While the April 2018 uprising was largely student led, this fact can be easily missed in the media coverage. This article provides some student leader perspectives of the current situation where the opposition is trying to unify in light of a future electoral process.
There is a power struggle in a conflict that oversimplifies the political space between the Ortega Murillo regime and the Blue and White Coalition
On social networks the activities of the most representative alliances of the national political scene are criticized: The Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy (ACJD) and the Blue and White National Unity (UNAB). They argue that the former has been kidnapped by the interests of the business sector, and the latter has been taken over by the Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS) under a type of political opportunism. Not carrying out more forceful actions-a phrase with an imprecise meaning – is attributed to both.
We provide a description and analysis of the way in which the opposition to the Ortega and Murillo regime is composed. The purpose is not to shed light so as to provide weapons to the adversary, but to give ourselves an understanding of the positions occupied, the political posturing and the strategies implemented by the different agents in the internal conflicts. This is fundamental at this time in which Unity is spoken so much about as a panacea to the departure of Ortega and Murillo.
Prior to April 18, 2018 the Ortega and Murillo regime was supported by a series of national and international actors, that included the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, the organized private sector and the international community, more concretely the Organization of American States (OAS), and it was sustained by the consent of a significant percentage of citizens who perceived and positively valued the model of the public-private alliance, or the COSEP model, that made the economy grow, but sacrificed democratic institutionality.
The massacre of April began to change everything. Indignation mobilized a large number of citizens into the streets. Quickly i) an evisceration of the State, its institutions and institutional procedures was carried out; ii) a change took place in the political correlation among the social forces; iii) an interclass and heterogeneous social block was formed that claimed for itself the representation of the popular will for many voices and attempted, from outside institutional structures, to challenge the political power of the regime; iv) lastly, the coalition of actors connected to the dictatorial regime began to disintegrate.
In this way, given the rupture of institutional frameworks, two privileged spaces emerged as extraordinary frameworks where, in an open and unveiled way, a struggle for power took place in a conflict that simplified the political space between the regime of Ortega and Murillo and the Blue and White people: the streets and the National Dialogue.
The Civic Alliance
So the Nicaraguan Episcopal Conference (CEN) called together a series of highly relevant actors to serve as the counterpart to an official delegation in the Dialogue process. Among them were included students, peasants, business-people, actors of civil society and the university sector, among others.
As the expert in social movements, Sidney Tarrow, states, when a disintegration occurs in the heart of the elites, it not only motivates the citizenry to venture into collective action, but also motivates segments of the elite themselves who are not in power – the business sector organized in COSEP after the rupture of the Alliance, Dialogue and Consensus model, and other political elites opposed to the regime – to accord to themselves the role of “tribunal of the People”. This is what they did, they spoke in the name of the large multitudes who were fighting against the regime in the streets. The case of the students and peasants was an exception.
But what were those sectors that formed the Civic Alliance? Was there a convergence between those who were dialoguing in the conference rooms and those who were fighting behind barricades in the streets? Did they have the capacity on their own to pressure Ortega and maintain a favorable position in the political correlations of forces internally and internationally?
Probably the most questioned sectors were two: the business sector and the student sector. First of all, the business sector organized in COSEP, which in its moment was a strategic ally of Ortega, found itself in a dilemma; on the one hand, it perceived that the autocrat was a short and long term factor of instability, because through its repressive actions against the unarmed People, it had broken the trust of economic agents, and with that the investment climate, and on the other hand, Ortega continued being the “strong man”, capable of containing the more radical positions and exploits of the opposition behind the fear that “they will take heaven by assault”.
Far from this, the business sector, and more specifically big capital personified in the Counselors of COSEP, now out of alignment with the harshest positions of the autocracy, constituted, following the postulates of Guillermo Odonnel and Phillipe Schmitter, a type of reformist faction with the desire to change from the old Ortega regime, with the capacity to have an impact on and pressure within the regime, given their communication with followers of the dictatorship, and their alliance with key countries in international politics like the USA. What is more, it could be said that this sector was the most organized on the national level because of the level of institutionalization of its associations.
Secondly, the student movement was a complex element to analyze if the five student organizations who confronted the Ortega and Murillo regime in the National Dialogue were taken as the basis. It is valid to recap, in fairness, that the insurrection, although it was started by university students, transcended the university and became purely popular. The People flooded out and became the April Popular Insurrection.
The slogan “they were students, they were not criminals”, even though well-intentioned, was deployed from a purely classist perspective – “criminals” could be mowed down. This annulled any rights of the “shirtless” to demand their place in any decision-making spaces, and interrelate “taking the streets” with “pounding the table” in the Dialogue. Even more, certain student organizations who wielded the right granted by the pulpit to speak for the People in general, did not have a connection with grassroots students who were entrenched in Universities like the UPOLI or the UNAN-Managua, much less with the those in the barricades. This blocked a relationship between progress in the streets and progress in the Dialogue. The internal conflicts in the student movement that were forming beginning in April weakened their capacity for political impact on both sides.
