by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
With Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz presents the third volume in her critically-acclaimed memoir. In this long-awaited book, she vividly recounts on-the-ground memories of the contra war in Nicaragua, chronicling the US-sponsored terror inflicted on the people of Nicaragua following their 1979 election of the Socialist Sandinistas that ousted Reagan darling and vicious dictator Somoza.
The war's opening salvo was the bombing of a Nicaraguan plane in Mexico City by US-backed contras, the plane Dunbar-Ortiz would have been on were it not for a delay. This disarming closeness to the fraught history of the US/Nicaraguan relationship shapes Dunbar-Ortiz's narrative, bringing uncomfortably present the decade-long dirty war that the Reagan administration pursued in Nicaragua against civilian and soldier alike.
As with her first two memoirs (Red Dirt: Growing Up Okie and Outlaw Woman), in Blood on the Border, Dunbar-Ortiz seamlessly connects the dots not only between the personal and the political, but between recent history and our present moment. Unlike the many commentators who view the September 11, 2001 attacks as the start of the so-called War on Terror, Dunbar-Ortiz offers firsthand testimony on battles waged much earlier. While her rich political analysis of this history bears the mark of a trained historian, she also writes from her perspective as an intrepid activist who spent months at a time throughout the 1980s in the war-torn country, especially in the remote Mosquitia region where the indigenous Miskitu people were viciously assailed and nearly wiped out by CIA-trained contra mercenaries. She makes painfully clear the connections between what many US Americans only remember vaguely as the Iran-Contra "affair" and current US aggression in the Americas, the Middle East, and around the world. Clearly this will be a book valuable not only for students of Latin American history, but also for anyone who is interested in better understanding the violent turmoil of our world today.