Category Archives: Announcements

New Year Message of Government of Nicaragua

This end of the year speech by Daniel Ortega takes place in the context of the report issued earlier in the month [December 2018] by the GIEI that accused the government of human rights violations so severe that they categorized them as crimes against humanity. In this speech Daniel Ortega highlights economic and social  rights, those human rights spelled out  in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the right of everyone, especially the impoverished majorities, to have their basic needs met. While there may be legitimate debate about its effectiveness, this government, for better or for worse,  has placed a priority on responding to those basic needs.

While this fact does not legitimize the severe human rights violations contained in the GIEI report,  it is a key reason why some people  continue to support the government, and refuse to believe the accusations against it. It is also why they are reluctant to support  any change to an unknown future government where these economic and social rights would no longer be a priority – which has been the norm in the history of Nicaragua, and humanity in general. These aspects of basic human rights will be important to include in any future process of reconciliation if stability is to be achieved in Nicaragua.

Government of National Unity and Reconciliation

December 31, 2018 

With great Affection for all Nicaraguan Families, our best wishes, so that in this year we might have Health, we might continue cultivating Strength, and God might make us more and more resistant and more and more capable of constructing Peace. Thanks, Compañer@s

Words of Daniel

Work, Peace and to get to Work and Peace, Reconciliation. This is the starting point, Reconciliation, and this has been our Flag, this has been our Commitment throughout all the Time, and it was our challenge to achieve Peace. And what it cost to achieve Peace…How much pain! But in the end Peace was achieved.

And then, we entered into the Reconciliation Process. For what reason? To be able to develop the Country, progress in the Country toward Peace, Stability and that would then allow us to fight Poverty, eradicate Extreme Poverty, democratize Health Care, Education, Housing, the Right to Land; in other words, all the Works that later we began to develop in the New Stage, from 2007 to the month of April 2018.

And as we said in the Message, it is a matter of recovering Peace, Stability, which we have been recovering, we have been consolidating; and in 2019 it is the challenge that all of us Nicaraguans have of finish consolidating Stability, Peace, and then that will give us the conditions to take up again the path of Economic, Social Growth, so that the Rights of all Nicaraguans can really be respected.

Because a Nicaraguan in Extreme Poverty is a Nicaraguan who does not have their full Human Rights. A Nicaraguan who does not have a home, is a Nicaraguan who does not have their full Human Rights, be that they rent a home or that it is their own. I am referring to the Nicaraguan who does not have a home to rent, because they have to live alongside the rain gullies, improvising a home, where he and his family are exposed to losing their lives.

And this is what we have been developing during all this time, all these years, regardless of the political differences that have been present there in our situation. Political differences, Economic differences, ideological differences have been present there; but beyond those differences, we have been able to build, we have been able to progress, progress with historic Works like the Highway to San Carlos, Río San Juan.

I remember that This Highway was promised since I was a boy, because I used to travel to Chontales. To travel to Chontales, the Route goes by there, later you turn to San Carlos by Acoyapa, that is where the turn is. And the promise was there, and the promise became a reality, thanks to the effort, to the tenacity of the People accompanied by their Government.

We are a few months away from finishing now this other great Work, another Highway that is going to unite the Pacific with the Autonomous Region of the South Caribbean. And the Route will also be by land. The Route that has been aquatic to El Rama, in El Rama you got on a boat, and from there to Bluefields, the Route that has been aerial, very expensive, now it will be a Route by land, that also assures us, and we are already working in that direction, assures us the conditions to build the Port in Bluefields, a Port that will be able to incorporate merchandise, and will also be able to transfer merchandise for export.

We then will no longer be dependent on the Ports of the Sister Peoples like Honduras and Costa Rica; currently we depend on the Ports of Honduras and Costa Rica. Now having a Port in the Caribbean, well, we will have our own Port, surely some merchandise will always move through Puerto Limón in Costa Rica, others through Puerto Cortés en Honduras; but now we will have our own Port to export Nicaraguan products and to import products from other Regions, and also to import the inputs needed to carry out Economic Activities in our Country.

And the other Works that we have inaugurated in this year 2018: The Fernando Vélez Paiz Hospital which is the most modern hospital that the Health System of Nicaragua currently has, of the entire Health System, Private as well as Public, it is the most modern. For what reason? To serve the People, Nicaraguan Families who cannot pay a Private Hospital. There they have another Hospital, and those that are being built.

And the Highways that have continued to be built in the midst of the difficulties of this year. And the Homes that have continued to be built in the midst of the difficulties of this year. And the Overpass that we recently inaugurated, that was able to be inaugurated in spite fo the difficulties of this year. And the Schools that have been able to be built, and the Health Posts that have able to be built, and the Paved Roads and Streets in the different Communities and Municipalities of our Country, that continue to be built and continue being inaugurated in spite of the difficulties.

In other words, this is a Heroic, Brave People, who in spite of the difficulties knows how to work, how to move ahead, how to open Paths there where obstacles present themselves. And the challenge that we have for 2019: Continue opening Paths, so that in this New Path we advance more quickly, even more rapidly, toward the Goals that we have in order to erradicate Poverty, Extreme Poverty: Health Programs, Housing, Highways, Education, multiplying Education.

The Education Programs have not stopped! This Year End we have seen thousands of Youth graduating, in spite of the difficulties; even graduating in majors that previously were not part of the Curriculum. Graduating in the management of the Braille System, for example, to be able to train Nicaraguan Brothers and Sisters who cannot see, the Blind. These really are Miracles, thanks to God, Miracles that are happening every day.

A People with Energy, with Spirit, in the midst of the pain that they have suffered, is full of Joy, and pushes forward, to Come out Ahead, Small Traders, Medium Traders, Craftspeople, Farmers, Ranchers, all working!

Are the challenges big? It is true the challenges are big, no one can deny it, but Peoples throughout the History of Humanity have shown that even in the face of the biggest catastrophes, the biggest tragedies, Peoples afterward have come back from behind, overcoming the catastrophes.

And there are other Peoples who have been learning to live with catastrophies, I am referring to natural catastrophies. We see those zones in Asia how they are constantly being destroyed by Earthquakes, by Tsunamis, impoverished Peoples, and developed Peoples. Of course, the developed Peoples have more capacities to confront these catastrophies, but in the end the capacities of the Human Being to not be demoralized in the face of difficulties, to not let themselves be beaten by those who try to demoralize People. Because there are always those who try to demoralize People.

Nicaragua itself, how many earthquakes! Two large earthquakes, the last was in December, and Nicaragua has been getting out of catastrophies, Hurricanes…How can we not remember the thousands of deaths of Hurricane Mitch! They were thousands, more than 2,000 Nicaraguan Brothers and Sisters who were victims of Hurricane Mitch,. And all that zone that was affected by Hurricane Mitch where the force of the water was so violent that it changed the course of rivers.

Then, the Bridges that had disappeared were rebuilt, first, provisional Bridges, and later, permanent Bridges. And in all this we are grateful for the Solidarity of Peoples and Brother Governments, who in an unconditional manner, without any type of conditions, have maintained Aid with the Nicaraguan People, knowing that they are offering this Aid for the benefit of Nicaraguan Families.

Brother and Sister Nicaraguans, Nicaraguan families, we are People with a lot of Faith, a lot of Tenacity, a hardworking People, a People who are creative. All these Virtues that the Human Species has, the Nicaraguan People also have, and these Virtues,  accompanied by the value of Solidarity, become a Powerhouse in moments like these, of difficult passage, to return or open New Paths, New Routes for Peace, for Stability, and for the Wellbeing of Nicaraguan Families. That is why we do not tire repeating that Nicaraguan wants, the People want, Work! Peace and Reconciliation!

Happy New Year Nicaraguan Families! Happy New Year Brother and Sister Nicaraguans! Happy New Year Nicaraguan Youth!

 

A Small But Big Difference

The author of this editorial ran as the Presidential Candidate for the MRS in the 2006 elections, and was a close collaborator of Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, the editor of La Prensa murdered by Somoza now nearly 41 years ago. He held a number of posts in the first Sandinista government (1979-1990). He makes an important contribution  to the debate about the legitimacy of the OAS´s recent call to convene the Permanent Council of the OAS.

A small but big difference

Editorial by Edmundo Jarquín in La Prensa, January 5, 2019

The Democratic Charter was not intended for traditional coups, the typical conspiracy of the military to depose legitimately elected governments, but to prevent elected governments, once in power, from beginning to dismantle the democratic institutional structure, as has occurred in Nicaragua.

On January 1st the Foreign Minister of the Ortega dictatorship sent a letter to the ministers of Foreign Relations of the continent, protesting and arguing against the communication that the secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, had sent, requesting the Permanent Council of the organization to hear the situation of Nicaragua, based on article 20 of the Interamerican Democratic Charter.

In order to evaluate both communications, we should above all become familiar with article 20. What does this article say? In the case “that an alteration of the constitutional order is produced in a Member State that would seriously affect its democratic order, any Member State or the secretary general can request the immediate convocation of the Permanent Council to carry out a collective assessment of the situation and adopt the decisions that it deems appropriate”. What did the Foreign Minister of Ortega say to refute Almagro? That his request “is inappropriate, illegal, without legal basis and contravenes the Interamerican Democratic Charter itself…”, because, he adds, “we should remember that the Democratic Charter was conceived as a mean to restore democratically elected governments and a mechanism against coup d´états and removal by force…”

The origins of the Democratic Charter are the exact opposite of those argued by the Foreign Minister of Ortega, and therefore if anything lacks legality it is his refutation, and that it why it was not addressed and the Permanent Council was called. The Democratic Charter was not intended for traditional coup d´états, the typical conspiracy of the military to depose legally elected governments, but to prevent elected governments, once in power, from beginning to dismantle the democratic institutional structures, as has occurred in Nicaragua.

Diego García Sayán, who was the Foreign Minister of Peru when the Charter was approved on September 11, 2001, points out that “the origins and conceptual content of the Charter of 2001 was essentially linked to a “democratic crisis”, and not the classic coup that resolution 1080 of 1991 (of the OAS) already addressed. This conceptualization has its immediate precedent in the Peruvian “democratic crisis” of the year 2000, and in response it was created to process it” (El País, June 6, 2016). Indeed, the Peruvian “democratic crisis” had its origins in President Fujimori in that country, who after being elected in 1990, and re-elected in 1995, after dissolving the Congress, attempted a third period through fraud.

Doesn´t the case of Fujimori sound familiar to Nicaraguans, with the re-electionist and dynastic ambition of Ortega, the dependency of all the branches of government, and the “democratic crisis” to which he has led it? It is worth saying, in addition, that article 20 of the Democratic Charter provided for dialogue and good diplomatic skills prior to any sanctions, but this terrifies a government whose only support is bloody repression.

The author was a candidate to the Presidency of Nicaragua

 

NICARAGUA: Report on the Violence Events between April 18 and May 30, 2018 By the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI)

One day before the OAS´s Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (known by their Spanish acronym GIEI) issued their report, they were expelled from Nicaragua by order of the government. This body was invited in by the Nicaraguan Government to help  the Nicaraguan authorities investigate and determine those guilty of what the report now calls “crimes against humanity”- 109 deaths just between April 18-May 30, 2018. Since the report was issued the 24 hour news channel “100% Noticias” was raided by police and closed down, with the Director and News Director jailed and indicted for terrorism, an event which served to validate accusations contained in the report.

The full report can be found in Spanish at http://gieinicaragua.org/giei-content/uploads/2018/12/GIEI_INFORME_PRINT.pdf

This is the English translation of the conclusions and recommendations sections.

NICARAGUA: Report on the Violence Events between April 18 and May 30, 2018

By the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI)

 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Dec 20, 2018

Since the beginning of its work, the government of Nicaragua systematically denied the information required by the GIEI, as well as any possibility of relating with other State institutions. This meant that the GIEI was unable in its entire mandate to carry out the work of cooperation with the criminal investigations contemplated in the Agreement.[1] On the other hand, the violence and state repression continued even after the installation of the GIEI, which was a serious limitation to carry out the commissioned work.

While not having the cooperation and collaboration of the Nicaraguan authorities to carry out the collaboration, which implied close work with them, the GIEI used a methodology that was based principally on gathering information from open sources and the analysis of official documentation provided by the State to the IACHR and from other confidential sources. A large number of documents were examined, including videos, photographs and journalistic articles and material from the media and social networks, many of which were recorded by the citizenry participating in the protests. In audiovisual material alone more than 10,000 files were reviewed and analyzed.