Without going into more depth on the other representatives of sectors who on their own did not have the capacity for mobilization, except for the organized peasant movement, we can make two reflections: 1) it is understandable why the organized private sector has positioned itself as a relevant actor in this alliance, its fundamental position in the management and decision making of the convergence is based on its capacity for organization, acting in block for their interests, and its capacity for direct pressure on the Ortega and Murillo regime. 2) The reasons are clear for the hope placed on students organized in the Civic Alliance, which at one time was exaggerated, and why it has been dissolving given their incapacity to lead the resistance and truly provoke a sufficiently large enough uprising to topple the existing political regime.
In these days the Civic Alliance has communicated that it will have meetings with certain key sectors to exchange ideas about the formation of an opposition coalition, while the Citizens for Freedom Party has presented a body of advisers with a view to being the ballot position in future national elections. If by chance hopes continue to be placed on relevant figures of the April insurrection, it will be important to focus attention on, or build or renovate the political subject that subverted the bases of the Ortega and Murillo regime. After all, as the political scientist Chantall Mouffe states, there are no political subjects who fight, politics in itself is the struggle to constitute that political subject. It has to be invented and reinvented.
Harley Morales Pon is a student of sociology, member of the Con Vos political movement, and a member of the National Dialogue. Juan Carlos Márquez is a social communicator, member of the Con Vos political movement.
This message was issued on Nov 4, 2019 after a week where memorial events held for slain protestors and the release of political prisoners continued to be harassed by police, and even some gravestones were defaced. One of the defense lawyers for those arrested had her home sprayed with bullets.
Message of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Managua, No. 2
Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the cause of justice, because the reign of heaven is theirs” Mat 5:10
On concluding the extraordinary missionary month, called by His Holiness Pope Francis, we feel that it is an essential part of our evangelizing mission, as a Church, to be messengers and promoters of peace and justice.
The objective of the mission is to prepare people to receive Christ: his values, his lifestyle toward the construction of the Kingdom of Heaven which is justice, peace, love, forgiveness, humility, serving our neighbor. Is this the society that we are building?
As Church we want to take words of consolation and strength to our brothers and sisters in the difficult situation that our country continues experiencing, subjected to violence, injustices and the ransacking of their goods.
The current social, political and economic crisis that we are experiencing has aggravated the situation of a society impoverished and pushed into extreme poverty, where it would seem that the other has ceased to have value, losing the right to live decently: high rate of unemployment, lack of basic education, lack of basic health services; all that reflected in many ways, like at the stoplights of our capital turned into a source of jobs for children, the elderly and the sick. The application of economic and tax policies (cost of electric energy, sliding devaluation of the currency), with which the current crisis is attempted to be avoided, are not an appropriate response to the economic recession that we are undergoing.
This is not how a nation is built, on the basis of fear and pressure. An environment should be created of trust, justice, freedom of expression in order to know the constructive criticism coming from broad sectors of society, the independence of the branches of government to avoid the concentration of power, a political culture that would think about the well-being of all, that would want to serve all, and not become a “modus vivendi” for my well-being or that of my group. It is important also that it be done with a social awareness that would allow the population to receive the benefits that they deserve. “A society that wishes and intends to remain at the service of the human being at every level is a society that has the common good — the good of all people and of the whole person — as its primary goal. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church 165.
Issued in the Office of the Archbishop of Managua on the fourth day of the month of November of two thousand nineteen.
Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Managua
There are excessively fervent people who light candles to the Army so that it might perform a miracle. Is it reasonable to think that the Army would pull us out of this bloody swamp?
In the beginning of the April rebellion, there was a disperse and at times cacophonous chorus of voices that sang the praises of the Army of Nicaragua and suggested, demanded or begged its intervention to put an end to the repression and the crisis. Someone got to the point of asking that they take it upon themselves to be the spokesperson in the dialogue, in representation of the State. It was a very questionable proposal, but at that time it did not sound so childish, suicidal and worthy of Juan Dundo, the famous character of the road stories who always docilely accepted the tasks and punishments imposed by the patron, without perceiving their injustice, falling time and time again to obvious scams and jokes.
