Gioconda Belli was born on December 9th, 1948. The daughter of an upper class family, Belli grew up educated and with rebellion in her blood. At the age of 20, she was approached by the Sandinistas. First, she used her day job at an advertising agency to collect information. Then, she acted as a courier for secret letters, money, weapons, spies, and supplies. Later, she ran Managua’s first TV station, continuing with media-work and representing Nicaragua until 1990 when Belli left for the US.
Belli became involved with the revolution after experiencing the oppression of the Somoza regime, which existed even for an upper class woman. Partaking in revolution was a liberating experience beyond the hope of freedom:
“[I lived in] this very constrained and rigid society where I was not to have any kind of freedom except for what was set for me. And then I was a participant in a historic endeavor and of course it gave me a sense of purpose and meaning. It introduced me to a group of people who wanted to change the world, who were intellectually stimulating, who were very inspired by idealism.”
Revolution and poetry are so entwined in Nicaragua because poetry is the language of ideals and sentiment. The many poets and writers who made up the Sandinista were the ones who held onto and communicated ideals and sentiment. Especially since the Somoza regime suppressed dissenting voices, communication of what the war meant – its ideals – became even more important to the success of the revolution.
After officially leaving the party in 1993, Belli has been vocal from abroad as a contributor to multiple publications, now critiquing former ally Daniel Ortega and the Sandinista party. Though abroad, the Nicaraguan impulse to poetry and need to communicate is as strong as ever.