Category Archives: Election

President Daniel and vice president Rosario in the presentation of credentials of new ambassadors to Nicaragua, October 16, 2019

This rather long speech is important for several reasons. First of all, it takes place within the context of the European Union´s recent approval of a framework for applying sanctions against Nicaragua over the continued violation of human rights, and it is delivered in the very presence of the new ambassador of the European Union  to Nicaragua. But more importantly, it lays out in some detail Ortega´s view of the April 2018 uprising and its implications today.

He places the events of April 2018 in the context of historical US interventions in Nicaragua, and then buttresses his position by referencing news stories about small armed groups that appeared in the press in Miami and local papers as far back as 2007. He vehemently criticizes the new Foreign Minister for the European Union for his position on Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua. He then makes the case for how the Government under his leadership has fought poverty, promoted growth, fought organized crime and drug trafficking, and how all this was set back by the events from April to July 2018. He therefore asks for aid from the international community to support Nicaragua´s current efforts to resume the attack on poverty and increasing economic growth.

 He does not address any of the past and ongoing reports by the UN and OAS Human Rights organizations on the systematic and ongoing abuse of human rights by the Government, which are the immediate causes of the sanctions he condemns. Nor does he mention any interest in negotiating about these rights. By ignoring this “elephant in the room”, and keeping heavily armed police and paramilitaries in the streets to prevent any expressions of dissent, the conclusion can be drawn that any international support will be given in a context of the ongoing repression.

(The use of caps reflects their use in the original Spanish).

President Daniel and vice president Rosario in the presentation of credentials, October 16, 2019

[original Spanish]

Dear Brother and Sister Nicaraguans, Dear Families, Nicaragua is a People, a Nation that always has its doors open to develop, deepen relationships with all the Nations of the Earth. We are a small Nation in Territory, but with a lot of Dignity.

Nicaragua, you know the why of the presence, starting with independence from Spain, in other words, we became independent from Spain in the year 1821, a small People, but at that time the Spanish Conquistadores had already discovered, more than the Gold that they could find in Nicaragua, more than the labor force with other forms of slavery that was installed in our Countries with the Encomienda.

There began the dispute between England and Spain over Nicaragua. England dominated half of the Territory, and Spain the other half. And why did the dispute over Nicaragua exist? They had discovered that River that some of you will now get to know, the Rio San Juan, and the Lake that leads to that small strait in Rivas and that therefore was the passage that the Conquistadores were looking for.

In other words, apart from the thirst for Gold that they brought, the subjection and extermination of entire Peoples, Indigenous Peoples, our Ancestors, they began to fight over the passage, and the British as well as the Spanish said: The one who dominates that passage that allows traveling to the two Oceans is going to dominate all of America. This they were saying in the years of the Conquest, after the Conquest, when the British and Spanish were constantly fighting one another. And now independent Nicaragua, well, continued begin the victim of the Powers who wanted to take over Nicaragua, to take over that passage.

This is where the anti-imperialist sentiments come from in Nicaragua, a People who have never been the enemy of any People of the World, neither the Spanish People, nor the British People, nor the US People, but that, yes is a People that has resisted and fought against aggressions, the interventions of these Powers.

It is always good to recall History and the yankee expansionism from the South of the United States, when they were opposed to the North. They had a presence in Nicaragua, after a Transit Route that had been opened, through which thousands of North Americans moved from the East Coast of the United States to the West Coast of the United States.

They were the years of the Gold Fever in the United States, and, well, US Businessmen found that there was a much safer Route than crossing the entire Territory of the United States; and it was to sail the passage in New York, going to a small port on the Rio San Juan. Then they sailed on the River, navigating the River, navigating the Lake, then crossing the isthmus of Rivas in Stagecoaches that the US Company had, and then sailed once again to take the course to the West Coast of the United States.

Gold! Always Gold! Gold brought the Conquistadores. Gold brought the yankee expansionists. Gold imposed on us here a yankee President, William Walker, a slaveholder, who came accompanied by those who were a force of the Armies of the Southern United States, who were fighting the North at that time, the most conservative Forces, the most reactionary forces. And he made himself President of Nicaragua, William Walker, and was recognized by the yankee Government, and there in his inauguration was the yankee Delegate, present when William Walker took possession here in Nicaragua.

This reminds us of an event that the US Superpower should be ashamed of, but unfortunately there is no shame, and we see how they invent Presidents. Now they have invented a President there in Venezuela, a President who has not been elected, who was elected for the Parliament. Ah, but the empire already decided, along with the European Powers, a good part of the European Powers decided to recognize as President someone who is not the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. The President was elected and is named Nicolás Maduro.

A bloody fight had to be waged here against Walker to expel him; but then the United States imposed a Treaty on Nicaragua, so that Nicaragua would not be able to use its Territory to build canal constructions on the Rio San Juan, or Canals through Nicaragua. And then left Nicaragua while also it relocated to Panama, to what was Great Colombia, uprooting Panama from Great Colombia to then have two alternatives.

Here studies for the Canal were carried out, the US Troops did them, the Body of Engineers of the US Army did the Studies, because there was a Mandate from the US Congress, deciding since Nicaragua was a Colony of theirs, that they had to do the Studies to build the Canal through Nicaragua, while they did the same in Panama.

In other words, Nicaragua has been under the gaze of the Powers there, and above all, the US Power, that deposed Governments, and behind the deposition of a Government that had promoted a Liberal Revolution there in the years of 1893, as President Zelaya was promoting a Policy of more connections with Europe, so it was, as they used to say, “America for the Americans, this meant America for the United States, and it meant that the Europeans could not approach this Region. These were the rules that the expansionist Policy of the United States dictated.

Well, and after overthrowing Zelaya, the Resistance of Nicaraguans, of Nicaraguan Patriots, resenting, confronting who? The yankee Troops who shipped out then. Year 1912, the yankee troops disembarking in Corinto and advancing then to Masaya, to fight the Patriots who were defending the Sovereignty and Dignity of the Country.

And Sandino then rising up against the yankee Troops. And Sandino,, now with the yankee Troops withdrawn, well, dialoguing and arriving at Peace Accords, and the President invites them to a dinner in the Presidential Home, while the chief of the Army, who the yankees had organized, who was under yankee tutelage, who had been under the orders of the High yankee Officials,  was waiting for Sandino to leave the dinner, right here in the Center of Managua, to capture him and then shoot him with those who accompanied him.

Peace agreements had been signed; the Chief of the Army imposed by the yankees, Somoza, had taken photos with Sandino after the Peace Accords, embracing one another as Brothers, and then Somoza complied with the last task that the yankees had entrusted him: Killing Sandino!

They gave the mission of killing Sandino to Somoza. And he killed Sandino on February 21, 1934. From there a long tyranny that was recognized by the International Community, it was never described as a Dictatorship, in so far as it was a tyranny imposed, armed and financed by US Governments.

Unfortunately History continues repeating itself, the US Power feels it has the right to attack those who do not subject themselves to it. And the Latin American Region is shaken, but I would say even more, the World is shaken, by all the ways in which the order that Global Capitalism had designed has been violated, and that continues advancing, with profound imperfections, but was advancing under the rules, under the norms of Globalization.

There was a type of Consensus to which the United States adhered, and that provided a little bit of stability, in the midst of enormous challenges that Humanity had to face, it gave it a little bit of stability, it provided a direction  to the Developed Countries and to the Developing Countries.

It now is completely affected, it is destabilized, but we have Confidence, we have Faith that there will be maturity and sensibleness in the Countries that have the greatest power, the greatest capacities to enrich, strengthen, within the framework of the Principles of the United Nations, to get all us Countries on track who are a reality.

Beyond the cultural nuances, beyond ideologies, beyond specific formats of each Nation, the truth is that it is indispensable, it is a matter of life and death to achieve a Consensus that does not just continue alienating Developing Countries, but alienating and conflicting and clashing among the Developed Countries themselves, who are more united under a path that they set, and where in one way or another we all were walking along, this Process of Globalization, seeking Sustainable Development, convinced that you had to and have to fight against Global Warming, that you have to fight for the Environment, signing Agreements.

All this is put into question, the big goals that we had committed to in the Fight against Poverty, Extreme Poverty, all this is affected, because to the extent that the Powers do not help, above all the US Power does not help to consolidate Multilateralism, that it understands that Planet Earth does not belong to them and does not belong to just one Power, that it belongs to all of us, and that the Powers have to unite their efforts, for what? So that Equilibrium Points are achieved, Points of Stability, and not continue sowing instability, as is being sown at this time, as continues being sown in these moments.

The challenges that the Developed Countries have are enormous, and logically the steps that the Developed Countries can take are going to contribute to the fact that the we Countries might progress,  we countries that have to face enormous challenges in terms of Extreme Poverty, Poverty, in search of better living conditions for our Peoples. And we will be able to advance if there is Reasonableness, if there is Understanding, if there is a new Contract, starting with the Principles of the United Nations, among the Powers that today see themselves confronting one another as a result of the hegemonic attitude of the greater Power that the Planet has.

We welcome You, Dear Brother and Sister Ambassadors, because beyond our differences we are one Family on this Planet. [He goes on to welcome personally the ambassadors of Germany, Mexico, European Union].

