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TO FAITHFUL CHRISTIAN CATHOLICS, MEN AND WOMEN OF GOOD WILL WHO LISTEN TO OUR VOICES

In the midst of the independence days celebrations in Nicaragua, the denouncement by the IACHR of continued repression by the government and lack of civil liberties, the rejection by the government of a high level OAS delegation to find a peaceful resolution to the crisis, the Catholic Bishops Conference issued this pastoral letter. It is a  hopeful  and faith filled response to the current bleak situation, encouraging non violent change for a more inclusive and tolerant society. 

MESSAGE SEPTEMBER 15, 2019

EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE OF NICARAGUA

[Original Spanish document]

TO FAITHFUL CHRISTIAN CATHOLICS, MEN AND WOMEN OF GOOD WILL WHO LISTEN TO OUR VOICES

Truth and forgiveness are the basis and path to peace

We write to you, while commemorating these days of patriotism, with a look to the present and the future, as was done on Independence day whose new anniversary we celebrate. And since there is no future without memory, the present offers the opportunity to feel pain from our disputes, past and recent. After nearly a year and a half of suffering and pain where we have experienced in our flesh the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. This encourages us to pronounce the Word of life and hope that comforts wounded hearts and illuminates uncertainty in the face of the evil that stalks us.

The firm basis for a new construction

We can ask ourselves. How can we contribute to the solution of the acute social, political problems and respond to the great challenge of poverty and exclusion? How can we do this in a country which finds itself in a profound political, social and economic crisis, where the beginning of a new stage seems to be appearing, with its corresponding challenges for our democratic coexistence? There are signs that our institutional attire is too tight, and the citizenry expression is emerging asking for profound changes and reforms. The economic inequality, unemployment and opportunities seem an endemic evil difficult to correct, condemning several social collectives to unfair exclusion and invisibility, like migrants, women, youth, people with different capacities, ethnic groups, among others. Is it possible to love the person who closes the doors of their heart to Our Lord Jesus Christ and thereby, to the opportunity to promote a culture of true peace and democracy? Is it possible to maintain hope, when everything seems to indicate that there is no power capable of resolving our crisis? What can be done, if the word of civil society does not count? Is it possible today in Nicaragua to be Catholic and work for an Institution that does not respect conscience, and toys with the hunger of the people? How can so much cruelty to which we have been subjected be pardoned? Is it possible to heal these wounds?

As brothers along the path, the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua makes these questions its own, and responds animated by faith: Pope Benedict XVI, on inaugurating the Ecclesial Conference of Aparecida, offers us in this respect a brilliant contribution:

“The problems of Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as the world today, are multiple and complex, and cannot be confronted with general programs […]. In this context it is indispensable to talk about the problem of structures, above all, those that create injustice. In reality, just structures are a condition without which a just order in society is not possible. But how do they start? How do they work? Capitalism as well as Marxism promised finding the path for the creation of just structures, and stated that they, once established, would function on their own; they stated that not only would there not be a need for a prior individual morality, but that they would promote common morality. And it has been demonstrated that this ideological promise is false. The facts make it clear”[…] Just structures are an indispensable condition for a just society, but they do not begin nor function without a moral consensus of society about fundamental values, and about the need to live these values with the necessary renunciations, including against one´s personal interests […].

LET US LOVE THE COUNTRY. We also invite you to Love the Country.

The love for country that should prevail above individual goods, if it is as such, Pope Benedict already said it, has to be united with the pillars that provide sustenance to all coexistence: truth, justice, liberty, fraternity, solidarity. And it also requires more subjective virtues, like empathy, the commitment to know and appreciate others, the desire to save the proposition of the neighbor. Otherwise, the very objective pillars of Love for country are weakened and deteriorate with the reiteration of suspicions and disqualifications. And one small pebble is enough to bring down what an enormous effort had been able to raise up. Is this not one of the causes of the unrest, that, in spite of the evident progress, afflicts national coexistence?

Crisis of Trust

One of the reasons that are at the root of the unrest is due to a crisis of trust, which has been transformed in our Nicaragua into an omnipresent virus that infects all the relationships of our lives, and this is reprehensible! Authority is distrusted, institutions are distrusted, good intentions are distrusted and even the viability of projects themselves. This very distrust puts stress on family life, distances us from our neighbors, and creates barriers between groups and sectors. For this reason, the dialogue that we need to solve our problems is seen to be interrupted, curtailed, darkened. And we even distrust its feasibility and effectiveness for achieving the agreements needed […] It is impossible to believe in distrust! It is impossible to educate in distrust! It is impossible to love with distrust! Distrust cuts the fabric of human tissue and makes the beam that holds up the temple, the nation, the home collapse.

For this reason the cultivation of trust has to be enriched with the “culture of encounter”, which implies the more active attitude of taking responsibility for the other, of committing myself to their care, to their growth, to their freedom, because in the diversity that God has given us as gift is also our wealth. It is not just a matter of “tolerating” the one who is different – a minimalistic attitude – but of “celebrating” with magnanimity our differences, expressing them with freedom, with care and respect, to grow the wealth of our ideas and values. Let us think about Nicaragua and love our country, that is the greatest good of life in society. To work for the good of Nicaragua is to care for, on one hand, and to use, on the other hand, this series of institutions that legally, civilly, politically and culturally structure social life, which is configured in this way as a nation. Our neighbor is loved more effectively the more one works for the good of the country that responds also to their real needs, having the wisdom of integrating and including their wounds and disagreements, certainly in this way we will be capable of inaugurating a more demanding and qualitatively more robust democracy. As pastors, we are fully certain that we can do this in Nicaragua. In this sense, we encourage the youth to continue making their contributions to the nation, with their study and training, with their energy and yearnings for justice and liberty, with all the non violent means within their reach. We do it with the words of Pope Francis, in the World Youth Campaign celebrated in Rio de Janeiro: “do not put yourself at the tail end of history. Be active members! Go on the offensive! Play down the field, build a better world, a world of brothers and sisters, a world of justice, of love, of peace, of fraternity, of solidarity. “ (Pope Francis, Speech to Youth, July 27, 2013).

Encouraged by faith we also believe that:

  1. A new culture laden with hope is possible. As long as there are men and women lovers of Truth and love, who hope and believe in a better future, their dreams will not be snatched away from them. “The God that made himself a lamb tells us that the world is saved by the crucified one and not by the crucifiers. The world is redeemed by the patience of God, and destroyed by the impatience of human beings” (Benedict XVI). The flame that we have received of family values needs to be kept alive: our being eucharistic, marian, believers, hardworking, jovial, sacrificial, etc.

 

  1. “You have heard that it was said: you will love your neighbor and you will hate your enemy. Well I say to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you might be the children of our heavenly Father…(Mt 5:43-45). These words of Jesus are not easy to live. Since logically they assume swimming against the current. Even for the disciples themselves it was difficult for them to understand and take on that language. Justifiably they said among themselves this language is difficult, who will be able to understand it? (Jn 9:60). Nevertheless, with his deeds and words, Jesus was establishing a new culture: the culture of love (Jn 15:12). Systems of power and oppression are smashed there. Throughout history we have seen men and women who have assumed this mandate of loving without limits: let us recall Saint Oscar Arnulfo Romero, prophet and martyr in the midst of a context marked by hate and death; the Servant of God, Fr. Odorico D´Andrea, who exercised the apostolate of mercy, reconciliation and offered his life for the peace of this country, marked as well by hate and death. They did not renounce Truth and Love, and that is why they did so much good for their peoples. Today our country more than ever yearns to resort to this capacity for loving as a response to the system of hate and death installed in Nicaragua, which attempts to hide the action of God.

 

  1. It is difficult to be a Catholic Christian in these conditions, but, we exhort you to not quit struggling for our faith. As long as we are faithful to our values, we know that “nothing is lost as long is there is hope to find it” (St. Augustine). Fundamental for each one of us Nicaraguans is “looking at He who sees us” (St. Theresa of Avila), and that we do not give up. He knew that he was going to be crucified. He knew everything that he was going to suffer. Nevertheless, he made the decision to go up to Jerusalem, to the place of his martyrdom. This conviction for his mission, salvific one, made him overcome the obstacles of the enemies as well of those closest to him (Mt 27:1-2; Mk 10: 32.45; Lk 20:20-26). This has to be our conviction in the mission that we have of building together a country with true peace and democracy. In spite of the fact that a brother Nicaraguan might feel misunderstood where he works. In spite of the fact that he might feel judged or rejected by those who are around him, even by his family for thinking differently (Mt 10: 34-36; Lk 12: 51-53), as long as his life revolves around love, in the end everything will make sense. That is why it is necessary to cultivate prayer. God always has the last word. Let us remain with him, like Mary at the foot of the cross (Jn 19:25). Let us hope with faith. Let us do it for God, for our children, for our youth, for our elderly, being faithful to our Church.

 

  1. To carry out this mission it is important to forgive, as Jesus tells us: “if someone hits you on the cheek, offer him the other. If someone forces you to give him your mantle, give him also your tunic” (Mt 5:39-40). When Jesus asks you to do this, he is not inviting you to act like a fool, but he is inviting you to break with the cycle of violence. This is being wise. Because violence engenders violence, and as our grandmothers say: “fire is not extinguished with fire”. Let us not wait for the enemies of good to take this step, it is us, first of all, who have to take it on, because forgiveness brings with it that peace that we are called to cultivate. If we want social peace, let us first seek peace in our hearts. We need to break the cycle of violence. There are many peoples who have triumphed with peaceful revolution, with the force of values, faith, hope and charity, in a word, with the power of God.

The illuminating Word of the Gospel

In the face of this great challenge, in the Christian tradition, the wisdom of the Sermon of the Mount emerges with beauty and cogency, especially the Beatitudes. The protagonists in them are not the powerful, nor the rich, the erudite, nor those who determine the immediate future of populations. The protagonists are the poor, the afflicted, dispossessed, those who hunger and thirst for justice, the merciful, the clean of heart, those who work for peace.

The Beatitudes invite us to build our coexistence not on iron poorly mixed with clay, but on the rock of the Word of God. And this firmness is expressed, necessarily, in care for those most disadvantaged of our society, who hope that justice might be for them a mother that shelters them, honors them and invites them to the table of all. Not just for pity, which would already be a human sentiment, but so that they might have available that which is owed them in justice.

In the words of Pope Francis, “the future demands today the task of rehabilitating politics, which is one of the highest forms of charity. The future demands of us also a humanistic vision of the economy, and a politics that achieves evermore and better participation of people, avoids elitism and eradicates poverty”. And to achieve this urgent mission he had invited us with great clarity to “travel in pilgrimage to the existential fringes of society.”

Conclusion: Invited to dream

Authorities, friends, brothers and sisters: The Sermon of the Mount (Mt 5-7) is a monument to fraternity. It is based on our common descendancy from God the Father, who does not admit discrimination based on race, sex, creed or lack of belief. A fraternity that, when it is forgotten, leads us to act like Cain, losing good sense and abandoning more human means. It is the madness that leads to preparing rockets and putting trust in weapons of death. This has never been the path. Never! In contrast, when real space is given to fraternity and it is believed in, we can confront one another with the truth, expressed with respect, love, frankness and with affection, and with an untiring dialogue, keeping the doors open to reunion and coexistence in peace.

Invited to dream

Let us recall the dream of Martin Luther King (June 28, 1963), let ourselves be allowed to dream from faith, as bishops of our country Nicaragua: let us dream of a country where we might rediscover graciousness in our personal and institutional relationships; let us dream of a country where people are exactly in the center of our concern and our work; let us dream of recognizing one another as brothers, as sisters, even more fraternal with the weakest, most vulnerable and with those with different capacities; let us dream that the greatest interest not be money but the growth of people and the happiness of their families; let us dream that Nicaragua might be, in truth, a table for all, also for those who migrate seeking in that home new horizons for their lives; let us dream of a country without discrimination of any type; let us dream of a country with its hand extended and face uncovered; let us dream of a just, fraternal and caring country.

Let us dream of a reconciled country! Let us dream of a hopeful country!

PRAY THE ROSARY

Mary is the beloved of Yahweh and Nicaragua belongs to Mary. We invite you to pray as a family the Holy Rosary so that our mother might take to Jesus the intention of being faithful to our mission of building a better Nicaragua for all. Let us cultivate this tradition around our grandparents and parents. It is in the family, “small domestic church” (St. Paul VI), where new leaders are formed with the vocation of service to the country. The solution to our conflicts as a nation start in the family. Let us make our homes into sanctuaries of love.

Issued in the offices of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua on the 15th day of September in the year 2019, on the feast of our Lady of Sorrows.

Seal of the Episcopal Conference, and signatures of:

Cardinal Leopoldo José Brenes Solórzano

Mons. Juan Abelardo Mata Guevara

Mons. David Zywiec Sidor, OFM Cap.

Mons. Sócrates René Sándigo Jirón

Mons. Pablo Schmitz OFM Cap

Mons. Rolando José Álvarez Lagos

Mons. Carlos Enrique Herrera Gutiérrez

Mons. Jorge Solórzano Pérez

20 Points that Unites Us for a New Nicaragua

The Blue and White National Unity released this plan for widespread discussion, within a context where the Nicaraguan government had denied the entry of a delegation of the OAS to help reactivate a dialogue that might bring about a non violent resolution to the ongoing crisis. The Blue and White National Unity has been criticized in the past for not having a plan for governance.

20 Points that Unites Us for a New Nicaragua

INTRODUCTION:

The common objective of the blue and white organizations and movements is the construction of a democratic society that assures us that dictatorships of any political sign never become enthroned again. The transition to democracy passes through the departure of the dictatorial regime and the constitution of a national unity government committed to justice, freedom and the defense of human rights.

This historic objective we will achieve through citizen mobilization for our rights, united in a large coalition that would bring together democratic forces without exclusions, and triumph in free and transparent elections. The basis for this coalition is a minimally common program that would establish the route for dismantling the dictatorship, the application of justice and democratic consolidation, to ensure the institutional framework that would open the way for economic and socially sustainable development.

For truly fair elections it is fundamental:

  1. a) the re-establishment of constitutional rights that include: the liberation of political prisoners, end to the repression, freedom of expression and mobilization, the safe return of exiles and human rights organizations.
  2. b) The profound reform of the electoral system that would ensure us clean and transparent elections.

The Blue and White National Unity proposes to all organizations, movements and democratic forces in general the following Minimum Common Program prepared with the contributions of the organization members of the Blue and White National Unity for the search for a broad national consensus.

JUSTICE AND NO IMPUNITY

  1. Establish with the leadership of all the victims and the counsel of international human rights organizations the institutional frameworks for applying transitional justice which means truth, reparations, justice and guarantee of no repetition.
  2. Investigate the crimes, all the human rights violations, including those of gender based violence, to identify the guilty and bring them to justice. Establish for these effects a Special and Independent Prosecutor with international assistance to investigate and process those responsible with complete impartiality.
  3. Create a Truth Commission that would establish and disseminate the reality of the facts of violence and abuses committed during the dictatorship of Ortega.
  4. Sign international agreements concerning justice and the protection of human rights, with a priority on the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court.

