All posts by Winds of Peace

The left has to be re-invented, which is urgently facing new challenges in a new context

This article was published on the website nicaraguainvestiga.com on Aug 8, 2018. This young anonymous Nicaraguan addresses a debate among the international left that has come out to strongly defend Daniel Ortega in this crisis. The most well known figure in this group of leftists is Max Blumenthal, who came to Nicaragua in July and did an extensive interview of Daniel Ortega. A good example of this international debate can be seen in the article written by Mary Ellsberg (daughter of famous Daniel Ellsberg) and the response by Charles Redvers. The translation of the analysis of this young Nicaraguan follows, with the translation of a response posted to the same website, that shows the polarization in Nicaragua today.

The left has to be re-invented, which is urgently facing new challenges in a new context

Published on August 8, 2018 on website of nicaraguainvestiga.com

There is no need for preambles and introductions. It does not matter who you are. One of the many with their faces covered. I was born in Nicaragua in the midst of the war and the Revolution of the 80s. From my mother I learned the commitment to the people and the values of Sandinism. And from my father…he only left me a photo dressed as a militiaman where he carried me as a recently born baby in his arms.

I am one of many who had to put on a mask when the government took its off.

What today pushes me – or better said, forces me – to write these lines is a feeling of being really pissed off “encachimbamiento” as we say in Nicaragua – that comes from deep inside and is broadly shared.

To understand one another better, first I will tell you that Nicaraguans by nature are affable and expressive, even tend to be pretty moderate in their expressions of anger; as if publically showing your anger (or “slamming down your hat” as is said popularly) were a sign of weakness. So we have a wider scale of emotions than normal: when in the rest of the world someone is furious, here we say that he is “very upset”, and in that particular scale, the highest level has its own, real name: really pissed off “El encachimbamiento”. The dictator Somoza was able to experience in his flesh the scope of this phenomenon and with a lot of similarities, 40 years later, the bicephalous dictatorship of Ortega-Murillo is also experiencing it.

This “encachimbamiento”  is not a simple rise in sugar or attack of rage, it is a chemical-social process even poorly studied by political scientists, that has a gradual evolution. It is like a state of interior fermentation, the fruit of multiple and repeated setbacks, trials, frustrations and suppressed humilliations, whose slow maceration ends up suddenly reducing the level of fear and causing some highly flammable fumes.

This “encachimbamiento” is precisely what unleashed all this situation in which Nicaragua is immersed since April 19th. It is clear.

But as a result of all this, another anger has been emerging in me, as in many other compañeros and compañeras. Even more, it can be said that we are “very upset” with the right minded international left. I would even say that I am really pissed off (“encachimbado”).

Really pissed off with that jurassic left who, with their doubts, suspicions and silence are being accomplices of a bloody repression exercised against a genuine movement of civic insurrection. A left that in passing, also is irremediably missing the train of history, even that would be a lesser evil…Because while its bigwigs pass the time wisely debating and commenting in their forums and think tanks about “soft coups”, “color revolutions” and the imperialist thesis of Gene Sharp, the killers of the Ortega-Murillo regime emboldened and reaffirmed in their holy “revolutionary” war proudly go out hunting to pursue, kidnap or kill (preferably disarmed, of course) the opponents labelled “vandals”, “criminals”, and “terrorists”.

How comfortable are these ideological reference points for transforming legitimate social protest into a CIA coup conspiracy! And how useful they end up being for Ortega-Murillo to be able to defend their businesses and justify their misdeeds flaunting the seal of impeccable revolutionaries, harassed by a horde of youth and “right wing vandals financed by Imperialism”…only for trying to do the same thing that 40 years ago they did in their revolutionary times: get rid of the dictator! What an irony!

And what disdain! In other words, if the struggles of the people are not framed within an appropriate strategic context, decided by them and directed by them at the right time, they are not valid. In other words, the struggles against a dictator can be good or bad depending on whether that dictatorship is from the right or proclaims itself to be on the left?

It must be that we are young, uncouth, without theoretical foundations and without the life experience, and to top it off, short sighted, because where we see a fight of democracy against authoritarianism, they see reasons of State, large scale conspiracies and strategic battles to preserve spaces that the left cannot lose. What bad luck that our struggle appears too much like those so called “color revolutions” to be able to be recognized by the Sanhedrin of the revolutionaries!

Even so, you right-minded Gentlemen of the left (and I say Gentlemen because fortunately there are almost no Ladies) are going to forgive us for offering you some reflections here.

First of all you do not know our history. A history marked by the misfortune of having been born in the backyard of an empire with everything that implies, and in addition for having been Nicaragua the place designated for the construction of an interoceanic canal that before existing had already cost us more than one civil war and many invasions of Yankee marines. Nicaragua has always been in the crossroads of geopolitical and strategic interests, and for something to change in a place like this, it is not always enough that the people decide it to… you also have to ask for permission higher up.

We are not naïve. We know that the gringos always are going to try to interfere, abort or reclaim true processes of social change, no matter how incipient or soft they may appear.

To respond to that threat, calling every uncontrolled popular initiative coup supporters, and massacring your own people in the name of revolutionary principles, not only is immoral and unacceptable but it is also completely counterproductive, because while that is happening, the gringos play the role of the good guys, appearing as the only protectors of democracy and human rights, and leaving the left the pitiful role of defending the most disgraceful causes.

In the name of what principles and what ethics can so much cruelty be justified, so much perversity which which our people are being punished? Because in reality that is what this is about: an exemplary punishment for being ungrateful, rebellious, capricious recidivists and for coming in and causing a commotion on the farm that they placidly controlled.

How can one govern with so much hate? With what kind of deranged mind was it possible to give the order to close the doors of the hospitals to youth who were bleeding? Or fire doctors for the simple fact of having treated wounded demonstrators? Or giving poisoned food to students in the barricades? Or pass by throwing acid on the face of the demonstrators? Or ordering the police to be killed who did not want to be part of this massacre? Or pay 2,500 córdobas extra to workers of the Municipal Government of Managua to go hunting with the license to kill and steal? And when they ended their “clean up” tasks, to continue persecuting, threatening, kidnapping, and torturing.

Just to mention some absolutely proven and irrefutable facts.

Confusing this murderous drift and this banana republic nepotism with a socialist, Sandinista or minimally leftist project, defending it, or even faking neutrality in the face of it, not only is a crass mistake, it is a disgrace that history will have difficulty in forgiving.

One thing is recognizing that today the empire has refined its methods with strategies much more difficult to detect and more in harmony with the era of mass and manhandled communication in which we live.

Something very different is to mechanically apply this analysis to any situation of social protest, or free from responsibility any regime just for the fact that it calls itself socialist and revolutionary, and in the name of those sacrosanct principles our people must put up with the outrages and horrors that not even Somoza committed in such a short time.

This would be an absurdity, an insult to intelligence and above all; an attitude of profound elitist disdain for the struggle of an unarmed people (for how long…?) who in the face of repeated abuse of authority loses fear and takes to the streets recovering its memory and dignity.

An absurdity, first of all, because the Ortega-Murillo regime, whereever you look, is not leftist, no matter how much an effort is made to disguise its neoliberalism with its psuedorevolutionary poisonous verbosity. This government has nothing leftist beyond its seal and letterhead, snatched through ruses from a party that they themselves emptied of all substance and turned into an electoral and repressive machine at the service of their political and economic interests.

What would Sandino say, who began his struggle against the mining companies installed in Nicaragua, if he knew that the government that today usurps his name has sold most of the subsoil of the country to large extractive multinationals? Without mentioning the sale of the concession for the construction of the interoceanic canal to a murky Chinese enterprise, arbitrarily snatching land from peasants without even consulting them, or at least trying to convince them.