Since we would like to have good relationships of respect with the United States, and since we would like to have good relations also with the European Community, but since understanding, since understanding that just as the United States has marked the transition announcing the annihilation, the destruction of the Sandinista Revolution, the Bolivarian Revolution, the Cuban Revolution, they had said it very clearly, the European Union is aligned with US Policy.

It is incredible, the European Union recognizing a phantom President in Venezuela…Incredible! Incredible! Someone who was elected as a Deputy. We would like to know when, what day, at what moment the election of that man took place, that 50 Countries, of course, promoted all this by the yankee Government. The European Union dragged along by the yankee Government in its madness, to do the ridiculous thing of recognizing someone who appeared there simply by the will of the yankees…Incredible!

Incredible that the European Union has as Chief of Foreign Policy, he has already been named, already presented, Mr. Borrell. I met Mr. Borrell at the time when Mr. Borrell was from the most radical wing of the Spanish Socialist Worker Party. I met him, then he was married to a very revolutionary French woman. And now, it is incredible to hear it, but as it is said: Incredible! But true!

To top it off, that His Majesty the King is going to visit Cuba, and there in the conversation of Borrell with the Cuban Foreign Minister, he tells him, that he hopes that when the King visits Cuba, that neither the President of Venezuela nor the President of Nicaragua be there. I did not know that a Meeting of this type was being scheduled. It never occurred to us that because Mr. Borrell was going to be in Cuba, that we were going to run over to Cuba for Mr. Borrell to receive us.

It is a disgrace for the European Community to have leading the Foreign Policy of the European Community a person like Borrell; in other words, how seriously could one speak with Borrell? He does not have the same tact, he is someone who rather appears to have gone mad by the way in which he speaks, the way in which he rants. But incredible, the European Union named him.

I don´t know how Dialogue will be promoted with the European Union in these conditions, where threats of aggressions, of Sanctions come from the European Union itself; they call them Sanctions, but really they are aggressions. It is like the yankees, every time they impose what they call a Sanction, that is an aggression! The sanction is established under a Legal Order, and if you have to sanction, well, that passes through a procedure, if a State thinks that it has to sanction, but simply it occurs to them and now they strike, they attack.

But “there is no evil that lasts 100 years, nor body that resists it”, and I do not believe that this situation is going to last for a long time, we hope that changes can happen in what the established Norms are for carrying out Dialogues, for carrying out Respectful Communications between all States, no matter how large and powerful some may be, and no matter how very small others may be.

I believe there will be sensible people in the european Peoples and in the European Parliament. I had the opportunity to receive here last year a Delegation of the European Parliament and they seemed to be sensible people. But it is like there is a competition here of who shouts the loudest against our Countries, because coming out of the Meetings and returning to Europe, since they had to look at how to win Elections in a Region that has moved to the right, hence the messages to who was more harsh, who was more violent, and asking for blood. They are asking for blood. That is what they are asking for, blood from these Countries who have not done any harm to anyone.

[He then welcomes the ambassadors of Mauritania, Syria, Suriname, and after welcoming the Ambassador of Finland, adds the following]:

Many of these Nations we visited in the 80s, likewise Finland. They were years of the war, and we always found in those Peoples a lot of Affection, a lot of Solidarity. Seeking Peace! We wanted to put an end to the war, the war imposed by the United States. And we not only resisted here that aggression that led the United States, its Rulers, to ally themselves  with drug traffickers to circumvent the stoppages that on occasions they had in the Congress to not continue financing the war, and that caused [legal] Processes.

We went to the International Court of Justice in the Hague, well to continue the Path that they demanded, and that established the International Laws to which we are all committed in the United Nations. We went to the Court, and the Court ruled condemning the United States and ordering them to stop the acts of terrorism and aggression against Nicaragua. Yes, the United States condemned by the Court for terrorist practices against Nicaragua, and then ordering it to compensate Nicaragua. That Sentence is alive there still, it has not expired, the Sentence has not expired.

[He then welcomes the ambassadors of Austria and Namibia]

As I was saying, Nicaragua is a People, a Nation that wants to establish relations, develop relationships with the Countries with whom we have relations, but that these relations might develop in a respectful way. We do not want to be a Colony! Being a Colony is not in our veins, that desire to be a Colony does not run in our blood, and I think that there is no Human Being nor any people who want to be colonized, and what we ask is that you let us work.

How much sacrifice it has cost Nicaragua to have achieved, after the periods of war like those that I mentioned to you, to spend 17 years in the Opposition, a Party with enormous strength, that never proposed toppling Governments, deposing Governments, regardless of the contradictions that we had, and we always said to them, there is no other Path than resolving the problems among ourselves, and talking, negotiating there with the Social Sectors, Economic Sectors, Peasants, with those with whom there could be contradictions, because of the Government Programs of the three Governments who were installed in those years.

Then we returned to Government in 2007 and we were able to install an Alliance here, Workers, Peasants, Business people, and the Country was able to progress, was able to grow, but a growth that was reflected also in the decrease in Extreme Poverty and Poverty, they were being reduced, and in the expansion and free Health and Education services for Nicaraguan Families.

And in the fight against Drug Trafficking, Organized Crime, Terrorism, with the smallest Budget of the entire Region, we have been able to make Nicaragua a Contention Point to what is the scourge of that epidemic that affects our entire Region and that has a starting point.

If there is a lot of production of drugs in the South, it is because there is a large market and a great demand for the drugs in the North. But they want to demand that we control that, and of course, with our scarce resources, resources that we could dedicate to Health Care, Education, we have to invest them in the fight against Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime that demands a lot of resources. And with the smallest Budget in the Region, Nicaragua has more and better results in the Fight against Drug Trafficking, likewise in terms of Citizen Security.

We have been growing, economic growth, but the US Power did not have a good opinion about it, they did not want a Nicaragua developing itself in a Policy of Alliances that gave it Security, Stability and Growth in the Economy of the Country.  Even in the worst moments of the crisis of 2018, Nicaragua had rates of growth, Nicaragua had the best rates of growth in the Region in that period of crisis.

Meanwhile aggression against Nicaragua was planned again. Armed groups were organized, since 2007 when we returned to Government armed groups were organized, and these armed groups financed from the United States of America, and presented in the communications media in Florida, from the United States and from Nicaragua, as Patriots who were fighting against the Dictatorship.

Since then this aggression began that caused more than 450 deaths and more than 1,000 wounded, since 2007, 2008 up until April of last year. When simply because a Reform to Social Security was applied, where Business people were taxed to contribute, and on the other hand the Workers also contributed; simply put,  the explosion came from there. In other words, the Business people could not resist the pressure of those who accused them of being complicit with the “Dictatorship”, for being in Alliance with the Government, and received threats that they were going to apply that famous Magnitsky [law] on them. And of course, the Business people who have a lot of interests in the United States, if they applied the Magnitsky law, that would liquidate them.

And the radical groups of anti-Sandinistas always bent on going to the United States to seek out the Congress, to look up the State Department, what for? So that they would sanction also those Business people who were accomplices of the “Dictatorship”. And there they bet on a Reform to Social Security…They took out weapons! It was no peaceful protest, and that is easily demonstrated by the amount of dead; the destruction, the destruction of Schools, destruction of Hospitals, destruction of homes; burnings; setting people on fire, simply for being Sandinistas, the Police murders.

In other words, they went far beyond, why? Because they had weapons, and had weapons that they were accumulating, they were collecting, they were using already since 2007, 2008, when armed groups appeared in the Communications Media of the United States and also here in Nicaragua. They were not Terrorists, they were “Patriots”, fighting for democracy.

A Country that really was recognized for the way in which it has been achieving progress in the fight against Poverty, in Health, in Education, in the Field of Production, in the Field of Commerce, well, was seen subjected to a hard blow. And there the claim of the Coup supporters was not about the pretext of the Decree that had to do with the Reform to Social Security, that was the pretext, but the demand was not that the Decree be removed, that the Decree be withdrawn, that was not the demand, the demand was “that the Government leave”, that was the complaint, “that the Government leave”.

And then the fact that attempts had been made that Reform to Social Security be done by consensus, that we would discuss it, they refused to discuss it, because the order was already given and the threat was made from the North. It was a terrible situation, harsh, tragic for the Nicaraguan People, for all Nicaraguans; beyond ideologies, beyond Political Positions, the truth is that the suffering was for all of Nicaragua,; but we have been able to make progress, first being able to recover the Stability of the Country, which is basic for being able to later progress, to take up again the Path that we brought of Economic Growth with Justice, with Equity, and in Peace.

And this is what we ask of the International Community that shows itself interested in the situation of Nicaragua…Well, that they support us in this direction, that they support us so that we can continue strengthening a Process that would allow putting an end to Extreme Poverty, to Poverty, because we still have a challenge, we have made a lot of progress, but we still have to reach the goal.

There we hope for the Collaboration, the Cooperation of the International Community in an unconditional manner, more than those that establish regulations when Agreements with Organizations are signed, etc. and that we Nicaraguans might continue passing through the Route that we brought also within the framework of defining [our] Authorities.

In other words, we have a Constitution that establishes National Elections along with Elections for President and National Deputies and for Deputies to the Central American Parliament, in accordance with the times of the Law; well, those Elections will be in the Month of November  2021.

