HAVANA TIMES – This moving tribute to Josefina (Pinita) Gurdian, whose youngest daughter and granddaughter have been imprisoned incommunicado by the Ortega regime, was written by renowned Nicaraguan writer Sergio Ramirez and appears on his webpage. Havana Times has taken the initiative to translate it for our English-speaking readers. For the original click here.
A Woman of Courage
By Sergio Ramirez
In 1978, the Group of Twelve returned to Nicaragua, defying the charges of terrorism and treason leveled on them by the Somoza dictatorship’s prosecutor’s office, through a judge who was also loyal to Somoza. The dictatorship didn’t dare imprison us, and we toured numerous cities promoting our struggle. When it came time to visit the city of Leon, we were received at the home of Miguel Ernesto Vigil and Pinita Gurdian – a house of wide corridors on the outskirts of the city, which they’d only recently moved into.
If there were ever an example of a family from those times, whose dedication to the Christian faith led them to a profound commitment to struggle for a different Nicaragua, it would be them. Father Fernando Cardenal, one of the members of the Group of 12, was very close to them. He mentored them and many other families, who put their own comforts aside – and in not a few cases their wealth – in order to devote themselves to the revolution that by then was on the horizon, with great expectations and hopes.
Later, following the triumph of that revolution, we became neighbors in the Los Robles neighborhood, when Miguel Ernesto was named Minister of Housing and they moved to Managua.
Later, all that was to come, came. The National Literacy Campaign that Father Fernando Cardenal directed; the mobilization of the youth to pick coffee and cotton; and later, the Obligatory Military Service and the terrible war that desolated Nicaragua.
I watched all of their children – Josefina, Miguel, Virginia, Felix, Francisco, Ana Margarita – grow up, along with my own kids. All six of them were enthusiastic in their commitment, also from a foundation of Christian faith and the solidarity that this faith awakened in them. Felix received a severe head wound in a combat operation, but miraculously survived.
The revolution impoverished them, because they neglected their gifts of fortune, or perhaps that wealth ceased to interest them. When Miguel Ernesto died, Pinita took over as head of the family, with the support of her children. All of them joined forces to create a pastry shop that they opened in their own home, together with cooking programs Pinita hosted on television. The recording studio for these programs was set up right in the kitchen of that house, with Pinita demonstrating her recipes with her own pots and pans.
If anyone would like a closer look at this exemplary family, in all senses of the word, they should read the memoirs of Father Fernando Cardenal, the revolution’s priest. It’s an archetypical family from an era that seem so distant today, and to many of the younger generations, so incomprehensible.
Today, Pinita isn’t appearing on a screen to teach cooking lessons, but to denounce the imprisonment of her youngest daughter, Ana Margarita, illegally abducted and held in the El Chipote jail. She’s also denouncing the imprisonment of her granddaughter, Tamara Davila, likewise kidnapped by the regime. Both of them are being held incommunicado, without access to lawyers, without family visits, without being allowed to receive food or medicine sent from home. These are the same conditions being suffered by the rest of the illegally imprisoned, whose numbers grow each day.
The two women are in prison for their loyalty to the credo of Miguel Ernesto and Pinita: their lessons in dignity; in patriotism; and in the constant struggle for freedom and democracy. To reject dictatorships, and constantly seek a better life for all.
Pinita’s fortitude when she talks is impressive: her courage, the strength of her convictions. She who abandoned everything to devote herself to a cause she steadfastly believed in, now sees how that cause has been twisted and abused. She sees how her daughter and granddaughter have become the victims of those who clothe themselves in the rags of a revolution for which another of her children risked his life.
No one will ever be able to silence this courageous woman.