DEMOCRACY AND DISMANTLING THE DICTATORSHIP

  1. Create a new, truly national, non-partisan Police force where there will be no place for elements involved in the repression.
  2. Disarm and dissolve the para-state groups for which there should be international assistance.
  3. Depoliticize the national army so that it might fulfill its constitutional duty as a body subordinated to civilian power.
  4. Reorganize the judicial system, purging it of judges and prosecutors committed to the repression, and strengthen it as an independent, professional and impartial body.
  5. Reform the electoral and political party system. Have effective guarantees for holding clean, participatory, transparent elections. In the case of the Caribbean Coast, the elections must respect the cultures and customs of indigenous and Afro-descendent peoples. Ensure the right of the citizenry to organize political parties and other forms of political participation, including the vote of Nicaraguans outside of the country.
  6. Strengthen and apply the Law of Citizen Participation, and repeal the laws that contradict it, to endure the involvement of the citizenry in the management of public policies and frame the political direction of the country.
  7. De-politicize public institutions and ensure the stability of public employees. Investigate the cases of layoffs in the state sector for political reasons for the reinstatement of those public employees. The confiscated or occupied land and properties of legal entities and people will be returned to their legitimate owners.
  8. Strengthen municipal autonomy and promote an authentic implementation of the autonomy regime in the Caribbean Coast, and respect for their forms of government and means of consultation for the use of their natural resources within their territories, as well as ensure the implementation of territorial remediation.
  9. Establish the absolute prohibition of presidential re-election. A person who was president once, will not be able to be president again under any circumstance. The Constitution and pertinent laws will be reformed for a more balanced distribution of power, ensuring the independence of the branches of government.

 

ECONOMIC GROWTH WITH SOCIAL EQUITY

  1. Promote economic, social and environmentally sustainable growth, that would incentivize the return of capital, private investment, and job creation, and that would transform, innovate and diversify the productive matrix. For an inclusive economic reactivation emphasis will be placed on the demographic and female dividend, within a market economy with social justice.
  2. Carry out programs for the promotion of jobs, agricultural production with value added, innovation, entrepreneurship and the establishment of small and medium enterprises. Likewise promote de-politicized social programs focused on the most vulnerable sectors.
  3. Do a holistic reform of the Social Security regime within the framework of a broad national debate that would ensure the protection of the most vulnerable. And ensure that the tax laws, exonerations, and exemptions are based on principles of equity, in a way that would contribute to promoting sustainable and inclusive human development.

SUSTAINABLE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

  1. Prioritize holistic and quality education, with a human rights approach. Promote civic values and a critical awareness in all academic levels, in addition to innovative technologies and tools that would allow for human development connected to the social reality and productive capacity. Strengthen the Autonomous Regional Educational System and ensure University Autonomy.
  2. Raise the quality and increase the coverage of health services offered within the framework of a new public health model without exclusion. Implement programs of decent housing, potable water and sewage, as well as basic quality infrastructure for all, with the view to promote a healthy environment.
  3. Investigate and recover resources illegally appropriated, especially those derived from Venezuelan aid, and commit to a frontal struggle against corruption in all its forms, in order to invest those resources in human development and the recovery of our environment.
  4. Repeal Law 840: Special Law for the Development of Nicaraguan Infrastructure and Transportation Relevant to the Canal, Free Trade Zones and Associated Infrastructure. This with the spirit of recovering and protecting the environment.

In light of the memory of all the victims and the demand of our population for a free country with justice and democracy, the organizations and movements of the Blue and White National Unity commit ourselves to publicizing and discussing this proposal to achieve a national consensus that would allow us to found the democratic republic that we Nicaraguans deserve and have so long desired.

Nicaragua, September 12, 2019.

 

PRESS RELEASE- IACHR Denounces the Persistence of Repression in Nicaragua

This is a significant statement by the IACHR that confirms the continued violation of rights and freedoms  on the part of the government, rights  that the government agreed to re-establish in the 2nd dialogue last March.  An undeclared state of exception continues in Nicaragua. This same perspective is reflected in the statements by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations in their meetings in Geneva this week.

PRESS RELEASE

IACHR denounces the persistence of the repression and expresses its concern over the increase of harassment of human rights defenders and those released from jail in Nicaragua

[ see original Spanish at https://www.oas.org/es/cidh/prensa/comunicados/2019/220.asp ]

September 6, 2019

Washington, DC. The Interamerican Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) denounces the persistence of repression in Nicaragua. In addition, it expresses its concern over the increase of harassment of human rights defenders, lawyers of people released from prison and/or who continue jailed for acts related to the protests begun on April 18, 2018.

Through their conventional and regulatory mechanisms, the IACHR continues receiving information about the persistence of the repression in Nicaragua. In this regard, on August 21st, the Special Rapporteur for Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights (REDESCA) of the IACHR denounced the pattern of discrimination and threats of reprisals on the part of the State authorities against state workers critical of the Government. Likewise, on August 26th, human rights experts of the United Nations and the Special Rapporteur for the freedom of expression of the IACHR denounced systematic repression against the communications media and independent journalists in the country.

Within the framework of the closure of civic and democratic spaces, through the Special Mechanism for Followup for Nicaragua (MESENI), the IACHR also received troubling information about the intensification of harassment of human rights defenders and other collectives of lawyers in Nicaragua. On August 6th Leyla Prado, a lawyer for the Permanent Human Rights Commission (CPDH) denounced death threats received through social networks from people aligned with the government. Those threats and the harassment have increased in the context of her conduct as the defense counsel for María Oviedo, a lawyer of the CPDH, criminalized since July 26th and declared guilty in a trial on August 29th for the crime of “obstruction of functions”. Later on August 9 IACHR was informed about the police surveillance of the installations of Acción Penal, a collective of ex prosecutors who are dedicated to the defense of “political prisoners”. On August 19th five defense attorneys were detained for several hours when they were putting up protest posters in Managua. On that same August 19th the lawyer Aura Alarcón – from the Unity of Legal Defense [Unidad de Defensa Jurídica] – had been assaulted and stripped of her belongings on the part of “Sandinista mobs”. According to information received, even though the events occurred in the presence of police agents, they did not stop the aggression; in addition, when she filed charges, Aura Alarcón was pointed out as a “coup lawyer” on the part of the police.

In this regard, the Commissioner Francisco Eguiguren, the Rapporteur for Defenders of Human Rights, pointed out that “the adverse context in which human rights defenders, as well as lawyers, carry out their work is symptomatic of the continuation of the crisis and the police state in the country.”

In the month of August MESENI also received testimony about the human rights situation of people released from prison, and the persistence of acts of harassment, threats, and aggressions against them. According to the testimony received, they are victims of ongoing surveillance by police agents and motorized civilians through constant questioning of their families members and neighbors, and remain in the immediate vicinity of their homes until early hours of the morning. Likewise, people released from jail are victims of threats and campaigns of stigmatization in social networks while being pointed out as “coup supporters”. As a consequence, some of them have to continually relocate to safe houses, or have decided to leave the country. In addition the IACHR warns about the continuation and normalization of a pattern of arbitrary detentions, for short periods of time, of these people. Some of these detentions have occurred at border posts or in the airport after the participation of some of these people in international events, according to the information received, for the purpose of intimidating them for their leadership within the context of the protests begun on April 18, 2018. On August 27th, civil society organizations reported that at least 30 people released from prison have been detained under this pattern.

The Commission reiterates once again that many of the people released from prison are kept in uncertainty due to the lack of information about their legal situation. In some cases, the criminal cases continue open, and their criminal records have not been expunged, or rather, when the Amnesty Law is applied, the cases are shelved without ordering their acquittal, which would have, among other effects, blocked the end of precautionary measures imposed and the return of assets seized. On August 26 the IACHR was informed of irregularities presented in the computer system of the Central Judicial Complex of Managua which prevented the lawyers access to information about the cases of the “political prisoners”. In the same context, the IACHR notes that the holding of public hearings continues to be restricted for independent communications media in the country for more than a year.

In this regard, the Commissioner Joel Hernández, Rapporteur for the Rights of Prisoners, highlighted that “in the framework of the Rule of Law, the judicial system should function as the first line of defense of human rights. For that reason, the fulfillment of the guarantees of impartiality and independence established in international law prove to be imperative.” He added that “in the Nicaraguan case, what we have documented continuously have been patterns of repression from the very bodies responsible for the administration of justice.”