In spite of the obstacles due to lack of cooperation from state authorities, and the risk of protection that the sources consulted faced, the GIEI was able to pull together, analyze and verify a wide amount of information that allowed it to arrive at reasonable conclusions to reconstruct the events just as they occurred, the circumstances, and identify the possible individuals responsible.

The GIEI was able to confirm that the State resorted to abusive and indiscriminate use of force to repress peaceful protest demonstrations. A repressive pattern, which was verified at different times and places of Nicaragua, was the use of firearms, including military weapons, directly against the demonstrators. It was able to be confirmed that they used lead bullets, whose calibres correspond to different types of weapons, among which were military rifles.

These repressive actions happened in different scenarios where protest actions were being carried out: demonstrations in public places, university takeovers, and highway roadblocks. The GIEI was able to determine that most of the murders and the seriously wounded were the responsibility of the National Police, whose troops acted directly and also in a coordinated fashion with para-state armed groups. The behavior of the formal structure of the National Police along with parallel structures was another distinctive characteristic of the repression of the protests that could be seen in the immense majority of repressive events.

It has also been verified that the State resorted to the detention of hundreds of people in police sweeps during the course of the protests. The people detained were left at the exclusive disposition of the National Police and suffered different forms of mistreatment and abuse. Some denouncements referred to situations of torture, even though GIEI was not able to confirm that that has been a pattern during the months of April and May.

The GIEI received as well different evidence that showed the discrimination suffered by wounded demonstrators when they went to public hospitals in a range of situations, that went from the denial of medical attention, even in the face of very serious cases, to instances of inadequate attention and the mistreatment of relatives.

These acts occurred in a context where a public discourse of stigmatization of the protests was maintained by the highest State authorities, and political support for the repression was exhibited.

The GIEI thinks that the numerous crimes committed within the context of the repression of the demonstrators constituted crimes against humanity. This presumes certain consequences, such as the non applicability of statutory limitations, the impossibility of dictating norms of amnesty, or similar norms that would prevent trying or sentencing, the possibility that tribunals from other States might intervene in virtue of the principle of universal competency, and even the eventual intervention of the International Criminal Court, in the case that the Security Council of the United States remits the situation to the ICC, or that the State of Nicaraguan itself might accept their competency in virtue of Art. 12.3 of the Rome Statute.

The GIEI also has verified that, even though the demonstrations were essentially peaceful, their repression by the police and pro-governmental groups provoked a violent response on the part of some demonstrators against the government, which was translated into deaths, injuries and attacks on private property. The GIEI did not find evidence that these violent acts had been coordinated or form part of a plan.

The State of Nicaragua has violated its due diligence duty in terms of the investigation of the cases of violent deaths from April 18th to May 30, 2018. Of the 109 cases of violent deaths registered by the GIEI, just 9 have been tried. At least 100 cases remain in impunity, and in many of them the proceedings required to clarify the facts have been neglected, like the proper processing of crime scenes and the practice of autopsies. In the 9 cases that have been prosecuted, 6 have to do with victims that have some relationship to the State of Nicaragua or with the party in power. Serious weaknesses are also evident in these investigations. The prosecutor´s office did not act in an objective and impartial way, did not exhaust all the lines of investigation, and accused people who could be innocent, some of whom have already been convicted. A situation which is not only unjust for the accused, but also for the victims and relatives in not having a correct response. In no case has a process been initiated against the forces of State security, in spite of the abundant evidence that points to their responsibility.

The criminal justice system – the Prosecutor´s Office and the Supreme Court – have acted as one more piece of the structure for the violation of human rights through the criminalization of the citizens who participated in the protests. Illegitimate use has been made of the criminal categories of terrorism and organized crime, among others, to persecute and punish acts of opposition to the government in the processes initiated against the students, peasant and social leaders. In all these processes there has been serious violations of personal freedoms, from orders for arbitrary arrests, to the generalized use of preventive imprisonment, without meeting with the reasons required, including non compliance with the terms for judicial control over imprisonment. The right to defense and public trial also have been seen to be violated. Finally, it has been established that habeas corpus or the recourse for personal exhibition has been ineffective.

The violence unleashed since the social protest begun on April 18th has caused a profound harm to families, communities and Nicaraguan society. It has impaired peaceful co-existence, altered daily life, and deepened social polarization. The violence carried out has generated deep marks of pain and indignation, that are mixed with the marks left by previous confrontations, and have produced the estrangement and distrust of broad sectors of the population with State institutions. The wounds will be very difficult to heal if they are not dealt with in a holistic way, with truth, justice and reparations for the people who have lost loved ones, people wounded who have been left with incapacitating consequences; the disappeared, jailed and displaced; all those who have suffered the violence and have been wronged, as well as those who suffer persecution and threats for being their relatives.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Aware of the fact that periods of serious human rights violations tend to severely weaken the quality of public institutions, even more when the political authorities use those institutions to commit or endorse their abuses, the GIEI recommends:

  1. That the government ensure that the right to meet be fully respected and guaranteed through the proper protection of public demonstrations, in accordance with applicable international human rights standards and norms.
  2. That the government end the harassment of human rights defenders, journalists and other social leaders, ensuring the conditions for them to be able to fully carry out their work and exercise their rights, particularly the freedom of expression, meeting and association.
  3. That the Nicaraguan State begin a holistic reform of institutions directed at modifying the conditions that generated and intensified the repression and political persecution. This reform is important to fulfill the commitment to change and ensure the non repetition of human rights violations, seeking to banish violence as a means for resolving conflict, and establishing a new inclusive social pact so that the State might really be the expression of all Nicaraguans.
  4. It is recommended that the State implement a Holistic Reparations Plan (PIR) that would remediate and compensate for the human rights violations, as well as the losses or social, moral and material damages suffered by the victims, taking into account the considerations made in Chapter XII.

In general in the face of the behavior of public officials from different entities of the state apparatus who have participated in practices that violated human rights during the events of violence since the social protests that began on April 18, 2018, the GIEI recommends.

  1. Investigating and eventually removing officials who have participated in human rights violations. Reform institutions and promote the presence of democratic authority and State services throughout the national territory. Recognize popular organizations, local identities and cultural diversity, promoting citizen participation from the plurality of different political options and positions.
  2. Immediately dissolving and disarming the para-state armed groups and protect the population of all illegal and violent acts. Through exhaustive, impartial and transparent investigations, determine whether they have participated in criminal acts, especially in attempts against life and other fundamental rights, and in those cases process and try them.

In terms of the behavior of the National Police of Nicaragua, who have shown a series of institutional practices in violation of human rights, which have extended over time and have increased in severity; in addition to considering the experience of other countries, and the urgent necessity of once again providing the State with a police institution which would ensure internal order based on principles of democratic control and respect for human rights, the GIEI recommends:

  1. Purging the police institution, removing those commands or agents who participated in acts in violation of human rights. This separation will have to be done after an exhaustive, administrative investigation in order to define responsibilities and avoid reprisals, and independently of the corresponding criminal investigations. To ensure the transparency of this task they could designate observers from civil society.
  2. Reviewing the normative legal framework of the institution, concurrent with the suggested process, in order to ensure the guarantee of non repetition, taking into consideration the re-establishment of obligatory retirement of the director of the National Police every five years, once their period has been completed, incorporating mechanisms for civil supervision and control, external to the institution, regulating law 872 in accordance with professional guidelines and respectful of human rights, implementing a police career in order to ensure the entry and promotion by merit and police professionalization; eliminating the figure of voluntary police; trasferring the youth recovery programs to other government entities outside of the police; reviewing the internal norms and administrative procedures that regulate the behavior of agents.
  3. Reform article 231 third paragraph of the Penal Processing Code so that all deprivation of liberty be authorized by a judge, eliminating the possibility that detentions be done based on a police order.

In terms of the system for the administration of justice, investigations show that the judicial system did not adequately use the law to defend the rights of the victims of human rights violations. On the contrary, it was turned into a tool for the criminalization of social protest. “The validity of rights and freedoms in a democratic system require a legal and institutional order where the law prevails over the will of rulers and individuals, and where there is effective judicial control over the constitutionality and legality of acts of public authorities” (Rome Statutes of the International Criminal Court), the GIEI recommends:

  1. Investigating the behavior and eventually purging the justice system of those judges and other officials who violated due process, or who have not complied with maintaining their independence from the political authorities. These processes should be done in accordance with international standards.
  2. Establishing a judicial career based on objective criteria and merit for admission, promotion and removal of judges and magistrates which would include the Supreme Court. This career system should include objective criteria, clearly defined and established in the law, for the selection and naming of magistrates and judges. These criteria should demand that the people selected to occupy judicial positions be qualified people of integrity, with appropriate training and judicial qualifications and proven independence to exercise the responsibility.
  3. Do the naming of magistrates and judges through a public contest based on merit, that would ensure citizen oversight.
  4. Taking into account the lack of independence demonstrated by the judicial system, establish the necessary reforms and mechanisms to ensure that the acts of violence occurred starting April 18th be prosecuted by judicial entities composed of magistrates who would ensure impartiality, expertise, and have adequate resources. For that purpose different possibilities must be evaluated that would include the eventual participation of international judges and/or advice and support from international cooperation, particularly from countries who have had to deal with and prosecute processes of violent repression.
  5. Taking into account the lack of independence demonstrated by the judicial branch, establish the necessary reforms and mechanisms to ensure the review of the sentences that were issued and those that are issued in the future by the current tribunals, in order to determine whether they have violated constitutional guarantees or legal dispositions that would have adverse affects on due process. This process of review should be done with the people convicted or sentenced on probation. This task should be carried out by magistrates duly selected for their personal and professional qualities, and recognition of their autonomy and independence. Evaluating the possibility of calling in magistrates from other countries and/or requesting support of international cooperation for this task is recommended.
  6. Reaffirming that the purpose of the penitentiary system is the re-education, rehabilitation and reincorporation of the convict into society, and improving the conditions of the penal population in terms of access to basic services of food and health care, with an emphasis on women, and access to relatives and civil society organizations specialized in penitentiary treatment.
  7. Urging the Government to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court for the purpose of ensuring that the crimes against humanity are not left in impunity and as an assurance of their non repetition; and accepting the competency of the International Criminal Court on the crimes against humanity committed since April 18, 2018, in accordance with what is established in Art. 12, subsection 3.

The Public Ministry as an institution independent of the executive branch and responsible for the analysis, investigation and exercise of penal action in cases, has not fulfilled its duty to represent the victims, no matter what their ideology or social or political context, and carry out exhaustive, independent and impartial investigations; which is why the GIEI recommends for their reform:

  1. Investigating and eventually removing the prosecutors and officials who did not fulfill the independent exercise of their function, or obstructed the clarification of the facts. These processes should be carried out in accordance with international standards.
  2. Establishing a career for prosecutors on the basis of objective criteria and merit for admission, promotion and removal of prosecutors, that would include the Attorney General. This career system should include objective criteria, clearly defined and established in the law, for the selection and naming of prosecutors. These criteria should require that the people selected be qualified people of integrity with the appropriate training and judicial qualifications, and proven independence for the exercise of their responsibility.
  3. Do the naming of prosecutors through a public contest, based on merit, that would ensure citizen oversight.
  4. For the purpose of recovering the trust and credibility of the Public Ministry, and ensure the victims, their relatives and the entire society a quick, independent and impartial investigation of the violent acts that occurred in the period between April 18 and May 30, as well as those that occurred later, it is urgently recommended the creation of a Special Prosecutor Office, composed of members duly selected for their personal and professional qualities and the recognition of their autonomy and independence. For that purpose civil society has to participate in the process of the identification of the profiles, as well as in the selection of the prosecutors. Likewise, to strengthen their independence and autonomy, and ensure impartial investigations that would include all those directly and indirectly responsible like their chain of command, it is recommending evaluating, at least in the first phase, the suitability that along with national prosecutors, international prosecutors be called to be part of the Special Prosecutor´s office. It is recommended in that sense that the countries of the international community might put at the disposition of the State of Nicaragua profiles of prosecutors from their nationality qualified for that purpose, and who would accompany the creation process.

