Benjamin Linder

“This is the war that is also being won—the war against poverty, illiteracy, and disease.”

Benjamin Linder

(July 4, 1958 – April 28, 1987)

American engineer Benjamin Linder was killed by the Contras on April 28, 1987 at El Cuá, Nicaragua.  Ben Linder, Internacionalista, inspired many TecNica volunteers. TecNica and its volunteers are grateful to Ben for his many contributions, friendship, and the ultimate sacrifice of his life. The excerpts below come from Wikipedia with references. Following that are videos of the 25th Anniversary Memorial of his death, and an observation from TecNica Volunteer Werner Rust about Ben’s work in Nicaragua and the effect he had on colleagues who worked alongside him.

“Ben was working on a small hydroelectric dam in rural northern Nicaragua when he was killed by anti-government Contra rebels. Coming at a time when U.S. support for the Contras was already highly controversial, Linder’s death made front-page headlines around the world and further polarized opinion in the United States.”

“In El Cuá, Ben helped form a team to build a hydroelectric plant to bring electricity to the town. While living in El Cuá, he participated in vaccination campaigns, using his talents as a clown, juggler, and unicyclist to entertain the local children, for whom he expressed great affection and concern. On 28 April 1987, Linder and two Nicaraguans were killed in a Contra ambush while working at the construction site for a new dam for the nearby village of San José de Bocay. The autopsy showed that Linder had been wounded by a grenade, then shot at point-blank range in the head. The two Nicaraguans — Sergio Hernández and Pablo Rosales — were also killed at close range. He was posthumously awarded the Courage of Conscience award September 26, 1992.”

“In 2001 Joan Kruckewitt, an American journalist who lived in Nicaragua from 1983 to 1991 and covered the war between the Sandinistas and the Contras for ABC Radio wrote a book The Death of Ben Lindner (Seven Stories Press 2001).”

“The song “Fragile” on Sting’s 1987 album, …Nothing Like the Sun, is a tribute to Ben Linder. The 1990 book Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver is also dedicated to his memory, as is the Ben Linder Cafe in Leon, Nicaragua, which is adorned with his photo and memories of his life’s work.”

Watch a video describing Ben Linder’s background and work in Nicaragua. Thanks to Dr. James Hayes-Bohanan for making and posting this video on YouTube.

Watch another video – same topic – very nicely done.  Thanks to Mathew Daly who wrote and narrated this video.

Ben Linder 25 years commemoration in Berkeley.

Here is a video of the 25-year commemoration of Ben Linder on April 28, 2012 held in Berkeley, CA. By coincidence, this is the day that Michael Urmann passed away. Many people spoke about Ben’s life and accomplishments.  A moment of silence was observed for Michael’s passing that day.

Watch part of the video of Ben Linder’s Memorial.

Watch a video of another part of the Memorial.

Video at Ben Linder’s gravesite, Matagalpa, Nicaragua, on the 25th anniversary of his death. Includes comments by Lillian Marie Hall (Nicaraguan Coordinator at ProNica), Circles Robinson (Editor, Havana Times), Diana Marina Brooks Vargas (Directora de Teatro de Títeres), Maria Hamlin Zúniga (Mundo Nica), and others.

Thanks to Don Macleay for making and sharing all of these videos with us.


Wikipedia excerpts:

Joan Kruckeweitt. The Death of Ben Linder: The story of a North American in Sandinista Nicaragua. New York, NY: Seven Stories Press, ©2001.   ISBN-10 1-888363-96-7;   ISBN-13 978-1-888363-96-8

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Werner Rust, TecNica Volunteer, comments on meeting Ben Linder:

In November 1985 I worked on a project at INE (Nicaraguan Energy Institute) to restore and improve a solar preheater for a grain dryer project. This was part of the ministry’s effort to reduce dependency on oil through the use of alternative energies.

I shared an office with Henk Alberts, a volunteer from Holland, who had moved with his family to Managua to launch a wind mill project for Nicaragua, which was supported by the Dutch government. He told me about another volunteer, Ben Linder, who had also an office at INE, but who spent most of his time at his hydroelectric project in the north. Ben was known as the engineer that had succeeded in getting his project off the ground due to his creativity in working within the system, which was a big challenge for all of us. Resources were scarce and few people were used to taking initiative, mainly due to the lack of expertise.

I met Ben once, when he came to the office. People lined up to talk to him, since he was seen as the most senior resource among the volunteers. One of the  recommendations he kept making was never to give up, but to find new ways to move the project forward. I used that for my own assignment, which proved to be very helpful.

—Werner Rust