Friday, February 8, 2008

¡Aye Nicaragua, Nicaraguita! Never to old to learn

I have just set up this blog, after much pummeling from friends.

I have little idea where it will take me. I will take it one step at a time. It reminds me of the first day in 1983 when I had to use a computer in my job as an editor at the Canadian Hearing Society in Toronto. I thought then that if I pressed too hard on a key the computer would break down and we would have to call in a techie (a word I learned much later).

In any case, welcome on board.

I am a Marxist veteran of the international class struggle. I got underway as a young worker, and the son of a communist worker and a socialist mother, in 1957. So this is now my fiftieth anniversary in the struggle.

Back then my life became immersed in the union (the International Woodworkers of America, Local 1-357, New Westminster, B.C., and the left wing of the CCF (Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, an amalgam of pre-war socialist and farm-labor groups, and predecessor of today’s NDP). We were fighting to maintain a pro-socialist orientation for the CCF against the rightwing leadership that was melting down under the pressure of McCarthyism.

The biggest event for me in those first years was the Cuban Revolution, and it changed my life from then until now. I should also mention the huge advance represented at that time by the labor movement's decision to launch the NDP and take responsibility for our own representation in the electoral and parliamentary arena, leaving the MPs, MLAs, preachers, and lawyers who had taken over the Federal CCF to squabble for new privileges in a new movement.

In the early sixties I became the West Coast secretary of the Canadian (not the U.S.) Fair Play for Cuba Committee, and in that capacity was invited to visit Cuba in 1963. That consolidated my lifelong commitment to the Cuban revolution, and to the struggle for liberation in Indo-Black-Latin America.

In the mid 1970s I began to follow (from Canada) the Sandinista struggle in Nicaragua, and helped to form a Toronto-based committee to aid the families of Somoza's political prisoners. That group became the nucleus of an FSLN support group, and went on, with the July 1979 victory in Nicaragua, to form Canadian Action for Nicaragua, and a few years later to help to found Tools for Peace.In the mid 80s I moved to Nicaragua, and in a sense, never returned to Canada.

I did return, both for visits and on work assignments.

But every time I went back, I left half my heart, my soul, my home, and my family behind. And my Sandinista comrades of the FSLN and my Indigenous and Black brothers and sisters on the Caribbean Coast and in exile in Managua.

I am not by training or inclination a writer, although I have had to work both as a journalist and an editor over the years. I am an activist, a rank-and-file militant. I am most happy doing things in my local CPC -- the Council for Citizens' Power, or in hurricane victims support work, or in the Managua Venezuela-Nicaragua solidarity committee. I am a self-or-movement educated worker, without any university diplomas, although I have worked side by side with not a few PhD holders.

In Nicaragua I worked for almost ten years with the University of the Caribbean Coast of the Autonomous Regions of the Nicaraguan Caribbean Coast (UARCCAN), and worked for a year with York University on assignment from URACCAN in a “linkage” project. The school of hard knocks and class struggle knows no rival in terms of real and reliable lessons about life and what to do next. All that to say I am one of thousands or tens of thousands. Just happen to now have a blog thanks to a friend who showed me how.

I am starting this out in English, but hope soon to have it bilingual, or if not, to start another in Spanish. In the interim I may post things in other languages that I read and operate in (Spanish, French, and Portuguese).

I should mention that I have used pseudonyms and variations of my name (for reasons the CIA only know too well) over the years. So if you Google for Felipe Stuart, or Felipe Stuart Courneyeur, or Phil Courneyeur, or some variation of that, you will encounter URACCAN UPDATE, the English-language bulletin of the University of the Autonomous Regions of the Nicaraguan Caribbean Coast during the 90s and early years of this century. And more. I make no apology for using pen names and pseudonyms. Only those who have also had to pay the price of being banned from U.S. soil and air routes would have any right to question that.

A previous version of this blog can be found at

It was discontinued because of technical glitches.

But it will remain active so that the items posted there continue to be accessible.

Phil Stuart C

No comments: