Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz - feminist, revolutionary, historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
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Blood on the Border
A Memoir of the Contra War
by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
300 pages
ISBN: 0-89608-742-5
Format: cloth; also available in paper



"Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz is clearly a memoirist of great skills and even greater heart. She’s a force of nature on the page and off." - Dave Eggers, author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

“American foreign policy today is being shaped by veterans of the savage Washington-backed 'Contra' war of the 1980s. In the third volume of her extraordinary memoir, Dunbar-Ortiz recounts the secret history of that intervention, as well as her own courageous solidarity with the embattled Nicaraguan revolution." - Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz and Ecology of Fear

“Here is the real life of a brilliant activist, the personal woes and conflicts, the roles of friendship, character and gender, as well as the big issues and shining moments, and here is a rousing account of the 1980s, so relevant and so seldom discussed nowadays when (almost) all eyes look to the middle east, not Latin America. Yet the 1980s seem very close these days, as a right-wing administration once again sponsors torture, war, and other crimes in the name of freedom--and as Latin America once again is on fire with liberation movements. Of particular importance is Dunbar Ortiz's exploration of the gray zones between the indigenous Miskitos in Nicaragua and the Sandinistas. An important book, and a gripping one.” - Rebecca Solnit, author of Hope in the Dark and Rivers of Shadows

“This third volume of Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz’ important memoir combines deep self-reflection with an extraordinary political overview of times that are mostly forgotten because the current owners of history have succeeded in erasing them from our collective consciousness. “History itself is the issue,” this author writes, and goes on to expose and deconstruct that which she has so courageously lived. From a quarter century of international indigenous rights work to a run-in with Oliver North and a narrow escape from death on a sabotaged Mexico/Managua flight, from years of hands-on investigative work among the Miskito Indians on Nicaragua’s Atlantic Coast and in the refugee camps in Honduras to her moving working relationship with a young Rigoberta Menchú, Dunbar Ortiz’ story is an exciting and sobering read which holds valuable lessons for today’s ongoing struggles for justice.” - Margaret Randall, Author of When I Look Into the Mirror and See You: Women, Terror & Resistance

“This is an impressive, astounding and truthful historical document. Every American should read it to understand the shady and dubious role played in Central America by the men who are forging U.S. foreign policy in the world today. A passionate and engaged protagonist of historical times, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz´s story is moving, profoundly human and enlightening.” - Gioconda Belli, author of The Country Under My Skin

“Terrorism was planted in the Western Hemisphere, or Indian Country when the first immigrant stole in the name of greed, racism, or on the basis of a political or religious system that placed themselves above all living beings, placed males above females in power--then strove to keep in place this tenuous and terrible system with laws, with gun power. This book is the story of a particular rupture, as the roots broke through in the eighties, in Central America, at the heart of the Americas. Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz speaks on behalf of justice. It’s never simple. And there is no clean, perfect ending. What is sure here is the brilliant, fearless storytelling by Ortiz of the devastation wreaked by a ruthless corrupt power. What is sure is the ongoing drama of the story; it entangles all of us. “ - Joy Harjo, Mvskoke Nation poet and musician

“September 11, 1973-- the date of the CIA sponsored coup against the government of Salvador Allende in Chile-- marks in some ways the beginning of a long period of conservative hegemony in the Americas, including the United States, the aftermath of September 11, 2001 has witnessed in Latin America at least a gradual shift to the left. In that context, it is urgent to take a new look at the period of revolutionary upsurge from the 60s through the 80s both to recover the immediate historical roots of the Latin American left and to deepen its possibilities in the coming period. Roxanne Dunbar was a North American activist personally involved in the revolutionary process, above all in Central America. Her memoir, which deals with the end game of the Contra war against the Nicaraguan revolution, is an essential book in this regard, and at the same an engrossing, eminently readable example of the feminist idea that "the personal is the political." - John Beverley, University of Pittsburgh, author of Testimonio: On the Politics of Truth.