Where are the leftist politics of a character capable of plotting any ruse to remain in power, he, his wife and marimba of sons and daughters, each one of them in charge of businesses, companies, concessions, TV channels, etc.?

How can they continue seeing in the figure of Ortega a reference point for the left after the aberrant history of sexual abuses has been more than proven, committed during years against his stepdaughter Zoilamérica, when she was a minor?

A reference for the left a person capable of pacting with the Catholic Church on a medieval law that penalizes abortion, even therapeutic abortion (in other words, that prevents doctors from intervening to save the life of a mother if this implies that the fetus would be at risk).

But even with so much indulgence and pacts, the move turned out badly for them. After frolicking for 11 years with large capital, the Church, and even the US, Daniel Ortega suddenly felt betrayed and cynically went back to dust off his “revolutionary” artillery: overnight private enterprise became coup plotters, the Church a satanic sect, and the youth the “divine treasure” of the Fatherland that he referred to in his speeches, a horde of vandals, terrorists and criminals accredited to Imperialism.

Having gotten to this critical point, what Daniel Ortega most needs is to not lose the Leftist franchise, continue selling the story that he represents and safeguards the essence of anti-imperialism, and in this way reaffirm that all the opponents of the regime are nothing more than a pack of Somocistas, liberals and pro-imperialists.

It is not to fall into any contradiction, nevertheless, to recognize that in situations like this one, the first to look for gain are those who always are, those who are most prepared and have the most resources and experience: the right supported by the US and their multiple operators.

It is obvious that the gringos are always prepared to fish (and even more in a turbulent river) and redirect social processes to terrain that they control. But then what should we do? Do we resign ourselves to this? Throw in the towel? Or do we continue alone in this struggle?

But let´s not fool ourselves there either. If the US has not promoted the most decisive coup on this government it is not for lack of means or ideas, but because in some way it continues to serve its interests in the region, and because the gringos, like the right, that is more afraid of a popular uprising that they do not control, than of a tyrant with whom they can negotiate. Daniel Ortega knows this well and takes good advantage of it, launching the threat that without him the region would be immersed in an uncontrollable chaos.

And in the face of all this what does the right-minded Left think?

It is very true that created interested do not admit too much reasoning but in addition, many of the bigwigs are not willing to risk that their anti-imperialist curriculum be placed in question if they would withdraw their support for the old fellow bus rider. In the best of cases they can come to admit that Daniel Ortega has made a mistake, that he went a little too far, or even that this has happened from letting his wife Rosario get involved in affairs that were not hers to contend with.

But in the final analysis with Imperialism involved, they end up invariably thinking that the end justifies the means and that therefore “it is not the time to enter into debates that would weaken the progressive camp in Latin America.” Enough reason, according to them, for Nicaragua to continue being immolated in the name of Alba and with this logic, surely in a whisper, more than one will be saying of Daniel the same that the gringos said of their ally the dictator Somoza to justify his bloody abuses: “He is a son of a bitch, but he is our son of a bitch.” To continue arguing that “what comes after Daniel could be a risk.” Indeed in this country so subjected to foreign interests, every change is a risk, but to stick to the rotten beam out of fear that the whole floor might fall down does not appear to be the most intelligent option.

In the face of an ideologically disperse opposition and with the only common project of demanding the departure of Ortega-Murillo, would it not be more consistent, from a perspective of the left, to accompany these youth in solidarity, who still recognize in themselves the ideals of Sandino, and to support these authentic popular movements so that they are not left alone, and their causes are not seen to be recovered by other foreign interests?

So that our parents, who sacrificied the best of their lives (and our childhood) for such a generous cause do not feel that they have fought in vain, nor think that these bloody and demented drifters have something to do with the ideals in which they believed. They are not to blame for the fact that some pyschopathic murderers disguised as revolutionaries make them go to their graves with this unjustified burden of blame on their backs.

What will this country have in order to be so branded by history? 40 years ago it was up to our parents to overthrow a dictatorship. Now it is up to us. Without weapons, almost without support, surrounded by misunderstanding, almost without means and almost without time to think and organize ourselves.

Mister bigwigs of the right-minded left, if you love Daniel Ortega so much as a reference point and a fellow bus rider, keep him! But out of respect for all those who have sacrificed their lives and continue sacrificing them for dreams, ideals and not for petty interests, please, get out of the way, cross the sidewalk and change your name. The left, internationalism has to be reinvented. Stop the bull and come down to the level of the paving stones [reference to stones used to build the barricades]. Because contrary to what you think, that is a better place to glimpse the future.

Instead of continuing to twist reality to make it fit your obsolete theories, instead of defending the indefensible, try at least to find a small hole in your speculations to justify the fact that a bunch of really pissed off people, without weapons, without resources, without contacts with the CIA might have the right to exist, express themselves and fight for their rights and their leftist ideals.

Mister bigwigs: we not only are unable to recognize ourselves in the practices of that left that you represent, but at this point of the game we declare that we are its orphans!

The left is urgently facing new challenges in a new context to which we do not have clear questions nor responses, and much less certainties or theories. There are things that we are not able to understand. But there is something much worse than not understanding: being convinced that one understands and turning to inadequate responses. But in any case, and for now, there are principles that have to be held on to: ethics and humanism without which there is no possibility for a left.

In another time a prophetic and lucid communist dissident said:

“The old world is dying. The new world struggles to be born. Now is the time of monsters.”

I hope the Left does not continue making themselves accomplices of them…

Juanónimo

Nicaragua, July 2018

What  follows is a translation of a comment on the article  left on the same website by Jorge Ledesma Paz on Aug 13, 2018 at 12:46am

I am not going to debunk an ideological theoretical position because it would be throwing pearls before swine. I will only say that in the bipolar world you are either on one side or the other. Here, the opposition, the republican government is supplying, as it supplied the contras in the decade of the 70/80s. Whoever believes that overthrowing the government will change history is mistaken. Here being really pissed off comes from the Sandinistas, we who have been attacked, violated, murdered and even burned by a plague that we will take to justice so that it pays for the rupture of the institutional order that they wanted to create. The synthesis: you are either an accomodating traitor functional for the republican government in power at the time, or you are a revolutionary, who values the history of struggle of our people without tarnishing the photo of a miliciaman, a sign of what love for the fatherland entails. All the rest is cheap rhetoric learned in some corredor of the UCA, created by oligo-bourgeois dinosaurs who want to usurp what they have not known how to win in a decent fight!

LEAD 19, Free Fatherland or Death

From some place in Nicaragua

 

Declarations of VP Rosario Murillo on 38th Anniversary of Nicaraguan Navy

This speech was given on the anniversary of the Navy (August 13), considered an important speech because it was given within a context of  debate over the role of the military in the current crisis. After the violent removal of the barricades, the government has been promoting an image of a  return to normalcy that would allow for economic activity to resume. But the construction of that image is affected  by continued killings, and she refers to one in her speech: Lenin Mendiola, son of a famous FSLN peasant leader, Benigna Mendiola. The government has accused the opposition of his death, but there are witnesses in Matagalpa that claim he was participating in the march for the release of political prisoners on Aug 11th,  and the shot that killed him came from the Municipal Government offices under the control of the FSLN. She also makes reference to a “run” for the release of political prisoners that was held in Managua on Sunday Aug 12. (Capitals are in the original text published on El Digital 19, FSLN website).

Declaration of Compañera Rosario, Vice President of Nicaragua, after the Event for the Commemoration of the 38th Anniversary of the Naval Forces of the Army of Nicaragua, August 13, 2018

Good evening, Compañer@s; good evening, dear Families of our Blessed Nicaragua, Always Blessed, Always Free! This Country of Everyone where we come together every day, first of all to give thanks to God, and also first of all appreciating and valuing the Security and Peace that we are recovering, from the Hand of God, to work, to retake the Good Path that we were on, and to Prosper.