As the repression progressed, the involvement of the Army became evident, above all in the videos where paramilitaries appeared leaving military installations and carrying heavy weaponry used exclusively by the Army. We knew at that time that for more than a decade Ortega had purged the Army of soldiers who were not staunch supporters. More than a year later, on the fortieth anniversary of the founding of the Army, its highest general renewed the vows of his devotion to Orteguism with repeated genuflections before Ortega, and threatened those who allegedly had urged soldiers to join the coup forces. In short, the commandante helps those who help themselves. The Army brought tanks out onto the streets like a wolf that shows its fangs. There were numerous promotions of soldiers and officers, some granted as a reward for repressive work. Words and deeds left no doubt about the official position of the military high command. Swimming against the current of a waterfall of evidence, there are excessive devotees that continue lighting candles to the Army to perform a miracle, like possibly they previously did to Saint Barbara, the patron of difficult and desperate causes.
Admittedly the cause of the rebellion is difficult and at time desperate. But is it reasonable to think that the Army will pull us out of this bloody swamp? The only thing clear is that the Army is a power that, in the current circumstances, has demonstrated having more importance than big capital. Part of its power comes from its economic strength, which could have given it true ideological autonomy. And maybe it has it. Its ties to Orteguism are not ideological: most of its leaders and probably all of its soldiers were not part of the guerrilla forces, nor from the Sandinista Popular Army of the eighties. But there are economic ties, that at times are stronger than the evanescent connections of a creed. The assets of the Army and some of its members have grown on a vast scale during the thirteen years of the Government of Ortega. Why would they want to put an end to the party?
The fact that the Army is a power of enormous economic and political weight is a situation anomalous in itself which corrodes democracy. The history that led us to this point speaks for itself. The Sandinista Army was constituted in the eighties with some members of the guerrilla forces, who were not very numerous. It grew in numbers and its absorption of the national budget, when the FSLN gave an almost exclusively military solution to a problem that in its beginnings was fundamentally an agrarian and political problem. The first bands of counterrevolutionaries were composed of discontented peasants because the promised land did not arrive: the agrarian reform, above all in its first years, was a state concentration of land. The ill-will increased with the abuses of the Army and confiscations. Afterwards the Government of Reagan added its huge sack of dollars and the “contra” flourished. The FSLN could have given preference to others forms of solution: certainly the dialogue that finally put and end to the bloodshed. Before resorting to this formula, it imposed obligatory military service and increased the bloodletting. There you have where solutions take us that turn the Army into its preferential instrument.
From that tortuous history came an Army turned into a formidable financial power, because the General of that Army had more skills of a card-player than of a chess player. It seems that those who now call for an intervention of the Army have digested that situation as an acceptable fact, and not as a terrible sign. Why did the Army have to become a shareholder in the New York Stock Exchange, in a hospital, clinics, hardware store and an immense etcetera? Why did the Nicaraguan Army have to emulate its Guatemalan counterpart, also established as an economic power in itself, an evolution that ended turning it into a seedling of drug traffickers? Would it not be better – in any case, a sign of our commitment as a society – that the primary and secondary teachers had their pensions assured and thriving in New York stocks? Why not the firemen? Or medical staff? We would be another Nicaragua if the teacher training school would have been endowed with such generosity, and the funds to distribute educational material would have been administered with such sagacity as the military´s. Would it not be just that the pensions of those disabled in the war on both sides would have been treated with such astuteness? Well no: those funds and pensions have been administered by the many Juan Dundos that exist in this country, and not Pedro Urdemales, his devious and daring brother, who ended up in the Army.
Seen in a regional perspective, things could not have occurred any differently. The prominence of the Army is in style in the isthmus. In Guatemala it has not ceased to be a constant: a mediocre television comic like Jimmy Morales or a member of the oligarchy like Alejandro Giammattei is governing, everyone knows that one has been a puppet and the other – more dignified – an instrument of the domination of the Army, that has seized the pot by the handle and the handle as well. Honduras is a military State. Its condition of being an ex-platform of three Armies – the national, the US and the “contra” – left a military stronghold as residue that became more flagrant since the coup of Mel Zelaya. But it did not begin then, and is made present in the investments of the military and the land evictions carried out by obedient and violent soldiers. In El Salvador, all the governments have faced the problem of the gangs above all with police and military forces. The National Civilian Police, which emerged from the peace accords, was not able to shake from its leadership the members of the old military graduating classes who had their hands soaked in blood. At times they moved through a revolving door: they would leave for a couple of years and would return unruffled. The weight of the military was reflected in the ministries whose leadership has been given to General David Munguía Payés, a power at times behind the throne, and at times against the throne. An example of the latter case was his opposition to the fact that the purchase of military inputs and weapons would be submitted to public bidding, in open resistance to the ruling of the Constitutional Chamber of the Court.
