The British Museum's collections, £16.99
Sandinista National Liberation Front badge
Nicaragua, around 1987
This painted wooden badge of the Frente Sandinista de la Liberacion National (FSLN, or Sandinista National Liberation Front) was made in Nicaragua. It carries a portrait of Augusto Cesar Sandino, an individual who became a symbol of his country and acted as a focus for the aspirations of certain groups of people.
Nicaragua in Central America was a colony of Spain from 1524 until 1838, when it became an independent republic. From 1912 to 1933 the country was occupied by United States Marines. Augusto Cesar Sandino organised a guerrilla army which forced the Marines to leave. However, he was killed in 1934 by the pro-US National Guard, whose commander Anastasio Somoza Senior took power three years later and established a dynasty which ruled for the next forty years. After the death of Sandino, popular resistance to the Somoza regime continued, culminating in the formation of the FSLN, named after their revolutionary hero. In 1979 the FSLN led the overthrow of the Somoza regime. During the 1980s the US government applied economic pressure to Nicaragua by cutting off aid, credit and trade, and supported the opposition group known as the Contras, by supplying them with arms. The badge was purchased at a small festival organised by the Italian Communist Party in Rome in September 1987.
P. Attwood, Status symbols: identity and b (London, British Museum Press, 2004)