ALBA monument occupies historic park

Critics claim the presidential couple is trying to “erase history” by erecting its gated ALBA monument in Managua’s Pedro Joaquin Chamorro Park

Friends and family of slain newspaper publisher Pedro Joaquin Chamorro are decrying the Sandinista government’s unexplained efforts to transform the park dedicated in his honor into a monument celebrating ALBA, the Venezuelan-led “Bolivarian Alliance for Our Americas.”

“They are trying to erase the memory of my father,” opposition congressman Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Jr. told The Nicaragua Dispatch today. “My father was a man who fought and gave his life for principles such as free press, civil rights, and no reelection— values that are totally contrary to what ALBA stands for today.”

Several months ago, the Sandinista government began building what has since taken shape as a nine-pillared walled monument around the Pedro Joaquin Chamorro Park in front of the National Assembly. The original park, dedicated by the first Sandinista government in 1980, marks the spot where the former publisher of La Prensa was assassinated by Somoza’s gunmen on Jan. 10, 1978—a crime that sparked national outrage and helped galvanize the popular insurrection against the dictatorship a year later.


Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, former publisher of La Prensa, provided a leading critical voice against the Somoza dynasty until the dictator’s gunmen silenced him in 1978. Courtesy of Fundacion Violeta Barrios de Chamorro

At the original park dedication 32 years ago, Chamorro was dubbed Nicaragua’s “martyr of civil liberties” for his years of outspoken criticism against the abuses of the Somoza dictatorship. Some think the symbolism of what Chamorro stood for has become uncomfortable for the current government.

“The government is trying to erase all historic memory of those who have had different opinions than Daniel Ortega,” says Edmundo Jarquín, Pedro Joaquín Chamorro’s former friend and biographer. “The ALBA park is just another manifestation of the totalitarian culture that President Ortega has created—one that doesn’t allow any difference of opinion or different version of history.

“The presidential couple has already tried to privatize Sandino, and now they are trying to do the same with the rest of the country’s history,” Jarquín charges.

A mysterious park for a mysterious pact

The ALBA park, appropriately enough, is shrouded in the same government secrecy and lack of financial transparency as ALBA itself.

The new park, like its Bolivarian namesake, was apparently conjured into being by the presidential couple without any discussion, announcement, or explanation. Even Managua’s city councilmen—folks who are supposed to approve the construction of parks and public works in the capital—claim they have no idea who ordered the park built, how much it costs, or where the money is coming from. Opposition councilman Luciano García has asked the Comptroller General’s Office to investigate.

The mysterious concrete stonehenge offered its first clue last week, when workers put up a iron gate announcing the masterpiece as the “Parque del ALBA.” Now the public is left to speculate about its content—nine unfinished concrete columns—what it means, who will benefit, and what’s the point?

The park—right in the middle of the historic downtown center— is also closed to the public, raising the familiar question: Is this ALBA thingamajig public or private?

No one from the government has commented on the ALBA eyesore, or hinted when it will be inaugurated.

Under the shadow of ALBA

Journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro, who has followed in his father’s footsteps by winning the 2010 Maria Moors Cabot prize, one of the most coveted journalism awards in the hemisphere, says the “Parque ALBA” is an affront to the memory of his father and the intelligence of Nicaraguans.


Like father, like son: Carlos Fernando Chamorro at the his father’s grave in 2011 (photo/ Tim Rogers)

“Now the monument to Pedro Joaquín Chamorro is surrounded by another monument with nine giant columns, which we suppose will be dedicated in tribute to each of the governments of ALBA: Chávez from Venezuela, Rafael Correa from Ecuador, Raúl Castro from Cuba, and Daniel Ortega from Nicaragua,” Chamorro said on his Sunday evening TV news program, Esta Semana. “Are they trying to erase the historic memory of Pedro Joaquín Chamorro?”

Chamorro says it’s clear the moment is being built on direct orders from the presidential pair. Therefore, he says, it’s up to them to “rectify this abuse against the memory of my father.”