A Constitution that also establishes Municipal Elections that are held after the National Elections, and that also establishes Regional Elections in the Autonomous Regions of the North Caribbean and the South Caribbean, given that in those Regions of the Northern Caribbean and the Southern Caribbean we were able to achieve [it], in a Historic Struggle of Communities, of Original Peoples that had been marginalized.

There they have their Parliament in the North, their Parliament in the South, and they are the owners, by Law, of their Territory. In other words, in these years we were finally able to provide titles of more than 35,000 square kilometers that in Deeds, by Law, by the Constitution, belong, are in the hands of the Communities of the Original Peoples. And the Norms that exist for carrying out Projects, Programs, Investments in the Zone, already in the Business Plan, that it first has to pass through the Communities where that Project will be carried out, and then the Regional Council has to approve it, and only then can the National Government move it forward.

So we have these Elections that have been able to be held, in a timely manner these Elections have been carried out, they are three moments: The National Elections, the Municipal Elections and the Regional Elections. And that is the Path that we have,

For what purpose? To take the Government. The Political Forces that want to take the Government, this is the Path, this is the Route that we have; it is a Route that is within the Norms that the Constitution of our Country establishes.

Meanwhile, to continue uniting efforts yet in these difficult conditions in the Economic Order. We cannot say that we already achieved resuming the Route of Economic Growth that we had; yes, but the conditions are there, and the Morale of the People is there, working every day to be able to progress. That Blow that the Economy suffered! In other words, if we had an average of 4.5% up to 5% growth, with these acts of terrorism that were produced in our Country, since April of last year up to July of last year, it caused an enormous blow to the Economy and we dropped to 0, and to less. In other words, we lost 4.5%, 5% that was the average that we were advancing, promoting and that we had as a goal, and we add that loss to this, 3.5% and lower still. In other words, a nearly 9% drop.

It was a terrible blow for the Economy, and if the Economic Activity remains standing, it is thanks to the Strength of the People, the Workers, Small and Medium Business owners, and Investments also, that did not allow themselves to be dragged toward the Policy of destruction that was aimed at, and tried to overthrow the Government.

The challenges that we have continue to be very big, the Economic Field continues being a Field that we have out front, we have it out front. The Budget we had to reduce it, in other words, there was no way to grow with the Budget.

We are working now on the Budget for the year 2020, and what we are looking for is how to consolidate what we have been able to make progress on, but we cannot talk about the fact that we are going to msake a Budget larger than what we executed in the year 2018. But yes ensuring…In other words, here not one School has been closed because of budget cuts, the budget cuts have been in other directions; not one Health Center has been closed, nor one Health Post, not one Hospital; rather just the opposite, Schools are being inaugurated, Health Posts are being inaugurated, Hospitals are being inaugurated, continue being built.

Projects of Roads, Highways continue advancing. The very year 2018, last year, they continued working in the midst of the attempts to paralyze the Country, because then it was, they wanted to paralyze the Country. As if they did not understand that now with the Blow that the Country had suffered, betting on paralyzing the Country would have wiped out the installed capacities that the Country has in the Economic Field, in the Productive Field, in the Social Field.

But in that same year we continued inaugurating numerous works, right here in Managua the Overpasses were inaugurated; Roads, Highways; the Highway that unites for the first time in the History of the Zone of the Pacific Region of Nicaragua with the Southern Region of the Nicaraguan Caribbean, in other words, with Bluefields, we inaugurated it this year, because the works never stopped.

And a Highway was built in spite of our limitations, but well, there was no other option than consider [doing it]  with our own resources and with the support of International Organizations, a Highway that cannot be made of asphalt because of the amount of water that falls there, it quickly destroys the asphalt; so, concrete. And the entire Zone of the Caribbean now we are working on it with concrete Highways, because that now provides us a great certainty that the Highways will last over time.

That Highway we inaugurated this year, the Highway to Bluefields, and opening the Highway to Bluefields opens the door for Nicaragua to have at the same time its first Deep Water Port there in the Caribbean, because we do not have a Deep Water Port in the Caribbean, they are small ports that we have in the Caribbean Ocean.

And with the Highway now there is the road to be able to transport merchandise and bring in merchandise. Before the Route was, either by air, very expensive, or by land with a much longer route, and then put it on boats in El Rama, and from there in small boats to go to Bluefields. That was the only way to get to Bluefields.

Really works have been done that help to integrate the Country, that help to strengthen the conditions so that Nicaragua can, and I am sure that our People are going to achieve it, can resume the path that we already were resuming. Well, our goal this coming year in the Budget is going to be, from that collapse that we had to minus zero, minus 3.5, now look to raise and get close to .1 or 1.5% of growth. We cannot aspire to more in these conditions, because rather the budget situation does not provide for larger investment. But getting now to this point we will be resuming a starting point to be able once again to move forward with sustainable growth in the medium and long term.

We welcome all of you Dear Brothers and Sisters. Beyond our Political and Ideological differences, we are not going to arouse fanaticism, because we might have Political and Ideological differences, we are not going to arouse fanaticism, let us not become fanatics, but yes we do ask of you comprehension, comprehension with a People that historically has been subjected to aggression, to intervention, and what we ask for are good relationships, exchange.

With the European Union we had a Process that was very well worked on with all of Central America in the Agreement for Association with the European Union. I followed it very closely with the Compañeros who were working on the Agreement, and there a maturity, a Respect was shown on the part of the European Union to the Central American Countries. We did not feel an arrogant attitude, that because we are Powers now you have to do this and in this way; rather there was rationality and the understanding that Europe is a Market for the Central American Region, and Central America in turn is a Market for European investments, and that from there new spaces are opening up in all Fields.

We trust that we are going to be able to resume, beyond the outbursts that I have mentioned on the part of some Leaders of the European Union, well, I think that we have to have trust that Europe will know how to have the tact, the sensitivity to treat our Latin American and Caribbean Region, and in this particular case with the Central American Region that we have made one in the relationship with Europe; very small markets where the most helpful thing is that we negotiate united with Europe as we have done, and always open to exchanging on those points that we are not able to agree on, but logically exchanging with respect, and you are always going to find that disposition in us.

So it is that we say welcome to Nicaragua and that this Land is also your Land, this House that is called Nicaragua, also is your House, and you have the doors open for you and for your Peoples. Thank you.

Blue and White National Unity Manifesto

A significant announcement was made yesterday of a coalition of some 43 civil society organizations that includes university students, peasants, human rights activists, business sector, feminists, politicians and other movements, including the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, which is organization that represented civil society in the National Dialogue. This manifesto represents another step in addressing the question of what the opposition to the current government is proposing as an alternative.

Blue and White National Unity Manifesto

National Unity for Justice and Democracy

The Ortega Murillo dictatorship, which has led Nicaragua into a grave human rights crisis violating the Constitution and the law, maintains itself only by violence and repression through police, paramilitary and shock forces, who have subjected the people to a massacre that up to now has produced more than 400 people murdered, more than three thousand wounded, an undetermined number of people disappeared, kidnapped, captured, tortured and criminalized, and more than 347,000 jobs lost.

The diverse and plural movements, organizations, social, political and economic forces that throughout the country have led the civic and pacific resistance to this authoritarian, corrupt, nepotistic and criminal government, we make public the establishment of the Blue and White National Unity, with which we begin a new stage of organization and mobilization for the conquest of freedom, justice and democracy.

The unity of all the forces is an imperative to continue and intensify the struggle that would lead to the departure of the dictatorship and the construction of the democracy that we aspire to. This unity marks a progression in the peaceful resistance of the citizenry, enhancing our capacities for planning, coordination, organization and implementation of protest actions, denouncement, as well as clear and resounding expressions about the fact that the majority of the Nicaraguan people reject the dictatorial and repressive regime that has committed crimes against humanity, for which those responsible will be judged.

An economic disaster is being experienced as the result of the repression of the regime, the most affected sectors are commerce, hotel and services (tourism), manufacturing and construction, affecting the weakest base of the pyramid. We take on as our own the commitment to its improvement, its reactivation and to return to grow again in numbers and quality of life. Not one job less, nor the loss of another life.

Objective

The principle objective of this Blue and White Unity is building a Nicaragua with democracy, freedom, justice, institutionality and respect for human rights. To achieve it, the quick departure from power of the Ortega Murillos through democratic means is indispensable.

Principles and Values

  1. The country´s symbols unite us, particularly the blue and white flag.
  2. Our struggle is civil and peaceful.
  3. The peaceful resistance is led by the citizenry.
  4. We maintain the commitment to freedom, justice, democracy, unhindered respect for human rights and the Rule of Law.
  5. Transparency and honesty are the basis for the construction of trust.
  6. Dialogue and negotiation are basic principles for the achievement of the objectives.
  7. We accept respect for diversity and plurality of identities and non-discrimination.
  8. Our relations are horizontal, without caudillos, nor vanguards.
  9. We make use of democratic exercise and consensus in decision making in all areas of our work and at all levels.
  10. Our desire is that Nicaragua might grow economically with equity and freedom.