Recommendations to other actors:

  1. For the purpose of preventing impunity for the crimes against humanity, it is recommended that the member States of the regional system (OAS) and the international system (UN) begin investigations, and in their case prosecute those responsible for the crimes referred to in the framework of universal jurisdiction, and in accordance with the internal legislation of each country.
  2. It is recommended that international bilateral and multilateral aid, as well as regional and international financial entities, incorporate an analysis of human rights of the country and the level of compliance with the commitments assumed, so their contribution might be focused on the elimination of the challenges and obstacles identified by the treaty supervision bodies, and by international mechanisms for the protection of human rights.
  3. Finally, the GIEI considers essential that Nicaraguan society in general, and particularly the most privileged and less vulnerable sectors, do not leave the victims of the serious acts of violence alone, and accompany them in their claim for justice and reparations.

 

[1] Refers to the “Agreement between the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights, and the Government of Nicaragua for the investigation of the acts of violence that happened in the period between April 18 and May 30 in Nicaragua.”

Bianca Jagger: “In Nicaragua an attack is happening against the press and human rights organizations”

Bianca Jagger: “In Nicaragua an attack is happening against the press and human rights organizations”

Translated from BBC Mundo, Dec 17, 2018

[Spanish at: https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-america-latina-46595823 ]

Nicaragua is ending a particularly turbulent year, under the threat of sanctions on the part of the US, and human rights activists denouncing an increase in the repression.

Last week the US Congress approved a law that orders its representatives in international financial organizations to oppose new loans or technical assistance programs for Nicaragua, and ordered sanctions against “all those responsible and accomplices” in acts of corruption and human rights violations in that country.

But the measure, colloquially known as the Nica Act – that still has to be enacted by President Donald Trump – so far has only appeared to provoke what Bianca Jagger, President of the Pro Defense of Human Rights foundation that bears her name, describes as a “true assault” on independent journalism and human rights organizations in the largest of the Central American countries.

Jagger – who also is a member of the leadership council of Amnesty International and a good will ambassador for the European Council – is undoubtably one of the voices that has made the biggest effort to make visible on the international level what has been happening in Nicaragua since April 19th.

BBC Mundo talked with her in London about the situation in her native country, nearly eight months after the start of the wave of protests against the government of President Daniel Ortega that now totals at least 325 deaths, and that has been denounced by the president as a coup attempt against him.

How difficult has it been to keep attention on what is happening in Nicaragua?

Sincerely, I am surprised at the lack of interest of the media on what is happening in Nicaragua, because the attack on human rights, the crimes against humanity that are being committed by Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice president Rosario Murillo, are maybe, I would say, even worse that what occurred and is occurring in Venezuela.

Only in these last days we have seen a true assault on human rights organizations and communications media in which they have taken legal status away from nine organizations: they have even attacked the most important and prestigious human rights organization in Nicaragua, CENIDH (Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights), they have taken the equipment and have occupied the offices of Confidencial and trampled over Carlos Fernando Chamorro, who is one of the most respected journalists of Nicaragua.

But in spite of all this and of everything that is happening, the persecution of the students – today there are 50 students in jails and more than 600 prisoners who are being tortured and facing false accusations,, who are being condemned of terrorism, which is absurd – and in spite of the strategy of repression against a civilian population which is unarmed, it is difficult to keep the attention of the media on what is happening in Nicaragua.

What evidence do you have for these accusations?

What do you mean “what evidence”? There are the reports of Amnesty International, the reports of the Interamerican Commission for Human Rights. You have there the High Commissioner (of the United Nations) for Human Rights who are putting out reports all the time. And I am talking with people who are taking with students that I personally knew, and that right now are in jails, where they are being tortured.

So why do you believe it is so difficult for the world to pay attention to the issue?

I do not know. Maybe because we are a small country, or because there are so many attrocities that exist in the world. Of course, in the case of England, Latin America is a little farther away from this country, we have not been part of its colonies. But (the problem) is not just England.

Now, I think that little by little some attention is being paid to it again, by the fact that at this moment there is a very serious abuse and persecution in Nicaragua. Because there are journalists who they have put in jail or they have forced to leave Nicaragua, there are human rights defenders who they are persecuting, they are trampling.

I have been a defender of human rights for the last four decades, and I have been in countries like Bosnia, Irak, Afghanistan, Guatemala and El Salvador, where there were terrible atrocities. And I can tell you that what is happening in Nicaragua is something terrible and alarming and that the international community should condemn, should make public.

I am calling on the High Commissioner of the United Nations for Human Rights, former President Michelle Bachelet: please, we need your voice, we need you to condemn Daniel Ortega, we need you to request that he allow you to enter Nicaragua…

And are condemnations enough?

We also need sanctions. We need sanctions to be imposed from the International Community, on the part of the European Union, Canada, on the part of all those who have economic relations with Nicaragua, but sanctions on individuals, that the Magnitsky act be employed, because the Magnitsky act does not just exist in the United States: the United Kingdom has it, Canada has it, the EU could expand it.

And we need the Democratic Charter ( of the Organizations of the American States) to be imposed on Nicaragua, and for that we need the vote of the Central American countries, and those islands of the Caribbean who still refuse to condemn Daniel Ortega.

We really need the united International Community to condemn and impose these sanctions, because if this continues, we are going to have many more extrajudicial killings, many more human rights abuses, much more persecution of the press, persecution of students, persecution of peasants, persecution of the Catholic Church, even the doctors who refuse to obey the orders of the Minister of Health to not provide medical services to those wounded in the protests.

For now the country most ready it seems to apply sanctions is the United States, with the so called Nica Act. Does this seem productive or counterproductive to you?

It seems to me very productive, because it is not just the Nica Act but also a Magnitsky – a US law that allows sanctioning foreign citizens who have committed human rights abuses – for Nicaragua, and this is designed to punish those who are guilty of corruption, and are accomplices of crimes against humanity. I think that they did not expect this, and I think that the Magnitsky is a very sophisticated system, that does not necessarily do damage to the humanitarian situation of Nicaraguans, but is specific for guilty people, which is important.

I was asking you because if the US acts alone, unilaterally, it can give credibility to the argument of the government of Nicaragua that everything that is happening in the country is part of an organized conspiracy from Washington…

That is why I am calling for all countries to unite. It is important that the EU act in a more forceful way, it is very important that the Latin American countries, in addition to the 21 who have already condemned (the government of Nicaragua), to take concrete actions, sanctions. This should not be only the United States, it should be the united international community that does it, that takes actions against the guilty ones.

And what should be the objective of those sactions? Early elections, as was asked at the beginning of the protests, a purification of the electoral tribunal as it seems is being asked now?

Everything that you just said, but the first condition, I think, should be that Daniel Ortega should free all the political prisoners. Second, that all the extrajudicial executions be ended, that the persecution of journalists, human rights workers and the civilian population be ended. That is paramount. But also it is important that Daniel Ortega hand over power, because there cannot be free elections in Nicaragua with Ortega in power.

How important is this issue to you personally?

I was born in Nicaragua and I am Nicaraguan and British. I have never cut my connections with Nicaragua, they have always been latent, I have always been concerned about what is happening in Nicaragua, and all this has made me feel even more Nicaraguan. But in addition I feel personally wounded, I feel personally betrayed, because I also believed in the Sandinsta Revolution, as did millions of youth around the world, from Nicaragua and Latin America, and seeing that this man has betrayed all the principles, everything in which we believed.

And it also hurts me to see these students that I have known, that have asked me, “Doña Bianca, help us”, and they send me videos where you can see how they are attacking them and how they are bleeding out, when they do not have any weapon to defend themselves. What I saw in Bosnia was a terrible experience, and I have also seen horrors in El Salvador and Guatemala, but Nicaragua is my country, it is my stomping ground. And seeing that they have an unarmed struggle hurts me even more.

Associativism as path for peace in societies in conflict

Associativism as path for peace in societies in conflict

René Mendoza Vidaurre[1]

Behind every adversity is an opportunity. Popular proverb. 

“There is not a path to peace, peace is the path”. M. Gandhi.

Naruto, Japanese manga

Nagato: “War causes pain and wounds on both sides. The death of a loved one is difficult to accept, we convince ourselves that there is no way that they are dead. It cannot be helped in our generation…You can try to seek a meaning in death, but there is only pain, unparalled hate…And it is pain that does not heal. That is war”.

Naruto: “So I am going to break this curse. If there is such a thing as peace, I will find it! I will not give up!… I cannot write novels like my master … The consequence will have to be on life that is lived. It does not matter how great the pain that is faced.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w92UnOu-_eY

In the Japanese manga Naruto two adversaries dialogue and in the end come around, are freed from the hate and pain that led the communities to confront one another in fratricidal wars for centuries. This series illustrates how, even in the midst of confrontation, there are profound dialogues that make the power within emerge, recognizing their own words in the words of the other: “…I am going to break that curse”, “If there is such a thing as peace, I will find it!”. Words woven by their masters and ancestors. This story helps us to re-read Central America, a region that since its independence tends to be built on force and not on law, and that makes heroes of those who use violence, but at the same time is sustained by families that are organized and could be, like Naruto and Nagato, breaking this curse of violence. How can these societies in conflict be accompanied?[2]

Introduction

Societies are called “post conflict” when a country signs peace agreements to end wars; really they are societies of “post peace accords”. Because the conflicts are multidimensional (social, political, economic, religious and emotional) and express a diversity of paths (of life) of groups and human coalitions that are in conflict with one another, and persist with or without peace. These conflicts intensify when in the post-peace-accords-phase the economic, social and political equity which caused the war does not improve, and its effects among the most impoverished population are greater when the words – as in the Japanese manga – did not reach the heart.

Central America is home to societies in conflict that live amidst the longing for “agreements” and “post-agreements”. Some recent violent confrontations have happened more in urban populations, in periods of economic growth, with abundant use of social networks and political demonstrations. This is the case of Honduras around the coup in 2009, and the tension over the electoral results of 2017; the social and international pressure that made president Otto Pérez in Guatemala resign, and that continues questioning President Morales; the political tensions in Nicaragua after April 18, 2018; and the decades long confrontation with organized crime in El Salvador.

These “waves” of confrontations, nevertheless, prevent us from seeing the forces and processes that underly them[3]. The massive mobilizations tend to be trapped by the rivalry between the traditional economic elite and the emerging elite – both involved in glocal coalitions – seeking to control the State as a mechanism for accumulation through dispossession. This engine of conflict is expressed in “waves” of confrontations, democracy/dictatorship and human rights/repression, and drag along a good part of the population, including international opinion, who join one or another side. They are “waves” that also prevent us from seeing the interruption of long processes of improvement on the part of actors and their institutions that precisely tend to reveal a third path, that of  peace with more equity.

How can these actors who contribute to peace be accompanied? We respond to this question after our experience being out with rural groups of the region, deeply rooted cooperatives and associations as the organized expression where “peace is the path.” Here we describe what these groups are experiencing, oversizing the tragic side of the conflicts, their awakening in the face of opportunities, the importance of weaving networks to detect these opportunities, and accompaniment in this process of those who Gramsci would call “organic intellectuals for the construction of peace”, people from different organizations and institutions who dare to accompany them “in the good times and the bad times.”

1.     Rural societies beneath “waves” of confrontation

In contrast to the decades prior to 1990, where the violence germinated in the rural areas, in the current millennium the provincial capitals tend to be the scenarios for confrontational demonstrations, while in the rural areas the silence is loud, expressed in fear, concern, and violence that – like the vine that wraps itself around trees – chokes off the roads, and expressed in that sense of solitude that inundates the homes.

Fear travels down the roads and gets into people. In the day there is little traffic on the highways and the buses are half empty. Fear makes some people go into a state of shock, even more if their loved ones are in the cities, or are delayed in returning from doing some errand. Hearing shots and waking up to dogs barking at night increases the fear. Rumors loaded with sadness infiltrates homes. Some grab their clothes and migrate outside the country. This fear begins to rule: not leaving their homes, returning early from work, praying more, looking for trees where there is shade.

