MANAGUA – The “General of Free Men” now has his own tourism route, offering visitors a chance to learn about Nicaragua’s national hero, Gen. Augusto Sandino, the namesake of the Sandinista National Liberation Front. The Ruta de Sandino – or theSandino Tourism Route
– crisscrosses the north of the country and ends back in Managua, joining a growing number of other government-designed road trips, such as the recently introducedCoffee Route
and theWater Route
The Nicaraguan Tourism Institute (INTUR) has earmarked $39 million dollars to build up small businesses and hotels along the various tourism routes to compliment the country’s more traditional tourism establishments. Outside investors and foreign governments are also chipping in.
But rather than showcasing how coffee is made, the Ruta de Sandino explores the life and times of Nicaragua’s most beloved revolutionary hero.
Lucy Valenti of Gray Line Tours, the author of the Sandino route, said that the main demand has been from Italian tourists who want more revolutionary history with their travels.
Valenti said the trip takes 11 days and 10 nights, stopping in key cities that represent various aspects of Sandino’s life and legacy.
“The route of Sandino is arranged by sites in the country that were important in the struggle of Gen. Sandino against North American intervention in the past century,” Valenti explained. “But it also takes into account some of his personal life, his place of birth, and where he met his wife, Blanca Arauz.”
The tour starts in Managua before heading north to Jinotega and Matalgalpa, where Sandino evaded U.S. Marines and fought against government troops in the 1930s.
Halfway through the trip is a visit to León, called the “first capital” of the 1979 Sandinista Revolution, according to the tour.
The Sandino tour also stops in Granada to learn about the exploits of William Walker, the North American filibuster who briefly declared himself President of Nicaragua, before burning Granada to the ground as he fled in shame in 1856.
Though Sandino remains a popular historical figure, his legacy has been a bit controversial since it has been adopted by the Sandinista Front.
Former President Enrique Bolaños tried to rename the Sandino international airport in Managua to Rúben Darío, the famed poet. And several tributes to Sandino from the 1980s, including a statue at the entrance to Masaya, have been removed in the past 16 years.