Urgent demands

  1. A national dialogue to agree on terms and conditions for a democratic transition. We support the bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua as mediators and witnesses: and the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy as representative of Nicaraguan society in that negotiation. We request the Organization of American States (OAS), the United Nations (UN) and th European Union (EU) to act as guarantors.
  2. The immediate end to repression: threats, harassment, attacks, forced disappearances and displacements, abductions, captures, sexual violations, torture and murder of the citizenry that defends its rights.
  3. Immediate freedom for the political prisoners, the end of the criminalization and trial of the right to protest, and the annulment of these trials, as well as redress for the victims of the people imprisoned.
  4. Early municipal, regional and national elections in the short term, with a restructured Electoral Branch, and national and international observation that would ensure inclusive, plural, transparent and competitive elections. The legal and institutional changes will have to be done that would ensure this purpose and allow for the broad participation of political parties and electoral alliances with their own identity.
  5. Respect for the freedom of association, mobilization and expression of the citizenry, as well as respect for the free exercise of independent journalism.
  6. End to firings, intimidation and reprisals against the staff of state institutions, and they not be forced to carry out any partisan political activities.
  7. End to government reprisals against police who refuse to carry out orders of repressing the citizenry in peaceful resistance to the dictatorship.
  8. Actions of the Army in accordance with the functions established in the Constitution and respect for human rights.
  9. Promotion of human and sustainable development.
  10. End to aggression against the private sector and civil society organizations that are accused of practicing terrorism.

Commitments

The Blue and White National Unity commits to promote and defend:

  1. That there be no impunity for the crimes committed by the Ortega-Murillo regime, and that transitional justice be applied based on truth, justice, reparation and guaranty of no repetition. To contribute to this purpose the mandate of the International Group of Independent Experts of the IACHR should be expanded.
  2. The implementation of the recommendations contained in the reports of the Interamerican Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations, as well as other reports that different organizations of the Interamerican and universal system might release.
  3. Investigation, search for and identification of the forced disappearances, and redress for the victims.
  4. Disarming and dissolution of the paramilitary bodies created by the Ortega-.Murillo regime and the destruction of the confiscated weapons.
  5. Restructuring of the National Police and the purification of its leadership. Sanctions in accordance with the law of those officers and personnel that ordered and executed murders and all types of repressive actions against the citizenry. That the police who refused to repress the population be recognized.
  6. Reinstatement of health and education professionals, and those from other State institutions who were fired for political reasons.

7,. Re-establishment of university autonomy; respect for the autonomy of the Caribbean Coast and indigenous and Afro descendent communities, and the municipalities.

  1. Repeal of all the norms that violate national sovereignty and fundamental rights, like Law 840 for the construction of an interoceanic canal through Nicaragua.
  2. A model of social and economic development that would promote free markets and social well being.
  3. In coordination with diverse sectors, programs for inclusive economic reactivation for all the economic sectors of the country, and not just those allied with the regime.
  4. Respect for private property.
  5. Repatriation of those exiled for political and economic reasons.
  6. Respect for fundamental freedoms and rights.

The history of Nicaragua has demonstrated the courage and the capacity of this people to defend their freedom. We unite under our blue and white flag to achieve the departure of the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship, and set the bases for a democratic, free and just Nicaragua for present and future generations.

This national unity will take shape in each territory of our geography, in the countryside and the cities, and is open to the diversity of actors that are taking on the principles of this Unity, are willing to contribute to the change that Nicaragua needs.

We recognize the support of the international community for the people of Nicaragua in the search for solutions to the grave social and political crisis. In particular we recognize the efforts made by the Organization of American States, the United Nations, and the European Union, and we call them to redouble their efforts for the defense of the human rights of the Nicaraguan people and the establishment of democracy,

Long live Nicaragua!

Blue and White National Unity

October 4, 2018

 

“We are Building Nicaragua” Program

An important issue in the current crisis in Nicaragua is the question of what would Nicaragua look like should Ortega leave, as the opposition demands. In recent weeks some important proposals have been developed to begin to respond to this question. The following was developed by mostly student groups calling themselves “Construimos Nicaragua” and was posted shortly after the independence holidays in Nicaragua, Sept 14-15.

We are Building Nicaragua

 “We are Building Nicaragua” Program

This document is the draft of the Program of the Social and Political Movement called “WE ARE BUILDING NICARAGUA” which we submit to the consideration of the readers to open a public discussion among all social sectors on the urgent tasks that we need to promote for a real democratization of Nicaragua.

PROGRAM FOR THE DEMOCRATIZATION OF NICARAGUA: GIVE BACK TO THE PEOPLE THE RIGHT TO DECIDE!

Introduction

The days of struggle, started in April 2018, are forging and consolidating a strong sense of collective national identity in favor of democratization and justice, as had not occurred in our nearly two centuries of independent history around fundamental symbols and values: the blue and white flag, inextricably linked to republican democracy, public liberties, citizen participation in the State affairs, a strong sense of social equity and true solidarity.

The democratic struggle started by the youth opened the possibility of rebuilding and re-founding our nation on the bases of democracy, justice and social equity. The enjoyment and exercise of public liberties, as well as absolute respect for citizen rights, should not depend ever again on the will or discretion of any government. We all the sectors of the people (youth, students, women, workers, peasants, indigenous, etc) need to recover our popular sovereignty to re-found a new Nicaragua, creating a Social and Democratic Rule of Law on new bases, that imply eradicating forever the use of violence, repression or intimidation by those in power for the purpose of remaining in it, or limiting and blocking the exercise of these freedoms and rights.

The fundamental decisions of Nicaragua should not be made by small oligarchies, but by the broad majorities of men and women through democratic and deliberative processes with all the information on the table, where the broadest sectors can participate.

So that our society might move from discretion and the arbitrary and personalized use of power, to a social interaction more and more regulated by laws, norms and policies that are implemented in a more impartial, transparent and impersonal way possible, that is, with the absence of discrimination and punishment for some, and privileges and “awards” for others.

Currently State institutions have lost their public character by being completely subordinated to partisan control and the discretional management of the rulers. It is urgent to begin the transition toward the new Nicaragua, where national public institutions exist that fulfill their function of providing public goods and services, and that are capable of ensuring confidence, security and certainty to economic agents and all the citizenry.

Nicaragua needs a radical democratic revolution that would build national public institutions that can keep themselves relatively isolated from the pressures of economic groups and those in power, be focused on effective, professional performance and their objectives and responsibilities, establishing mechanisms that would ensure transparency and accountability, and that would make citizen control possible over the institutions that administer power.

Within the framework of this context, we a group of youth, men and women from all social strata, have agreed to launch a new political organization called “WE ARE BUILDING NICARAGUA”, an inclusive, horizontal, democratic and progressive political movement for the purpose of promoting structural changes for the sustainable development of Nicaragua.

WE ARE BUILDING NICARAGUA is a social and political movement where all us Nicaraguans find the opportunity to voice our opinions and participate to achieve our political, economic, social, cultural and environmental aspirations.

The mission of WE ARE BUILDING NICARAGUA is to provide each Nicaraguan the opportunity to promote and defend their rights to achieve a full, just and prosperous life.

We present, then, our proposal for a political program that we submit to the consideration of the citizens for their study, critique and improvement, because only united will we be able to accomplish the immense task of democratizing Nicaragua for the benefit of the great majorities.

16 BASIC POINTS FOR FOUNDING THE NEW NICARAGUA

  1. Free and Sovereign Constituent National Assembly

We men and women of WE ARE BUILDING NICARAGUA, many of us had not even been born during the time of the revolution, we think that the first thing that we should do is dismantle the status quo of the political power that was established in the last period, and that has roots in the institutions created during the process of the death of the revolution of 1979.

It requires returning sovereignty and decision making capacity to the people, in other words, the citizens. This elemental principle of democracy has been systematically denied in the history of Nicaragua. It requires profoundly reorganizing the State institutions. And this can only be achieved by repealing the Constitution of 1987 and its reforms, discussing and approving a new democratic Constitution, that would minimally bring together the issues that we discuss in what follows and that would bring the Nicaraguan State into the modernity of the XXI Century.

  1. Limits to re-election for popularly elected officials

Re-election is not a problem of principles in democracy, everything depends on the political culture and the electoral system, whether it is sufficiently democratic to respect the popular will.

Nevertheless, this is a key discussion in Nicaragua, because the emergence of the dictatorships of José Santos Zelaya (1896-1909), Anastasio Somoza and his successors (1937-1979), as well as the new dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo (2007-2018) have been related to presidential re-election.

For this reason, and taking into consideration that a good government is not improvised, presidential re-election should only be permitted for a second period, so the new election becomes a plebiscite on the first mandate. Starting with the second period, there should be an absolute prohibition of presidential re-election, establishing iron clad clauses in the new Constitution that would prevent a third presidential period.

Likewise the deputies should only be elected for two consecutive periods. This same norm should be applied to mayors and council-members and the members of regional governments.

  1. A new electoral system

A complete reform of the electoral system is needed, approving a new Electoral Law that would do away with the bipartisan system inherited from Somocism, and that served as a cover for installing a new dynastic dictatorship. A new Party and Political Association Law should be approved, which also should have constitutional standing, that would allow for the creation of groups, associations and political parties at the municipal, provincial, regional and national levels.

