My Brother Could Have Been a Child Soldier


Children were being stolen off the very streets she walked, and my mom didn’t even know it.

What she did know was that buying food, or anything really, was becoming increasingly more difficult in Managua. She also knew that the Sandinistas had risen to power in 1979 after overthrowing dictator Anastasio Somoza DeBayle with promises of a government that worked, but life wasn’t better for her. She was risking her life to run her small restaurant. The stores were empty and the only way to get what she needed was to buy it on the black market and hope she didn’t get caught. There was no other choice. After all, she was a single mother and her first child, a boy born in 1984, depended on her.

Still, after more than thirty years, she didn’t expect to leave the country where she was born. She never had any desire to go to the United States, as her other relatives had done before her.

The people of Nicaragua were kept in the dark in the midst of a bloody civil war where the Sandinistas controlled the media. But in the United States, around the mid-1980s, the Nicaraguan immigrant community and the general population were finding out that children were being snatched and taken to the mountains that surrounded the city to train as child soldiers.

Her sister was living in Miami and urged her to leave Nicaragua to keep the unthinkable from happening.

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About this author

Yara Simon, Contributor

Yara Simón is a freelance writer who grew up in Miami and was raised by her Nicaraguan mother. She graduated from the University of Florida before moving to New York. She loves the city, though she suffers from fritanga withdrawals. Fashion labels Proenza Schouler and Wes Gordon make her heart flutter, and she won't miss an episode of Game of Thrones. 

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