Concern begins with food scarcities, and when prices undergo big variations. “For a three day period salt rose to 10 times its normal price, the price then went down when the truck passed through the roadblocks; the same thing happened with sugar and rice…” “Bus fares went up and you had to take several buses.” Storefronts, hospitals, sales of new corn tortillas and pensions…declined. The chickens and pigs also got nervous, because they understood intuitively that they were plan B for their owners and thieves who lost their jobs. Concern increased when they turned to their farms, because as the cooperative member V. Adams would say, “the politics of peasants is work”.

If the “waves” of confrontation drag out, and happen in periods after the coffee harvest, the payments for coffee will be delayed, because exports are delayed when not transported normally to the ports of embarkation. Cattle are not flowing to the slaughterhouses. Milk is not being collected. Payments are delayed. Loans on the part of the cooperatives are postponed[4], from the banks, micro-finance institutions and providers. They stop giving loans out of fear of the instability of the country. One would suppose that when the formal institutions do not provide credit, usury and commercial mediation that buys future produce is going to gain ground and impose themselves with even more draconian rules, but even these structures are put “on hold.” What happens if there is no credit? The month of May tends to be for planting basic grains, between April and September they are fertilized and insecticides are applied on the different crops. On not addressing the crops and the farms, they begin to suffer, their production drops a bit, they are more susceptible to diseases. The risk in this is that the productive structure is affected in the following years, and the social cohesion of communities is affected.

The lack of liquidity has made many producers stop the work on their farms. Those who have more than 5 mzs of coffee and hire labor to weed, fertilize, spray leaves…make decisions that could affect their farms in the medium term: see the attached box, common conversations that are happening. Those who have less than 5 mzs tend to intensify their family labor for some tasks. All, except those in organic agriculture, suffer from not having access to chemical inputs (fertilizers and insecticides). The producers walk through their farms looking at their plants, ·the harvest could decline, and afterwards how am I going to recover?” The question echoes in the mind, because permanent crops take years to recover.

Added to the fear and and concern is a dosis of violence that like pests invades the countryside. In the morning the farms have less plantains and cassava, they were stolen. On the roads there are assaults, theft and crimes. In homes the violence gets worse, fed by the “waves”, tacitly touting that violence is a “matter of men.” Between homes, farms and conversations among neighbors, they begin to ripen a hard conclusion that gives them grey hair and wrinkles, “Those who are confronting one another and feeding the violence in the cities are going to reach an agreement, and the violence is going to be left with us, that is how it always is.”

The past comes alive in homes and villages. Some talk about the 1970s, 1980s and others of the 1990s. “When we get rid of the government we will burn your community”, “those who participated in the war on “x” side, we are going to make you pay.” People over 50 years of age begin to speak more openly of their trials, they do it to forestall and warn of the danger that is coming, they recall their wounds and from that memory read the current situation. Doña Julia, “in the war a group from the army came up and camped here, I gave them beans; another day another group arrived from the other side, they camped here also and I gave them beans, now 2 or 3 show up at night breaking windows.” In this environment the bark or howling of dogs at night chases sleep away and revives ghosts; morning finds them with a knife in one hand, a rosary in the other, and their eyes swollen.

This is when families begin to feel alone. Abandoned? “No, alone”- they murmur. Credit promoters, technicians, facilitators, priests, aid workers no longer show up in the communities. It is surprising that institutions, organizations, NGOs that used to work with rural women and men stay in their cities, offices, chapels and homes. It is like the “shepherd” has shut himself in his home and left “the sheep” in the field. “Alone, because even the church took a side”…some complain; “it was time the church opposed this”, others are happy[5]. The confrontation also gets the gods in trouble, who one and the other side invoke in their favor; while the religious institutions (Catholic and Evangelical) do not set forth the path for peace and are light years away from taking on their mission of changing minds on both sides.

On the other hand, the intellectuals who tend to work with rural populations are not accompanying rural families. Nor are they doing it from their “barracks” with reflection articles and/or proposals. They do not set forth rural perspectives, they do not believe that they should be part of the negotiations. It would seem that we forget that in the past the peasant cooperative model was ignored in the name of “national unity”, that gender equity and the autonomy of indigenous territories were left aside in order to not affect “national unity”, that years later that was recognized as a mistake. In these times of the search for peace agreements, we are precisely going back to trip over the same “stone.” The word “democratization” is reduced to the political sphere and of that, only the electoral part, to walk the rails of “get rid of you to put in me”, changing everything so that nothing changes; we forget that neither democracy nor authoritarianism has solved poverty and inequality, that democracy with social justice has been our biggest challenge. We forget that our local organizations, NGOs and religious and academic institutions also lack democracy, that we have board members and managers who will only be separated from their posts by death; but of course it is more pleasurable to target the State or the empire.

The conversation in the attached box shows that most of the organizations and institutions have not been loyal to the peasantry. Their real love is the source of their resources. They have looked on the peasantry as their “lover”, as long as the economic or research project lasts. That is what the cooperatives were for some governments and organizations in the history of the region. That concept of the peasantry was used to rationalize the emergence of some financial institutions. Is this how it will be? Part of the peasantry is also beginning to recall the words of these institutions: “They used to tell us that they were our allies…And now? They ran away at the first sign of danger.”

Is it out of fear? Is it that neoliberalism has nested in our minds, depoliticizing politics and economics? Is it being a prisoner of the dark forces that instill terror because they want the peasantry to be isolated, go into crisis and sell their lands for cheap, or that the indigenous peoples might lose the little they have left of their territories? Is it the spirit of G. Sharp or the “likes” that drive us (as Cambridge Analytica did in the USA in 2016)?

2.     Adversities, opportunities and possibilities

The biggest risk during times of violent confrontations is seeing the crises as reduced to just these confrontations. So analyses proliferate of the denouncements of injustices that the side they are against are committing, or they seek explanations in political accords that they have made in the past. Trapped in this perspective, the situation is seen as crisis, tragedy and problems: fear, instability, violence, drop in production, price speculation…We humans tend to see only the problem/tragedy side of situations.

Seeing beyond the problem/tragedy is crucial for families and the peace that they are building. Let us work on the proverb behind every adversity there is an opportunity. The population and people from different organizations and institutions repeat this proverb, but they read it with a mixture of resignation and an illusion about exogenous forces: “Yes, the opportunities will come”, “God has a plan, this will end and he will bring us blessings.” In other words, with our minds guided by a mental map that only sees tragedies, this proverb does not generate any change for us. A. Einstein already said it, “no problem can be resolved on the same level of awareness on which it was created”; in other words, to get out of a problem, we need to confront our own attitude and generate new thinking.

Let´s study this proverb so that it might serve as a guide for us[6]. See figure 1. 1) To see problems as adversities, real threats that block or put your path at risk now and in the future. 2) To recognize adversities means removing them as if they were “stones”, which is a deliberative action of explaining the mental models that we convey; without explaining them, we are going to continue believing that the problems are generalized and that they are not adversities that directly affect our future. 3) To remove the “stones” (adversities) we have to direct our focus on identifying the market, resource, knowledge and alliance opportunities in the state, aid organizations, businesses and communities; these opportunities are hidden behind the adversities. 4) In light of these opportunities, we have to redirect our focus on our own strengths, on what possibilities we have, or could have, to take advantage of these opportunities. 5) So new mental frameworks emerge that make us reconceptualize our own realities, which is how we rediscover ourselves in light of the future, while we free ourselves from those old mental models.

 

Table 1 shows some elements along these lines.

 

Table 1. Examples of the cognitive process of crises or conflicts

Adversities Opportunities[7] Possibilities
That the violence embedded in hierarchical institutions and the law of the jungle takes over our societies The idea that the unexpected (a calm country suddenly is in flames) awakens awareness of change. Communities with strong grassroots organizations reduce violence and reassess their rules.
That the 2nd tier cooperatives are used as the means of control over families, and drain grassroots organizations. Resources in state institutions and organizations that prefer other more democratic and inclusive paths; restructuring of debts and legal arrangements… Grassroots organizations reassess their practices and rules about their organs functioning, and their members rotating in different positions.
A neglected farm could drop its productivity in the short and medium term, drop its value, be susceptible to theft and erode local social cohesion. There is labor available that with honorable agreements might be invested in farms and social cohesion of the community (e.g reduce theft). Diversified farms are revalued as food and as income: plantains, cacao, fruit, citrus and honey. Communities seek arrangements, not just money.

All the elements included in the table are for now and the future. Reading the table requires explaining the mental frameworks that we bear. Let us illustrate with two of the examples mentioned in Table 1. The first adversity assumes having the mentality of the “law of the jungle”, that the law of the strongest governs societies, which is why problems are resolved on the basis of force; with this mentality the opportunities in times of confrontation will only be for thieves, drug traffickers and those who infringe on the rights of others. Seen from the possibilities side, in light of the opportunities, endogenous laws appear of communities and their grassroots organizations, which based on rights, reduce violence and allow them to reassess old institutions (e.g. mutual aid in communities, children helping on the farm since they do not have classes).

Let us look at another case. The third adversity in Table 1 assumes a mental framework that “nothing can be done without money”, which is why if a farmer of 100 or 200 mzs of land lacks credit, he decides to lay off his workers and keep just the caretakers. It is a mentality of only seeing the coffee on his farm and seeing only salaries in his workers. Meanwhile on the possibilities side, in light of the opportunities, the mental framework is that “social relations are worth more than money” (“a friend is worth more than 100 pesos”). From that perspective, that farmer, changing his mental framework, could take the workers at their word in Table 1, reflect on the effects of his previous decision where he will stop receiving some of his earnings, and the worker families will stop eating some of their usual diet; some of those workers then will seek to compensate in any way they can, making an arrangement and honoring the agreements that they agree on could mean that the farm is not neglected, the workers have their food and the community cohesion is strengthened.

Observing ourselves in the previous process, we realized that on starting the conversations with the families that were organized, the sadness and problems quickly overwhelmed us, but when we included the deliberate action of reflecting on the adversities, removing them, looking at the opportunities and rediscovering our capacities, the conversation turned into a cascade of hope. We realized that we humans tend to oversize the problems without expanding on the issues involved (the adversities), and that working on the opportunities is like group therapy to create future scenarios[8]. We also noticed that our energies naturally sought to mushroom against the State and the elites who manipulate the State, and that dangerously we tended to confront them on their “terrain”, forgetting about our “terrain” and our forces. In that context a question that “raises the roof” or “dumps the table over” was urgent: What is it that most hurts the elite? The fact that we take to the streets and highways to protest with stones and mortars, and return with our wounded and dead, does that affect them more or us? The fact that we consolidate our cooperative, produce organic fertilizer and quit depending on chemical inputs, does that benefit them more or us? Or let us direct questions to our side: what was the dream of our parents and grandparents when they left us our land? What have been our millennial aspirations? Having diversified farms, leaving land to our sons and daughters without dividing it up, creating autonomous communities…Are not these the fundamental elements that in addition contribute to humanity and our “portable throne” which is the earth?

This energy from questions allowed us to draw out the route expressed in Figure 1. “To keep the tortilla from burning, you have to turn it over.” The crisis or violent confrontations that our societies experience are “waves” that have two sides, as the proverb quoted indicates. We take advantage of them to connect associative forms and social mobilization, not in the sense that the protest actions and associative organizations “might coordinate their actions”, no, but in allowing the “unexpected” element of the events to question our providentialist mentality that solutions “fall from the sky” and shake up our thoughts of continuity. Another way than violence is possible. In this way we realize that the only thing certain is uncertainty and death, that our challenge is to prepare ourselves for the unexpected, and that understanding the signs of the times involve reading the “small print” of the confrontations, that when they are fighting above it is time to advance from below. Here is the biggest opportunity to make history that we have available to us.

3.     Network to capture opportunities, share them and re-conceptualize our attitudes

Discovering opportunities and our own strengths is a great step of peace, due to its element of reconceptualizing our realities to the extent that we explain our mental frameworks. How can we identify more opportunities and reflect on on them, while at the same time share them with more families that are organized? First we need to build this network among grassroots organization as a means for peace in the region[9] based on a little more than 2,000 agricultural cooperatives out of the 9,000 cooperatives in Central America. If we add to that number the peasant stores, associations, rural banks and associative enterprises, the number of rural organizations is considerable. If these organizations open their doors to youth, their own sons and daughters, who have done university studies, we would have a good basis of rural intellectuals to re-conceptualize their realities.

