Address made during the commemoration of the 27th anniversary of the liberation of the town of Sebaco from the Somoza dictatorship.
I would like to share very sad news with you all, very sad because one may have political differences. It’s normal to have diferences politically … quite suddenly, we were going along together some comrades and some decided one path and the others to keep on the same path.
But we came from the same struggle, pledged to find well being for this people and even when situations arose in which we had political differences, because life is that way, when moments of grief happen we have to share those moments of grief.
Tonight I want to render homage to Herty Lewites. I do want to render him homage! I came to know him over a long time during the struggle. He was Minister of Tourism in our FSLN government, after 1990 after the electoral defeat, that electoral defeat that was a blow to many comrades. Some decided to take another path and another movement separating from the FSLN.
You will remember that the Movimiento Renovador Sandinista was formed in 1994 led then by Sergio Ramirez, who had been my Vice-President. They formed the MRS which is to say they considered the FSLN ought to change its attitude and ideas. We thought the FSLN should maintain its ideas and principles.
We disagreed. So they formed their Movimiento Renovador Sandinista and I remember that in that FSLN congress, when we practically bade farewell, in that congress where we had such a battle, they failed to win the votes in that congress and decided to leave the FSLN to form the MRS.
I remember in that congress I said to Herty, because he stayed there, although he was with them, he still stayed while they moved on, I said to him â€œI’m sure you’ll stick with the Frenteâ€. He reacted spontaneously and approached and we embraced. He committed to continue with the Frente.
Later, for the elections of 1996, the MRS decided to go their way, an alliance was not possible. We wanted an alliance , united with them, but it was not possible and they went with Sergio Ramirez as their presidential candidate. They thought they could win the presidency and they tried with the result that all they got was one deputy (in the National Assembly) in those 1996 elections.
But anyway, Herty, with whom I was always in touch even when he was sometimes with the MRS, other times he would look me out and we were always in touch. Herty decided for the municipal elections of 1996 to go with his own movement, the Movimiento Sol and he remarked to me â€œI’m having a go with a movement, the Movimiento Solâ€ â€œFine, â€œI said â€œI wish you luck.â€
Why? Because I could not see him as an enemy, nor did he view me as an enemy. Simply, he had his ideas and took his decisions and I had to respect them. No one can be in the FSLN against their will, we are in the FSLN out of conviction out of our own free will.
So he went as a candidate in the municipal elections of 1996 but didn’t make it, neither did we. And then for the municipal elections of 2000 he sought me out and went with us! I told him that I would support him to be candidate for mayor of Managua for the FSLN.
He had gone with the Movimiento Sol in 1996 and in 2000 now went with the FSLN. i remember going around all the barrios in Managua- all of Managua â€“ asking people to vote for Herty in those municipal elections and in the end we won those elections with Herty as mayor.
Then, as mayor one has to acknowledge he did a good job, one might point out some failings but generally he did a good job. Sometimes we met to sort out problems, the problem of transport, delays in the Mayor’s office handing over titles to property, because he had that commitment to ensure the handover of titles to property. So he went and tried to meet that commitment he had with people in Managua and that led him to do a good job.
When he was ending his term as mayor after the elections in 2004 in which we won with the candidacy of Dionisio Marenco for mayor of Managua, around then he told me he wanted to be a candidate for the Vice-Presidency and I told him that seemed ok and we worked to that end.
But then he decided otherwise and in the end opted to form another movement and finally returned to the one formed in 1995-1996, the MRS
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On June 26th this year, the Archbishop of Managua invited the presidential candidates to a mass in Managua’s Cathedral. I was out of the country on a visit to various Mediterranean countries, Libya, Italy and Greece and so i was unable to attend the mass because the invitation arrived when I was away.
I asked Rosario Murillo to represent me at the mass with our Vice Presidential candidate Jaime Morales Carazo. She told me later by phone when I asked her how the mass went that it had gone well, that the homily of Mgr. Leopoldo Brenes was very positive and for the greeting of Peace, Eduardo Montealegre and Herty Lewites were seated in one place and Rosario, Jaime Morales Carazo and Tomas Borge were seated in another with other comrades of ours.
So Rosario went over to Herty and Montealegre to wish them peace. As you know in the mass there is a moment where we greet each other in peace. Rosario told me that when she and Herty greeted each other in peace he told her â€œdon’t worry, we are still the sameâ€. That was a sign of the deep ralationship we had. Because the truth is that among all the differences we had a very close relationship.
That’s why some comrades have criticised me sometimes saying â€œhow can you give Herty another chance if he’s already left once?â€ â€œNoâ€, I tell them â€œone has to try and keep the door always open and if he wants to go along with us then let him.â€
I want to remember this because unfortunately, today at about 5.30 this afternoon, they took him to hospital and according to the information we have, after just five minutes in the hospital he had a heart attack and they pronounced him dead.
A very hard blow for us all, because Herty’s death hurts me a lot, with all our disagreements… he was always a very friendly person willing to love…. I have good recollections of him even when we disagreed politically.
We remember he had suffered a very bad heart attack many years ago and had heart surgery. Later when he was mayor he had a crisis and was taken to hosiptal in Florida. They told him to give up any kind of political activity and any activity that caused stress.
They even suggested to him that he retire, but then he decided to keep up the electoral fight that provokes plenty of stress and exhaustion. Fighting elections is not easy. Even within the same group problems and stress occur. Among ourselves how much tension we have had with our primary elections!
I learned of Herty’s death before arriving here and I want to send his family, his wife, children, the condolences and solidarity of the Sandinista Front for National Liberation.
I also want to send my own condolences and those of Rosario and my family, that we really feel this loss sharply. We feel it, it hurts us and we lament it… May the Lord take him to his breast – rest in peace our brother Herty Lewites!
Translated from Spanish into English by toni solo, a member of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity (*[email protected]*). This translation is Copyleft.