Militarism has not left the region. It remained in a near larvae state in some countries. And now, when it bares its claws again and shows its destabilizing and antidemocratic countenance, it ends up that in Nicaragua there are those who want to make it pose as our last hope. They forget that when the rifles come out on the streets, politics ends as a game where dissent – a healthy reflection of plurality of positions – is processed through discussions, pronouncements, marches, etc. Politics is the tension of dissent, and there is no dissent possible in the face of a barrel of an AK-47. In this context the reinvigoration of militarism, it would only occur to Juan Dundo that if Costa Rica, the only example of a functional democracy that exists in the region, has remained stable in part because it dismantled the Army, we are going to arrive at democracy walking on bayonets. In Nicaragua it is assumed that we have to say “we must make the best of it now” and that, given that in the eighties we gave the checkbook to the military, now we have to give them a place in politics. Better that we continue praying to Saint Barbara.
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
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.
In recent weeks the public has been surprised by the return of well known opposition figures: Félix Maradiaga, whose NGO IEEPP was shut down and accused by the government of directing a terrorist network; Aníbal Toruño, whose Radio Darío was burned down in León , received death threats to the extent that the OAS recommended the government provide him protective measures; Jaime Arellano, a talk show host who left the country last December when the government shut down the TV station 100% Noticias where he frequently appeared; and now Lester Alemán, the student who directly challenged Ortega at the beginning of the 1st dialogue. Even Ortega´s stepdaughter, Zoilamérica is returning. This is surprising because the human rights situation has not improved, yet these public figures are returning at great personal risk to themselves. This article, written by an editor of La Prensa in an on-line magazine Infobae, provides the reasoning.
Famous Nicaraguan Exiles return to the country to “fight” against Daniel Ortega
By Fabián Medina Sánchez in Infobae, October 13, 2019
Zoilamérica Ortega Murillo, the stepdaughter who accused the President of rape, and well-known journalists whose media were confiscated by the government, are beginning to “pave the way” for a larger group who are returning as a sign of resistance and a “political act”.
Jaime Arellano and Aníbal Toruño returned to Nicaragua at noon this past August 29th through the Managua airport. A battery of journalists and sympathizers were waiting for them. Both had gone into exile nine months earlier to save themselves from the repression that the regime of Daniel Ortega unleashed against his opponents. Arellano was accused of “inciting hate” through the television program that he led, and Toruño was pursued by paramilitaries who on April 20, 2018 burned down the radio station that he owned.
Both were the first figures from exile who decided to return to Nicaragua. Others have arrived after them. Félix Maradiaga, an opposition figure who many see as an “electable presidential candidate”, and who the regime involved in multiple accusations, returned in mid-September. This past Monday Lester Alemán himself returned, the young man who during the first session of the dialogue confronted Daniel Ortega and then fled the country, stating that the regime had placed a price on his head.
These are, nevertheless, the figures best known in the media. Silently and anonymously at least between 200 and 250 Nicaraguans are returning each month, according to information from Costa Rican Migration. This figure is deduced from the Nicaraguans who “suspend the request for refugee status because they are returning to Nicaragua, “said Allan Rodríguez Vargas, leader of the Refugee Unit of the General Office of Migration and Immigration of Costa Rica, to the website of Nicaraguan journalists in exile, Despacho 505.
It is a timorous return. A trial return. According to the IACHR, some 70,000 Nicaraguans went into exile, forced by the violence and the crisis that is experienced in Nicaragua. Some 55,000 sought refuge in the neighboring country of Costa Rica.
Ortega´s government, on its part, announced this past April, in the heat of the negotiations with the opposing Civic Alliance, a “Voluntary, Assisted and Safe Return Program” with which it intended that thousands of exiles would return to the country, who had left during a year as a consequence of the repression and violence. The Civic Alliance described it as a “deceitful and sterile” program, because it invited those being persecuted to return to a country where human rights continued to be violated.
“Here is another sign of the commitment of the Government for National Unity and Reconciliation to promote the encounter of families and move forward with hope, with faith, with trust in God, to advance toward the restoration of everything good that we are,” said the Vice President, Rosario Murillo, during the announcement of the program. So far, the government has not reported any results.
On the contrary, the Permanent Commission on Human Rights (CPDH) said it was receiving “some five denouncements a day” from exiles who return and are harassed in their homes and in other cases, arrested again under the accusation of common crimes.
This is the case of Ulises Rivas Pérez. He returned to accompany his father who suffers from terminal cancer, and was arrested this past September 1st accused of theft of a hat and minor injuries to three people. Diómedes Reyes, another exile who returned after the announcement of the governmental program, was arrested on May 27th accused of illegal possession of weapons.
For the sociologist, Oscar René Vargas, also an expatriate, the exiles are not returning to Nicaragua because of the guarantees that the regime has announced, but because they are not doing well outside the country. “The great majority of the exiles in Costa Rica are from humble origins and low economic resources, and the government of Costa Rica does not have the capacity to respond to all of them”, he says.