Second, sharing guides about how to work on figure 1 and illustrate it with real cases like those model cooperatives (or peasant stores) that we could characterize in the following way: they are rooted (geographically concentrated), they make their associative side and their business side function, they have contributions from their members as the basis for their financing, and they redistribute earnings with their members on the basis of transparent information and management guided by their rules[10]. These types of organizations and communities where they are settled, in the face of a scenario of prolonged violence, where the rural areas tend to be prey to violence and drug trafficking, stem the violence and establish themselves as spaces of peace. So it is a matter of preparing guides and systematizing model organizations/communities to share them with the network of rural intellectuals by email, sending printed texts to those who still do not use internet, and disseminating materials on the webpage for those organizations and funders in the world who make use of internet.

Third, these networks of organizations and funders can support the political, economic and social democratization of rural communities promoting national and international commercialization of “peace” products: “peace coffee”, “peace cacao” or “peace plantains”. Behind these products would be territorialized associative organizations, behind those organizations would be inclusive and democratic social rules, and behind those rules would be living communities.

4.     Needed accompaniment

There are several studies that give an account of the role of intellectuals in the civil wars of each country of Central America. One of the most recent on El Salvador, Chávez (2017)[11], describes intellectuals like R. Dalton who joined the guerrillas in the 1960s and 1970s, and peasant religious and intellectuals who were formed using popular pedagogy, rural cooperative training, literacy programs and workshops on Catholic social doctrine, contributions that explain the origins of the civil war in El Salvador. Nevertheless, intellectuals allied with the peasantry in the post-peace accord or peace building periods seem to have withdrawn[12]; what we have between 1990 and 2010 are reconditioned consultants who carry out international aid projects, write reports that remain hidden, and take ink from their pens that could be better used for critical and constructive thinking.

It is important that funders, organizations and institutions that work with the peasantry redouble their efforts and their presence with peasant families. In times of larger conflicts, that expression that “a visit is a blessing” is even more true. Let us not stay in our homes, chapels and offices. If the financial institutions, social banks, and the microfinance institutions are restricting credit, if businesses restrict credit and their buying or selling, those of us who work with the peasantry should redouble our presence in the countryside, doing it in a very well thought out way and creating bridges between different spaces.

If the social banks reconsider their role, and instead of restricting, redouble their credit services with associative organizations, it would make a real difference. To do so it can be more selective with the organizations, and reach agreements that would include their democratic functioning; this would imply questioning their mental framework that “the large individual producer is profitable” and that “mono-cropping gets financing”. International buyers can buy “peace coffee” from model cooperatives with the attributes already mentioned. Credit should not be given, nor products bought, from despotic organizations governed by elites who use the member families to obtain external resources without being accountable to their members. If grassroots organizations can reinvent themselves, the social banks, buyers and fair trade organizations can also rethink their role in light of their original mission and vision, which did not revolve around money.

“And what ensures that what is agreed upon gets implemented when `you will make me sign [an agreement], but never comply´ is an institution at all levels?”, replied a board member of a financial organization in response to these ideas. The agreements that are reached could be accompanied from inside and from outside. From inside, each cooperative could name a young person who would accompany the functioning of each organ of the organization (in the case of a cooperative, their organs are Administrative Council, Oversight Board, Credit Committee, General Assembly, Education Committee), who would ensure the flow of information between the business side and the associative side of the organizations, and would help them to analyze that information and the facts that are presented to them. From outside, a team of intellectuals committed to rural families would train the youth to do their work, and would accompany the organizations, while maintaining communication with aid agencies and commercial and financial institutions that work with the rural organizations.

These processes would happen in the framework of a network of organizations: See Figure 2. The aid agencies would promote the “peace products”, connecting them with international buyers and student organizations in Universities in the north. Also types of diversification would be worked on: crops for feeding families; export crops like coffee, cacao, taro and plantains; crops with value added in micro-territories, e.g. a roaster or a store in a community which would re-energize the local economy and social cohesion.

This work requires that the intellectuals committed to the peasantry carry out the following tasks. First, studies that would identify models of organizations and list opportunities that are seen, while discerning concrete contexts. Second, preparation of a guide so that the peasant families who organize might capture opportunities and possibilities, and that they might re-read their mental frameworks to re-conceptualize their realities. Third, accompaniment of the organizations and the youth with certificate programs and workshops that in addition help them to “get out” and overcome the fear implanted by the dark forces in each country; that the board members “get out” of their houses and “re-encounter” other organizations in the municipality – “getting out” has also been an institution of change for women in despotic families. Fourth, visits to academic institutions and NGOs to reflect on their work with the peasant families who are organizing, for example, that the universities of Central America might understand that the majors that they teach also should express the practices and rationalities of more than 70% of the businesses and farms which are small, that the peasant vision is not the vision of the mono-croppers of maximizing their earnings at any cost, that the vision of the indigenous peoples is not that of the extractavists who see the land as something without life.

By way of conclusion

In 1984 in San José, I heard a dialogue between Pablo Pecho, ex president of a evangelical church from Peru, and a German theologian. During his presidency his church had opted to follow liberation theology, but in his absence the national assembly of his church voted to abandon that position. Read the attached box where an unforgettable dialogue took place. That day I awoke to the role of intellectuals: they had to be with peasant families, no matter what their political party sympathies may be, no matter what circumstances they are in, and as J. Koldegaard, a friend of the peasantry, used to say, “you have to walk from where the peasants are, not from where the aid agencies are”. Including hundreds of leaders of grassroots organizations, including the youth, as well as we academics who work with peasant families, we could form a network of organic intellectuals for the construction of peace that would move to the rhythm of the communities and not in front of them[13]. Is it not time for us intellectuals to turn our gaze toward the peasantry and indigenous peoples?

As V. Adams said, “the politics of peasants is work” – on the farm, in the kitchen, in the community, in the river, in the mill, in the organization or in the markets. Peasant families who are organizing can be despotic and atomized, yes, but they are also the best expression that “peace is the way”. Working with them is not an altruistic option of choosing between taking a guitar course or spending a year accompanying a farming cooperative. No. The members grow as leaders and can make a difference in social equity, environmental sustainability and the democratization of the economy; there is no other option, other than mono-cropping, authoritarianism, and violence. We intellectuals also should not have another option. Together, as Naruto and Nágato, we can break the curse of war fed by the accumulated pain and hate of centuries. Together we can find “such a thing as peace.”

[1] The author has a PhD in development studies, is an associate researcher for IOB-University of Antwerp (Belgium), a collaborator of the Winds of Peace Foundation (http://peacewinds.org/research/) and a member of the Coserpross cooperative, RL (www.coserpross.org). rmvidaurre@gmail.com

[2] In moments in which the confrontations have happened the author has spent weeks with rural populations. This text describes it from the perspective of this immersion and accompaniment.

[3] Here we are skipping over factors like the role of the United States in pushing toward one or another solution in accord with their interests in “their backyard”. We are not discussing whether Gene Sharp with his theory of the “soft coup” (2011, From Dictatorship to Democracy) “throws wood on the fire” or “blows on the match”. We are not analyzing the origins of the tensions in the international crisis of 2008. We are not auscultating, following J. Mahoney (2001, The legacies of liberalism, Path dependence and political regimes in Central America), the critical juncture in the liberal policies of the XIX Century, and later junctures. Nor are we speculating about the duality of old post-colonial-violent-culture / new-political-culture of dialogue and peace. All that would be important. For now, we are looking at the tensions from parts of the rural world, and are seeking paths for peace.

[4] In grassroots cooperatives whose coffee, for example, are exported by second tier cooperatives, it is rumored that maybe they will not get their fair trade premium (US$20/qq), maybe they are not going to receive the organic premium ($30/qq) in the case of producers of organic coffee. Why? The rumor continues: if the 2nd tier cooperative borrowed money from the bank to buy coffee from traders, their costs went up because of the delay in exporting, which is why they would seek to compensate themselves from somewhere. Rumors are like water that evaporates, goes into the clouds, and is released.

[5] On the role of mediation, it seems very inspiring what Tony Blair (2011, a Journey: My political life) tells about this experience as a mediator in Ireland, where they achieved the “Holy Friday Agreement in 1998”: Peace in Northern Ireland.

[6] This proverb, in the way in which we are going to work on it, is coherent with the meaning of crisis in Asian culture. The word for crisis in Chinese is: 危机 (Wei Ji). It is composed of two characters, Wei means danger and Ji is opportunity.

[7] There are many opportunities that families are seeing. Let us cite some of them. V. Pérez Dávila: “If the crisis continues, in two months beans will be scarce and their price will go up; so right now I am going to plant beans.

  1. Adams: “you have to buy land and make investments with the earnings that we produce; that is what all of us members should do to face these difficult times”. M. Rivera: “since there are no classes, I called my kids and we are working the farm together”. C. Herrera: “Now people will want to plant plantains in their coffee fields and in their yards, I have plantain plants and I sell them for C$5 a sprout, with the rains people will want to plant raizudo plantains, my sprouts are those plantains”. C. Hernandez: “urea is going to rise in price, if it is not applied because of lack of money, the crops are going to decline, it is time to see that organic agriculture is an opportunity, it is in our hands”.

[8] The neurobiologist, D.H. Ingvar (2005, “Memory of the future”: an essay on the temporal organization of conscious awareness”, in Human Neurobiology 4:3) finds that the human brain constantly seeks to make sense and order the future. He presents evidence that the frontal/prefrontal part of the cortex manages the temporal organization of behavior and cognition, and that that same structure holds the plans for the future of behavior and cognition. Since these plans or programs tend to be retained, he calls them “memories of the future”. That would be the basis for anticipating and expecting future scenarios using data and observations that our minds retain. If our memory of the future is clearer, developing scenarios about “what happens if” are important, it is like saying, “if later on their are traffic problems, I will take another route to arrive at my destination”.

[9] We are skipping over the 2nd tier organizations, because most have concentrated physical investments and centralized decisions, expressing hierarchical relations that instead provide fertile soil for violence in the region. If this type of organization would again enjoy economic injections, they could intensify their pursuit of hollowing out grassroots organizations that seek to consolidate their autonomy. We also recognize that there are some 2nd tier organizations that are exceptions to what is expressed here, or that are changing in this direction.

[10] Not all territorialized cooperatives are models, but this initial step is an attribute that gives them a good starting point. It will be important to list and study these model organizations/communities.

[11] Chávez, J.M., 2017, Poets & Prophets of the Resistance: Intellectuals & the Origins of El Salvador’s Civil War.

[12] In the current millennium it is difficult to find intellectual scholars of rural realities, much less scholars of rural organizations in Central America. What is the reason for this intellectual drought?

[13] I am grateful to Paulo Barrera, university professor in Brazil, who reading a previous draft, took the phrase “organic intellectuals for the construction of peace” and added “that move to the rhythm of the communities and not in front of them”, a phrase which I include here.

President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo at the Closing of the XVI Congress of the UNEN

This event received a lot of attention for several reasons: 1) Daniel gave awards to university student leaders who led protests in the past, but have opposed the current protests, and to two university presidents who have been loyal to him, in the face of the student led uprising that continues today, whom he continues to call coup mongers, terrorists, criminals. Those receiving awards included Fidel Moreno, who was explicitly named by the US as a subject of the Magnitsky Act.  2) for the first time Daniel publicly called his brother, Humberto Ortega, a “pawn of the oligarchy and the empire.” 3) The day after the Bishops released their Advent message that calls for reconciliation based on justice and peace, he says that the Bishops “act with a criminal, terrorist mentality”. All of this within the context of the recent Executive Order of Trump expanding economic sanctions to anyone who is “involved in serious human rights abuses” in Nicaragua.

 President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo at the Closing of the XVI Congress of the UNEN[1]

Published on Dec 3, 2018 en the official online media of the FSLN, El 19 Digital

{Spanish version: https://www.el19digital.com/articulos/ver/titulo:84742-presidente-daniel-ortega-y-vicepresidenta-rosario-murillo-clausuran-xvi-congreso-de-la-unen ]

The President of the Republic, Comandante Daniel Ortega Savaadra and Vice President Rosario Murillo, presided Monday night at the closing of the XVI Congress of the National Student Union of Nicaragua (UNEN).

During the event President Daniel Ortega conferred the Rubén Darío Cultural Independence Order on outstanding student leaders, outstanding union leaders of the Universities, and Women University Presidents.