Within the framework of the repression against people identified as opponents of the regime, during the month of August the IACHR became aware of the exile to Costa Rica of the mayor of Mulukukú, Apolonio Fargas, for the alleged take over of the installations of the Municipal Government and his home by police agents. Previously Mr. Apolonio Fargas has been detained for his participation in the social protests, and later freed by virtue of the amnesty law. On the other hand, on August 23rd the IACHR ordered the adoption of cautionary measures for the protection of Violeta Mercedes Granera, a member of the Blue and White Unity, on finding herself in a situation of risk in the framework of the current situation which the State of Nicaragua is undergoing.

According to publicly known information, on August 27th in the municipality of Wiwilí, the province of Jinotega, Mr. Francisco Blandón Herrera was murdered by shots perpetrated by a civilian on a motorcycle. In this regard, human rights organizations have said that this case was framed in the context of the escalation of violence in the interior part of the country against peasants and people identified as opponents of the Government. The Commission exhorts the Nicaraguan State to investigate with due diligence the circumstances around this event and other acts of violence in order to identify and punish the people responsible, and thus combat the impunity and prevent the repetition of similar deeds. At the same time, in the current environment of polarization, repression and stigmatization that persists in Nicaragua, the IACHR calls on the State to ensure the integrity and safety of peasants and people identified as opponents or critics of the Government.

The Commissioner Antonia Urrejola, Rapporteur for Nicaragua, reiterated: “from the Interamerican Commission, we once again call on the State of Nicaragua to cease the repression, and in particular to implement an appropriate process of truth, justice and reparation for the victims in accordance with international standards on matters of human rights”. The President of the IACHR, Commissioner Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, added: “ the elimination of the situation of impunity in Nicaragua and the recovery of trust in state institutions constitute some of the biggest principal challenges for the reestablishment of the Rule of Law.”

The IACHR is a principal and autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose mandate emerges from the Charter of the OAS and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Interamerican Commission has the mandate to promote the observance and defense of human rights in the region, and acts as a consultative body of the OAS on this matter. The IACHR is composed of seven independent members who are elected by the General Assembly of the OAS on an individual basis, and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

 

 

Mass for the freedom of political prisoners in Masaya offered under the siege of the Orteguista Police

These translations of two articles in La Prensa are examples of the situation that opponents of the regime continue to face: harassment by the police of a mass for the release of political prisoners, and prisoners held for more than a year without trial. They provide confirmation for the position of  Yaser Morazón, when he says “if you demonstrate you are going to suffer, but if you do nothing you are going to live comfortably”.

Mass for the freedom of political prisoners in Masaya offered under the siege of the Orteguista Police

By Cinthya Tórrez García, Aug 28, 2019 in La Prensa

[see original Spanish here]

In addition to the Police, mobs aligned with the Ortega regime also showed up and shouted expletives from the park located in front of the church against the families of political prisoners and those released prisoners who attended the mass.

Contrary to what the dictator, Daniel Ortega, proclaims, that in Nicaragua there is religious freedom, Fr. Edwin Román, the pastor of the San Miguel Church in Masaya, this Wednesday had to celebrate mass for the freedom of political prisoners under the harassment of seven squads of the Orteguista Police, each one composed of some 10 policemen who stationed themselves around the church.

The general commissioner and also Assistant Director of the Orteguista Police, Ramón Avellán, was among the officers who monitored the Catholic Church while mass was held, attended by mothers of victims of political violence, prisoners released from jail, and family members of current political prisoners.

Mobs aligned with the Ortega regime joined the harassment of the police force, who shouted expletives from the park located in front of the church against the opponents of the regime.

One of the most tense moments happened almost at the end of the Eucharist. The police got down from the police trucks and formed a blockade with their shields in hand, covering two of the three exits of the church, in clear harassment of the opponents. Once the Eucharist ended, the faithful sang the National Anthem, left and formed a picket line in front of the uniformed officers, and shouted “murderers” at them, “the people united will never be defeated”.

The demonstrators threw out white and blue pieces of paper and balloons, symbols of the civic protest, while in front in the park the zealots of the dictatorship waved a red and black flag, and another white and blue one, without the shield in the middle. Both groups shouted their own slogans related to their convictions. Nevertheless, one of the Ortega sympathizers threw what appeared to be a bag of water at the principal entrance to the church. The Orteguista Police did not react.

For his part, Fr. Edwin Román, stated that the gospel shared this Wednesday addressed the issue of hypocrisy, which reflects what is being experienced in the country: “A government based on lies, hypocrisy, projecting a false image, talks about peace, love, and what it prescribes for us is death, violence, injustice”, he said.

Civic Alliance up to August 8 Counts 126 Political Prisoners of the Dictatorship

By Lidia López B on Aug 28, 2019 in La Prensa

[see original Spanish here]

The dictatorship of Daniel Ortega is holding 126 political prisoners, one of whom is a woman, for participating in marches and protesting against the regime, reported Álvaro Vargas of the Civic Alliance (AC).

The AC reported that of the 126 political prisoners, 53 have been sentenced, 37 processed and 36 are jailed. Of the total 75 are jailed in some installation of the penitentiary system, 38 are in police stations, and 13 in Judicial assistance installations.

According to Vargas, the list is based on cases of political prisoners collected up to August 8th, but it will be updated next week.

Among the cases of political prisoners there are many who now have spent more than a year detained in the Jorge Navarro Penitentiary System who have not even been tried. An example of this is the student Francisco Javier Jiménez Rayo, who this past July 23 had spent a year being a political prisoner of the regime. This 22 year old university student was abducted by the Orteguista Police in the area of the Bello Horizonte traffic circle, when he was returning to his home in the Cristhian Pérez neighborhood, after participating in a march of the self convened against the dictator Daniel Ortega.

Steadfast in their struggle

Pedro Gutiérrez González, another political prisoner, has been jailed for 14 months without being tried. Verónica Ordoñez, the wife of González, said that the trial has been “suspended indefinitely”, because since October 2018 no hearing has been held again. In addition she added that the Orteguista judge Edgard Altamirano, in charge of the case, had scheduled a hearing for this past July 4, but it did not happen and neither was it rescheduled for another date.

This past Tuesday afternoon, Ordoñez, along with family members of other political prisoners and those released and the AC, denounced in a press conference that her spouse needed a new prosthesis on his leg to be able to get around, but the judge who is responsible for the case has not responded to the request from the defense attorney, who is asking for a specialist to enter the Penitentiary System.

“He has had problems getting around. It just so happens on Friday (August 23) he fell and opened a wound on his left foot, it was bleeding and there was a hematoma. He is having a lot of health problems because of it, because his spinal column hurts, his sternum…and skin diseases have shown up”, said Ordoñez.

In spite of the limited conditions in which Gutiérrez finds himself, he says that he continues steadfast in the struggle – according to Ordoñez –t they will not shut him up even in jail. “They can kill my body but not my heart nor my soul”, the political prisoner said to his wife.

For her part, María Ruiz Briceño, the only woman reported as a political prisoner, was abducted on July 13th, after participating in a protest picket line in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Managua. The young woman, ex-barricade supporter in the UNAN Managua, is 22 years of age and is a student of Banking and Finance and Electronic Engineering.

The mother of the young woman, Dulce Briceño, pointed out that her daughter is sick and is being harassed by prisoners aligned with the Ortega regime. “I demand freedom for my daughter, she is innocent. Freedom for my daughter and the rest of the political prisoners”, said Briceño through a video published by the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

 

 

Without Pressure there are no Negotiations

Yaser Morazán has an important presence in social media in Nicaragua, and had been critical of the business sector´s reluctance to get involved in acts of civil disobedience to show resistance to the government. The business sector´s gradual dominance of the Civic Alliance has also been a complaint of several sectors, and was highlighted in a tumultuous meeting of exiles in Costa Rica recently. The Civic Alliance recently restructured itself to make itself more inclusive of other sectors of society. In this interview Yaser goes into more depth about these issues.