The lack of attention, he says, “creates a lot of pressure so that some exiles on their own initiative have made the decision to return to Nicaragua. They prefer to return, in spite of the repression, to living in conditions of extreme poverty or destitution.”
Paving the way
“We are functioning as guinea pigs”, says the talk show host Jaime Arellano, who stated that he came to “continue the fight from within” and likened his return to “paving the way” for others who are thinking about their return.
“When the amnesty was given (June 2019), the accusations against me were shelved. A large group (of exiles) of us talked about returning, but many hesitated, so with Aníbal Toruño we decided to come first, to pave the way”, he says. “Two days after being in Nicaragua we escaped being killed in León. Two motorcycles followed me the entire time. They did not harass me, nor have they stopped me, nor did they do anything, but they are there.”
From his experience he recommends that each exile assess their own return. “Here nothing is normal. I recommend that if the exile has some job there, it is better to stay, because here not only is there insecurity but few jobs.”
Nevertheless, there is movement in the Nicaraguan exiles, and there is talk even of massive returns in light of an electoral end to the crisis.
The journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro announced to Infobae his decision to return soon to Nicaragua, in spite of the fact that the installation where he did his television program and the magazine Confidencial continue to be confiscated.
Zoilamérica: “Coexist with my aggressors”
Another person who announced her return is Zoilamérica Ortega Murillo, the stepdaughter of Daniel Ortega, who accused him of sexual abuse and rape in 1998. Zoilamérica has been living in Costa Rica since 2013 where she went fleeing the repression that she suffered on the part of the government and her family as a consequence of her denouncement.
“I am part of a large group of Nicaraguans who are preparing to return”, says Zoilamérica. We are many people preparing concrete actions to come back even stronger. Our return is already beginning,” she states.
“The seriousness of the situation in Nicaragua has made me reflect on new forms of struggle. I was one of those people who thought that we were going to return one day, and this government would not be there. But the current context is even more complicated. I will be returning to Nicaragua to coexist with my aggressors. To a country where not only is there a dictatorship, but in addition paramilitaries have been established and armed institutions who use organized crime to stop the civic resistance,” she explained.
She says that her return depends “on the majority decision of groups and organizations that will accompany us in the process. Together we are thinking of establishing some conditions of security and participation,” and the possibility of her “involvement as a professional in an educational institution.”
“Returning under the conditions of a repressive State is part of the risk that we all are taking to contribute to Nicaragua in this decisive stage,” she says. “Returning is a political act and is a reflective and coordinated action.”
The sociologist Oscar René Vargas also is thinking about his own return. “Before the end of 2019 in am thinking about my return. I cannot accept that the regime would block me from fully living in my country”, he says.
In his criteria, “the return of media figures aims at giving support to the electoral strategy, without taking in account the repression”, in contrast he thinks that the return of what he calls “non media figures, of humble origins”, does not have any strategy.
“The return of two or four people does not have any decisive influence for the reactivation of the social movement, I am inclined to think that their return is part of the strategy of an ongoing negotiation for the elections of November 2021. It would be a different situation if some two to five thousand exiles would come looking for how to enter through the Peñas Blancas border. That act would be with the strategy of looking to reactivate the social movement”, he says.
“Obviously the return will imply risks of all types, but you have to accept them”, Vargas points out. “The strength of the Ortega-Murillo regime is rooted in the fear of many people. The way to conquer the fear is presenting to the population a strategy for fighting: The population is willing to fight, a leadership is needed that they would want to accompany. This is the challenge in the coming months.”
As a member of the first National Dialogue, representing the Peasant Movement Against the Canal, this peasant leader was abducted and eventually sentenced to 216 years in jail, and was released eventually as part of the second negotiations. This interview is important because it shows the perspective of the peasant movement on the government repression and killing, their solution to the crisis, and the Civic Alliance
Medardo Mairena: “They Cut Peasants Piece by Piece Until They Brought Them Down”
The peasant leader talks about the persecution of their movement, but also about the relationship they have with representatives of big business leaders in Nicaragua in the Civic Alliance.
In a matter of months, Medardo Mairena went from being under an isolation regime in jail cell 300, maximum security in the Penitentiary System of Nicaragua, to meeting in the United States with members of the Security Council of Donald Trump. In one photo he is seen in a Big League baseball stadium, and in another, pretty serious, alongside the secretary of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro.
As head of the Peasant Movement, a week ago Mairena got a hearing with the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to present a detailed report on executions of peasants by the regime of Daniel Ortega during 12 years in power. According to the document there are 55 executed leaders, and that is from April 2018 to September 25, 2019.
