Gioconda Belli: Let’s be Silent

A banner on a barricade at the Upoli University. Photo: Carlos Herrera /confidencial

“I never thought that a poem I wrote in 1978, during the Somoza dictatorship, would again be necessary.”

By Gioconda Belli  (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – Silence is eloquent. A people that keep silent, who in unison and decisively make their statement to the person who has offended them, is a people worthy of admiration, a people ready to give a lesson in civility, cordiality and maturity to rulers who – crazed by the idea of losing their power – haven’t paused in their killing.

In 1978, during the last years of the Somoza dictatorship, I wrote a poem calling for a strike. I never thought this poem would once again be necessary, much less while engaged in the burning effort of my youth: overthrowing what I thought would be the last tyrant my eyes would ever see, the cause for which so many beloved friends died, so many who dreamed of a free Nicaragua and who would be turning over in their graves watching Daniel Ortega repeat the crimes and outrages of Somoza.

Still worse, because Somoza faced an armed guerrilla army, while those who have fallen in this April rebellion have been armed with nothing more than their courage and their convictions.

So once again, here’s my poem “Strike”, hoping that tomorrow [when a general strike has been called by the Civic Alliance] we respect the memory of the fallen, that we stay in our homes, closing all businesses, and that we populate this country with the silence of a people who learned through blood and fire not to tolerate more dictatorships.


I want all of us to go on strike.
let our hands, our legs, our hair go on strike
let a strike be in every body

I want a strike
Of shops, of drivers
Of doves, of flowers,
Of technicians, of workers
Of children and of women.

I want a strike so wide
That even extends to love.
A strike where everything stops:
The clock the nurseries the schools,
The factories the bus the highway
The businesses the doors.

A strike of eyes, of hands and of kisses.
A strike where breathing isn’t allowed,
A strike to issue silence,
So we can all hear
the footsteps of the tyrant
as he departs.

February 1978

One thought on “Gioconda Belli: Let’s be Silent

  • Powerful poem, Gioconda. The power of good poetry is always part of the struggle.

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