Comrade Daniel Ortega, President of the Republic of Nicaragua and Coordinator of the Executive Commission of the National Directorate of the Sandinista National Liberation Front,

Companeros e Companeras, Members of the National Directorate of the FSLN and Commanders of the Revolution,

Heroic and fraternal people of Nicaragua,

This is indeed an historic day for the people of South Africa as we join with the people of Nicaragua in celebrating the eighth anniversary of the triumph of the Sandinista revolution - a day on which we can bring directly to you fraternal and revolutionary greetings from the African National Congress and the entire mass democratic movement in South Africa: from our townships under racist military occupation, from children and youth who face the army and police in the streets, from militant workers and peasants, from women who continue to fight even as they bury the dead; from the many thousands of all ages who have been imprisoned and tortured but remain resolute; from the cadres of our people`s army - Umkhonto we Sizwe - who are engaged in an escalating and ever more effective offensive: our greetings companeros and companeras, and our solidarity to you in your struggle to defend your revolution!

We greet you also in the name of all the people of southern Africa.

It is a most fitting climax for us to end our working visit to this region by participating in this celebration of the victory of your struggle to end the oppressive and exploitative rule of the United States-imposed Somoza dynasty. It is especially significant for all of us to be together on this occasion on the site of some of Augusto Sandino`s greatest battles against United States imperialism, in a place where Commander-in-Chief of the Revolution, Carlos Fonseca, was born and among the hills where he died, in Matagalpa, a place where people are renowned for their courage and heroism.

In the eight years since victory, imperialism has not allowed you to enjoy your freedom in peace. You remain a people in struggle. Thus it is only natural for you to reaffirm the best qualities of your distinguished tradition of struggle. You have done this most fittingly by locating these celebrations in Matagalpa. We are proud to be with you.

Companeros e Companeras,

We thank the National Directorate of FSLN, the FSLN and the people of Nicaragua most profoundly, for bestowing on us the prestigious Nicaraguan award, the Order of Carlos Fonseca. We accept this honour on behalf of all our fighting people, including patriots like Nelson Mandela and thousands of others who are detained or imprisoned, and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for South African freedom. In their name, we accept this honour with humility and with great pride.

This award is more than a recognition of the fact that we share a community of objectives which are freedom, the right to self-determination, democracy, peace and progress. It is a recognition also, of the fact that our people are both facing the same enemy: imperialism. While the people of Nicaragua have to confront United States imperialism directly, the people of South Africa and Namibia are confronting the US-allied Pretoria regime. Instead of being able to consolidate your revolutionary gains and devoting your resources and efforts to bringing direct benefits to the daily life of the Nicaraguan people, you have been forced to defend your revolution against imperialism`s local surrogates and the backward, opportunistic and mercenary "contras". In a similar way, the peoples of southern Africa have to defend their independence against the direct aggression of the racist regime, and also fight imperialism`s other surrogates, the Pretoria-backed renegades of MNR and UNITA.

Thus, the award constitutes a bonding of an historically necessary relationship of mutual solidarity between our respective struggles.

The rout of Anastasio Somoza was an important victory for the people of southern Africa. Today, our struggle has plunged the enemy into a deepening crisis from which it cannot extricate itself. Faced with its inability to control the situation, the Pretoria regime is desperately escalating its violence against the people in the hope that it can thereby regain the initiative.

But the resultant reign of State terrorism is a poor disguise for the growing weakness of the racist regime. We are determined and ready to exploit and accentuate the enemy`s state of strategic weakness. The historic imperative of the moment is to further intensify our struggle till final victory.

Just as your triumph of 1979 was a victory for our struggle, the most powerful solidarity we can extend to you is to hasten the defeat of apartheid and the establishment of a nonracial, democratic and united South Africa.

In that way we shall vindicate the great honour you have bestowed on our people by awarding us the Order of Carlos Fonseca.

In the name of Augusto Sandino, in the name of Carlos Fonseca, the powerful example of the Nicaraguan Revolution must triumph.

Aqui No Se Rinde Nadie - Here No One Surrenders!

La Lucha Continua!

ES Reddy