“They are not looking for us peasants in order to put us in jail, but to kill us”, says Mairena, who was in jail nearly a year, most of the time in maximum security cells. “During the 80s the Sandinista regime killed the peasants because some of them were commanders of the Contras; now their family members are being persecuted and murdered”, he added by phone from Boston in the United States.
Mairena used the example of his father, who was jailed for refusing to join Patriotic Military Service in the decade of the 80s. “And now (last year) it was my turn (to go to jail)”, he says. That is why he is clear that Nicaragua needs “true democratization,” and believes that it will be achieved through a negotiation in which Ortega first must show political will, freeing political prisoners, providing democratic freedoms and stopping selective assassinations of peasants.
Since when have you been opposed to the regime of Daniel Ortega?
Ideologically I have never been in agreement with him, because in the decade of the 80s my Dad was kidnapped by the same Orteguistas for thinking differently, because they wanted to force him to do Patriotic Military Service. What the peasantry and the Miskitos in those years experienced was brutal repression, in addition to the fact that they tried to impose an ideology to follow Ortega with a completely erroneous government. My Dad had his land and was dispossessed. He lost everything on being evacuated because of the war. Since then we thought that the way Ortega governed has been a failure. In the 80s he destroyed the economy and once again in power he is destroying the economy again.
Why do you think that the Sandinista regime has always gone against the peasantry?
Most of the people who took up arms in the Contras were peasants. At that time, because they confiscated land, they did not respect private property. They did the “piñata”. They wanted power and money. That showed during that mandate as well: the ambition for political and economic power. Wanting to exploit natural resources: the mafias in the Indio Maíz and Bosawas reserves. The Miskitos have defended the natural resources, and he has killed them as well. The ambition to stay in power had led him to commit crimes against humanity. Since then it has been hate against the peasants. I think that if there were greater connectivity to the internet in the countryside, there would be much more evidence about how the hate against the peasants is shown. Like how the Army, that says that it has not participated in the massacre, has murdered peasants. There have been cases where they have tortured peasants and have cut them up piece by piece until bringing them down. And it is a way of showing their hate for them, just for raising their voices and thinking differently.
You have said that Daniel Ortega used the two dialogues to buy time. What makes you think that he would do it in good faith a third time?
First of all, if he wants to negotiate, he has to free the political prisoners, allow us to demonstrate in the streets, stop the killing and persecution of peasants. These are the signs to enter into negotiations. Because we cannot go to the [negotiating] table when we know there are brothers who are being slowly killed off. We cannot sit down at a table if they are out persecuting us. It is not possible what happened to me, being in the dialogue, they took me to jail.
Do you think the dialogue is the only solution, or can there be another?
We believe that it is the best solution, because it is the way that we can avoid bloodshed, because we know that the persecution could end in a wave of violence, which would be difficult. We know that Ortega has the weapons, and already killed disarmed people. That is why it is important that there be national and international pressure so that we can find a solution through a negotiation where the people are taken into account.
The perception that exists is that while you were in jail you earned the sympathy of the opposition in the country. Do you feel a special responsibility?
Of course I do. Because I am at the head of a humble people with whom I identify. Now, other movements have supported us, because we are honest people, and do not have skeletons in our closets. Because we have always been there in the bad times, but at the front of the victims to support them. That is why we have asked the international community for the freedom of the prisoners, and advocated for the Nicaraguans who are in the detention centers, even in the United States.
How were you involved in the rebellion of last year?
We began marches and protests, and we told the people of Nicaragua that we supported the students who started the struggle. Later came the dialogue, and we know what happened: he jailed us and invented crimes. We saw the irresponsibility of the judges and prosecutors that allowed themselves to be led by their drive for their political ideology.
It is said that you still belong to the Liberal Constitutional Party (PLC). How true is this?
I was a regional council person elected by the peasants in the PLC. I was not a designated candidate, rather I participated in primary elections to be the representative to the regional government. I had the support of the peasants. At that time emerged the fight for our lands over the Interoceanic Canal. That is why they tried to minimize me, and did not allow me to pass development projects in the community. I was elected for the PLC, but at this time I am not actively engaged in any party, and I am not interested in any party banner. I know that this crisis is going to end in an electoral issue, and for me that will be the decision of the people. I understand that some people, out of envy and political jealousy, are trying to discredit us, because they know that the Peasant Movement is pure.
Have you had offers for public offices?
I never got organized to obtain an office and make money. It is known that before 2018 they made me an offer on the part of the regime and other opposition parties. They offered me candidacies to be a deputy and for the municipal government. I am clear that I have had the leadership to win it, but I did not join an organization for that purpose. I did it for the peasants, and that is why I continue to be their soldier, and for those who feel represented by me. I did not accept the candidacies because they have never interested me, but that does not mean that I ignore them, because I am clear that this crisis will end in elections. That is why the people of Nicaragua have to be alert: they cannot allow people to be elected who are guilty of the grief.
