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July 7: Benjamin Linder

Lawrence Bush
July 7, 2010

benjamin-linderBenjamin Linder, a 27-year-old mechanical engineer from Oregon who was murdered while doing solidarity work in Nicaragua in support of the Sandinista revolution, was born on this date in 1959. Linder lived in Nicaragua after graduating from college in 1983. In 1987, he was working on a small hydroelectric dam to bring electricity to the northern Nicaraguan town of El Cuá, where he also participated in vaccination campaigns and used his skills as a juggler and unicyclist to entertain kids. Attacked by U.S.-backed “Contra” rebels (who deliberately targeted teachers, health care workers, and engineers to undermine economic progress in the countryside), Linder was wounded by a grenade and shot in the head at point-blank range. His killing heightened U.S. opposition to the “Contras” and their American backers and added passion to Congressional investigations of the Iran-Contra affair. While the U.S. destabilization campaign against the Sandinistas was officially defunded in 1988, it largely succeeded in its goals, and the Sandinistas were voted out of power in 1990. Today, Nicaragua remains one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere.
El pueblo norteamericano no es el pueblo de Reagan, es el pueblo de Benjamin Linder!!! — The people of the United States are not the people of Ronald Reagan, they are the people of Benjamin Linder!!” —Banner at the Nicaraguan funeral of Ben Linder

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.