How Much Strength in this Nicaraguan People…! This our People among whom we all move, inspired by our Historic Legacy and strengthened with our Faith, to overcome all obstacles, to overcome all difficult circumstances.

Someone was telling me the other day, and I think that with a lot of truth: What happened was unexpected, but also the recovery has been Miraculous. And it is true. Everyone admires how quickly our Country has been recovering Normality, Tranquility, because it has Security and strong Institutions that ensure Security, and because all of us want Work and Peace!

And what is more incredible, is that still this “scrap” of coup plotters and terrorists, criminals are insistent, when I say insistent it is in continuing to assassinate Nicaraguans, and to try to continue destroying the Nicaraguan Economy… It is incredible! Normality, Tranquility, Security irritates them, bothers them, makes them crazy. I was saying, I compare it with the vampires, who cannot see the Light; it is like a Cross that is thrust in their chests: Security, Normality, the desire to work and prosper of Nicaraguan Families. This Miraculous Recovery, for which we give thanks to God every day.

How terrible! How much toxins must those Souls have! How much hate, how much venom in those “scraps” that remain out there, who want to see our People unhappy; because that is the purpose: See us unhappy! That is why they destroy, that is why they insist on continuing to chase investment away, continue chasing Tourism away; they insist on seeing Nicaraguan Families unhappy…But they are not going to be able to do it, they should already know it!

This is a People of Marvels, this is a People blessed by God! This Faith, this extraordinary Strength of the Hope and Confidence in Nicaragua, is a Blessing from God, because we are a People of Faith. And how many things can we continue doing with Faith, with Strength, with the Strength of our People, just as we have been recovering marvelously, just as all of us admire the quickness with which we are flowing into all spaces.

I was saying, this Week End was an Explosion of Freedom of the People, that mobilized from all sides enjoying the Security, Peace and Freedom that we have been, Thanks to God, and along with the strong institutions of the Nicaraguan State, recovering precisely to enjoy the Country, to work in addition, to earn a Living honestly, and to Prosper…Because we are going to be able to do it! With the Strength of God and the Strength of our People, we all know that nothing is impossible.

So it is that, regardless of the fact that they have destroyed the Economy, regardless of the fact that there are Families who are sufferig pain, the irreparable loss of Loved Ones, and that stil this weekend killed a Compañero of ours, regardless of this suffering, we are Strong, we are a Strong People, and We are Going Forward! And we know how to transcende all adversities, because we have that Spiritual Force of Christianity, of Solidarity…A tremendous Spiritual Force!

We are Caring, we are Generous, we are Wise, and we know how to discern, and we know who to accuse and make responsible for what happened in Nicaragua. That is why we are going to demand Justice: That they Pay for their Crimes!

They, and all of us know who they are, killed 198 Nicaraguan brothers and sisters…That they Pay for their Crimes! They destroyed the Country… That they Pay for their Crimes!

This is what the people want, not taking revenge on their own, but that the Institutions judge and bring Justice, and that none of these crimes committed against Brother and Sister Nicaraguans be left in impunity: crimes that cut off Lives, and crimes like kidnappings, torture, fires, destruction of Families, of Families who lost their Homes and Institutions of Service to the People.

They took it out on the Institutions that represented, and represent, the essential Social Programs for the exercise of Human Rights in our Country. These are Human Rights: Health, Education, Training, Work…These are Human Rights! And against these institutions the great “defenders” of Human Rights took out their rage.

And why did they not think about the Human Rights of us Nicaraguan Families who want Health, who want Education, who want to work, who want training to Prosper? Oh no, these are not Rights for the criminal Coup Plotters! No, these are not Rights!

That is the Right of only the rich, for them! The rich who send their children to study in foreign Universities. Because in the National Universities the poor study, and the Poor study in the Public Schools, and in the Public Hospitals and Health Centers, that is where the poor go. That is what they wanted to destroy, because they are people full of hate who do not love the People, they have never loved the People. They are the same Families, the same last names, we all know them, that do not love, nor have they ever loved the People.

As our Commandante Daniel was saying: They are traitors. Let´s look at the pages of our History: What last names come out there? Who have sold out the Country throughout History? Who have been those who have turned over National Sovereignty throughout History? The same last names that we see today sounding as great “Leaders”, in big quotes, that to appear as Candidates and Leaders make a fool of themselves running in shorts with 10 other people through the streets of Managua…Ahh! The same as ever, if we all know them, the traitors those who sell out their country!

Who is going to bet on one of those, with the last names of traitors? Who is going to bet on those who make a fool of themselves, wanting to appear sympathetic, after they financed the destruction of the Country? Who is going to bet on them? Let them examine their Conscience and try to get rid of that venom that blinds them.

There are 198 Nicaraguan Brothers and Sisters who we are still greiving for, and the material losses are countless. But God will provide, because Love is Stronger than Hate and because God has in his Plan for Nicaragua Work, Security, Peace, Prosperity.

Throughout our Lives we have lifted ourselves up from so many tragedies, from so many difficult circumstances. How many earthquakes, hurricanes have we experienced! How we experienced the wars that also bet on destroying Nicaraguan and also destroyed us! All this we have lived through, all this we know, and we know about our capacity for recovery. That is why, as a Strong People, full of Faith, full of Hope, we know that We are Going Forward!

These are moments to see more clearly who are the enemies of the Poor in Nicaragua. These months, that we are going to take Roads that are a little more difficult, because as our Commandante was saying, we are not going to grow in terms of Programs, we are going to maintain with more effort the Social Programs, they are moments for verifying, confirming who historically have been, and are now, the enemies of the Poor, those who do not want the poor to get out of Poverty, and those who want to continue bringing ruin and pain to Nicaragua. Because that is what they have done throughout History, and it is what they have done recently, and it is what they want to continue doing.

They do not forgive the fact that Nicaragua has a Government and a State that is truly Christian, recognized in the entire World for having brought to our Country, developed in our Country, Policies of Social Justice, Caring, Christian, Generous policies that have allowed Nicaraguans and above all Nicaraguans from the poorest Families to study, have Health Care and to Prosper.

Of course we also have had in recent years a Model of Alliances that allowed many to prosper, many, not just the Poor, but it provided Work, this Model of Alliances bore its fruit, provided results, but well, everything in Life has Cycles and this is a Cycle that is closed, now we will have to look for how to open another Cycle… What do we have? This Formidable People, ourselves, and God first of all, that allows us each day to get up full of Hope, that allows us to get up each day giving thanks and embark on the day to work and to move Forward.

And just as we saw this Weekend, just as we saw all the People overflowing everywhere, walking around, recreating, and where people go for a walk there are also people who are working and earning a living honestly. With this Miraculous Strength, some compañeros and compañeras were telling us, in this way we are Going Forward! And that is why we say: How is it possible that they treat brutally the Happiness of the Nicaraguan People? How is it possible that Tranquility, Normality bothers them? Do you know why? Because it is a reflection of their defeat. These days, these days that show a People that is Going Forward, with Strength and Faith, is precisely the best reflection of their defeat, and that is what they cannot stand, makes them crazy.

But this Wise People, this Great People, this People of Darío, this People of Sandino, that know about difficulties, adversities, but know about Struggles and Honor, as the song says, are going Forward! Because we are together, and we go with Love and LOVE FOR NICARAGUA to build each day more Strength, so that God might continue Blessing us with all his Plan for Work, Prosperity and above all Peace and Security, so that we might Work and Prosper all together. Thank you very much, Compañer@s.