Would you like to take on some public office?
I think that one does not look for public office, rather they look for you. Within the responsibility that I have, and my desire is, that it be the people who make the decision. I am not interested in obtaining those spaces; but I am interested in the fact that those spaces stay in the hands of honest people and that they respond to the people.
Have you ever been a fan of the Sandinista Front?
Never. And even less now that it has become a terrorist organization.
There are many criticisms of the Civic Alliance, which you are part of, because it is coopted by Nicaraguan big capital. Why are you supporting it?
I am with it since its founding. And for us it has been the vehicle for representation in the negotiations. The Peasant Movement has its autonomy like the other movements. So we see it as a space in light of a dialogue where the Peasant Movement will take its demands in the context of negotiations, as well as the other movements will take their own. What we are trying to do is unite our efforts, in spite of the differences that we might have. Because the love we have for Nicaragua, and the need to find solutions, have to be greater. Now it is important to point out that we have to be responsible with the unity, because we cannot allow the [practice of] divvying up of offices to come back. What we need is for the people to be the overseers, witnesses, that they propose and elect their next authorities. But at this moment, our priority is the freedom of the political prisoners and providing for those children who have their parents abducted or who were left orphaned. This struggle is not the struggle of a group, but of all Nicaraguans.
Have you not seen signs that the business sector has wanted to make arrangements behind the scenes with the regime?
In what I have been involved, I have never seen that there was an internal arrangement. Last week we were together in Washington and agreed that it is the moment that there must be more pressure. That is why we agreed that we need to seek the application of the Democratic Charter, because it is not funny that we are in the OAS, when the regime did not even permit the entry of the Commission [IACHR], and this regime cannot be democratic when it continues killing.
What accomplishment in the negotiation would satisfy you?
The democratization of Nicaragua. That I can return to my home, with my family: that I can live as we have lived; on my farm, as any peasant. That there be no persecution. There have to be changes in all the branches of the State, so that they be completely independent and that they be ruled by the Constitution. That the peasants can return peacefully to their lands.
That children t receive a good education, and that the taxes that we pay be invested in development projects in the community. That would be the most important. We know that we are not going to achieve everything, because those who lost their loved ones we are not going to get them back, unfortunately. For us they are going to live forever because they offered their lives to bring peace back to the country.
In the first months of the rebellion it was thought that the regime was in checkmate. What failed at that moment?
I think that we accepted to participate in the dialogue believing that Ortega was going to quit killing the students. Also it was necessary that all the expressions unite together to apply pressure. I think that the private sector left much to be desired at that time. We know that the people of Nicaragua asked for an indefinite strike. Unfortunately that did not happen. But we do not want to stay in the past, and in what could have been done, but in what we are going to do from now on.
But do you think there is the will on the part of the business sector now?
In these times, even though we do need to apply pressure, it is not the same as the opportunity we had at that time. But we do need there to be pressure. Now, I understand that the private sector is concerned that the economy is falling, but we are concerned because they are killing our fellow demonstrators. But today a strike would not have the same impact, but we believe that it is necessary.
Up to April 2018 the business sector maintained a type of economic pact with the Ortega government. How has it been to be seated now with these representatives that ignored your complaints?
It has been difficult for us, because at that time, not only were they not saying anything, but part of them were the authorities of the Interoceanic Canal project. In other words, they were against us. We, the peasants, if we are in that place, it is to find a solution as quickly as possible. We are making great efforts to control our emotions. And we believe that the only solution is bringing all the expressions [of the opposition] together. In such a way that we hope that all those who have placed themselves on this side of the table, that their conscience does not punish them from this day forward.
Medardo Mairena, Peasant leader.
Medardo Mairena was born on November 30, 1978 in the community of Nueva Guinea in the Southern Caribbean region of Nicaragua. In the last 19 years he has lived in Punta Gorda, in a community that is called Polo de Desarrollo Daniel Guido Sánchez with his wife Yaritza Báez, 40 years of age, and three children that they have together. The youngest, a three-year old girl, is named Kathia. According to a report from Domingo in June of this year, he has a 255 acre farm where he is raising 40 head of cattle. He also uses the land to plant. During the national dialogue of 2018 Mairena said to Ortega: “The people demand that you go. We do not want more deaths, and you are the ones responsible.” Mairena got as far as the first year of secondary school, because to go to school he had to travel 30 kilometers. He started his studies at the age of 16 on his own. He participated in five certificate programs on management and leadership.