Without Pressure there are no Negotiations

Interview of Yaser Morazán in Domingo, La Prensa, August 18, 2019

by Abixael Mogollón

[see original Spanish here ]

He is loved and hated in social networks. Yaser Morazán knows this. From exile he is working on a document to resist the dictatorship, and in this interview explains how small actions that go from releasing pieces of paper to more radical actions like building a barricade on the border with Costa Rica are going to end up forcing Ortega to return to the negotiating table. He has met with members of the international community, and members of the Civic Alliance, and he states that this is a key moment for the Alliance, since it is important to renovate it or it will be destined to disappear.

What forced to you to into exile?

In order to continue sharing the ideas about civil disobedience, focused boycotts and other campaigns, it was better to put myself in the safety of exile. I have more than 100 screenshots of death threats, or that reveal my address, so I thought that the only way to continue doing my work was by going into exile.

What are those other campaigns?

The national and international plan of civil disobedience I started to suggest while in Nicaragua in a meeting with the Civic Alliance. It is not an initiative that started from my exile. It is a proposal that intends to create a mechanism of economic, institutional, cultural and social pressure; to be able to weaken the pillars that sustain the dictatorship. They are civil resistance strategies without using the body as a human foxhole, and that ensure freedom and life for the people who participate.

What type of actions does this document have?

First, I start from recognizing the violent nature of this regime. To the extent that we understand that we are in a state of exception, our capacity to struggle has to adapt to that reality. Basing myself on this, we have to create a series of actions to stop participating in the social, cultural, political and economic dynamics of the country; like national, school stoppages, fiscal and tax strikes, paralyzing state institutional processes, not participating in events sponsored by the regime, like fairs, festivals, congresses. It is creating a social blockade where we demonstrate to the regime that it does not have a country to govern.

How would these measures be applied?

We have to prepare a document that would be presented to Nicaraguan public opinion, where activities, roles, resources and times would be established, in this plan goals or demands will be defined that we are going to ask the dictatorship to meet. For example, the return of the legal status of the NGOs that were confiscated, the return of the equipment stolen from journalists and communications media. For this to happen, we have to tell the regime that we have this work plan where we establish actions of low, medium and high impact. They will be implemented over time to the extent that the regime responds to our needs, otherwise we will increase the intensity.

We would begin with a simultaneous press conference in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and the United States where Nicaraguans, exiles and the diaspora would present this plan, even have this document read in the pulpits of churches. Then we would hold a virtual march. Then we would organize masses and religious ceremonies for peace throughout the entire national territory. Then we would continue with actions that have been effective and that people like, such as releasing blue and white balloons, small pieces of paper of those same colors, papers with messages, blue and white paint or writing on public buses, bathrooms, and currency with the slogan #SOSNICARAGUA. All in secret and anonymously, because we cannot continue doing it facing weapons and violence.

We are talking about fighting a dictatorship with pieces of paper and paint.

If they do not listen to our demands we would move to medium impact actions. That can be that the diaspora call for temporary stoppages of sending family remittances, the stoppage of sending packages to Nicaragua, stop buying airline tickets to and from Nicaragua, preparation of lists on the national level of businesses and companies connected to the Sandinista Front. That can begin with businesses of the Army, the National Police and the Ortega Murillo family.

It is important to promote media and political pressure against the embassies of Taiwan throughout the world for continuing to finance the dictatorship. We have to be confrontational with the Central American Bank for financing the dictatorship, this has to be an action plan among all the actors, those in exile, the diaspora, the Alliance and the National Unity. Finally, if after a year these actions do not work, I think that we have to be considering once again revisiting the idea of an indefinite national strike.

Do you think a national strike is viable? Taking into account the small and medium businesses which would mean closing and hoping that Ortega would leave power?

Personally I have not called for an indefinite national strike on social networks, first of all because I am not in Nicaragua, and secondly because I recognize the real fear of the business owners, and thirdly because I do not promote activities where I cannot participate. Nicaraguans have to understand that it is not viable either to live in a dictatorship, in fear and under repression. The situation is already radical for us, and we have to take radical actions to be able to survive. The other option that we have is not do anything and resign ourselves to live in a dictatorship like the people of Cuba did, or hope for what is eventually going to happen as in Venezuela.

You do not believe in the national dialogue to remove Daniel Ortega?

Negotiation is an end and not a means,. The dialogue will happen when the regime, pressured by our actions, now sits down to negotiate. In April it was the blockades, then it was the marches, but now we do not have anything to offer, and those who have nothing to offer have nothing to demand. I am convinced that without pressure there is no negotiation, and without destabilization there is no liberation of Nicaragua.

It has been said on social networks that among the strongest actions is doing a blockade on the border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

Done by the exiles themselves. In this way we paralyze regional commerce and we create a crisis in the region that will force the presidents of the isthmus to take clearer and more forceful positions.

Do you think that this really is possible in a foreign country?

We activists do not ask permission. If people had asked permission in Nicaragua, no blockades would have been built. I think that we are experiencing a crisis and drastic measures are required, at least in Costa Rica the most that they can do is put you in jail, but they are not going to kill you, as can happen in Nicaragua if you want to build a blockade.

A little while ago on social networks there was a call to boycott a business for having red and black chairs in their place, don´t you feel that this is diverting attention to superficial things?

I am happy with this new version of a country that we have, because I think that Nicaraguans have stepped it up to identify any manifestation of violence. In this case the regime has used symbols to repress. Violence is not just blows, it is also when they rub in your face that they have power over public spaces. In Nicaragua red and black means mourning, grief, blood, death, and we all know that. In terms of the issue that you are mentioning, that business is the property of a Sandinista deputy from Rivas, and what she did was mark off her territory and she has the right to do it, but the people also have the right to decide where they are going to consume, and where they are not going to consume. When we quit consuming in a Sandinista business, what we are doing is giving our income to a blue and white business, and that is a very effective way of protesting, because we are touching on what most hurts the Sandinista Front, which is money.

Before the crisis you openly defined yourself as a Sandinista. Then you made the distinction between being a Sandinista and an Orteguista. What has happened to that idea since you went into exile?

I come from a Sandinista home, where I was taught the ideals of Sandino and I believed that the FSLN represented those values. I refused to see the corruption and the lack of values that public institutions and people directly connected to the party exercised. Always looking for a leftist orientation, I started to participate in the Sandinista Renovation Movement, because I thought that that was where it was at. In fact, in the first marches of April I wore my t-shirts with Sandino, diverse Sandino, or Sandino with a cell phone logo, because it was my way of reclaiming my idea of Sandinism. Starting in April and May I was seeing that the same methods that they were using to repress the population, like the torture and killings, were exactly the same methods that I imagine they used in the decade of the 80s to justify their revolution. For me April was a wake up call. I insisted in the fact that I was a non Orteguista Sandinista, but I have come to the conclusion that it is the same thing. Some killed in the 80s and others do now.

At this moment is seems everything is stagnant, it seems that people are not united at least on social networks.

I think that it is part of the democratic processes that people have the capacity to say the things that they are thinking. Some just resort to insults, aggression, vulgarities. Nevertheless I prefer that people are expressing their opinion in excess, and not that they express their opinion as we did prior to April. Although at times they might go over the mark for nearly everyone, including me. It does not matter, it is better than a complicit silence.

There is a sector that hates you and another that adores you in social networks, and some criticize you over the fact that being in exile you call for actions like the boycott.

I defend freedom of expression. People have the right to say what they are thinking about me or whoever. Likewise I have the capacity to ignore or block what does not interest me. We are all part of this process, it is normal, healthy, it is necessary. I have been generating material for social networks for four years, which meant that I was somewhat media friendly and I have received a lot of threats. I only suggest, propose, challenge, criticize, but I never impose, and those who want will join, and those who do not… The beautiful thing is that we all do what we can with the resources that we have.

