Welcome to the Casa Benjamin Linder education project, new in 2018!
Who was Benjamin Linder?
Benjamin Linder was a young mechanical engineer and juggler from Portland, OR, who had the dream of making a change in humanity. He grew up with a family who encouraged him to chase his dreams and become the person he wanted to be. When Benjamin started to look for a job where he could make an impact, he found that Nicaragua was a place that had endured many setbacks and he could provide support in numerous ways.
In 1983, Benjamin arrived in Nicaragua with hopes of helping its people. His goal was to help those who were damaged by the Somoza’s regime. He started by cooperating with a small Sandinista social group that dedicated the majority of its time encouraging families to receive vaccinations and other health-care related matters in Managua. Ben used his skillful clown and juggling abilities to attract families, especially children, into receiving their vaccinations.
While the country was recovering from the revolutionary war, Ben believed he could help with a bigger project. He traveled to El Cuá, a rural community in Jinotega. El Cuá was in a very devastated condition; there was no potable water or functioning electricity at that time. The project he worked on there was in developing different designs for hydroelectric plants to help the community immensely in the future. Ben and his colleagues were finally able to make a difference, as El Cuá first received electricity in 1985. Yet following this accomplishment, there were more problems to come.
While the Somoza dictatorship had been taken down by the Sandinista Revolution, there was still a rebel group called the Contras. This group was funded by the U.S in order to overthrow any progress made by the Sandinistas. The Contras targeted the people who organized and worked in the hydroelectric plant project in El Cuá. In 1987, when Ben was searching for another project location in nearby San José de Bocay, he and his colleagues were ambushed and assassinated by the Contras. Benjamin Linder was the only U.S citizen to be killed by the U.S funded Contras.
La Luz Que Encendio Brillara Para Siempre, El Payaso, Guia de Estudio, Teatro Milagro, 2016.
About Casa Ben Linder
The Casa Ben Linder property was originally purchased in 1987 by a group of U.S. citizens living in Nicaragua who opposed the U.S.-funded Contra War and organized demonstrations against the war in front of the U.S. embassy in Managua every Thursday morning.
The house was named after Benjamin Linder, and its purpose was to provide a safe gathering space for U.S. citizens in solidarity with the Nicaraguan Revolution, in case U.S. troops invaded Nicaragua. Although that never came to pass, when the Contra War ended in 1990, the group began hosting regular Thursday morning educational talks at Casa Ben Linder that lasted for nearly 25 years.
For many years, the Casa Ben Linder housed solidarity organizations and Nicaraguan organizations working with the poor, including FUNDECI, which was founded by Father Miguel D’Escoto Brockman, a Maryknoll priest, who was Nicaragua’s Foreign Minister in the 1980s and who later served as President of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
Padre Miguel was a Liberation Theologian and a great lover of art, particularly the art of the Nicaraguan Revolution. He commissioned four murals at the Casa Ben Linder that honor Ben’s life, as well as several others.
Although Managua was once covered in similar Revolutionary murals, the murals at the Casa Ben Linder are some of the few remaining murals in the city created in this Revolutionary-art style, and have cultural and historical significance. Most of the murals at the house are in need of restoration.
Casa Benjamin Linder Today
As of January 2018, as a separate educational project, the Jubilee House Community has taken over operations of the Casa Ben Linder with a vision to preserve and promote the spirit that led Nicaraguans and international solidarity workers to become a part of the transformative process that occurred in Nicaragua during the 1980s, popularly referred to as the Revolution.
The dream is to renovate the CBL to be the vital heart of international solidarity, education, and art in Nicaragua with the additional goals of generating enough income to cover its own operating costs and improvements; and ensuring the preservation and restoration of the murals. This project is being funded entirely by designated donations, not financially impacting the other work of the JHC, Inc.
We are beginning to renovate the central building, turning it into 5 tasteful guest rooms with private en suite bathrooms and air-conditioning, for people visiting Managua.
We believe that, given the central location and the beautiful art, it will be a perfect fit for solidarity workers, volunteers, and tourists alike to enjoy their time in Managua, while offering an educational opportunity for even the most short-term guests.
The revenue generated by the rent will be put towards restoring the rest of the property, including the setting up of a cafe for people to come drink coffee, eat local pastries and food while enjoying the art. We will also exhibit revolutionary and solidarity art from Nicaragua in a small museum, to be housed in the main building.
Interested in art, education and solidarity?
While working on renovations, we invite visitors, delegations, volunteers, and tour groups to tour the murals at no cost. Call or text 7832-0230 to arrange a tour.
We also invite groups and individuals to rent the large back ranchón area for classes, practice space, talks, workshops, movies, and events. Call 7832-0230 to arrange low-cost rental.
If you’re interested in investing in Casa Ben Linder, donating, or loaning memorabilia for the Casa’s Museum, or supporting the restoration of the murals, please write firstname.lastname@example.org
We look forward to keeping you updated on progress at the Casa Ben Linder!Facebook: Casa Benjamin Linder