 

 

“My Head has a price in Nicaragua”, fleeing to Costa Rica to Survive.

This was published in the Costa Rican newspaper “Semanario Universidad” on August 7, 2018, located on the campus of the University of Costa Rica in San José. It provides a window into the lives of people who participated in the protests and saw themselves forced to flee the country and sought refuge in Costa Rica because of the violence.

“My Head has a price in Nicaragua”, fleeing to Costa Rica to Survive.

Published in Semanario Universidad August 7, 2018

By Yamlek Mojica Loásiga

Since the crisis began in Nicaragua, a new wave of migrants began that are fleeing to Costa Rica to survive. They do not come just in search of work, studies or health care. They did not plan their trip as a strategy to improve their living conditions, but as the only path to continue alive. These are some of the stories of these Nicaraguans.

The decision was already made. Lesly Mayorga would escape from Jinotega through the mountains along with his entire family on July 25th, before the Orteguista paramilitaries would be able to penetrate the “barricades” that were protecting his town. No one had a passport and no one wanted to leave their lives behind, but all wanted to save them. Without knowing exactly where they were going, seven days later they arrived at their final destination: Costa Rica was welcoming them.

Today Lesly wakes up on a mattress on the ground along with his entire family, within an improvised tent in the Center for Temporary Attention to Migrants (CATEM) in Guanacaste. He says that every day he silently cries out of nostalgia and impotence, but does not hesitate to state his happiness for not feeling afraid of being murdered. “Oh, I am happy. It is more comfortable here than sleeping on the ground in the forest,” he jokes.

In the northern CATEM the days pass slowly. For the more than 15 Nicaraguan migrants sheltered there the calm turns odd and suspect. After nearly four months of being witnesses to extreme repression on the part of the government of Nicaragua, the tranquility has become foreign to their sense of normality.

The Center is located five kilometers before reaching La Cruz, and more than 20 minutes from the border post of Peñas Blancas. It is an arid land, unpaved, with 25 green tents put up for around 40 immigrants, including Nicaraguans and extra regional migrants (as the African immigrants are administratively classified).

It is here that the authorities come to allow the migrants who are seeking asylum to enter the country. When Lesly arrived with his family of eight members to Peñas Blancas, they took down their data, offered them a migration appointment in La Uruca in San José, and drove them in a truck with his entire family to the Center. “We walked for more than five days. Going in the pickup gave me an incredible sense of peace,” he says.

More than seeming like Costa Rican soil, because of their [Costa Rican`s] obvious hostility and the origin of the tents where the refugee sleep, the place resembles the military camps in Irak. According to people responsible for the site, up to 25 people can be sheltered in each tent, and in their most crowded moments they can receive up to 300.

Within the Center the stories about the repression in Nicaragua are recounted all the time, and each person compares their experience with the experience of others. Even though all the immigrants come from different provinces, the stories are similar to one another.

Lesly Mayorga defended his trench in Jinotega from April 20 to a day before escaping. As he tells it, their weapons were mortars, rocks, and from time to time he had a machete, which months previously he used in farming. From the first day that he joined the Self Convened Movement he began to receive threats against himself and his family.

“One of the most difficult things was that the paramilitaries tried to burn down my house when I was not there. Since they were not able to, they took it out on my 15 year old daughter. They shot mortars at her body, they attacked her,” he said.

Currently there is an arrest warrant out for Lesly in Nicaragua for the crime of terrorism.

Nevertheless, he says his family was the principal reason why he had to flee the country. His daughters, all minors, had been threatened with being raped after putting him in jail.

He was left with nothing. In spite of his sturdy physique, Lesly appears vulnerable, sad. In his handbag he has the deeds to his house and a yellow list of the names of people who threatened him since he went into the trenches. Of all his belongings that he packed when he fled, these are the only papers that he has left.

Inside there is a tent with toys where the refugee children can play, but they have to play in the mud that the rain leaves. It is lunch time and the refugees make their own food on the fire. Among all the Nicaraguans they cook beans and rice and whisper among themselves. They smile at the cameras and look anxiously at the pot of food. Some, like Juan Carlos Espinoza, had not tasted food for more than five days.

Juan Carlos traveled from Managua to the border of Peñas Blancas, as he recounts, fleeing from the Sandinista Youth of his neighborhood. They recruited him months ago as a paramilitary, but he refused due to the fact that “he did not want to kill people.”

“One day they came to the house of my aunt, where I was living, to invite me to “Operation Cleanup”. They offered me 500 córdobas a day [some US$16] and an AK 47 to be out defending the Comandante from the “coup plotters”, he explained.

Juan did not finish high school but he was working in a barber shop. He earned less than US$100 a month and had several children to support. Even so, he states, he rejected the offer that they made him. From there began the intimidations against him and his family. He says that while he was going toward his house, people with their faces covered in a Hylux [pickup truck] got down and beat him, stole his identification, money that he was carrying and his cell phone. “After that, my aunt told me that she could not have me there (in her home). That I should leave. That is why I came to Costa Rica, “ he says.

Most of the way he traversed walking in the brush and without eating a bite. On arriving in the country, he did not ask for asylum, because he did not know that he could. “I had not eaten nor drunk anything in days. When I got to Costa Rica I looked for work on a pineapple farm and they told me that they were not hiring illegal immigrants. I went back, asked for water in a house nearby. They gave me money and told me about the shelter. I came in bus and taxi, and between those two things was left without any money again. But I got here and now was able to eat. I am now OK, “ he explains.

Juan Carlos´s voice is subdued, sad. He says that he does not have hope. He wants to go to the appointment to ask for asylum in La Uruca, but he does not know how to get to San José. The Government does not assume the cost of transportation, and each immigrant goes to their appointment on their own; most do not have their own money, therefore the only way of traveling the 267 kilometers of distance between the two places is hitchhiking. According to the Costa Rican office of Immigration and Foreign Status, they are working on immigration units closer to CATEM.

Most of the immigrants who live in the refugee center come into the country illegally. Among their reasons for coming in this way are the lack of money to process a passport and visa, or the fear of being stopped in the immigration post of Nicaragua.

Álvaro González came in this way, for those two reasons. He is 22 years old, but his tired face adds several years to that. He has used a wheel chair for two years now, due to the fact that while he was working as a newpaper delivery person he was attacked with a screwdriver in the back by gang members in a marginal neighborhood of Managua. Since then he has not been able to work, therefore processing a passport, he says, it economically impossible for him.

Since the beginning of the protests his brother entrenched himself in a university in Managua. A month ago he was captured within his house and they also tried to arrest Álvaro, “They (the paramilitaries)” came in to take my brother away and they wanted to lift me out of the wheelchair, saying that I was playing sick so that they would not arrest me,” he relates. When they realized his disability, they kicked him and threw him on the ground. “You cannot live in Nicaragua like that,” he laments.

Wth the help of his family he started to look for money to cross the border of Peñas Blancas with the help of coyotes. They told him it was nearly impossible to cross him over, and therefore they were charging him nearly double. The young man does not like to talk about how he was able to get to Costa Rica.

He goes ahead in the story and begins to remember how with his partner he was asking about the Refugee Center that he had seen in the news. He found it, but it did not have the capacity to receive him. Álvaro continues awaiting responses about where he will live temporarily. For now, he admits, it reassures him to live in a place where he does not hear bullets every half hour. For him it is worth sleeping on the ground if that allows him to survive.

La Cata of Jinotepe

“Ortega leaves and the next day I go back to my land.”

