Thursday, April 26, 2007

¡Benjamin Linder, presente!

This weekend marks the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Benjamin Linder, a young American engineer who was killed in an ambush on April 28, 1987, by a group of CIA-funded Contras while working on a small hydroelectric dam that was to bring electricity and running water to a village in the middle of Nicaragua's war zone.

To commemorate Ben's death, this morning the international community here in Nicaragua was invited to hear Dora Maria Tellez, a leader during the Sandinista Revolution and now nationally respected author and professor, share her thoughts on what solidarity means for all of us, then and now. Dora struck me as thoughtful, down-to-earth, and deeply passionate about the future of her pueblo. She is short, athletic, and wore a purple short-sleeved collared shirt, jeans, and sneakers for the occasion.

A few of the things she said...

"Be on the side of justice. If someone else is suffering, than so I am. My well being depends on the well being of others around the world."

"So many times people talk about there’s the good ladrones and the bad ladrones. The point is, they are all ladrones. Period."

"People with resources can get an appointment with the President in 15 minutes and get their problems resolved. It is the people with the most needs that most need us."

"We need to reinstill the value of volunteerism because our country needs every ounce of strength we have to move forward."

"Democracy is the defense of the poor."

As long as there are people like you and me standing in solidarity with the poor, Ben's spirit lives on. As they say here in Nicaragua,

¡Benjamin Linder, presente!