for his education, Augusto lived with his mother at first. In 1912 at the age of 17 Augusto witness for the first time the United States influence as they intervened against an uprising against then President Adolfo Diaz. At the age of 26, Augusto tried to kill a man that had been speaking ill of his mother. The man, Dagoberto Rivas, was the son of a prominent conservative townsman. After the failed attempt Augusto fled to Honduras, then Guatemala and eventually Mexico where he lived in exile for 5 years. It was during his time in Mexico that he began to form his revolutionary ideals that helped shape and mold him and many others later.
Shortly after Augusto’s return to Nicaragua in 1926, there was a revolt against conservative President Adolfo Diaz. Soldiers loyal to exiled President Juan Bautista Sacasa refused to continue to follow Diaz and acknowledge him as President. The chose instead to follow Sacasa. Augusto then took up arms with a makeshift army he put together composed of gold miners and regular people and began to attack the conservative forces of Adolfo Diaz. As his attacks on Diaz’s troops became more successful, more and more peasants began to join under him and on the verge of victory, the United States stepped in and negotiated a cease-fire. Diaz would finish his term and then the United States would oversee an election for his successor. Augusto would have no part of this, he refused to lay down his weapons and declared war on the United States.
Over the next few years, Augusto’s army clashed with the United States Marines with varying degrees of success and failure. Clearly out manned and out gunned, Augusto never surrendered and was never captured by the Marines. After countless battles with each other and deaths on both sides, Augusto was always a few steps ahead of capture. Some United States Conngressman were even apprehensive of continuing to fund efforts to find Augusto and his men. He was often quoted in Time magazine during this time, further expanding his influence and guerrilla tactics that would later be adopted by Che Guevera and Fidel Castro.