In the town people knew about the attack before the 8th of July. The rumor of the massacre in the province of Carazo got to La Cata, the coordinator of the local 19th of April movement, four days before with an additional specification: “they are coming for you”. Awaiting the attack of the paramilitaries meant her death or kidnapping. She left the “safe house” where she was, and without knowing it, began a journey that would take her to Costa Rica in search of staying alive.

Seated in some place in San José, she sees the videos of the massacre in her town and crying is unavoidable for her. She also sees the photos of walls of houses marked with threats against her, “Where is the torturer? LEAD for the coup plotter!” According to what she says, the writings were the minimum of what they wanted to do to her. “They wanted to kill me,” she explains.

Three months prior, La Cata lived in the municipality of Jinotepe in Carazo. She worked in a marketing company and was far from politics. Nevertheless, she explains, the governmental violence used in the protests within the capital against the reforms to the National Social Security Institute (INSS) caused in her a enormous feeling of indignation. On the afternoon of April 19th she decided, along with no more than 20 people, to do a peaceful sit in in Carazo demanding the repeal of the law.

20 minutes went by once they placed their posters in front of INSS when they were removed from the place by state workers with threats of violence. “They (the state workers) tried to intimidate us with stones. We withdrew from the area, but we went to other streets to continue fighting,” she tells.

As the deaths increased with the protests at the national level, she along with other people organized more demonstrations against the Government. The intimidation quit being with mortars and stones, they began to use bullets and shot to kill. The rise in the violence forced them to create “barricades” in the principal entrances to the province. “We made the barricades to put pressue on Ortega, but also for protection, to prevent any paramilitary from entering to kill innocent people,” she says.

Her leadership meant being the person resonsible for communication among all of the self convened. Her fight was not shooting mortars, given that she says that she was never able to manage them, but taking food to the barricades, creating assemblies to understand the needs of the people, being the spokesperson for all. Her resistance quickly turned into a threat for the Government and her name began to circulate in the social networks. She was related to political officials, they labelled her a “coup plotter”, and every day they would go to the home of her parents to shoot off mortars.

La Cata had to leave her home to hide in “safe houses”. In Nicaragua homes in zones outside of the cities have been turned into hideouts for the youth who are persecuted by the State.

“They are watching us,” she says. The indicator for having to change safe houses was waking up with a contact bomb at the door. It was a sign that the paramilitaries left behind to let her know that it did not matter where she hid, they were going to find her.

The threats increased. They would pass by the house of her parents machine gunning it, and in the social networks her “head” (capture or death) was worth $1,500. She was called a criminal and blamed for the murder of people she never knew. In spite of everything, she did not want to leave Carazo, much less the country. She saw it an unjust, inhumane. She did not want to leave her life behind. She felt that leaving was abandoning her fellow fighters who had nearly become her brothers and sisters.

But they were the ones that took her out of Carazo when the rumor came that the paramilitaries were “coming with everything” to attack them.

-The specific rumor came to us: “they are coming for you”. They decided to get me out of Jinotepe before the attack, but it was not our objective to come to Costa Rica. The point was to try to keep ourselves safe, isolated from everything. Without talking with anyone in the outside world. We thought that we had to go back to organize and get to the town with a better strategy.

When did you decide to come to Costa Rica?

– We decided to come when they began to find us. When they got to one of the safe houses outside of the province and took away some companions to El Chipote, now they are trying them for terrorism. They followed all the rules that we agreed on and even so they captured them. There we decided that the coordinators had to leave. We had to go, but we did not think about it nor did we want to. We never imagined Costa Rica as our final stop. We were traveling in the bus and we thought that we were going to go back, but all this got more and more difficult. There is more and more despair about returning soon. We continue hoping to return. Daniel (Ortega) has to go. I do not know how but he has to go. Ortega goes and the next day I will return to my land.

The attack by the paramilitaries on Carazo happened on July 8th. Up to now there is no exact count of how many people died that day. Some say 14 and others calculate it at 40. There is more than a hundred disappeared and around 10 people captured and accused of terrorism. The house where she was sheltered before leaving Carazo was left completely ransacked, they were after her. “It is horrible to think about what they could have done to me. But it is more horrible to not know what happened to people I knew, with whom we fought shoulder to shoulder,” laments the young woman.

La Cata continues alive but feels that each day she dies a little more. The impotency eats away at her and she says that there has not been one day in which she can go back to normal. “It was not for this that I fought for three months. When we started we did not think that the hate was going to reach such dimensions. I feel impotent and even selfish because my brothers continue there. Ortega hates us,” she says firmly.

Her story was validated by the Interamerican Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) when they offered her and her family precautionary measures so that the State of Nicaragua might respect her human rights. La Cata now is one of the more than 8,000 people requesting refuge in Costa Rica, a country that according to her “has opened its arms when we most needed them.” She gives thanks to God for being alive, but she also prays for her brothers in the struggle. That gives her the most hope in the midst of everything.

 

Message to Parents at the Colegio Centro América

This message was published on the Colegio Centro America facebook page, and gives an inside view as how the crisis is affecting normal families. It is a large Jesuit run institution from Preschool to High School, seen as a feeder school to the Central American University (UCA).

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=230926940896878&id=103126253676948

Posted on facebook, August 6, 2018

Good morning, parents, we are sharing with you the words of Fr. Domingo during flag raising today:

Many things have happened in the country and in the school since the last Flag Ceremony. Since April 19, 47 students have definitively left the school. Close to 70 students remain outside the country. Many fathers and mothers have lost their jobs and some families have had to separate. Likewise, we have cancelled some activities of the school: the Cup of Friendship, the Class Group Dance competition and the “Weaving Dawn” Cultural Presentation Night, in addition to other academic, pastoral, sports and cultural events. The economic situation of the school has been affected significantly…This is nothing in the face of everything that the youth and Nicaraguan families have suffered. The Flag of the school remains at half mast; it is a symbol of the sadness and grief in the face of everything that has happened. In contrast to what we sing in the National Anthem, the voice of bullets has roared and the blood of brothers has been made present in the country. This cannot be.

One of the great questions of philosophy is whether human beings are born good and later become bad, or something of evil is born with us, because we live in a reality that gets worse every day…but it should not be this way, we have to live from the hope that Nicaragua is full of good and altruistic people who daily work to make it a little more humane, that struggle day after day to have a better country.

That is why we have to continue asking and working so that a beautiful peace might shine in your sky…We are convinced that the truth is the principal requirement to overcome lies and for justice to be present, given that good always will win out. When it seems that there is no hope, when it seems that everything is lost, there are reasons to believe and hope. You always have to fight and trust that good will overcome evil, that the good in life is more and better than the bad.

The children and youth of the country are the hope that illuminate the future of Nicaragua. They are the ones who give meaning to what we are and do every day. God help us to live from hope. Let us continue praying and struggling for peace in the country in the understanding that only the truth will make us free (Jn 8,32).

 

 

Letter to the Commander in Chief of Nicaraguan Army from Prominent Nicaraguan Women

This letter, although written on July 24, was published as a paid ad in La Prensa,  on August 2, 2018. Early on in this crisis the Commander in Chief of the Army, General Avilés, issued a press release saying that the Army would not take part in this internal conflict. The position of the Army is seen as a very sensitive issue. On the one hand, it is the institution with the highest approval rating in Nicaraguan society, and was praised – even by the US – for its professionalism. On the other hand, after the US supported military coup in Honduras in June 2009, Ortega took steps to consolidate his effective control over this armed body. So many breathed a sign of relief with the initial statement of neutrality of the Army in this crisis. In fact various Nicaraguan national security analysts since then have attributed Ortega´s use of paramilitary or parapolice forces to the neutrality of the Army. Their analysis is that, given the massive nature of the protest, he was not able to adequately respond with just the police forces available, so has armed other groups favorable to the government.   Since then a controversy has arisen as these pro-government parapolice or paramilitary forces have operated with weapons only permitted for the Army, and it has been revealed that many of them are retired military. Thus some are questioning the “neutrality” of the Army in the face of these parapolice forces

Managua, July 24, 2018

General of the Army

Julio César Avilés

Commander in Chief of the Army of Nicaragua

Dear General Avilés

We a group of Nicaraguan women sincerely write to you to ask that the National Army proceed to disarm the parapolice groups that are usurping the functions and equipment of the Institution that you lead, to carry out criminal acts against the civilian population.