Commitment to victory

Vice President Rosario Murillo, at the beginning of the event, recalled that the coup mongers “were not able nor will be able…and shall not pass, shall not pass” in the midst of the thundering applause of those present.

“Here we are full of love for the homeland, love for Nicaragua, here there is loyalty to the homeland, here there is loyalty to the homeland”, she said.

“And it is in this commitment to victory that we are meeting, each day walking forward, building new victories, because here, as Darío said, a sun shines on us that will never set”, she added.

“And that sun shines already on new victories. We are heading to the 40th anniversary of the triumph of the Revolution, and we move forward and walk cultivating and harvesting more victories, but in addition, this month of December we are going to commemorate 40 years of the physical departure of the Sandinista priest, guerrilla fighter, commander Martín, commander Father Gaspar García Laviana, and I ask here for a big applause of commitment to the legacy of Gaspar, who flew the flag, made Nicaragua his home and was committed to the poor, to the underprivileged, to the worker down to his last breath, and left us an infinite legacy”, she exhorted and an enthusiastic applause rocked the hall of the Olof Palme.

“Continue struggling, continue flying the flag, because as long as Nicaragua has sons and daughters that love Nicaragua, it will continue being free, worthy of dignity, sovereign, independent. We will continue being children of Sandino”, she emphasized.

Rosario Murillo greeted the brother ambassadors from Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, El Salvador and Iran.

“Our brother ambassadors, friends of Nicaraguan students, comrades, companions, thanks for accompanying us”, she commented.

We are the same

“I was looking at the faces of the companions and I say, I am sure, those of us of that time, we continue being the same, ready to take on all the commitments to fight and win each day. What a pleasure it gives me to see so many dear companions, of so much time of struggle, enhancing today´s victories from the commitment to fight, fight, fight, this is our battle cry”, she pointed out.

“Comandante Daniel, as we announced at noon today, giving out awards to University presidents, student leaders, workers, union members, union leaders of our universities, recognizing loyalty to the homeland, love for the homeland, love for Nicaragua and loyalty for the homeland. This is how we move ahead in revolution”, she said.

In what follows she read the 173-2018 Presidential Agreement which says:

Our President, considering that this year, 2018, is the Centennial Anniversary of the Reforms of Córdoba, and that our National University has been committed and faithful in the fight to achieve the materialization of its principles and postulates, quality education, the conquest and defense of University Autonomy, Higher Education available to all, particularly for the historically dispossessed classes, as well as the development and strengthening of a University at the service of the people.

Two, we are at the 59th Anniversary of the student massacre of July 23rd in León, where the university students José Rubí, Mauricio Martínez, Sergio Saldaña and Eric Ramírez gave their valuable lives, how much heroic history, how much heroic patrimony, how much legacy that it is up to us to walk each day.

How much pride in our coherency, our consistency, our invincible revolutionary spirit. This marked a high point in the history of the struggle of our people for their liberation, fight against the Somoza dictatorship.

That in the fight for the conquest and defense of the constitutional 6%, firmly assured today by our Government for National Unity and Reconciliation, was an inspiring element of courage, of resistance of our people against neoliberalism in the terrible decade of the 90s to safeguard the rights of the children of workers and peasants to higher education.

That the unions of university teachers have more than four decades of being founded, and that as historical reference points we have the lives offered of heroic brothers, Sandinista militants like Dr. Oscar Danilo Rosales, fallen in Pancasán, a professor of the School of Medical Sciences of the UNAN-León.

The professor and revolutionary leader Ricardo Morales Avilés, member of the National Leadership of the Sandinista Front, fallen in Nandaime; the professor of the UNAN –Managua, Sandinista comandantes Iván Montenegro Chávez, fallen in the final offensive against the dictatorship, professor of Science at the UNAN-León and later the professor Miguel Bonilla, fallen in Managua, professor of the UNAN-Managua.

Five, that the unions of workers have contributed the blood of their best sons, their best companions, to overthrow the Somoza dictatorship, among them we have Alí Abarca Meléndez, Santos Sobalvarro, Edmundo Maltés and Juan Ramón Padilla.

It is agreed then to grant the Rubén Darío Cultural Independence Order, to the unions of the universities in the persons of two outstanding leaders, Maritza Espinales, compañera Maritza, since 2001 the Secretary General of the Union of Administrative Workers of the public universities, and currently a deputy in the National Assembly of Nicaragua, Vice President of the National Assembly.

To the Sandinista intellectual Compañero Freddy Franco, not just a union member, since 2005 the Secretary General of the Teachers Union of the public universities, and president of the Federation of University Unions of Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. Currently an alternative deputy in the National Assembly of Nicaragua.

This agreement takes effect starting on this date.

THE RUBEN DARIO CULTURAL INDEPENDENCE ORDER

“The workers of the universities in the person of these two long-standing, coherent, consistent, long suffering compañeros progressing to new victories, Maritza and Freddy”, she pointed out.

Then she read the Presidential Agreement No. 172-2018.

The President of the Republic considers that the Nicaraguan Student Movement reveres 104 years of existence in our country.

From its origins accompanying the Nicaraguan people in their struggles and aspirations for freedom, emancipation, peace and development.

Two, this year that celebrates the Centennial of the reforms of Córdoba, and our National University has been committed and faithful to the struggle for the materialization of the principles and postulates of the Reforms of Córdoba, quality education, the conquest and defense of Autonomy, higher education accessible for all and particularly for the historically dispossessed classes, as well as the development and strengthening of a University at the service of the people.

And that we are in the 59th Anniversary of the massacre of July 23rd in León, and that the fight for the conquest and defense of the 6% today with our Christian, Socialist and Solidarity Government has firmly assured this fight, was an inspiration for the resistance, for the fight of our people against neoliberalism in the grim decade of the 90s, thus safeguarding the rights of the children of workers and peasants to higher education.

Five, that throughout the history of our country the university has been a fundamental link for the conquest of freedom and peace for Nicaraguan families, who have contributed the blood of their best sons, outstanding student leaders of the stature of comandante Carlos Fonseca Amador, so much pride; Casimiro Sotelo, Julio Buitrago, Edgar La Gata Munguía, Marlon Zelaya, Alfonso Baca Ríos, and in the decade of the 90s, Jerónimo Urbina, Porfirio Ramos, Roberto González.

This year Cristián Emilio Cadenas, who we all know was despicably murdered, because he was forced to return to the CUUN when he had already left, at gunpoint, they forced him to return to the CUUN where they have already set on fire the installations of the CUUN.

And he died burned, giving his life with courage so that we might continue forward, with faith and hope.

Other victims of the coup terrorism, of the criminals who played with hate, these are the hate crimes that we were not famiiar with in our Nicaragua, in recent history.

Our president agrees to grant the Rubén Darío Cultural Independence Order to the national ex-presidents of the National Student Union, UNEN.

Julio Orozco, national president of UNEN, 1993-97; Alonso García Rizo, national president of the UNEN, 1997-2000, Fidel Moreno, known as Fidel Antonio, Vice national president of the UNEN 1997 to 2000; Bismarck Antonio Santana Tijerino, president of the UNEN, 2000 to 2003, wounded by a bullet on Dec 13, 1995, he lost a leg, this was in the that grim and dark period of the so-called 16 years.[2]

Students fighting for the 6%!

Also receiving the award were Yasser Martínez Montoya, Yasser Enrique, president of the UNEN from 2003-2006; César Antonio Pérez, César Pérez, president of the UNEN from 2006 to 2009; Walpa Pineda, national president of the UNEN from 2015-2016; Isaac Lenin Bravo Jaén, president 2013-2016; Luis Manuel Andino Paiz, current president, since 2016; Leonel Morales, president of the UNEN UPOLI and survivor of an assassination attempt, but the fact is that they were not able and will not be able [to be successful].

The present Agreement takes effect starting today.

Award to Presidents

She also cited Agreement 174-2018:

The president of the Republic in salute to the 104th anniversary of the existence of the Student Movement in Nicaragua, that from its origins have accompanied and accompany the Nicaraguan people in their fight and aspirations for freedom, development, sovereignty and peace, in this year of 2018 when the Centennial is celebrated, inspired in the legacy of the Father of University Autonomy, Dr. Mariano Fiallos Gil who fought for a quality, inclusive public university committed to freedom, peace and development: agrees to recognize for her outstanding contribution to the development of Nicaraguan public universities granting the Ruben Darío Cultural Independence Order to the compañera Flor de María Valle, the current president of the UNAN-León, the first women elected as the president of the National University in León in March 2018.

“Compañera Ramona Rodríguez Pérez, Monchita, the president of the UNAN-Managua in 2015. She is also the president of the National University Council CNU, since August of this year. The First women president of the UNAN Managua and the first woman president of the CNU”, commented Compañera Rosario Murillo.

The example of the youth highlighted

In his message to the participants of the XVI Congress of the UNAN, president Daniel Ortega highlighted the role that the youth have played in the defense of the achievements of the people and the revolution.

“Here are the youth, the youth who with the effort of families, on occasion with the effort of the mother, who is father and mother at the same time, and with their capacities, intelligence, vocation, spirit of service, after making a long and not easy journey, passing primary, after secondary school, came the big challenge: the university”, said the Nicaraguan president.

“The National University, where to be able to go there you have to pass a test by fire. And that is what shows this can-do spirit that working families have, humble families, poor families, from the city and the countryside; even families in extreme poverty, who with great sacrifice are able to take boys and girls to primary school; and finally they are able to graduate from high school and then take the leap to university,” he emphasized.

Loyal to the Homeland

He pointed out that that it is the “university of the people, the university of the poor, the university of the children of peasants, the university of the children of the workers, and with a high level of awareness, this understandable degree of social awareness, this high level of solidarity awareness, this high degree of patriotic awareness, this high degree of awareness that makes the students of the UNEN loyal youth to the homeland, loyal to the revolution, loyal to the poor, loyal to the peasants, to the workers.”

He indicated that in this example, “there loyalty is committed, fighting for them and with them so that we might continue this struggle to eradicate poverty and extreme poverty.”

He greets the ambassadors of sister countries.

In what follows President Daniel Ortega greeted the ambassadors from the sister countries invited to the closing of the UNEN Congress [he greeted Ambassadors from Bolivia, Cuba, El Salvador, Iran, Palestine, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, and Venezuela].

The nefarious inheritance of neoliberalism

The Statesman pointed out that “neoliberalism that had the complete support of the Yankees, the European Union, what was it that it left the Nicaraguan people? In educational matters in primary , secondary education, privatization,” he mentioned.

“That was the policy; privatize, privatize education, privatize health care, privatize the basic services of the Nicaraguan state, that is what they did,” he added.

They privatized businesses with millions in income

Privatizing big telephone companies that are a source of income, resources for any country, now which we Nicaraguans would like to have, but they privatized them in the midst of deals, big commissions, telephone companies mean multimillions of dollars worth of income, we used to say, do not privatize them, they were the years of the 90s, from the opposition we used to say, do not privatize them, and they insisted on privatizing,” he pointed out.

“We used to tell them, but you have to realize what the telephone companies are and are going to be in the future, an enormous source of resources for the country, and no, they decided to privatize, and they embarked on snatching properties away from the peasants who had been benefitted by the Agrarian Reform, and they embarked on evicting the workers who had received state enterprises,” he lamented.

The fight in the streets

“When the protest began- because, yes we went to protest, we held protests – why protests? So that it be negotiated and that participation in the privatization might be given to the workers. That was our proposal because we were facing a reality: the government had decided to privatize”, he added.

He restated: “and we did not think about embarking on a new insurrection to overthrow the government, because it was easy to overthrow it, for us it would have been easy to overthrow the government of Ms. Chamorro, the government of Dr. Alemán or the government of Mr. Bolaños, it was easy, simple, but we did not think about that.”

He explained that it never occurred to them to overthrow the government. “I always repeat, how, when we were in those negotiations in the midst of the protests in 1990, at the beginning of the 90s when they began with their privatization plan, snatching from the people, the poor, the revolutionary conquests, when they fired thousands of education workers, thousands of health workers, when they fired workers in customs, state workers, simply because they were Sandinistas or because they suspected that they were Sandinistas.”

“It did not occur to us to overthrow the government. Yes we did protest and compared to the protests that we did – that we were doing then – that have nothing to do with the crimes that they committed in this coup attempt”, he highlighted.