In any case, Chamorro says, Pedro Joaquín Chamorro’s legacy is “everlasting” and won’t be eclipsed by a concrete curiosity.

“The legacy of his values—freedom of the press, no reelection, democracy with social justice—will continue to be present in the struggle to restore democracy,” Chamorro said. “It can never be erased. Meanwhile, Ortega’s cult of personality, as occurred with Somoza, will one day be buried in the past.” 

  • Carla Chamorro

    La oposición contra el gobierno Ortega Murillo es natural ya que ellos son contra-natura, en realidad no existen ya que lo inventado invento es y para muestra el pavor que le tienen a un hombre que murió ya hace 35 años queriendo esconder su presencia con un parque en honor a sus secuaces del Alba. El Dr. Chamorro debe estar riéndose a carcajadas de ver a los Del Carmen aterrados con su ultimo Editorial que ni siquiera tuvo que escribir. El Alba y los amiguetes de Libia, Siria y el Irán moribundos o moridos sumados a los Republicanos que vienen en cortejo y ya se oyen sus claros clarines con los Waivers…. Muchos aun no lo realizan…pero el fin de la payasada Ortega Murillo esta a la vuelta de la esquina.Ya viene el cortejo, ya se oyen los claros clarines…

  • elhombredelamancha

    The new order
    The dictatorship was terminated. The people insurrected and sent
    Somoza to her sunset (Sunset Island). It was believed that after
    the dynasty was over, the New Nicaragua would emerged. No,
    that was not what happened. On the contrary, we had a new
    dictatorship commanded by the “vanguardia” (the nine comamandants who called themselves like that).
    It was a long and intense period of nice slogans, radicalism
    for the people, war against the people who always push
    Nicaragua ahead. For the “nines” the burgusesia were every
    body who always tried to be better than the day before: the
    sweaty market vendor, the student who after his her job went
    to his university classroom, the woman (man) who had a
    convenience store, the small farmer… all were danger (accor-
    ding to them) to the revolution…
    After the fall of Somoza, there was not war, but there was not
    democracy. They –the nine directors– decided to radicalize
    the affairs in our sad Nicaragua. There was not need to
    put the democracy off, but they did.
    They –the nines– invented that war. As soon as they could
    a large number of people startde to migrate: with family or alone.
    The massive exodus was continuous…
    The people, what did want? Peace, democracy, Nicaragua as
    a modern Republic.
    Today, what do we have?
    A government of very doubtful reputation. There is not essentially
    a meaningful difference between the Somoza’s way and the
    current government. He –the current president who did small
    coups previously to the big coup– has said in language that
    is plain and clear (as Somoza said “a calzon quitado”)– that
    he does not have any intention of quitting the presidency.
    Pedro Joaquin Chamorro is a hero of our modern democracy.
    He is the man who never stopped demanding democracy for our
    small country.
    Pedro Joaquin was this man who first of all was democratic
    and because he was democratic he was against every kind
    of dictatorship, consequently, he was against Somoza. But
    also he was against all those citizen who gave up to favours
    by the dictator, he was against every type of political
    arrangements with the dictator ignoring the people.
    He was always against the”pactistas” .
    Some “full moons” before, the thinking head of this ilegitimate government of two heads decided to start vanishing the memories of this man who always was against all the fraudulent
    polls to vote for national officials:
    –Pedro Joaquin Chamorro Cardenal is that man who was
    against every kind of dictatorship.
    –He is who always was denouncing all iillegal elections
    –He was always against the arrogance and abuse of power of
    civil servants.
    –He was always against the mix-up between government and
    –He was always demanded that the national police and army
    were for the service of the people.
    –Of course he always was in favour of the freedom of speech
    and press freedom.
    For a government like the current one it is not good to have
    a monument in the midle of the historic Managua consecrated to a man who tirelessly requested free and honest polls and administrators legally elected according to the Constitution.
    We cannot expect any better from this government.
    Pedro Joaquin Chamorro is still that voice demanding

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