Tomas Borge, who died at 81 on April 30 2012, was laid to rest next to the grave of his comrade-in-arms Carlos Fonseca after a funeral service in the Plaza of the Revolution on May 3. He had lain in state for three days in the National Palace of Culture where thousands of citizens lined up to file past and view him for the last time. Union workers changed their May 1st International Workers’ Day march route to join the lines at the Palace of Culture to honor Borge.
Borge’s coffin was also carried on May 2 to the National Assembly, where he had served as a legislator, for a special session in his honor. Rene Nuñez, president of the Assembly, remembered the years he shared in prison with Borge. Carlos Mejia Godoy, in recent years more associated with dissident Sandinistas than with the FSLN, sang “Nicaragua, Nicaraguita” and “My Personal Vengeance,” the latter based on a poem about Borge’s forgiveness of his torturer after the triumph of the revolution in 1979.
Condolences came in from Latin American leaders, including Presidents Evo Morales of Bolivia and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. The government of El Salvador and the FMLN party both sent messages. The Foreign Minister of Ecuador led a delegation from Ecuador for the funeral. There were many others expressing condolences from the government of Russia to the Puerto Rican Independence Party. There were flowers from Fidel and Raul Castro.
In his eulogy in the Plaza, President Daniel Ortega remembered how Borge, as Minister of the Interior, had open farms built for prisoners and later began freeing former members of the Somoza National Guard. “This was Tomas,” he said, “implacable in combat but generous in victory.”
The media was full of remembrances of Borge and even those who had been his enemies during the 1980s remembered his courage and commitment to his revolutionary beliefs. Azucena Ferrey, a contra leader in the ‘80s, said, “The youth of Nicaragua should see in Tomas Borge the versatile guerrillero who combined the courage of a fighter against oppression and the blood of a poet to sing of his love for Nicaragua, enriching Nicaraguan literature.” Journalist William Grigsby Vado told an interviewer on Channel 4 television the story of how, when Borge was captured by Somoza’s forces and cruelly tortured in 1976, Carlos Fonseca had told his comrades to “be tranquil because Tomas will not talk.” And he did not.
Julio Lopez Campos remembered how Borge accepted the decision of the National Directorate of the FSLN in 1984 that, even though he was the popular favorite, Daniel Ortega and Sergio Ramirez should be the Sandinista candidates for president and vice-president because they offered “a more moderate image” to the world than his as minister of the interior. Borge in those years was known in the media as a “hard-liner.” National Police Chief Aminta Granera said that Tomas Borge left a mark on her life. She said he was a visionary who wanted the Nicaraguan police to be one of the best in Latin America and the world, not just for its technical ability but for its humane quality. “Comandante,” Granera said, “your dream is being turned into reality; we have one of the best police forces of Latin America and the world.”
(Radio La Primerisima, May 1, 2, 3, 5; La Prensa, May 2; Informe Pastran, May 2, 3; El Nuevo Diario, May 1,3)