They sent the Army on the people

He recalled that the neoliberal governments did not hesitate to send out the Army on the people. “They did not hesitate to call the Army and send out the Army against those who were protesting. The Police were not enough, rather they sent out the Army as well, to shoot at the workers who were defending the companies that they had been given by the revolutionary state,” he said.

“Workers died there, defending supply centers, there in the province of Estelí, he remembered.

A general at the service of the oligarchy and the empire

“ And who was the Army chief, who violated the principles? The chief of the Army was General Ortega. General Humberto Ortega was head of the Army, that at that time, since then, with the departure of the [Sandinista] government simply decided to pass over to the side of those who had won the elections, and turn himself into a pawn of the oligarchy and the empire. A servant of the oligarchy and the empire”, he emphasized.

“This explains why he sent out the Army, an Army that was not, is not for that. He used it. We cannot forget, we cannot forget how the oligarchs, the imperialists, when they faced situations of protests on the part of the people, did not hesitate to establish a state of emergency, martial law, and brought out the Army to repress the people,” he continued.

“We continue seeing it in these times, in different places where it continues happening,” he commented.

“And when we were in those moments, we were negotiating for two months in that hall, of the Olof Palme (convention center), a hall where the workers were negotiating with the ministers , and another room where we were, talking with the leadership of the government,” recounted President Daniel Ortega,.

“Engineer Antonio Lacayo was the leadership of the government of Ms. Chamorro. And of course, it was difficult for them to reach an agreement in the negotiation in the midst of the protests, there were deaths, and one day Engineer Lacayo showed up and said to me, `Daniel, Doña Violeta says that she is no longer going to continue in the government, that she is going to give you the keys to the Presidency and that you all take the presidency,” he continued.

“I said to him, `No, we are going to take the presidency again when we win it with the votes of the people.´”, recounted the president, that he said to the then Minister of the Presidency, Antonio Lacayo.

“And I said to Engineer Lacayo, that they should continue negotiating and reach an agreement, there with the workers, and in the end an agreement was reached, that they were going to cede to them 25% of the companies that they were privatizing, returning to the Somocistas, who had returned also to Nicaragua,” he said.

He added that meanwhile the students were accompanying that struggle, “students from the National University were present, also some students from the Central American University, and let us not even talk about the battle that had to be taken on for the 6%, a battle that had to continue.”

President Daniel Ortega emphasized that while they (the neoliberal governments) were in power, “it never occurred to us to day, `let them leave´. Never. `Let them end their period and we will see them in the elections´, that was our position, and we saw them in the elections in 1990, later we saw them in the elections of 96, then we saw them once again in the elections of 2001, three and nothing. And the spokespeople for the right and the oligarchy would say, `you have now struck out, three and nothing´, but…We revolutionaries do not understand strike outs! And we went to the fourth election and there the people decided that the Sandinista Front should return to power.”

Comandante Daniel Ortega referred to the conditions in which he found the country: “ we found the government, the country, I am not going to make a list, I am only going to refer to one point. The neoliberal governments had privatized energy, they had not put clear norms or clear rules on the companies who had bought the energy plants, who, at the moment of buying the state plants, bought what was in good shape and did not buy what was in bad shape, and of course, by means of commissions, corruption and they did not make bigger investments in energy.”

He recalled that some two years before the FSLN came to government we already had an energy crisis in the country, and “there was the government running around to try to bring in a ship, those ships that they rent, they come with a plant, so the ship comes in and is installed in Puerto Corinto, there it is connected to the distribution system, but well… how much does that energy cost and it does not belong to the Nicaraguan state. It was rented from a speculative business and they charged what they want because they knew that the country was drowning, but in spite of that, the energy blackouts continued throughout the country, there was daily rationing in the entire country.”

“When we took on the government we found that the country, all of Nicaragua was collapsing, was broke, because a country without energy simply cannot function, cannot move forward, and there is where Comandante Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías appeared. He came to our installation, the installation of the people of Nicaragua, and then talking with him about the situation that we had, because the truth is that, if this problem was not resolved, then simply the government that we had recently assumed would be able to do very little for Nicaragua,” he recalled.

“What industry, what productive activity, what social recreational activity can operate without energy? And we were without energy, blackouts for hours. And there is where I said to President Chávez, we have this problem, explaining the problem to him, I did not dare to say to him help me, explaining the problem to him, he comes up and addresses other compañeros: Do we have plants in Cuba that are going to Caracas? Yes, the compañero sayd to him. Daniel, we are going to resolve this now. The plants that are in Cuba, that came from Korea, very modern plants, made in Korea and they are placing orders, Cuba and Venezuela together. Those orders went to Cuba, one part stayed for Cuba, and another part was going to Venezuela. Venezuela was looking for how to cover their basic energy needs, so the plants that we have in Cuba have to be brought now to Nicaragua, afterwards we will take more plants to Venezuela, but let us bring the plants that are now in Cuba to Nicaragua and those plants are the ones that saved Nicaraguan,” he stated.

The Comandante added that the oligarchs did not see this, the sellouts who when the energy came, from the hand of the Bolivarian Revolution, were incapable of recognizing it and being grateful for it, and rather what they did was drink the milk, “because of course, the energy they took, they used it, there was no bad government there when the energy was coming from Venezuela, they ran to use the energy, and as they say: they drank the milk and cursed the cow, that is how it was.”

He says that “that is why I do not get tired of repeating that in this process that we have lived through, in this new stage of the revolution, the Bolvarian revolution has been present, the sword of Bolívar has been present, through the sword of Chávez.

Also how, after the transition to immortality of Chávez, our brother Nicolás Maduro Moros, Constitutional President of the sister Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, maintains that firm commitment with the Nicaraguan people.

And then how the economy moved all these years, and the social programs and everything that the people know how to value, and that explains why Nicaragua has a high rate of growth until the coup attempt against the state in April,” he stated.

“A country with a high degree of security, stability, a country at peace, thanks be to God, a country in economic growth, a country of social growth, a country admired by the way in which we were advancing, in spite of being a very small economy, this caused more admiration, because it is not the same thing, a country that has a lot of resources that is able to channel those resources correctly, and it brings well being and growth to the people; as a country like Nicaragua, always in very precarious conditions from the economic point of view, but knowing how to promote the solidarity of peoples and particularly the Venezuelan people, and knowing how to promote our own capacities, because we were in conditions also of placing our products in the market of ALBA, and placing our products in the international market, because we have a force of peasants, farmers, small producers, medium producers, workers who have a great capacity for developing our own capacities, taking into account our own resources and our own riches and that is where the growth that we have had came from,” he explained.

“But of course, the traitors, always conspiring with the empire. Since we came to power in 2007 they began to conspire, they began to ask for sanctions against the people of Nicaragua, they began to apply sanctions, but we said: it is important to continue, it is important to continue, because we have the intelligence, we have the strength, we have the human capital to be able to continue beyond the sanctions,” he expressed.

“And in the desperation, when they realized that they could not stop this highly humanitarian, highly humanist, highly solidarity based process, then they had no other alternative than to embark while armed on murdering the people, to try to overthrow the people who are the government and who are the president of this country,” he confirmed.

The president of Nicaragua, comandante Daniel Ortega, emphasized how all the oligarchs and sell-outs came together, “how they came together, how also some hierarchs of the church came together, after we invited them, we told them that they would be mediators, they quit being mediators and moved to being an active part of the coup forces, and this said by they themselves, now in declarations that have appeared, it is now clearly seen who were behind the roadblocks, encouraging roadblocks, in other words, encouraging crimes, who by principle, as Christians, as pastors, should have completely rejected any crime.”

He emphasized that these Catholic hierarchs “do not have anything to do with that Christ who was being whipped. When they took him to crucify him, and having all the power as the son of God to be able to do away with all those who were whipping him and were going to crucify him, he knew rather to say, pardon them, that they do not know what they are doing. These friends who speak in the name of Christ do not know that word of Pardon them that they do not know what they are doing.”

“They do not have anything of Christians, and they act with a terrorist, criminal mentality, they do. They happily joined the terrorist and criminal coup, the death of their brother Nicaraguans did not hurt them, the torture did not hurt them, the stark exhibition of those who were tortured, were mistreated, and then burned, no, it did not hurt them. They never said one word, nor have they said one word condemning these criminal deeds. Never”, he stated.

“God wants that in these days of Christmas that a little bit of light from the star of Bethlehem that might cleanse them would reach them, he wished.

“Dear compañeros, dear boys and girls of the National Student Union. I do have here the conclusions that you read and we are going to take them to seek responses, here facing greater challenges, even in greater difficulties, we are never going to resign, we are never going to resign overcoming the challenges, overcoming the difficulties and providing a response to the people, providing a response to families, giving a response to the students,” encouraged the comandante.

“And greetings to all of you, and through all of you, to all the students of the university, the university that receives the children of the poor. And sending a greeting to all the families who are part of this blessed extraordinary effort that has allowed you to reach the doors of the university, the university classrooms, and then achieve a degree to later serve your families, serve the community, serve the people,” he added.

“And on this day offering homage, as well they deserve it, the heroe and martyr students who have given their lives for just causes, the students of our universities who in different circumstances, fighting for a better Nicaragua, for a Nicaragua in peace, for a Nicaragua with justice, have given their lives, without asking anything in return, nothing, and they as Leonel Rugama used to say, they did not say that they were dying for the homeland, they did not say that they were dying for the people, they did not say that they were dying for the dignity of Nicaragua, but they died, “ he pronounced.

The president concluded his words saying, “Long live our heroes and martyrs! Long live the National Student Union of Nicaragua! Long live Darío! Long live Sandino! Sandino lives, the fight continues, Free Fatherland or Death!”

[1]Their representatives sat on the government´s side during the dialogue, opposite the “self convened” students who led the initial protests. Largely considered part of the FSLN party apparatus.

[2] 1990-2006, period when the FSLN was not in power.

Ortega-Murillo: Against the Ropes?

Oscar René Vargas is a well known political analyst, now in exile in Costa Rica after the government ordered his arrest in July. He  joined the FSLN in 1967 and was forced into exile during the Somoza regime that same year, after rescuing Ortega from a safe-house surrounded by Somoza´s military. He was named Nicaraguan Ambassador to France shortly after Ortega came back to power in 2007.

In this piece he analyzes the impact of a number of very recent events, including the arrival of the new US ambassador and his visit to the Nicaraguan Army; the impact of Trump´s executive decrees, especially on  the plans of big capital vis a vis the crisis; the surprising announcement of the retirement of some 24 military officers; the visit of Richard Feinberg; and the heightened attacks this past week on independent media.

Ortega-Murillo: Against the Ropes?

