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 where he could provide support in numerous ways.
In 1983, Benjamin arrived in Nicaragua in hopes of helping its people. His goal was to help those who were damaged by the Somoza 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.
When Nicaragua was recovering from its 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. There Ben worked on 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 a second 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. He was Nicaragua’s Foreign Minister in the 1980s and 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.