You have met with members of the international community who are following the crisis in Nicaragua. What assessment does their role deserve?

Their role has been mediocre and ineffective. In fact one of the ambassadors to the OAS told us that the sense of timing for politics is very different from the urgent sense of timing that the Nicaraguan people needed; and an authority from the US government told us that Daniel Ortega was not going to negotiate because negotiating his departure meant that he would end up in jail, and that that was not going to happen. The international community is not going to liberate us. Over above the interests of human rights, the international community has political and economic interests. It is not a coincidence that over all the condemnations, the United States continues being the principal trade partner of Venezuela and Nicaragua. Now is not the moment to continue complaining, it is the moment to look more within.

And what do you have to say about the Civic Alliance?

They have played a good role in what it has been theirs to do. My criticism always has been around what they have not done, for example, from the beginning the people of the Alliance were telling me that their mandate was not to direct a popular insurrection, but that their mandate was the national dialogue. I think that they have stayed in that role, and that role has been dictated by the business and bureaucratic approach that that structure has, that is the reason for my criticism that the Alliance cannot be abducted by big capital, the private sector has the right to have a voice and we to ensure that it have one, but not that it be the only voice. That the businesspeople have the power to vote but not to veto. This moment is important because the Alliance is destined to strengthen itself or disappear, but it depends on them and how they channel the popular unrest.

At what moment did big capital take that control?

The business version that we have of the current Alliance is different from the one that was called by the Bishop´s Conference. With the first version of the Alliance we all came out to support them. But as time passed, people were replaced, which is why in the last negotiating table 50% of those there were from the private sector. AmCham, FUNIDES and COSEP, and that made me reflect at what point these people were representing the people who were in the barricades in the neighborhoods, the mothers of April, the mothers of the political prisoners, and currently those ex political prisoners. I think that the Alliance should be restructured for the good of Nicaragua.

Until there is a dialogue, what should the Alliance do?

I think that they should go into a process of assessment about their strategies, effectiveness and efficiency about what they have been doing so far, and they should be sincere and say to the people of Nicaragua: “this is as far as we go or this is our new work proposal”. The departure of Ortega will depend on our measures. If we are not forceful, the regime is not going to ever want to leave power, and we will be destined to be Venezuela or Cuba. Ortega prefers to govern a country in extreme poverty than end up in jail. This type of dictator does not leave because they wake up one day being good people.

Has the scenario been considered where these measures are applied to the letter and Ortega remains in power?

No. Right now I do not have a plan B, because first I have to try plan A. Evaluate, to change, strengthen and remove. Rather I am sticking to these ideas, because I do not want to lead people to use methods from the past that no one wants anymore.

How are the exiles doing?

Where I am here in Costa Rica people are depressed, feel powerless, frustration, sadness. While in Nicaragua the people that belong to organized structures are afraid, suffer persecution, death threats; while the Nicaraguans who are not involved in anything are living the most normal lives in the world. Because the regime what it is doing is creating an enclosure, teaching society a lesson through punishments or rewards, so that you are clear, that if you demonstrate you are going to suffer, but if you do nothing you are going to live comfortably. It is the same Cuban model. We cannot have the luxury of going back to the same“ normality” that existed prior to April, but if we do not increase this pressure that is what is going to end up happening.

Personal plane

Yaser Morazán is 33 year old and is from the province of Matagalpa. He is the son of a retired soldier Alfonso José Morazán Castillo, who was abducted in October 2018 by the Ortega regime and was released in May 2019.

He did Chemical Analysis Laboratory studies in the National Technological Institute in Granada, and then studied Social Work at the Central American University (UCA). His first relationships with human rights organizations was in 2007 working with the Organization of American States (OAS). He also did post-graduate studies in Family Psychology.

He has been working since he was 19 years old. He loves Nicaraguan food, especially beans and tortillas. He has been an activist for 13 years, and before going into exile used to produce multimedia pieces for social networks. He says that ignorant and violent people make him nervous.

 

President Daniel Ortega: We have a commitment to make the Interoceanic Canal a Reality in Nicaragua

President Daniel Ortega: We have a commitment to make the Interoceanic Canal a Reality in Nicaragua

Published in El 19 Digital Aug 13, 2019

[see original Spanish at https://www.el19digital.com/articulos/ver/titulo:93076-presidente-daniel-ortega-tenemos-el-compromiso-de-hacer-realidad-el-canal-interoceanico-en-nicaragua ]

Comandante Daniel Ortega, president of Nicaragua, stated that he has the historical commitment with the people of Nicaragua to make the Great Interoceanic Canal of Nicaragua a reality, in declarations offered during the event of the 39th anniversary of the founding of the Naval Force.

He highlighted that this project has not been abandoned, and that it would provide more development to the country and improve the living conditions of the people.

“We have not abandoned it, on the contrary historically we have the commitment to the Nicaraguan people to make the canal a reality for Nicaragua,” stated comandante Daniel Ortega.

Likewise he stated that work has been done and that it is in a new phase of once again preparing the environmental studies that had already been presented, but that had to have adjustments made.

“We are not talking about a work that is going to come in to affect, to do damage, rather it comes in to strengthen global commerce, and give Nicaragua a source of resources that would allow Nicaragua to provide better development, better growth and therefore improve the economic conditions of all Nicaraguan families. This is what I wanted to recall, because all of a sudden then, because we have not spoken much about the canal in these times, recall that our commitment is to continue working for the construction of the Canal through Nicaragua”, certified the Nicaraguan leader.

This was stated by comandante Daniel after highlighting that the idea of the Interoceanic Canal was the product of historical and current studies that endorsed the national and world economic necessity of having a new maritime path that would shorten the distance between the continents.

On addressing the issue of the Great Canal, the Nicaraguan leader indicated that the Great Canal Project is “a project that has the backing of the immense majority of Nicaraguans.”

A history marked by ambition

At that moment he showed documents that mentioned that the President of the United States at that time, Stephen Grover Cleveland, addressed the US Congress to submit the studies done by engineers of the Navy of that nation about the viability of this construction work.

They did it along the route that at that time was considered the natural route for the canal, which was entering through the Rio San Juan, crossing through the lake and making a 14 kilometer cut through the isthmus of Rivas to arrive at Brito (…), they did the study. Did they ask the permission of the people of Nicaragua? No, simply the decision was that the United States needed a canal and they had set their eye on Panama and Nicaragua, because they were the points that showed the best conditions to be able to build the canal, and which had already in fact functioned as a canal during the gold rush in the United States, where thousands of families from the east coast traveled to the west coast crossing US territory running thousands of risks, dangers, there was still indigenous resistance, there were bandits, robbers, deserts. So they started very clever US enterprises, an enterprise of Cornelius Vanderbilt was begun, he said here is the opportunity, really with a great vision as a businessman he organized the transit route through Nicaragua, and the boats with passengers left from New York heading toward the small port that existed in the Rio San Juan”, recalled comandante Daniel.

Indicating that on arriving in San Juan de Nicaragua they would travel the Rio San Juan, and then in Brito were awaited by other ships to take them to California.

Nicaragua a strategic point

“Thousands of North Americans crossed through Nicaragua and another route was also opened through Panama, more to the south. The Nicaragua route was more to the north, closer, but the fact is that already before, since the Spanish arrived to take over these lands and impose their cultures and exploit the original population, the indigenous, already before a fight had begun with the British. Because the British wanted to take over Nicaragua and why? If here there were not large amounts of gold, which is what the colonizers most looked for at that time, nor silver? Because the British as well as the Spanish used to say very clearly in those years: they would say that the nation that dominates this route through Nicaragua is going to dominate all of Latin America, they saw it as a point for global expansion throughout the region. At that time, the United States still did not have all the potential to influence as later it did, and the clash was between the Spanish and the British”, laid out the president.