The certainty that by constitutional principle the National Army is a “non deliberative and apolitical” institution has moved us to send this letter, in addition to knowing that:

  1. The Political Constitution of Nicaragua establishes in its Article 95 that “there cannot exist other armed bodies in the national territory, nor military ranks than those established by the law.”
  2. In Article 2, Law 855, Law of the Reform and Additions to Law 181, the Code for the Organization, Jurisdiction and Social Military Prevision it is written that the Army should “use its forces and means to fight threats to the national safety and defense, and any illicit activity that would put at risk the existence of the Nicaraguan State, its institutions and the fundamental principles of the nation….”
  3. In addition, the General Assembly of the United Nationa approved on December 4, 1989 the International Convention against the recruitment, use, financing and training of mercenaries. This Convention establishes in its Articles 1b and 1d that mercenaries are those who without being members of the armed forces of a State, get involved in a conflict with the desire of obtaining personal advantage having been hired by one of the parties in conflict from which they receive material retribution considerably higher to what combatants of similar rank and function receive in the armed forces.

As mothers, workers and professionals, we are extremely upset by the pain of hundreds of mothers and sisters who have lost their children and/or have them disappeared or in prison. The conflict – which exploded in April of this year – is the consequence of a decade of suppresion of liberties. Unfortunately the Government has tried to resolve it with indiscriminate repression, which only has made the problem worse. Even more, to be able to increase the repression, the regime – violating our Constitution – has created irregular mercenary groups who usurping the functions of the National Army murder, kidnap and torture unarmed civilians, using rifles of war and heavy arms that should only be used by the Army.

The existence of these parapolice groups constitutes a threat to our nation and to the existence of our State. The Convention of the UN cited above, having present the experience of other conflicts in which third party parapolice forces have been used, points out that the activities of the mercenary groups when they have happened, “ have contributed to the destabilization of the affected States…”

For Nicaragua to be able to move ahead it is essential that the National Army look for mechanisms to preserve the constitutional order and peace, for which purpose it is key to dismantle and disarm these mercenary forces who are sowing terror among the population, carrying out an illegal war against the true sovereign of the nation, the Nicaraguan people.

Signing Names

Gioconda Belli            Lea Guido                   Josefina Vanini          Ximena Ramírez

Vanessa Castro          Violeta Granera         Mignone Vega            Carmen Elizondo

Cristiana Chamorro  María Hurtado           Mónica Zalaquett      Grace March

Ligia Elizondo            Malena Montis           Ana Eliza Martínez    Rita Delia Casco

Central American University announces SUSPENSION OF WORK FOR THE MONTH OF AUGUST

The Central American University in Managua released this press statement yesterday July 31, 2018 announcing the suspension of most of their activities for the month of August. Nearly half of its budget in recent years, much of it used for scholarships for low income students, has come from state funding . By constitutional mandate dating back to the 1950s the government is obliged to dedicate 6% of its total budget to higher education. The CNU (National University Council) is responsible for its distribution. From the beginning of the crisis in April the UCA has protected students and the population from attacks by pro-government supporters and paramilitaries. Nearly 5,000 people took refuge in the UCA after the massive demonstration on Mother´s Day was fired on by snipers (see earlier posting of interview of President of the UCA Fr. Idiáquez)

UCA

CENTRAL AMERICAN UNIVERSITY

SUSPENSION OF WORK FOR THE MONTH OF AUGUST

Dear Collaborators of the UCA:

Given the serious situation that we are experiencing in the country, our University is going through a very difficult moment. The UCA has seen itself forced to suspend all its academic programs and most of the services that it offers to the public, which constitute sources for the generation of income for the funds of the University. In addition, there have been delays in the transfers of state funds assigned to the UCA. The CNU (National University Council) has informed us that this is due to problems of liquidity of the Ministry of the Treasury and Public Credit. In spite of all the difficulties, the University has made the maximum efforts to ensure the salary of all the staff.

The conditions described prevent the University from being able to continue dealing adequately with all its operational costs. In light of this, it is urgent to take some additional measures of austerity and cost reduction, until the current situation is overcome. In this sense, a temporary cancelation is needed to be done of the activities that are still underway, which implies the suspension for the month of August of labor contracts of an important part of our collaborators.

The figure of Suspension is the temporary interruption of the execution of the labor contract and does not terminate the established legal relationship (Art. 35 Labor Code). The Collective Suspension of Work due to Force Majeure [forces beyond our control], contemplated in the Labor Code (Art. 38) is the option that allows the labor relationship to not be cancelled and is a form of ensuring the work position of each one of our collaborators. The people affected by this measure will be notified individually be the Human Resource Office.

The University is grateful for the understanding of everyone given the complex situation that we are experiencing.

July 31, 2018

 

 

Will We be Able to Live Together Some Day?

This is an opinion piece done by Guillermo Rothschuh, writer, essayist and Director of Observatorio de Medios of CINCO, published on July 20 in their digital publication, Confidencial. It addresses one of the principal problems for the future of Nicaragua, no matter how the crisis unfolds – the ongoing polarization of the country.

Will We be Able to Live Together Some Day?

By Guillermo Rothschuh, published in Confidencial July 20, 2018

A fraticidal struggle. The critical moment that Nicaragua is experiencing – with hundreds of dead, wounded, jailed and disappeared – invites reflection. Finding a way out is urgent. The physical and emotional wear and tear is increasing. The division within the Nicaraguan family continues to mount. All of us are obliged to find a response to the crisis that the country is experiencing. Mourning is generating deep resentment. The cry of the mothers shakes the conscience and disrupts reason. None of these deaths are acceptable. The explosion of disagreements on the networks demonstrates again that political differences divide us. They cause fissures difficult to heal. The pooled hate is gushing out. We are drowning!

The stigmatization, campaigns to discredit, report people, accusations and counter accusations, defamation, slander, maliciousness, political and ideological intolerance, intransigence and lack of compassion form part of the daily rations served up in the networks. The discord and slander deepens the gap that separates families. Maybe the worst consequence –in addition to the mourning and crying – for Nicaraguans is that they have lost several of their loved ones. The historic moment that Nicaragua is experiencing made the ethical crisis rise to the surface. The process for healing the wounds is going to be long and painful. The verbal and symbolic lack of restraint and aggressiveness have destroyed the honor and reputation of people. There are no scruples with anyone nor for anyone.

Those most committed to peace should be the rulers, it is not a matter of making false calls for understanding. Attitude and not words are what in the last instance ratify the true feeling of people. It is up to no one more than President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo to take a radical turn in the search for an authentic peace. The country cannot continue bleeding out. Good sense should prevail in the face of all adversity. The asymmetry between the forces in dispute is disproportional. The right of might has never been advisable. Even less among people who form the same human cluster. Each death breaks us up. Cracks the social fabric. Makes it difficul to re-establish national harmony. Leaves uncurable scars.