By Oscar René Vargas

Published on 100% Noticias website, Dec 6, 2018

[Spanish version at: https://100noticias.com.ni/nacionales/95148-ortega-murillo-contra-cuerdas/ ]

  1. The social movement is ebbing (stagnation phase), a result of the brutal repression and lack of adequate political leadership. Paramilitary repression in the streets, neighborhoods, highways and rural zones, and the violation of human rights, have increased.
  1. Due to the ebbing of the social movement, the political clock favors Ortega-Murillo in their objective of continuing in power until 2021.
  1. On Nov 14 the [new US] Ambassador Kevin Sullivan arrived in Nicaragua and began to move many political chess pieces of the country.
  1. The US sanctions on the Ortega-Murillo government have created in the population the hope for a quick departure of the regime, and lot of nervousness in the de facto powers.
  1. With Trump´s Executive Decree, the great majority of the members of big capital, weak and dependent, have been left very frightened and willing to literally do whatever would please the US. The question is knowing what is the next tactical step in their strategy against the Ortega-Murillo regime.
  1. The reaction of Daniel Ortega (DOS) against the Catholic Church and Humberto Ortega (HOS) shows me that DOS is afraid that in the conversations of Ambassador Sullivan with the different sectors (Army, Church, Media, NGOs, Youth, AMCHAM, etc) a solution to the crisis was contemplated that is not favorable to Ortega-Murillo.
  1. Is the attack of DOS against his brother the result of the fact that HOS has done work within the Army to promote an aggressive and independent action to the Ortega-Murillo regime?
  1. Is there some relationship between the move to retire the four colonels, 26 lieutenant colonels and the five mayors to the political work that HOS is doing in the ranks of the Army? That quantity of soldiers being retired is not normal, it is a cleaning, “purging.”
  1. There is the hypothesis about the resignation of Ortega-Murillo, and that Omar Halleslevens[1] would assume the interim presidency, with the support of the Army, HOS, big capital and the US. This would explain the reaction of DOS on December 3. It is clear that this would be the perfect solution for the de facto internal and external powers, leaving the self convened on the sidelines.
  1. In my view, it is not likely that Ortega-Murillo will resign. All their actions indicate their desire to stay in power at any cost until 2021. It is important to not forget that this past November 17 they retired colonels, lieutenant colonels, and majors who commanded troops and had historical connections with Halleslevens, or who had manifested a certain amount of disagreement with the attitude of the Army during the height of the social and political crisis.
  1. A full fledged purge happened on November 17th in the military institution; nevertheless we cannot completely accept the hypothesis about the arrangement of the succession of Ortega-Murillo, above all because of the desire of the US to want to separate them from power.
  1. Also, it is important to be clear that the Army cannot put up with more economic deterioration of the country, nor can they expose themselves to be affected in their US investments. The Ortega-Murillo government does not have the capacity to maintain the Army as Maduro does in Venezuela.
  1. The attack of Ortega on the Episcopal Conference has the purpose of eliminating their participation in any future negotiation. Ortega´s objective is that in a new negotiation only people who are in agreement with Ortega-Murillo remaining in power until 2021, or a date close to that, would participate.
  1. On Tuesday December 4th in the conference organized by the financial newspaper, the “Wall Street Journal”, John Bolton, National Security Advisor to the White House, stated, “We have to confront these regimes (Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba) and free their people. I believe that throughout the continent it is not just a US project, but more and more it is a project of all democratic countries in the region.”
  1. The different movements of the self convened have demanded more forcefulness with the Ortega-Murillo regime. Many of them are demanding a national strike, others a three day strike. The strike that decimated Somoza and precipitated his fall in 1979 is in the collective consciousness.
  1. Nevertheless, some sectors of big capital are thinking coldly about a negotiated solution with the Ortega-Murillo government, because they are afraid of a radicalization of the popular movement.
  1. These sectors of big capital and their allies think that some reforms and an amnesty can rebuild the governance pact with the government, with some variations.
  1. In this negotiated solution they want to involve the parasitical parties allied and/or subordinated to the Ortega-Murillo regime. They think that with the passage of time the “radical” sectors will lose their political weight in the current crisis, allowing for a negotiated solution.
  1. In the interview with Carlos Fernando Chamorro, the unofficial envoy of the US establishment sectors, Richard Feinberg, argued for an outcome similar to what some members of big capital and their allies are promoting.
  1. The rejection of the majority of the population to the Ortega-Murillo government continues. Nevertheless, the lack of a unified political leadership does not allow for the weaknesses of the government to be taken advantage of, nor to present an alternative government.
  1. The murders, amount of prisoners, people disappeared and exiled are what makes the rejection [of the government] on the part of the population continue, and complicates the solution that some members of big capital and traditional politicians are seeking.
  1. In recent weeks the repression has focused on the communications media (100% Noticias, Radio Darío, etc.), for the purpose of eliminating the possibilities that the population be informed about events in real time in an objective manner.
  1. All of the above indicates to us that the social and political crisis continues without being resolved, that the economic recession is going to worsen, that the de facto powers want a mild exit, and that the self convened continue demanding justice and democracy.

San José, Costa Rica

December 2018

[1] Previous Commander in Chief of Nicaraguan Military and Vice President in previous period.

Fr Edwin Román questions the “reconciliation” of the FSLN

This in an interview of Fr. Edwin Román, the pastor of the San Miguel Church in Masaya. The interview focuses on  the government´s recently announced policy of reconciliation (see previous post). Sandino´s mother was  Fr. Román´s great grandmother, as his mother was the daughter of a half sister of Sandino. Fr. Román became  known for accompanying human rights workers to protect the civilian population of Monimbó when government supported paramilitaries , led by  Police Commissioner Avellán, attacked the barricades using military weaponry. 

Fr Edwin Román questions the “reconciliation” of the FSLN

The priest who suffered the state attack along with the people of Masaya

By Cinthya Tórrez García published in La Prensa, Monday November 12, 2018

In the last seven months Father Edwin Román has experienced the repression of the dictatorship and has a very clear concept, when asked, about the policy of reconciliation that the government in power is attempting to promote.

Román, who suffered the state attack along with the people of Masaya, does not believe in the executioners. For him the proposal is “questionable” as long as the repression continues.

Father, after nearly four months since the paramilitary attack against the people of Masaya, how is life in the city?

The situation is always very tense. I cannot tell you that it is improving. Generally there is little commerce in the morning. The streets are not as busy as they always were, I understand that even the taxi drivers themselves complain because they say they are only ones out, driving around, and there are no passengers, they see the presence of many police patrols, so the people do not go out…. The environment is not normal here in Masaya.

The regime has mentioned a policy of reconciliation. What does true reconciliation imply?

Being reconciled means being restored, for example, restoring a friendship, being in harmony in a home, a country.

Being restored in order to be reconciled with the other, you have to first be reconciled with yourself. Because if I am going to be reconciled with the other, I have to demonstrate my reconciliation with myself. The fact of having pardoned myself, my bad actions, as a believer in that constant search for God to be able to understand what does the word reconcile mean. They are doing this in a political way, practically with the four letters (of the regime, FSLN). They are talking about reconciliation from the party point of view.

The first ones that they have to reconcile with are the people of Nicaragua, because they have been the perpetrators, and Nicaragua has been the victim; I am not talking about since April, but all of these years, we have been victims of violations of human rights, of many unpunished crimes (remember the case of Elea Valle).

But it seems to me that in this country, those who in their own way are talking today about a reconciliation law, should first practice it themselves. That it be visible, because the people of Nicaragua have been their victims. They have been the offenders. What Nicaragua has experienced in this moment is a reaction. This uprising has been a reaction, if we had truly been in that peace, in that solidarity, in that catchphrase that they have talked about, Christianity, then were would have been no need for any uprising.

Analysts have said that an initiative for a policy of reconciliation could seek an amnesty for the regime or greater control through the Orteguista Police. How do you see it?

This is going to continue the repression in a way. Because Nicaragua is not stupid. They are not going to string us along.

This is going to increase the police repression more, the control over families, the brain washing in the schools, even for you yourselves, as the communications media, independent, those who are critical, they are going to try to muzzle you. This is a type of reconciliation on their terms.

What is it exactly that the regime is looking for by trying to talk about reconciliation?

It has its best moments in the dialogue. That was a golden ladder to keep from getting to this extreme, why are they now talking about a law of reconciliation. I see it as a way of shirking their crimes before the entire world. Wanting to provide a different picture to the Nicaraguan people, we who have had the flaw of historic memory. We have forgotten about the crimes, and things continue happening. They are trying to evade justice. Daily we see people who are kidnapped, there is repression, civic demonstrations are prohibited, the amount of political prisoners that exist.

Political prisoners (accused) of terrorism.

Do you believe that the population of Masaya accepts this supposed reconciliation (taking into account the repression that it experienced)?

There is no protest, no demonstration in the streets due to the repression. The people comment, complain, as a priest I am aware of their complaints, their problems, but they are muzzled, they cannot even express themselves publicly because they will be arrested, but that is not fear, it is prudence (…). That supposed law (policy) is not credible, a government like that is no longer believed, that has murdered its people. Masaya always cries over the blood of its dead, and there is a nostalgia in these last two months of the year. November 2nd itself was very hard. Many people came to the mass on November 2nd for their deceased, and you could see how hard it was for so many mothers who were crying. There was like a dialogue of silence between them and myself, I understanding their cry, and they receiving consolation (…). Divine justice will happen, sooner or later (…), the justice of law also we hope will be fulfilled.

What conditions should be established for a true reconciliation?

Dialogue cannot be discarded. The bishops are always open to dialogue, but also let us look at the other party, civil society, and I am very much in agreement, for a dialogue to exist there has to be the liberation of the political prisoners, because we cannot be dialoguing if we have people without any blame who are being sentenced for years. A dialogue and also the population continues being repressed.

Part of the reconciliation that they want to promote, well let it be shown by freeing the political prisoners, that they quit repressing the people every day, that they quit harassing families, that they be very crystal clear. The openness to move up elections, as the people themselves are asking for.

Do you believe that they are willing to do this or it that a utopia?

That is the demand, and I would not be able to respond to you about what is in their heads. That is the clamor, and if they were honest, if it was an honest government, I think that we would be much better in Nicaragua, from so much selfishness, so much personal and party interest.

How do they talk about religiosity and spirituality (as a focus of the policy), when they are maintaining a campaign against the Church and especially against Mons. Silvio Báez? Is it double talk?

Yes, because Mons. Báez has been a prophet (…), prophets did not just exist previously, but rather Christ continues speaking through his Word. And what has been said is a reality, as St. Paul has said and Mons. Báez has repeated, the Word of God is not chained, the Word of God is a double edged sword, because many times is goes to the one who is preaching it and the one who hears it, and it is double speak what has been done because they talk to you about Christianity, peace, love…

What is the Government looking for with this double speak?

Look, we who in this country are Catholics or Christians, be that of the Catholic Church or another Christian Church, and we who are very conscious of our faith, we are conscious of the faith and the Word of God, but what the Government does is manipulate the Word of God, manipulate popular activity. In these days, I imagine, they are going to continue making these supposed altars for the Virgin, that logically, the mother of heaven will be unhappy with what they are doing to poor Nicaragua. This is double speak: manipulate religious symbols, and this lady (Rosario Murillo) who talks also, even seems to prophesize, a preacher, but one preaches with the word and the testimony of your life. You cannot be talking about God and attacking the Church that Christ founded.

In the policy of reconciliation they include religious denominations, but not specifically the Catholic Church. Have you been consulted?

I don´t know if they would have dialogued with someone in the Curia. They would have to go to the Archbishop´s office.

But the fact that they do not mention directly the Catholic Church in the official reconciliation project…

I do not know, it is a questionable law. They have something there, I do not know, implementing in a questionable way. Really the Church has not fought with them.

When you say questionable, what are you referring to?

The way that they are going to implement it. Because they are talking about reconciliation, but the practice of reconciliation is not being followed. They are talking about faith, love, but the Catholic Church is being attacked, and by attacking the Church it is not just one bishop, but all Catholics.

Father, the Orteguista Police, who have been repressive, will be responsible for “community” work. What appreciation do you have of this?

A lot of suspicious things are seen, in other words, there is no guarantee. The executioners, how are they going to be (doing) this now? If they have been the executioners of their people, the people do not forget, and how is their trust going to be felt(…)? How are these people going to be believed who are coming to organize a neighborhood, if they are the executioners of the people, they are the oppressors? What trust is there? None. It is a mistake. I think that this is what they are accomplishing, is that the people, first of all, repressing more, and secondly, the people are a volcano, you do not know at what moment they might explode (…)

Imagine, for example, the General Commissioner Ramón Avellán, one of the faces of the repression. Do you see him really reconciling with the victims, including yourself who was one of the victims of his attacks?

Since it was a public sin, let him say it publicly. That he ask forgiveness of each one of his victims, but also that that pardon lead him to make reparations, and the reparation is justice. That they pay for their crimes. Because it is very easy to say “I ask forgiveness”, but that forgiveness has to also lead to paying for my crime. I think that he has committed it, there have been some public sins, all of Nicaragua knows who the intellectual authors are of so many crimes, and some who know the police who killed them, some were able to discover them, and that they say publicly, that they ask forgiveness publicly, and at the same time face justice, because it is not something from the lips, but also that it be seen that justice is being applied, and this is not hate, this is something natural, that reparations be made. And God is love and is open to forgiveness. No matter how criminal a person may be if he is repentant, he wants to be restored, God receives him.

Do you see Commissioner Avellán asking for pardon in public?

I do not know. No, I do not expect it. I pray for those who have murdered, have mistreated the people in Nicaragua. I pray for conversion, for peace in Nicaragua. I do not expect that they ask me to forgive them.

And the mothers, do you really see him asking forgiveness, taking a step toward that reconciliation?

Everything is possible. Let each person take responsibility for their crimes, and be tried so that they might have peace in their conscience.