The obstacles created by the constitutional reform of 2000 should be ended, that demand a minimum of 4% for a party to maintain their legal status, because it limits the right to representation of minorities. The myth of dictatorships should be done away with, that only the traditional parties should exist. Democracy rests on the principle of diversity and the respect and protection of minorities.

But, above all, the monopoly of the political parties should be ended, that they are the only ones who can propose candidates. A new emphasis should be placed on the fact that citizens can run as candidates regardless of whether they are party members, in any type of election, including presidential elections, prioritizing the fact that youth, who have traditionally been marginated from political activity, might have a dominant role in the destiny of the country.

The election of deputies should be by provinces or districts, doing away with the election of national deputies. The right to proportional representation of minorities should be ensured, especially of indigenous, in every type of election.

The functions exercised by the Supreme Electoral Council (SEC) should be decentralized in different institutions (identity cards, parties and associations, organization of electoral processes, etc), completely reorganized, not just with the participation of the political parties, but civil society organizations, who should play a role of oversight and control.

Tbe new electoral system should include the partial or total renovation of the deputies of the National Assembly halfway through each presidential period. The dates for legislative elections should coincide with municipal and regional elections which should be held every two years, so that the elected officials might know that their posts will always depend on the assessment of their performance and the will of the electors.

To be a candidate for popular election they should be qualified and honest. In addition the 50/50 Law should be kept and respected that ensures the presence of women on electoral ballots which opens the doors for their participation in political decision making posts.

  1. System for direct election and renovation of magistrates and of other high officials, under citizen control.

The citizens should be given back the capacity to elect and remove magistrates, as well as other high officials from other branches and institutions of the State. That vicious cycle should be ended where the executive branch proposes candidates for magistrates who end up being approved through agreements and negotiations among the deputies, who generally obey the interests of party leaders, who include them on the electoral lists, annulling the capacity of the citizens who elected them.

On establishing a percentage of votes of deputies to choose the magistrates, the problem is resolved through transactions or political pacts, turning the deputies into the principal electors, annulling the popular will. This type of indirect election makes possible the creation of political rings and castes, which are the negation of democracy.

It should be established that the holders of the executive branch, deputies, mayors, councilpersons, members of the regional governments, all popularly elected officials, are subject to the evaluation of the people through a recall referendum. In this way any popularly elected official, having finished a third of their mandate, and in the face of a petition for their removal signed by a certain number of citizens, those signers should have the capacity to call for elections in that specific case, so that it be the electors who decide if the official continues or not in their post.

  1. Restructuring of the judicial branch

Democracy is, in the last instance, the governance of judges. These officials are the ones who decide on the freedom of people, the future of their assets and settle political conflicts. The one who controls the judicial power, controls the State and political power. That is why a profound reform and restructuring of the judicial system should be done. The magistrates, judges should be directly elected by the people, and submitted every two years, when intermediate elections are held, to the control of the citizenry.

The judicial profession should be submitted to periodic controls. Only the people through their vote can decide whether a judge continues in their post for one more period. The re-election of judges and magistrates should have a limit, no more than three periods, to open the way for the formation of new judges and magistrates.

A commission composed of recognized jurists and national and foreign academics should examine and review the curriculums of the aspirants, and they will be the candidates who would be subject to popular balloting. Political parties cannot campaign in favor of the candidates under pain of disqualification.

The Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ) should decentralize their functions, so that the administrative functions are not mixed with jurisdictional ones, and with those of control and sanctioning. Deputies cannot be candidates for judges or magistrates. It is a matter of building a new judicial branch that would supervise jointly with the citizenry the functioning of public administration and democracy.

Amparo [constitutional or administrative protection order] should not be an appeal but a judgement, as happens in Latin America. A Constitutional Tribunal should be created, whose magistrates will not obey political parties, but the mandate of the citizenry.

  1. Ongoing fight against corruption

In Nicaragua corruption is an evil embedded in all the State institutions, and it has become part of the political culture: popularly elected posts and public service have been turned into ladders for illicit enrichment. That is why the fight against corruption should be ongoing and at every level. Corruption is one of the principal causes of the increase in poverty and social inequality. It is not possible to fight poverty without fighting corruption at the same time. Indeed corruption erodes and weakens democratic institutionality, annulling existing legality, promoting impunity and social chaos.

The existing laws for fighting corruption are not applied because the State institutions responsible for fighting it, like the Comptroller General of the Republic (CGR), the Attorney General of the Republic and the different tribunals of justice have been victims of the concentration of power phenomenon, which centralizes the mechanisms for the election of magistrates and other high officials solely on the deputies of the National Assembly, who are elected through the lists of the political parties who exercise a monopoly on popular representation.

The anti-corruption legislation should be modernized, administrative processes should be greatly simplified, a new law of State Purchasing and one for Conflict of Interest of Public Officials should be approved, establishing online bidding, so that everyone can see what is happening with prices and technical specifications, taking into consideration citizen participation at all levels, developing to the maximum electronic governance.

Transparency should become a new fundamental right, a key factor for strengthening social confidence and a sense of participation and co-responsibility in the construction of a shared destiny. Public information should never be managed as if it were private. The people have the right to know all the affairs, no matter how complicated they may seem. The officials who violate this principle of access to public information will be submitted to severe penal sanctions.

Likewise, the obligation should be established of all officials to be accountable to the general assembly of workers of the public sector with the participation of the citizenry every three months for spending, investments or purchases made. The result of these reports should be placed on the web page of the respective institutions.

In all State institutions an assembly of public servants should be organized to create citizen control commissions responsible for overseeing the implementation of the budget, plans for purchasing and bidding, with the legal faculties to file the corresponding charges. Those who make any denouncements will not be able to be fired nor will there be any administrative reprisals against them, unless it is shown that they had no basis.

The new constitution should establish the new principle that there is no immunity for crimes related to corruption. All assets obtained through acts of corruption or money laundering are imprescriptible, it is the obligation of the State to pursue them until they are recovered, trying and punishing those who are guilty. The officials punished for acts of corruption through a final judgement will be disbarred for life from running for public posts or providing public service, as well as prohibited from being a supplier of the State or contracting with Public Administration.

  1. Professionalization and dignity of public service

A radical democratization is required so that workers in public administration never again are hired or fired based on their party affiliation or loyalty, but rather on the basis of their capacities and competency, and so that the career of civil service be respected.

The Civil Service Law should be governed by the principle of the merits and capacities of the applicants, we should eradicate the culture of sharing posts by pacts and political arrangements or by electoral quotas. Likewise they should promote reforms so that the youth can make a career in public service in a decent way and with facilities for access.

  1. A fair tax system

The taxes of all Nicaraguans should not be used or diverted to enrich small groups, but should form part of the sacred national patrimony. Tax collection should be based on transparency, social control and the principle that the payment of taxes should be proportional to income. In this way society will have the resources needed to cover social spending and ensure the minimum functioning of democracy and the construction of a medium and long term national development plan that is able to transcend changes in government.

  1. Incorporating new rights in the Constitution

Respect for human rights in Nicaragua will never be limited by any government, placing arguments of “national sovereignty” above the relevancy of international treaties on this matter.

New fundamental rights should be incorporated and applied, like Gender Equity, and other specific rights of women, that should be implemented in all the State institutions and at all levels of social life.

Likewise, basic income should be established in a progressive manner for people who are living in levels of poverty. It is the only way of ending the political patronage that does so much damage to democracy, and so that the State might protect in this way those most in need.

Nicaragua should be proclaimed as a Social and Democratic Rule of Law State, governed by fundamental rights, by the principle of absolute respect and equality under the law, the control of the citizenry in the affairs of the State, and the defense of the environment.

The right to rebellion or insurrection against dictatorial or dynastic governments should be recovered, as a fundamental essential right of Nicaraguans.

Likewise, new procedural guarantees should be reformed or incorporated: the function of the Police should be to investigate crimes and send the accused to the judicial authorities in a term no longer than 24 hours. In their investigations the Police should be subordinated to the Prosecutor´s office, who should be responsible for directing the investigations and the gathering of proof. Detentions can only be done through a judicial order or when catching a crime in progress.

Jury trials should be re-established for all cases, and exceptional jurisdictions should be ended.

In addition, Nicaragua should bring itself into the XXI Century and promote the access of all children and adolescents to information technologies and the internet.

  1. Reorganization of the Army and the Police

The role that the National Police have performed in the current civic insurrection, as a small, very centralized repressive army, forces us to re-examine the role of the police forces. The Police should play a very important role in ensuring citizen security, in a context of the advance of the drug trafficking cartels and organized crime in Central America.

To keep the National Police from being a small, mercenary army at the unconditional service of a dictatorial government, their operation should be decentralized, creating municipal police who will maintain a national coordination or command, but whose members will be recruited from within the community, who will be subject to the local authorities. The naming of the Chief of Police in each municipality, as well as their term in the post, will be done through direct election of the citizens. The monopoly of the control of the president of the republic over the National Police must end, it should be shared with the local authorities.

The National Police should have a Community Policing approach, composed of people from the community on a rotating manner, with a reduced administrative apparatus and permanent officials. More women should be incorporated into the chain of command of this Community Police.

Likewise, the role and conception of the National Army should be re-evaluated. The collective trauma that the implementation of military service had during the civil war (1982-1990) has made it possible, contradictorily, for the evolution of the National Army as an institution ever more separated from the people.