The amount of deaths and the occupation of property reinstalled the cycle of violence that has shaken Nicaragua since our independence (1821). Will it be possible for us to live together at some time? The reiteration of violence takes us back to the national war (1856-1857). Why have we not been able to dialogue in a natural and more appropriate way to resolve our political differences? Why is the negotation table only returned to when the victor – over a pool of blood – tries to impose his supremacy on the others? The peace of the conquered! An artificial peace. Ficticious. Born from the mouth of a rifle. Nicaraguan rules have been friends to the guerillas and the physical elimination of their opponents.

The systematic use of violence. The US citizen Ephraim George Squier, journalist, diplomat and archaeologist, among the several books that he drafted on the Central America region, one is enough to know the stuff that we are made of. Nicaragua: Its People and Landscapes (1970): a valuable text for identifying our immediate past. Jaime Incer Barquero states that Squier had the honor of leaving us the legacy of “a great wealth of national knowledge through his abundant writings, illustrations and maps, like no other foreigner or occasional traveler through Nicaragua had done before, nor will be able to later.” I speak highly of the assessment of a researcher like Incer Barquero in order that the talent and disposition of Squier be understood. The very primary importance of this text for the knowledge of our political idiosyncracy.

Beween surprised and concerned, Squier confirmed how the winners capitalized on their victories in the ballot boxes. He proved that whoever wins, wins everything! Those who were in disagreement could expect jailing, confiscation, exile or death. I wonder whether evil was left encrusted in the deepest part of being Nicaraguan? Some even think that our propensity to violence comes from farther away. They talk about the Pedrarias Sydrome, referring to Rodrigo Contreras, son in law of Pedrarias and the butcher of Bishop Valdivieso. He did not forgive him for interceding before the Spanish Crown, so that he would not continue enriching himself and killing the indigenous population. With the intention of teaching the citizenry a lesson, he went to a lot of trouble to give him a terrible death.

The closest relationship between the text of Emilio Álvarez Montalván, Cultura política nicaragüense (Fouth edition, Hispamer, 2008) and La Lucha por el Poder (Ardis, 2017) of Enrique Bolaños Geyer is that both coincide in highlighting the systematic use of violence and authoritarianism to resolve our political discords. Álvarez Montalván maintains that “The depth of the drama of our political culture is that we do not like to enter into civic competition with the adversary, rather we have the compulsion to remove him or discredit him using “legal” methods or tricks, like exclusion.” Civic competition causes allergies and rejection. Rulers prefer electoral fraud. They have always sought to control the institution that counts the votes.

Does the disease have no cure? Bolaños Geyer from the beginning opts for highlighting in five chapter titles (out of ten in his book) the words anarchy, war, instability and dynasty. “In 160 years of sovereign life, since May 2, 1838 (when Nicaragua separated itself from the Central American Federation and became completely independent) until 2007 there have been – at the very least – 111 changes of government in which 61 people have participated, many times as the result of a struggle of political caudillos to be installed and tighten their hold for life on the seat of executive power.” He points to these principal people as responsible for the suffering of the Nicaraguan people. The evil continues as a tumor and it would seem that there is no antidote for this disease.

How can one look on the other when dealing with a being of flesh and blood? How can you look on your fellow countryperson, inhabitant of the same territory, with whom at some moment you shared a desk in school, visited the same places, are from the same town, live in the same neighborhood, walked through the same streets, are connected by family ties, played on the same baseball or soccer team, went out on the town with, countless times rode the bus together, are great friends of your brothers, go to the same church, believe in democracy as system of govern,ent, were active members of the same political party and share the same traditions? Are we so blind that we pass over or are not affected by all these affinities? Everthing indicates that yes that is how it is!

As long as there are no substantial changes in our political culture, we will not be able to overcome these inequities. The other continues to be foreign. The closeness that we might have does not matter. The crucial thing in politics continues being how do we conceive of the other? As long as we consider them as our enemy and not as our adversary, we will continue anchored to a past that is ending up nearly impossible to overcome. In Nicaraguan society, the enormous social, economic, racial, educational and cultural inequalities constitute a norm. Perspective has to be changed. What other way is there to leap over hell? The original sin of Sandinism was to try to install uniformity of thought,. An impossible aspiration.

The other is our neighbor! The response is the question, how are we going to resolve the inequalities that we have with others? It will be positive if we understand that all of us live in the same planet and we live under the same sky. “All of us inhabitants of our planet are Others to other Others: I to them, they to me” notes Ryszard Kapuscinski. I have the impression that we – Nicaraguans – have not been able to find ourselves with our-other-selves. The ways in which political controversies historically have been settled constitute a warning. A tragic sign. We are entering the XXI Century with very high levels of intolerance. Disagreeing continues to be a crime. This has been proven during these months of civic insurrection.

The number of resources used to destroy the other – catalogue of greviences presented by Emilio Álvarez Montalván – present in the Nicaraguan political culture of this century, are similar to the exclusions pointed out by Squier. Censure, confiscation, exile, jail –“trials to justify legalized imprisonment” – up to physical elimination. An unending spiral. Our history would seem to move on a stationary bicycle (the metaphor we owe to the philosopher Alejandro Serrano Caldera). As long as we do not break this iron circle, we will continue stuck in the same place! We have not been able to retrace history. The caudillos have known how to sweet talk their followers. They continue to keep them captivated.

To be able to live together – in other words, to be able to live in peace – we have to quit considering the other as the enemy. No one should be criminalized nor persecuted nor jailed for dissenting. Much less killed! How much it is costing us to break with the values of the past! We need to put a stop to this! Go back to the dialogue table. On one occasion the poet José Coronel Urtecho said to me: Rhymester, we Nicaraguans are genetically sons of bitches. Accept it, poet! It is not a matter of a cultural problem.” I refuse to accept it. Like the Chinese, let us see the crisis as an opportunity. If we do not get on the train of history today, we will lose a new occasion to re-encounter ourselves. Then it will be concluded that we are hopelessly lost.

 

Daniel Ortega´s interview on Fox News

On July 23 Daniel Ortega was interviewed on Brett Baier´s Fox News Program. The full interview with its English translation can be seen here: http://insider.foxnews.com/2018/07/23/bret-baier-interviews-nicaraguan-president-daniel-ortega-special-report

The interview was widely followed in Nicaragua, and it was the first interview Ortega has offered to non Sandinista media in 9 years. So it raised the question as to why he would give that interview to a US Media outlet, and then one like Fox News. What follows is an interview  of Alejandro Bendaña, Secretary General of the Nicaraguan Foreign Ministry in the 1980s, about that interview. He has a PhD in History from Harvard, has published a number of books on Sandino. His most recent is the 500 page “Sandino: Patria y Libertad” (2016). He is also an consultant on international affairs. This interview was published in Confidencial July 27th. [translation was done by Confidencial, we are including it here to make it more available to readers unfamiliar with Confidencial. But Confidencial now has an English section, so more interviews in English can be found at https://confidencial.com.ni/seccion/english/]

Ortega´s effort with the US “Got Nowhere”

Bendana: “Ortega didn’t want to seem confrontational or angry but casts himself as a supplicant because he’s talking to “Mister Trump”

The goal of the interview that comandante Daniel Ortega granted to the United States-based “Fox News” channel was to “get the attention of president Donald Trump”, but Ortega didn’t succeed. This was the opinion of Alejandro Bendana, historian and specialist in International Law.

In the interview with Fox News, Ortega denied any relationship of his government to the paramilitary groups that have seeded death, persecution and terror in the different cities around the country. He also dismissed the idea of early elections, arguing that such would generate instability.

Bendana offered his analysis of Ortega’s interview during the nightly Nicaraguan news program Esta Noche, noting the mistakes of the Nicaraguan leader. He also assured that Ortega’s “weakening” is palpable and that his departure and resignation letter will come through a process of negotiation.

