Adiós Muchachos

A Memoir of the Sandinista Revolution

Adiós Muchachos

American Encounters/Global Interactions

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Book Pages: 264 Illustrations: Published: October 2011

Author: Sergio Ramírez

Translator: Stacey Alba D. Skar

Activism, General Interest > Biography, Letters, Memoirs, Latin American Studies > Central America

Adiós Muchachos is a candid insider’s account of the leftist Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua. During the 1970s, Sergio Ramírez led prominent intellectuals, priests, and business leaders to support the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), against Anastasio Somoza’s dictatorship. After the Sandinistas overthrew the Somoza regime in 1979, Ramírez served as vice-president under Daniel Ortega from 1985 until 1990, when the FSLN lost power in a national election. Disillusioned by his former comrades’ increasing intolerance of dissent and resistance to democratization, Ramírez defected from the Sandinistas in 1995 and founded the Sandinista Renovation Movement. In Adiós Muchachos, he describes the utopian aspirations for liberation and reform that motivated the Sandinista revolution against the Somoza regime, as well as the triumphs and shortcomings of the movement’s leadership as it struggled to turn an insurrection into a government, reconstruct a country beset by poverty and internal conflict, and defend the revolution against the Contras, an armed counterinsurgency supported by the United States. Adiós Muchachos was first published in 1999. Based on a later edition, this translation includes Ramírez’s thoughts on more recent developments, including the re-election of Daniel Ortega as president in 2006.


“In this poignant memoir, Ramírez extols the idealism of the youthful Sandinistas, too many of whom fell as martyrs in their bloody battles against the tyrannical Somoza dynasty. At the same time, he recognizes the many errors the inexperienced revolutionaries committed once in power. Ramírez paints vivid portraits of those Latin American leaders who assisted the Sandinistas.” — Richard Feinberg, Foreign Affairs

“The English translation of Sergio Ramírez’s 1999 memoir allows the reader a fascinating entrée into the life and work of one of Central America’s most compelling personages and leading writers. This excellent translation of the former revolutionary junta member and vice president of Nicaragua’s 1998 book offers a fine introduction, filled with indispensable insights into the romance and tragedy of the revolution.” — Jeffrey L. Gould, The Americas

“This is an analytically astute if, to say the least, idiosyncratically organized account of the Sandinista Revolution (both and before and after the fall of Anastasio Somoza Debayle). For those who consider the author one of the most thoughtful commentators on his country’s political life, the book is a treasure, and well worth close examination by scholars interested in Latin American political history in general and the history of revolutionary change in particular.” — Andrew J. Kirkendall, Human Rights Review

“Beyond being a valid and interesting source, Ramírez is also an accomplished writer, whose literary skill shines through in every detail of the memoir. . . . In short, a lot can be learned from this book that transcends history and present day affairs. Adiós Muchachos provides the reader with inside knowledge of revolutions, global politics, and human aspirations. And perhaps the best gift this book offers is the opportunity to learn while enjoying a great read.” — Contemporary Sociology

“Given his extensive direct experience of the events that captured the world’s imagination for more than a decade and his impressive talents as a writer, Sergio Ramírez is the perfect person to tell this story.” — Steven F. White, Review: Literature and Arts of the Americas

Adiós Muchachos is an extraordinary memoir of the origins, triumphs, and ultimate decline of the Sandinista Revolution. It is written by Sergio Ramírez, one of Nicaragua’s and Central America’s leading literary figures and an influential politician and statesman during the crucial decades he discusses, the 1970s through the 1990s. Few memoirs of the Sandinista period treat the movement’s ultimate defeat from a critical perspective, and fewer still have been written by one of that period’s leading political actors, let alone crafted in such an engrossing fashion, with such an eye for intimate political and cultural detail.” — Gilbert M. Joseph, coeditor of A Century of Revolution

“Writers who become revolutionaries are a rare breed, and in our age, few compare to Sergio Ramírez. In this lovely, lyrical, but ultimately heartbreaking, book, he gives an insider’s view of how radicalism succeeds and fails. His account is thrilling, poignant, and frightening, decorated with vivid profiles of tyrants, bullies, and idealistic heroes. Ramírez has long since broken with the increasingly repressive Sandinistas; their loss is literature’s gain.” — Stephen Kinzer, author of Blood of Brothers: Life and War in Nicaragua


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Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface to the Spanish Edition, Published in 2007 / The Shadow of the Caudillo xi

Acknowledgments xix

Introduction 1

1. Partial Confession 5

2. Saintly Living 17

3. The Age of Innocence 35

4. The Swan over the Burning Coals 49

5. The Age of Malice 65

6. Monkey on a Leash 81

7. Manifest Destiny 93

8. The Likely Number Thirteen 113

9. Heaven on Earth 127

10. The Year of the Pig 143

11. Rivers of Milk and Honey 159

12. The Palace at Last! 173

13. Saturn's Jaws 191

Epilogue 207

Chronology, 1979–1990 211

Glossary 223

Index 229

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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5087-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5069-9
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