In times of peace, the Army should have a very reduced apparatus, it should be composed of citizens who provide their civil service regularly within the armed forces at certain times. Likewise, more women should be incorporated into the chain of command of the Army.

It should not only defend the national sovereignty against drug trafficking and organized crime, but also exercise a social function in the most vulnerable social sectors, protecting and defending the environment, enabling youth to join as their first job and acquire technical training. This is the only way to prevent having an Army of full time paid soldiers unconnected to the people. The Army should not have, nor its officers, businesses or companies to finance retirement systems different from those that most of the population have, or caste privileges that promote social inequality.

Due to the importance of this issue, a special plebiscite should be promoted on the reorganization of the National Army and the National Police, so that the people might democratically decide the path to follow.

  1. Educational revolution, academic freedom, and university autonomy.

Nicaragua will never come out of poverty without being able to raise the educational level of its population.

Nicaragua is losing the only opportunity from the “demographic dividend” as dozens of thousands of youth do not have the opportunity to study and work. The dichotomy between primary education and higher education is false. Both are complementary. That is why academic freedom and university autonomy should be insisted on for training the technical staff and the professionals that the country requires.

Primary and secondary education should include a class on civic education, so that the students might learn from an early age how the State functions and what the principles of democracy are.

Within the framework of basic income, it should be ensured that all children finish their primary and secondary schooling. For that purpose 15% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) should be used for public education. State resources should be used to develop public education, and the businesses of private schools and universities should never be subsidized. The universities should never be submitted to political power and party control.

The teaching profession and scientific research should be encouraged and protected by the State.

Social innovation and entrepreneurship should be encouraged by the State to expand the labor prospects of the recently graduated youth from the Universities so that they can be inserted into the work world. Likewise, the Youth First Job Law should be approved where the universities and companies will coordinate to provide facilities of access to work to recently graduated youth, and so that the relationship between professional majors and market demand might be improved.

  1. The role of the State in the economy

Given the backwardness of the productive forces in Nicaragua, the State should play the role of promoting economic development, the only way of doing away with migration and poverty. Within a scheme of the social market economy, the principal public services (water, health care, education, energy and communications) should be in the hands of the State. The acceptance of mixed enterprises in these areas, and the percentages of private, national or foreign participation, will depend on the needs of each concrete case.

A State bank should exist that would promote financing, at fair interest rates, to the benefit of the peasantry, artisans and small urban and rural producers. To prevent political patronage and corruption that can lead to their bankruptcy, the workers and clients of the state bank should be allowed to form a verification and control commission of the loans, focused on citizen participation.

The profits of the private banks should be regulated, through a policy of fair interest rates, that do not exploit the population.

  1. Agrarian reform and the defense of the environment

The agrarian reform that was promoted under the revolution in the 1979-1990 period was reversed in later decades. A process of land concentration functioned and now we have the existence of new large landowners. This process was possible because the peasantry did not have financial and technical assistance that would allow it to develop agriculture or ranching. Not only should the right of the peasantry to land be ensured, but also the right of peasant women to be owners of land. Likewise, a state bank is needed whose principal function would be to develop the peasant economy. The State should ensure a policy of fair prices for peasant products.

The agricultural production of Nicaragua in large measure rests on small and medium producers. It is necessary that these sectors grow through increase in yields and productivity, more than by the expansion of the agricultural frontier, which has degraded hydrological basins, produced sedimentation and the disappearance of water sources, and destroyed biodiversity.

Protected areas should be expanded, like Bosawás and Indio Maíz, and other new ones created. Protecting the national capital of the country should be a priority – water, soils, forests and biodiversity – the State should ensure that they be used in a sustainable manner.

The agrarian reform should have an ecological approach, one of defense of the land, forests, water and the environment. Zones apt for agriculture should be defined, planting should not be done on hills or inclines, what lands are apt for ranching should be pinpointed. Extensive ranching should be eliminated, promoting the creation of modern farms with breeds of cattle that allow production to increase without the need to destroy forests. Peasant or indigenous communities should be the protectors of the forests. A process of reforestation should be promoted and the protection of natural reserves for the purpose of caring for the water of rivers and lakes.

  1. For true autonomy in the Caribbean Coast

Raising the autonomy of the Caribbean Coast to constitutional status in 1995 implied great progress, but the real effects of the Autonomy Statute of the Regions of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua are more formal than real. The principal decisions on the economic resources of the Caribbean Coast, and investment in them, in reality are not up to the Regional Councils, nor the indigenous communities, but the central government, which continues limiting the right to autonomy of the native population.

Not only should the customs, language and culture be preserved, but also the communal forms of organization of the indigenous population, which should administer and protect the natural resources.

Even though it is true that as a result of the struggle of the indigenous communities progress has been made in the titling of communal lands, as long as there is no resettlement of non indigenous on their land, the autonomy of the Caribbean Coast will be a fiction.

  1. Consolidation of municipal autonomy

Municipal autonomy has been enshrined in the Constitution since 1987, but in reality the municipalities are subordinated to the central government, in spite of the existence of the Municipal Law. The role of the State in society should be realized through the municipalities. The national budget should be invested in the municipalities. The role of the central government should be reduced, and the functions decentralized in the municipalities. The structure of the State should rest on the municipalities, who should control education, the supply of potable water, public services, services of police, sewage and the defense of the environment.

The democratization of Nicaragua passes through transferring more national power and resources to the municipal governments.

  1. Reconstructing the Central American nation

In the XXI century the countries of Central America are intimately linked by their economic bases, but not on the level of state superstructure. What happens in some of the countries of Central America has repercussions on the rest. SICA [Spanish acronym for the Central American Integration System] has played a great role as a project for the reunification of the national economies, but it has not achieved the goal. The establishment of PARLACEN was a great step forward on the political plane, but it has very limited functions. We should make more progress. The deputies to PARLACEN should be the same deputies of the national legislative organs, so that there is no separation and ignorance about the regional reality.

We should proceed until achieving the call for a Central American Constituent Assembly that would allow for the creation of a Central American federation or confederacy.

Managua, Nicaragua, September 14 & 15, 2018.

 

Student Interview of Harley Morales of the University Alliance

The massive protests have been led by university students, who also are key players in the National Dialogue. This is an interview of one of those student leaders

University Alliance warns: they want to “advise” us and “impose agendas” June 11, 2018

(translation of article published originally in El Faro, republished in Confidencial:

https://confidencial.com.ni/la-prioridad-ahorita-es-que-no-nos-maten-luego-la-justicia-y-la-democracia/

Harley Morales lives today in a type of cloister. This 26 year old young student of sociology at the Central American University (UCA) in Nicaragua sleeps in a safe house, along with 40 other university student representatives of the student groups that emerged in the current political crisis.

Harley Morales is a member of the political strategy committee of the University Alliance, one of the five student movements that make up the University and Civil Society Coalition, a group that is leading the political struggle that is demanding the departure of the current rulers. NGOs and business groups have joined this coalition.

The crisis started less than two months ago, on April 18th, due to the cut in the social security pensions. The protests turned massive due to the attacks of the National Police and the progovernment forces. When the dead began to be counted, the protests ceased being for the pensions, and were directed against state repression. The university students entrenched themselves in the universities and churches, and a significant sector of the population accompanied them, demanding the resignation of the rulers. This was the beginning of the current political and social crisis in Nicaragua. Barely seven weeks ago. Since then, more tham 130 people have died as a direct consequence of the conflict, and every day that lists gets longer.

More pushed by circumstances that by a deliberate decision to lead a popular revolt, the students had to move in the midst of a full street protest to a new stage: that of organization. “Since April 19th itself committees began to be organized and movements built; we were worried that the protest would dissipate,” said Harley Morales. His University Alliance arose out of what he called “the hijacking of the cathedral”: on April 19 in full retreat, fleeing bullets, hundreds of students and civilian took refuge in the Managua cathedral and had to stay there several days, under siege. Within the church they organized, and the first leaders emerged. In a similar fashion another four groups were formed in several universities.

These students leaders mutated in a few weeks from social agitators to political actors. If before (barely a month ago) you could find them on a street with a megaphone in hand, or organizing logistics on campus, now they are living together, as if they were in confinement, isolated, surrounded by advisers and with tremendous pressure from different sectors to take postures in a very complicated process.

They are, then, a true spontaneous generation, trying to adapt to their prominence in one of those moments that close and open chapters in history. They continue being, along with the church, those who legitimize each step of the process and have won national and international recognition since the moment in which, during the installation of the national dialogue last May 16th, a 20 year old student called Lesther Alemán said to President Ortega that the only thing they were going to negotiate at that table was his departure. That video was seen around the world.

The Ortega government consider them to be part of a “right wing coup conspiracy”, and more than a few suspicions have been caused by the sudden economic capacity of the students to hold press conferences in luxury hotel meeting rooms, or maintaining a new lives without having income.

Harley Morales does not shy away from responding to these questions and clarified the origin of the funds for his support. But they know, he says, that these funds come with a trapdoor from sectors that are trying to move their agenda through the students, who have won legitimacy in the streets. They are young people without experience, at times naïve, who are trying to walk through a forest with a lot of threats, more than a few of them walking right alongside them.