“This is a comprehensive and powerful account of the development of the Contra War of the 1980s which destroyed many lives and changed the course of Central American history, and which was organized and backed by the Reagan administration against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. All the gears of Reagan era political manipulation are exposed here, including the Iran-Contra scandal, and the countless ways in which Reagan’s propaganda machine created monstrous lies about the situation of the Miskitu people during the Sandinista Revolution, and how it finally succeeded in manipulating people’s opinions not only in the US but throughout the world. Vividly written with the authoritative voice of a fearless witness, this book is a required reading for anyone interested in the truth.” - Daisy Zamora, poet, author of Riverbed of Memory and The Violent Foam: New and Collected Poems

“Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz's new book hammers away at the careful constructions designed to conceal the bloody history of the US role in Nicaragua. In so doing she captures a messy snapshot of our country and her own life. A living embodiment of the philosophy: "the personal is political," she
navigates a dense narrative river through her early, youthful enthusiasm for social change, moving upstream toward a hard-edged and realistic perception of the undertows of political waters. Along the route she spares no politician---left or right---who has pushed anti-populist agendas or pushed indigenous people around. Dunbar Ortiz takes every political betrayal, accommodation and broken treaty personally; yet she always reveals an unbowing human spirit---a major ingredient in victory.” - Jewell Gomez, author of The Gilda Stories

“To academics, history is an exercise in juxtaposing public facts to create a believable narrative. To the activist struggling within those facts, history is the personal memory of the suffering or of the joy in experiencing those facts. Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz is an academic-activist. For some 40 years she has fought for the ordinary folks who have been condemned by their history to be, at best, merely a footnote in those facts. As a scholar, she told their story. As an activist, she told her own. In combination, Dunbar Ortiz has produced some formidable historical memoirs, which end up being autobiographical people’s histories. In Red Dirt: Growing Up Okie, by describing her upbringing in rural, racist Oklahoma, she made her readers understand what life was like to the repressed, often off-white, sharecroppers (she herself is part Native American). In Outlaw Woman: A Memoir of the War Years, 1960-75, she made us feel what it was like to be an independent woman who became a human rights standard bearer at the UN, and in the process exposed the torment wracked onto the poor peoples of the Middle East and Africa by modern imperialists, especially the US. Now, in With Miskitus and Sandinistas in the US-Contra War Against Nicaragua, she makes us live through the horrors of Reagan’s bloody war against the first decent government in Central America, while at the same time bringing to life the history and ordeal of the Northeastern Nicaraguan tribes caught between Oliver North’s vicious and illegal crusade against anyone not with us and the unfortunately ill-conceived nationalism of the Sandinistas who refused to give those tribes autonomy. In the process, Dunbar Ortiz, a ferocious feminist who spent years in Nicaragua living through that schizophrenic situation, makes us experience the rise and fall of the anti-war, leftist and especially the Women’s Liberation movements, here at home and its consequences abroad.” - John Gerassi, author of The Great Fear in Latin America

“Rarely does the personal and the political blend so seamlessly as Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz recounts her tireless efforts to oppose US imperialism during and after Nicaragua's Contra War of the 1980s.
Along the way she introduces a fascinating cast of characters that range from Rigoberta Menchú, Bella Abzug and Bianca Jagger to Oliver North and the Moonies. Dunbar Ortiz's life and work in this period foreshadow today's struggles over issues as diverse as terrorism, governmental press manipulation, engaged scholarship, activism, alcoholism and even identity politics. This captivating blend of personal memoir and political/intellectual history could not be more timely.” -Baron Pineda, author of Shipwrecked Identities: Navigating Race on the Mosquito Coast

“What can I say but thank you Roxanne for keeping such detailed memories of a time of turmoil and growth of indigenous people to the south. Being an early founder of the feminist movement Roxanne assumed a position in the forefront of international nation building, the realm of male domination, to just basically get the job done. And what a job she did!” - Madonna Gilbert Thunderhawk, Lakota activist and AIM leader at Alcatraz and Wounded Knee


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