He highlighted the fact that at that time the two superpowers fought one another over our territory, which did not belong to them.

“Who had given them Nicaragua? Ah, but they were fighting over Nicaragua and Nicaraguans subjected to a war between empires. Later the United States came in and William Walker came in the period of the transit route, but Walked came with other ideas, he was interested in taking over Central America to seize Mexico, and then install again the power of the racists, the [white] supremacists in the United States. Walker belonged to the forces from the United States who had been defeated, who did not admit the defeat, and those who brought Walker here thought that they were bringing in a mercenary, and they did not realize that they were bringing in a racist ideologue, [white] supremacist and suddenly he named himself president of Nicaragua and began to shoot those who had brought him, and the battle against Walker got started”, he recalled.

Interoceanic Canal was not a crazy idea

On returning to the topic of the document presented by Cleveland, he highlighted the fact that the studies confirmed that building an interoceanic canal through Nicaragua was not any crazy idea, and that was confirmed by the confrontation between Spain and England over wanting to dominate the route to make themselves owners of the path “and then the United States now as a state with their troops intervening in Nicaragua, occupying Nicaragua, imposing a treaty on Nicaragua so that Nicaragua could not make any concession with another country. It was the time in which the United States would say, as they like to repeat today, ‘America for the United States´ Why? Because they did not want the competition from Europe. So, it was a time in which the United States was entering, they reached agreements with the British, and finally, we are talking about the year 1889 in the month of February when president Grover Cleveland turns over the studies [on the canal] to Congress.”

We have not abandoned the canal

He showed the maps of the studies done by the US navy engineers over several years and which were presented to Congress, who discussed the issue, saying that the canal would be built through Panama.

“This is chock-full , the studies are complete, a complete study and were the Nicaraguan people consulted perhaps? Was it done perhaps out of a minimal level of respect, was an agreement done to do this and the people taken into account? No. Simply the studies were done, and then where the canal would pass through were discussed then in Washington, there in the United States, whether through Panama or through Nicaragua, without asking the Panamanian people, and without asking the Nicaraguan people, they making the decision there in Washington”, he said.

At this point he highlighted that Nicaragua, the Sandinista Government, has not abandoned this project.

He recalled that in an encounter of presidents of Central America with the then president Barack Obama in Costa Rica, he talked informally about the topic.

“We were standing talking, before sitting down to start the formal meeting. The issue of the canal was already there, the agreement of Nicaragua, the canal authority had already been constituted. So the Costa Rican authorities with their typical usual practice of always picking fights with Nicaragua, were there raving against the canal, they were yelling every day, we were not responding. Every day they were yelling, insulting us, but we had nothing to gain to be yelling back, simply it has to be done- we were saying. And the president of Costa Rica was there, president Obama, (…) president Martinelli was there, the Central American presidents were there, and let´s say that I was interested in seeing how they would react to mentioning the issue of the Canal, and I said to president Obama: `President, the studies are already beginning for the construction of a Canal through Nicaragua´. He was listening. `…we are working on them with a Chinese company, and the Chinese company is interested in the entire world participating in this construction project, particularly US companies, European companies, Russian companies, in other words, that the international community participate. Why? Because the cost of the construction project is very high and logically the company needs to organize a large financial fund to be able to carry out this construction work”`, he said.

In this encounter Obama was listening, and even though he did not comment, president Daniel Ortega said to the then president of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla, that Costa Rica should not be concerned because the Canal would not be built through the route of the Rio San Juan, for being a zone rich in forests and wetlands and the environment must be protected and not damaged.

So work is being done- he said – so that the canal route might be toward the north far from the border with Costa Rica, therefore you have no reason to be concerned, so president Chinchilla did not say anything, she made no comment, I simply explained that the canal was not going to pass through the Rio San Juan which was the big concern that they expressed, when I was finishing, Obama says to president Martinelli who is where Panama canal is, `We support the canal through Nicaragua. We are not concerned, we do not see it as competition that is going to hurt us, we believe rather that is something beneficial´; in other words, it is an attitude that is rational because really the canal through Panama is the only route that we have currently for crossing, and in spite of the fact that the canal through Panama was enlarged, there are always lines [waiting] to be able to pass through it, because every day the maritime traffic gets larger, so it provides a place for a canal to be opened up through Nicaragua, and there would be two paths, if one highway is congested, well, it is expanded, and if expanded it still continues congested, the need to build another highway is normal, and in this case it is a matter of opening the canal through Nicaragua which is not our idea. Because all of a sudden this issue of a canal through Nicaragua is presented as if it were our idea, that occurred to us because we are Sandinistas, because we are revolutionaries it occurred to us that a canal needs to be built through Nicaragua, when since the arrival of the superpowers in America the fight began over the canal through Nicaragua”, he concluded.

 

40 Years of the Sandinista Revolution: Debating is Important

Raúl Zibechi is an Uruguayan activist-journalist and researcher of social movements in Latin America. His reputation – well known and respected especially by the left- makes this article on the 40th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution so significant.

40 Years of the Sandinista Revolution: Debating is Important

by Raúl Zibechi August 3, 2019 in the online magazine Rebelión

[see original Spanish at https://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=258971 ]

Those who believe that criticism and self criticism are useless, or dangerous, can read the speeches and interventions of Lenin after 1917 to his colleagues in the congresses and plenaries of the party and the soviets. You will observe the rigor of his analyses, merciless with mistakes and deviations, uncompromising with his closest comrades.

He was always like that, but once taking power he improved in density and precision, always exploring new issues. The bureaucracy and traps that his colleagues would make to shirk the problems that they created, or were not capable of solving, exasperated him. All revolutionaries, at all times, are implacable in the field where they militate, because they risk their lives and disparage titles.

When the 40th anniversary of the triumph of the Sandinista revolution happened, deep analyses of the hegemonic left were not heard, in spite of the fact that the process led by Daniel Ortega foundered in corruption and repression, leaving in its wake people murdered, tortured, imprisoned and in exile. A noted academic said, days before, that the massacre of April showed exemplary restraint (…) an example of nerve and a capacity for a constructive, generous and patriotic response.

The most serious analyses these days come from ex combatants who at different moments have abandoned the FSLN. Mónica Baltodano, Dora María Téllez, Luis Carrión, Henry Ruíz and Óscar René Vargas, among the most well known. For reasons of space I will focus on only two of them.

Baltodano considers the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo a dictatorship, in an article published in Brecha. She states that the great majority of the “commandantes of the revolution, guerrillas, popular combatants and common people who massively joined the final offensive disavow Orteguism, its atrocities and the repression unleashed, which includes – according to the conclusions of the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights – crimes against humanity.”

She denounces the military-police repression unleashed by Ortega against students and peasants, which she does not hesitate to describe as a massacre, perpetrated starting with the popular mobilizations of April 2018 against the cuts in the pension system.

Allied with bankers, big business and the United States, starting in 2007, according to the ex commandante, Ortega turned into a crusader for capitalism and the free market, for concessions to multinationals, brutal extractivism, the exploitation of natural resources and the privatization of all public wealth. She is outraged that some leftist parties and intellectuals would support the regime, even after the massacre that left hundreds of dead, thousands of wounded and mutilated, as well as more than 70,000 political refugees.

Carrión focuses on self criticism, but after recognizing that he was part of what he is denouncing, in an extensive article in the magazine Envio. He dwells on the achievements of the revolution in health and education, the empowerment of popular sectors and the agrarian reform. The criticism begins with the fact that the Sandinistas assumed absolute power, that led them even to place society and the social movements under their control, following the logic of the single political party.

The conversion of the social organizations into the transmission belt of the leadership of the FSLN, in the worst Stalinist tradition, went hand in hand with the accusation of the contras (counterrevolutionaries) who did not fall into line with the decisions from above. Plurality was not accepted on any terrain, not even in organizations of women, peasants or urban populations. Carrión recognizes that everything had to be painted red and black.