Last week a delegation of these students visited Washington to attend the General Assembly of the OAS, and just afterward they met and were photographed with three of the most extremist US republicans: Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Ileana Ross-Lehtinen. The photos surprised everyone in Nicaragua and were seen with reservations not just by sympathizers of Ortega, but also by opponents of the regime, liberals and ex Sandinistas. “It was terrible”, he says. “They are the extreme Republican right. We are very unhappy with that trip, that was paid for from the United States, and an agenda was imposed on them. It has given us a terrible image. We are going to have to correct mistakes.”

El Faro has confirmed that the trip to Washington was paid for by the organization Freedom House, based in Washington, who in addition set the agenda for the students, including the polemical visits to Rubio, Cruz and Ross-Lehtinen. Carlos Ponce, director of Latin America for Freedom House, argued that they asked for meetings with other congresspeople and senators, but only those three accepted. “It seems that they are the ones most interested,” he said.

The photos with the Republicans were ill-timed, given the situation in Nicaragua: the government of Ortega accused the students of being instruments of an international right wing conspiracy. The mistake has not discredited them, but it has left them some of their first lessons in politics, as Harley Morales admits. The principal one, probably, is that there are a lot of people around you wanting to impose an agenda that is not theirs.

It is helpful here to put things in context. These young people were children when Daniel Ortega won the presidency in 2006. They are university students without any political experience, who have been under the spotlights for two months and under the weight of leading an important transition in their country. It is not strange, then, that their naivete was revealed in their visit to Washington. But above all it is not strange that there would be so many sectors interested in isolating them, in influencing them, in advancing their own agendas through them. “We know that only we can legitimize this process,” says Harley Morales. Those who prowl around them today also know it.

This conversation took place on Friday June 8 in Managua.

How have you organized in seven weeks?

Since April 19 committees began to be organized and movements built. We were concerned that the protest would dissipate. Five movements were formed and later the University and Civil Society Coalition. When the Bishops Conference called for the dialogue, we held meetings with COSEP (Superior Council of Private Enterprise), with civil society organizations and others who were in favor of articulating this. COSEP is part of the Coalition, also AMCHAM (American Chamber of Commerce in Nicaragua); there are peasant organizations amd also the representation of the peoples of the Caribbean.

Why did you decide to unite with groups so different from your own?

We know that the way to defeat the regime is making a common agenda. The student movement already transmuted into politics. We are not fighting for scholarships nor for sector agendas.

And who is paying for your new life? Your upkeep, lodging, transportation, security, your trips…

We demanded a minimum of security to go to the dialogue and obviously the government would not give us that. We have to ally ourselves with other sectors, like the private sector and civil society. It is not just the private sector. Oxfam is there, the María Elena Cuadra Movement, agricultural producers and ranchers, etc…

How did the trip to Washington come up?

That trip was something very strange. We are very unhappy with that trip. Even with our representative. When we planned it there were already many actors wanting to intervene in the agenda. That happened from the beginning. I am refering to organizations, opposition politicians, some more from the right… That trip was financed from the US (Freedom House) and an agenda was imposed on them, and that was terrible. They were the ones who decided which students would go.

Why did you accept it then?

We did not accept it. We were going with a clear issue that they would attend the General Assembly of the OAS. It is terrible. We did not know about the meetings with Ted Cruz, Ileana Ross nor with Marco Rubio. We are very unhappy about that. When the young people come back, we are going to talk with them. We cannot cede on what is fundamental.

What are you refering to?

That they did not tell us that they were going to those meetings. It was very strange. All the movements now have advisors. People that get around. Offspring of politicians, businesspeople…They have a very clear political line. Of the three students that went to Washington, two are from the April 19th Movememt and one, Fernando Sanchez, yes is from our alliance.

And he did not tell you where he was going?

In the Coalition they no longer see us as groups. Someone called him and told him: we are going to take you. They did not communicate anything with the rest of us.

What is it that you do not like about the meetings with Rubio, Cruz and Ross?

We do not sell ourselves out! Not even in our own Alliance. We propose our points above the table. We have legitimacy and this alliance exists because of us, not because of the private sector, and we can discredit the alliance and leave. We are not the children of COSEP. I am from the left, I would not have gone.

How have those meetings been received within the University Alliance?

We are going to have to do a plan for correcting mistakes. We have created a terrible image for ourselves. If they were already saying we were children of COSEP; what are they going to say now, that we are the children of the US Republican Party? We have to talk about this when they return.

In your opinion are there actors interested in manipulating you?

Many. I was in the UPOLI (Polytechnical University, one of the first taken over by the students to entrench themselves) on April 22nd, and I remember then how many actors that I recognized were there already looking to talk to someone. There were many groups fighting over student leadership. And many trying “to advise”. That is the key word. The “advisors” that I think are making decisions and there are movements that are letting themselves be advised by certain people.

What is your relationship with COSEP in this situation?

We are very clear. We know that when COSEP does not need us, they are going to throw us away. But we have other plans.

Are you going to reveal them to me now?

Of course. History tells us that we should not submit ourselves to the political and economic agenda of the business sector, and we know that they will leave us in the streets. We know the risk that we run by receiving their support. They believe that they can ask us for something in exchange. We are insisting on justice and democracy, and there are some things that we say that they have not liked.

Is there no contradiction in that you, opponents of the system implanted by Ortega and the large business sector, are being supported by those same business people?

Yes there is. There were two pacts that allowed Ortega to come to power: the one he made with Arnaldo Aleman, and the one he made with big business. When we started to dialogue with the business leaders, we did not do it with (José Adán) Aguerri (Executive Director of COSEP), but with Michael Healy (president of the Union of Agricultural Producers of Nicaragua, UPANIC) and with Álvaro Vargas from FAGANIC (Federation of Associations of Ranchers). We believe that COSEP now is in dispute. Healy´s chamber is the most belligerent. We have the business leaders as allies for the dialogue, but we do not trust them. Once we were very clear with them: we told them that we were afraid that the dialogue would be a show for the media and that the real dialogue would be happening under the table. That is still a fear. We are demanding justice and democracy.

And justice means having all the corrupt people in court? In other words, even the business people who end up being accomplices of the corruption?

Yes, of course! But first those responsible for all these murders have be tried.

If Ortega resigned tomorrow, as you are asking, and there was a call for elections, what would you do?

We are not longer committed to being a student movement, but a change for the corrupt political elite that has always watched out for its own interests. Maybe we might not be the ones who are going to lead the country in the short term, but we are going to be a belligerent force. If there were elections tomorrow, we would have to sit down with a lot of people. “Prepare the field”, as the OAS says. We are not only demanding transparent elections, but profound electoral reforms. We do not want just a change of elites. We do not want traditional parties. The Sandinista Front is not just to blame here, but the entire oligarchy and the political elite of this country, for complicity or for incapacity. We have made it clear to the business people that we did not want elections, but the resignation of the current rulers and the formation of a transitory ruling junta. Our struggle is also against all the traditional political parties.

So, how do you want to do it?

The FSLN right now is in crisis. Our fear is that if we give them more time to call elections, COSEP and the big business sector will make another tripartite pact [that is what they call in Nicaragua the agreement between Ortega, big business, and the unions, that has allowed Ortega to govern without counterweights, pervert state institutions and eliminate the opposition, with the blessing and complicity of big business which, in exchange, dictates the economic measures and benefits from the State]. We need guarantees that neither the political parties nor the business people are those who are going to take this. No one can impose their own interests.

But what would be, for you, the ideal calendar?

Private enterprise has asked for 14 months. That would allow them to pact with the regime or install themselves. We are asking for popular circumscription to participate in elections in alliance with other sectors.

But how, with whom, if you presume to not have leaders?

Every agreement of civil society needs today to be legitimized by us. We have to be pretty wise to know who are those called to exercise public posts. We are not approaching it with the logic of revenge.

Recently representatives of the OAS came and met with you. What did you talk about?

We talked. They did not say much. We clarified for them our positions and the scenario we are in. Ortega would like a pact with less belligerent actors. We know the love relationship between Almagro and this government. They say that the field will be ready for January, but they will have killed us by January. We presented our agenda to them. They told us that they are not accepting anything outside of the constitutional avenues.

And what was your counterproposal?

That in August there could be a call for elections. But first there has to be reforms. We did not accept any early elections.

All of this requires Ortega´s departure?

At the moment in which the dictator accepts our agenda, he would be surrendering. That we know. We would be twisting his arm. That depends on our capacity to get people into the street. Unfortunately we just played a bad role before the international community.

Let us talk a bit about your current conditions, closed in, with security…This has not made you lose your connection with the streets, that was precisely what you were able to win in April?

A lot. It has is cons but also its pros. It has allowed us to organize ourselves better, design strategies, lines of action. We have lost the contact with the barricades and our weakness is the UNAN (Autonomous University of Nicaragua), because it is very big. We are trying to integrate ourselves more into the Coalition. There was a moment when we were in the barricades. Now we are in another phase. It is no longer just entrenching ourselves. We are going to have to be very creative and learn from history.

You mention the word history a lot. Do you see yourselves as actors in a historic moment?

Yes, we know that. The circumstances demand making careful decisions and being disciplined. Calling this a revolution is beautiful, but that means changing structures. The priority now is that they do no kill us. Later, justice and democracy.