Since finding out on Monday morning, that Daniel Ortega would grant an interview that night to a media outlet from the United States, the initial surprise was his choice: Fox News.  What audience did Ortega want to reach?

Directly to Trump, because Fox is the only television station that he watches and the only one he believes; to him, the others are fake news. His logic to reach Trump was to accept the interview with Fox News and try to explain, to plead, for the government of the United States to please change their position towards his government.

Vice President Mike Pence reacted immediately to the interview. How do you see his response to Ortega’s discourse on Fox?

It was the official line of the United States government, and especially that of Congress. Remember that Ortega’s goal is to try to rise above these hurdles. Ortega is isolated internationally, his strategy is to try and recover some space and what better place than directing himself to Trump himself, who as many know is above his organs, his vice president and who at any moment changes the political direction of his decisions.

So – What could Ortega’s calculation have been? Well, Trump has reached an understanding with dictator Putin; Trump has reached an understanding with the North Korean dictator and, well then, Trump can understand me, Nicaragua’s dictator. The logic must be that, but – What was the reaction? From the vice president, because Trump, who even tweets when he goes to the bathroom, said nothing. So his attempt to reach him, the attempt to change the policy of the United States and the perception of his government got nowhere.

So you believe that Ortega’s strategy failed?

Yes, I think so. It causes confusion among people who don’t know or know very little about what’ happening in Nicaragua, because he came with the tale of “it wasn’t me, I have nothing to do with the paramilitaries,” to which Trump might be sensitive. Something like: “Look here, if I leave this country is left in chaos and you’ll get a trail of immigrants and drugs and all, so you should think twice before they throw me out. He’s using the message of Louis XIV: “Without me, there’s chaos.”

But what the world is telling him is “No, no, papito. You’re the chaos and while you’re here, the country is going to continue suffering a profound human, social, economic and political problem.

There are legislators in the United States, especially conservatives like Marco Rubio or Ileana Ros-Lehtinen who’ve threatened to impose new sanctions on the Ortega government. Do you think that the United States could increase their pressure on the regime over the next few days?

It’s very probable. Remember the dynamic between the executive branch and congress. In principle the Executive doesn’t like having Congress impose foreign policy. The White House prefers to play poker, throw down the cards, throw around sanctions selectively. The poor State Department doesn’t have much weight anymore. So Nicaragua is a little piece of candy that Trump tossed to Congress to have fun with. A speech, an interview with Ortega, isn’t going to change this.

So the policy initiative towards Nicaragua is in Congress but it’s now longer reduced to the Neanderthals in Florida. Instead, you have other people there, like the democrats. Given the bloodbath suffered by the Nicaraguan people, the 300 dead, it’s not a matter just for a small sector of the Republican right wing, now it’s a party concern. So, much less would Trump wish to oppose it.

How do you interpret Ortega’s appeal to the United States when he says: “Nicaragua is a small country with a fragile economy, but we deserve respect like any state of the United States”?

(Ironically) Okay, now we’re a state of the United States, not a sovereign country. The states in the US aren’t sovereign. It’s like William Walker saying “let’s annex ourselves to the United States – we can be the 51ststate.” What changed in Ortega’s speech was the tone. He didn’t want to be confrontational or angry because he’s talking to “Mister Trump” and he casts himself as a supplicant. No one’s buying that anymore.

In addition, it seems like Ortega got on the Trump bandwagon. Everything he said yesterday was fake news.

Of course, and the goal is to confuse. If you can confuse the public, you win some points. If you managed to generate some doubts, well good. But if people think that the paramilitaries are an independent force [like Ortega claimed], well they don’t know Nicaragua.

For those who haven’t been following the news, that image of Ortega saying “it wasn’t me” generates interest, and if it’s genuine interest then people will look for information and they’re going to run into the avalanche of news, of images, of testimonies, of documents that all point in one direction which is what we have here. What the Wall Street Journal described as a State of terror.

For the reader that’s a little more educated, there’s been a report on Nicaragua every day in the large US newspapers.

More educated, but at the same time, now it’s not only in the Washington Post or the New York Times, but it’s been general news. The press in Europe has been important because the governments haven’t simply issued pronouncements through their ambassador’s offices. What’s coming out in the media, in the French Le Monde for example, isn’t going to be ignored by the French government. Here you have important sectors of the old left, with the exception of the Neanderthals on the other side at the Sao Paulo Forum, who have broken with Ortega: for example, the greater part of Podemos [in Spain], Pepe Mujica, one after the other. So – what can Ortega grab onto, where can the countries who would have preferred to stay silent hide?  It’s not possible anymore.

The president said that his government has no relationship with paramilitaries, that Catholic parishes in Nicaragua have not been attacked and that the country is normalizing. What is Ortega trying to do? Is he a president detached from reality?

Fortunately, what has happened in the last three months no longer leaves doubt for lies because it has been accompanied by the presence of hundreds of reporters, images and testimonies. So when Ortega said that, a whole series of lies, no serious government will be convinced. They already know Ortega, they already know that he is lying, what he is doing and therefore it is not going to open a gap in all that strength, increasingly unified, that seeks to condemn him.

While Ortega was talking to Fox Monday, government paramilitary groups were attacking Jinotega. There are at least three dead and dozens wounded. That same night the media reported that the Brazilian final year medical student, Rayneia Lima, was murdered in Managua. What impact does the murder of a Brazilian citizen have on the Ortega government?

It is serious, especially for the Government of Brazil, and hopefully for the opposition to the Government of Brazil, including within the Workers Party itself and some of the sectors that support Lula, who have been with Ortega. This has to make them think. A few days ago, it was Frei Betto, a benchmark for the entire Progressive Christian sector. Where are the political forces in Brazil that are going to support Ortega after this? In none… nowhere.

Even in Venezuela, Ortega is criticized by currents within the Chavistas that are saying “gentlemen, its not a good idea to continue tied to this friend,” regardless of what the Venezuelan foreign minister or the foreign minister of Cuba say. There are sectors of the left, not Cuban government officials, who are following in detail what is happening in Nicaragua and the debate that is taking place in Sandinista non-Ortega sectors.

On Thursday we reach a hundred days of crisis in Nicaragua. At least 295 dead, dozens of disappeared, hundreds of political prisoners. Do you think that Ortega has managed to normalize the situation or are we facing an already weakened Ortega?

The weakening is palpable, and he is in the intensive care unit and will not come out of there right now. And well, when he comes out, we know how many come out. This has no return. There is no perspective of governability or economic stability, of normalization of the situation at night in Managua or in the day, while this man remains in power. Again, I repeat it, it is not the chaos that could occur if Ortega goes, but the chaos that Ortega represents every day that he continues.

For there to be early elections that are fair and transparent, this man must first have left the political scene.

Some sources say that what Ortega wants is another kind of dialogue with other intermediaries and they have talked about SICA [the Central American Integration System].

The SICA is one of the few instances that he has left, and its last resolution was not totally negative, perhaps because Costa Rica had recently changed government and allowed him to score that goal. But now, the Government of Costa Rica, pressured by a number of sectors and the immigration situation that it has internally, may not allow the SICA to play that role.

It is time for Costa Rica, as the most affected country in the region, to bring this situation to the attention of the United Nations Security Council; to call a meeting to the presidency and if not, there is the Secretary General of the United Nations who, under Article 99 of its charter, has the authority to also take the situation to the Security Council.

What departures does Ortega have in this labyrinth in which he got himself?

Let him go. Put in his letter of resignation. Negotiate the logistics a little. Amnesty no, and he can negotiate his conditions of exile in any country. Here, he no longer rules, he lost the power he had. Compare the power he has now with the situation four months ago. Maybe he’ll have an attack of conscience, doesn’t he say he’s a Christian.