With the passage of time, we can understand the policy toward the Mískitos of the Caribbean Coast, on whom they tried to impose Sandinista logic, which they took to be a new colonization. It was an issue of the traditional mistakes of a State centered policy, in spite of the fact that the Sandinistas themselves tried to correct them with the declaration of autonomy, which he considers a virtue of the revolutionary government.

The treatment that the peasantry received was different, which Carrión assesses as key for the derailment of the revolution. He maintains that the war between the Sandinistas and the contras, supported by the United States, would not have become generalized if a massive uprising against the revolution had not been produced by peasants from the center of the country, from north to south.

In this respect, he thinks that there was abuse with the confiscation of lands that initially affected only the Somocistas, but later was applied to people who were not supporting the revolution. An additional problem was that the confiscations “were carried out by officials and political leaders who came from the cities with an ideological vision of the countryside, without knowing the identity of peasant society.”

Sandinism reproduced the colonial/patriarchal attitude of leftist parties toward the peasants and original peoples. According to Carrión, “an incapacity to relate to the peasantry, who spoke a different language, different from the one that those who arrived in the countryside representing the revolution.”

Lastly, the commandantes addressed the problem of a revolutionary power that reproduced the already existing political cultures in pre-revolutionary societies. Thus like Stalin (and the entire Bolshevik party) reproduced the legacy of the Zarist power, Ortega inserted himself into the authoritarian tradition of Nicaragua, where the Somoza dictatorship lasted for a half century and was preceded by other similar dictatorships.

How can one not reproduce and [instead] transform hegemonic political cultures? This is the nucleus of the debate that we owe one another and that, for now, only the women´s movement and the original people´s movement are beginning to address.

(The approach of the article is reminiscent of the central theme of the historical novel “The man who loved dogs” written in 2009 by Leonardo Padura, who paints an intricate and detailed picture of the type of mindset that ends up betraying revolutionary idealism. The novel is experiencing renewed interest in Nicaragua today).

The Strategy of Termites

The current FSLN administration  promotes itself as a pro-poor government, and rallies its supporters with the threat that the current opposition would not be as beneficial to the poor as the FSLN is. Yet this recent post by a key analyst in exile examines the economic policies that have resulted in ever increasing  inequalities  in Nicaraguan society  after 11 years of FSLN rule. He then goes on to address the current political struggle.

An interesting aside is to note the similarities just between the economic policies as such applied  here with the economic policies implemented in the US since the 1980s.

The Strategy of Termites

By Oscar René Vargas, July 30, 2019 published by Las Mesa Redonda, online magazine

[See original at Spanish at http://lamesaredonda.net/la-estrategia-de-las-termitas-oscar-rene-vargas/?fbclid=IwAR17AJ0Py30oYAbN_k3l2ir-BX2e_z7XQrywKmidnDqB9xtJiu3-UWjLzMs ]

 

  1. The waves of the sea grow gradually, they can be impressive in size, reach a maximum and then they fade away. One wave follows the next and so on. Social and political waves do not have the same regularity as those of the ocean. But in the present and the foreseeable future it is probable that we might have new social and political waves; lived social experiences do not die, they revive.
  2. In spite of being a country with a lot of natural wealth (minerals, water resources, forests, an extensive coastline on both oceans and enough agricultural land to feed its inhabitants), more than 50% of the population is found in conditions of poverty, the problem is that the distribution of wealth is very unequal.
  3. Wealth combines physical assets (buildings, cars, home goods and the other articles that individuals possess), as well as financial assets (bank deposits and financial investments), distributed in an unequal way.
  4. Nicaragua is a society where inequity predominates, with “unfocused” social spending that does not promote equity. The regressivity is the product of fiscal transfers in favor of large capital. Taxes are reduced and the capacity of large capital to evade them is increased.
  5. In Nicaragua the tax system is inefficient, generates a low level of collection – which limits social investment, maintains many subsidies to capital, and to sum it up, is unfair.
  6. In recent decades (1990-2019) the banking and financial sectors established their control over the economy. Transactions and investments were made and are made more and more to the image and likeness of the circulation of financial capital.
  7. The cycle of productive capital was more and more subordinated to the dictates of the interests of the banking sector. And the priorities of macroeconomic policy became a simple reflection of the needs of the banks and other agencies of the financial sector.
  8. Among the measures that constitute the basis for the economic model adopted by the regime is the indiscriminate promotion of large investment, which occupies a privileged place. Reality does its best to debunk the idea that any investment promotes growth and the distribution of wealth.
  9. The regime promotes, authorizes and supports agroindustrial, mining, logging or housing projects without taking into account the negative impact that they can have on the equilibrium of ecosystems, destruction of forests, water pollution, aquifer recharge areas, and the undesirable consequences derived from altering things.
  10. Insecurity, corruption and the repression of the regime are blocking productive investment, which has a negative repercussion on social investment or spending.
  11. Social spending or investment is slanted against the population with less resources, and principally benefits the wealthiest 10% of the population, who need it the least.
  12. Average capital yield in recent years has been higher than the increase in the minimum salary and the median nominal wage per worker. That is why we have growing inequality in income distribution.
  13. There is profound inequity in asset ownership that has a negative impact on income distribution. More wealth implies more income and viceversa, principally among those whose receipts come from income from property.
  14. The Somoza and Ortega-Murillo dictatorships were and are exclusive, and their policies have created strong authoritarian states that, in addition, have interest in keeping the population from knowing one another, communicating with one another, and mixing with one another, and on the contrary, do everything possible to turn their neighbor into a potential enemy.
  15. To organize those who authoritarian society and the dominant ideology do everything possible to keep as isolated individuals opposed to their peers, it is important to start from what is local, where people know one another well and interact, and where they have more security and trust.
  16. The governing caste is systematically destroying the economy of the country; it is wiping out the cream of the population and leading us toward a catastrophe.
  17. The regime promotes the political opportunism of the traditional politicians, which consists in passive adaptation to the regime and the parasitical nomenclature.
  18. It is clear that brutal social justices remain in the country, along with poverty, overabundance, unending increase in inequalities, the independence of institutions is ended, the lives of “those below” did not improve, sectors of the middle class were impoverished, and it is evident that the country exists immersed in a corrupt sea.
  19. The Ortega-Murillo regime did not transform the State, it went backwards in terms of human rights, did not progress in transforming the production model, there is an absence of fiscal transparency, many decisions are concentrated in few hands, the concentration of wealth was promoted, and for this reason it is not possible to provide continuity to the current model, a change in direction is needed.
  20. The democratic struggle against the dictatorship is a labyrinth and complex fight. It is important to begin from the cracks in the Ortega-Murillo regime, widen them, plant seeds in them, directly apply solutions to the small and large difficulties that arise in the fight against the dictatorship.
  21. At this point, the most reliable gamble of the regime aims at wanting to negotiate directly and only with the United States. For now it is only a gamble, a game of representiveness. There is an asymmetry between desire and reality.
  22. The crux of the democratic struggle consists in how to pave the way to defeating the dictatorship, how to find a way that would make the triumph of the social movements easier, how to mobilize the masses at each specific moment that would allow for the end of the regime. Finding the bridge that would allow the ebb tide to move to the second social wave; that is the task.
  23. It cannot be forgotten that one of the keys to politics resides in knowing how to correctly manage different moments. The most important part of a negotiation is listening to what is not said; to do so, an a prior analysis and strategy are needed.
  24. As known, the strategy of termites is based on their collective and coordinated action, which allows them to reach the point of eating up the structure of a house until making it uninhabitable or causing its collapse.
  25. The challenge of the social movements is to act like termites, collective and coordinated action, to defeat the dictatorship.

San José/Costa Rica, July 30, 2019.