Appollino, 16, Sandinista Home Guard soldier,
Jinotega Province, Nicaragua, 1987
Text and photograph by Bruce Berman
Appolino was 16 in 1987. His parents had died during the revolution.
In 1987 the old National Guard of Somoza was huddled just north of Jinotega Province, in Honduras, fighting with and being trained by the United States military, both Army, National Guard and elements of the CIA and other agencies. If you arrived in Nicaragua by airplane, it emptied out in Tegucigalpa, Honduras and most of the people getting off that airplane were anglo, in their thirties and forties, with short haircuts and heavy bags that looked like they carried more than clothes.
So, there was Appollino, with his Chinese-made AK 47, standing guard, in his country, awaiting nightfall, ready to defend his home and family, i.e. his country.
Revolutions are always brutal. They steal a generation.
But, if you’re parentless, you have nothing except the land that raised you and a Revolutionary-issued weapon (the entire country did) and you have just enough memory to remember the lawless and justice-less former regime of Anastasio Somaza, what do you do?
You wait in the night.
The borderline between a civil society and war was non existent for Apollino. It was as transparent as the line between his youth and his old age. He was a son of a revolution.
Sons of revolutions are the price of injustice.
Appollino is the price, as soldiers of all generations and countries are.
He stood and, in the end, he won. The Contra War ended in the early 1990’s, a total defeat of Somza’s ex Army and the U.S. intervention.