The dialogue rountable called by the Bishops Conference has been suspended. What happens if it is ended?

We are planning strategies so that the way of shutting down the country be more coordinated. A network of supplies. The possibility always exists for a shut down or installation of a ruling junta in liberated territory, like Masaya. They are ways of applying pressure.

(published originally in Spanish in El Faro)

A Tale of Two Countries

I was just thinking….

The reality is that there is a singular head of the country who has caused some very deep divides among the population.  He is known for saying  controversial things about his opponents and his own achievements.   He governs in a very hands-on fashion, a style which many call autocratic.  That style is accentuated by the fact that he has family members serving within his administration, affirming decisions and positions which are not always popular.  It’s not helped by the fact that he is wealthy and that there are so many within the country who are in serious need.

The government has seemed to be consumed by controlling the press, one of the foundations of a strong democratic government. It has repeatedly discounted any news story that is critical of policy or the president himself.  As a result, the president only speaks with media which represents his positions favorably.  For example, even long after the election results of last year, the administration continues to challenge how many voted.

Even in this age of unprecedented political divide, where polarization is the norm, the administration has adopted an extraordinary agenda of intense marginalization of those who do not support the party in power.  It might mean losing one’s job.  Loyalty is prized above all other traits, even at the expense of truth and integrity.  Within the administration, officials follow only the party line as the singular means to the truth, even to the demonization of those who disagree.

A continuing puzzle is the apparent friendliness of the government toward Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin.  Unlike a vast majority of nations of the Western Hemisphere, this government has been silent in criticisms of Russia and consistently praising of Putin as a great leader.  Perhaps there is some expectation of return favors in the future, but the government raises suspicions by its unusual posture and kid-glove handling of Russia.   Are we, in fact, independent of “the bear?”

This is one of only three nations to decline participation in the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement.  Whether that effort is sufficient to have a significant impact upon climate change, the country’s unwillingness to participate in the agreement along with 195 other countries creates a signal of dissonance with the rest of the global community.  There is a great deal of disappointment within the country over the unwillingness of government to work with the other nations of the planet in addressing the global warming threat.

So are my musings about Nicaragua, with some interesting comparisons to the U.S., or vice versa?  The reality of both countries is that there is great distress as a result of increasing polarity and fewer opportunities for full participation in  society.

Maybe we’re more alike than we think….

 

 

 

 

A Lesson from Lear

                            “Expose thyself, to feel what wretches feel.”  

-William Shakespeare’s King Lear, Act III, Scene iv

It’s good advice for any of us.  The only way to really understand the point of view of “others” is to walk a mile in their moccasins, experience what they experience, see life through their lenses. Truth is ultimately made up of our experiences, what we have seen and felt.  If we have never exposed ourselves to the reality of others, as well as our own, we will never have the knowledge to move closer to the truth.

Most immigrants seek to enter this country for reasons which have nothing to do with terrorism or destruction.  In fact, most immigrants would prefer not leaving their own homelands at all.  But the prospect of losing family members to the violence of war or the ravages of hunger will overshadow nearly any other consideration.  What wouldn’t you be prepared to do for the protection of your child, or spouse or parent?  Necessity is the mother of invention, perhaps especially when it comes to survival.

It might be instructive for the billionaire leaders of our new administration to encounter hunger or violence face-to-face, for a personal understanding of what’s behind many of the immigrants’ motivations.  For example, I have found sharing a meal of egg and tortilla- when such food might well represent the entirety of a host Nicaraguan family’s larder-  to be an educational, humbling and emotional event.  I’m fairly certain that our new President has never wanted for clean water, so maybe a visit to areas of Central America where clean water is an absolute rarity could provide an alternate view on trading water security for oil pipeline routing in the Dakotas.  (Along the way, he might find himself grappling with the question of why some of the pipeline was re-routed after wealthier folks to the north expressed alarm that the pipeline ran too close to their own properties and thus needed to be located elsewhere.  Like where the Native American reservations are.)  Actually, a second trip into Mexico could be a useful journey for the new President if, this time, the stay included a hike into a barrio where most of the inhabitants are poor; it could provide a different slant on Mexico’s ability to pay for a wall, one that would serve the U.S. border.

I like the idea of being “first.”    In many ways, it’s encoded in our DNA to strive and succeed.   Competition has been the engine which has brought about many of the most important inventions and discoveries in human history.  I readily confess to having lived a good share of my life in this mindset.  It wasn’t until my first venture into an impoverished world that I was able to truly “feel what wretches feel.”  The awakening might not have been pleasant, but it was important.

That experience provided the insight to understand that being first is not only a hallmark of success, but a label of obligation.  When we are first, we have the duty toward the last.  In fact, we need the last to be with us, to advance with us, to complete us.  How the poorest of the world’s humanity lives is not a reflection on them, but upon the rest of us.  It is not only the elite members of the new U.S. presidency who could use exposure to the rest of the world’s realities.  After all, a presidency is presumably a reflection of its constituents.  Rather, such perspective is needed in all of us, each of us,  who claim to be seeking truth as part of the human journey.

A shared vision is only possible with a shared experience….

 

 

Four Days in November

Thanksgiving is nearly upon us here in the United States, which means that we have moved into late November and early Winter.  It’s always a transition time, with the reds and golds of Autumn giving way to dormant brown and, eventually, snow white.  Lots of people don’t care for November here in the upper Midwest of the country, but I love it.  It’s another promise of change and of time moving on, hallmarks of getting out of the “comfort zone,”  and that’s a good place for us to be.  But this month has already presented a series of “moments” for me, three significant days in a row, even before the promise of turkey.

The first day of note was the U.S election.  To my knowledge, and certainly in my experience, there has never been a contest as coarse, demeaning, undignified and as utterly devoid of fact as the election of 2016.  Much has been written about the candidates’ behaviors by others (nearly everyone), but from the perspective of one rather ordinary citizen, I characterize the fiasco as an event which oozed disgrace and lack of civility at every turn.  If this is, in fact, democracy in action, then my own sensitivities suggest that we search for an alternative form of government altogether.

Yet the discouragement and even despair that I felt during this election season is ironically what made the second day of my November journey stand out so brightly.  On the  day following the election, I met with both the Managing Director and the Program Director of the Nobel Peace Prize Forum.  We convened to meet one another for the first time, to talk about some of the new aspirations for the Forum and to discuss a potential presentation by Winds of Peace at next year’s assembly.  The conversation was a stimulating and hopeful one.

I mean, how could it NOT have been, when elements of the discourse included the names of past laureates, the efforts being made around the world to convene peaceful resolution of conflict. Yes, members of the Tunisian Quartet, the 2015 recipients of the Peace Prize, would be in attendance.  President Obama has been invited, in addition to his half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, who is among the faculty at peace and conflict resolution institute in Hawaii.  Congresswoman Gabby Giffords will be in attendance, with her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly.  And many others, less celebrated and completely anonymous, will be present over those days to talk about their own initiatives and experiences with peace-building.  Against the glow of enthusiasm and commitment of my hosts, a feeling of hope seemed to lift me a bit straighter in my chair.  I walked back to my car with a little more bounce in my step, I think.

On the third day of this sequence, I was to speak to a University of St. Thomas class about the work being done by the Foundation, and how it mirrors, in many ways, the strategies and attitudes brought into play in my former for-profit organization, Foldcraft Co.  I arrived on campus a little early, so I took advantage of the beautiful morning and walked around for a while, taking in the surroundings and feeling the promise that only a university campus can provide.  Quickly I noticed the scores of banners hung around every sidewalk and building, which read, “All for the common good.”  I was struck by the rightness and optimistic promise of that phrase and truly moved to see its presence everywhere.  It was an advent to the class experience to follow.

The presentation went well ( I was told).  The class participants were engaged and curious and full of outward excitement at ideas of organizational wealth-sharing, broad participation and transparency, collaborative work and rewards, and the practice of capitalism without distinction of class, the sanctity of human worth. The questions penetrated the essence of broad ownership and widespread involvement.  The students were intrigued and enthused.  I was pumped and energized.  Together, we had a good time.  After the class period, several students asked for my business card so that we might talk further about the marriage of business and social responsibility.  On this day, I did not notice a bounce in my step as I walked back to the car; I rather had the sense of floating

Within the span of three days, I experienced the lows and the highs that I know are inevitably a part of our human existence.  The outcome to all of it was simply this: I am reminded that the lows are to be found wherever we choose to see them.  There are enough to bring the entirety of mankind to its knees and complete dysfunction.  But just as assuredly, the highs are at least as numerous, and carry the potential to raise us above the mire of surrender.  It’s a matter of where one’s gaze seeks direction.  With heads down, we see the world as a dark place, indeed, and its paths lead to seemingly endless disappointment and loss.  But there is a great deal more to seen with heads up,  absorbing the brighter prospect, allowing us to see and draw strength from the hope that still does surround us.

All of which leads me to the fourth important day of this month, the one during which we are encouraged to be thankful for every blessing of our lives.  What a great idea, gratitude.  What a terrific posture for looking up, noticing the uplift that surrounds us, for acknowledging and embracing it, and for choosing to be the very engine for change, “all for the common good.”

Wow, Happy Thanksgiving, indeed….