This opinion piece by a well known essayist paints a picture of the increasing isolation of the Ortega government, and highlights the fact that the regime´s analysis of the current situation harkens back to the 80s. It is true that high ranking members have left the party and the country since the April 2018 uprising, including a Magistrate of the Supreme Court. Another issue is whether the current reality – now almost 40 years later – can be completely captured by an analysis from the 80s. This is also the reference point for some in the opposition, those who Rocha calls the “lifelong anti-Sandinistas”. One possible extrapolated conclusion to be taken from the article is that for the post-crisis situation to be successful and stable it will have to respond to a reality that is inclusive of the 40 years of events since the 1980s.
The ghost of the 1990 Defeat
By José Luis Rocha, September 24, 2019 in Confidencial
In the El Carmen bunker they are enduring once again the 80s show, an inexistent contra; the opposition union, and the loss of international allies.
There is panic in El Carmen, and it expands from there to the entire territory of Nicaragua. The Citizen Power Councils carry it to the popular neighborhoods and work places, the police to the streets and malls, the paramilitaries to the residential neighborhoods, and the soldiers to the furthest corners of Rio San Juan, Wiwilí, El Cuá and Wamblán. The ghosts of the 80s roam the country from coast to coast. The exhausting vigilance of the dictators is becoming a nightmare for the citizens.
There is uncertainty in El Carmen. How long to hold on? Who to trust? From who will come the stab in the back or the firm hand, the letal potion or the devious tip-off? From the drivers subjected to ongoing scrutiny? Or the body guards with an ideological lineage going back four generations? From some obsequious deputy who jumps from one party to the next? Or from a spineless person who maybe already began to dance to another tune? Maybe from a decades-long talkative cook, or from a new fearful housekeeper? Who is peering in the curtain? Who will raise the latch? Who is lying and who is trustworthy? Is it the Cuban Politburo that advises them to hold on, but would gladly negotiate a bilateral agreement with Trump? Is it his infiltrators in blue and white spaces who now feel comfortable there? Is it the Sandinista capital that already flirts with other clubs of millionaires and seeks less risky locations for their capital? Is it those who advise more repression, but have not gotten their hands dirty, or, if they already have, will be able to say later that they were only obeying orders?
How is the information filtering out? Does the decades long militant journalist circulate it, who during the day spits out vitriol about the opposition, but at night prepares his new life? The official who today does favors for the opposition in order to save his skin tomorrow? The ambassador to the OAS who reads with scholarly passion the cabled speech about sovereignty but obtains – just in case, for what is seen now and what appears on the horizon – US nationality? The high officials who bruise their hands applauding the Orteguista system every July 19th, but have their children living in western democracies? The friends for hire, the partners for hire, the pay for view allies? The colonels, majors and captains that have not accumulated much yet, and bite the bullet when they see their pensions at risk of evaporating on account of a submissive general who, securing himself into his position, has truncated hundreds of possible promotions? Who is passing information to Roberto Samcam and José Cubillo? Who saw those who fled go by and did not stop them? Who is passing weak intelligence against the exiles? How can conscientious saboteurs be distinguished from a sea of inept professionals?
Who? Whom? How many? How? The threats are ubiquitous and buzz crazily when night falls. They dull minds and cloud sight. Without being able to fall asleep, the dictators turn their gaze backward, toward the path that they always want to take again, the only one that their feet feel firm on. The 80s show is projected in their imagination and its timeworn script guides their decisions the following day. Only in the heart of this script do some actions make sense that seem fully aimed at precipitating their end: the ongoing harassment of all those who show symptoms of dissent, the unexpected and abrupt resurrection of the repudiated interoceanic canal project, the ridiculous compulsive obsession of persecuting blue and white flags, the resistance to the entry of supranational regulation organizations, the extrajudicial executions of peasants and the refusal to return the assets and/or legal status of communications media and NGOs, among other measures destined to ward off the ghosts of the 80s.
The first spectre is that of “the contras”. The presidential couple act as if there already existed an armed counterrevolution similar to the one that existed in the 80s. They know that the contras started with small bands, and they want to pull up the shoots by the roots. Hence the murders in rural areas: 14 executions from January to July of 2019. Better if they are “retail” deaths, because when they are done in bulk – like the massacres of 2018 – they become international news. Dispersed and in trickles the deaths pass by unnoticed by most of the media. The siege and assault on the municipality of Mulukukú, to the point of causing their mayor to go into exile, forms part of this strategy of neutralizing embryos of these new contras, that only exist is the nightmares of El Carmen. In this re-edition of the 80s show, an army composed mostly of officers who joined the ranks of the army in the 90s cannot accompany them. But they can always count on the sadism that some soldiers add from their own harvest, that which does not depend on orders from a commander, but on brutal machismo and the yearning to be someone, and to exercise their small quota of power.
The new contras are worse than the ones of the 80s because they are everywhere. When the police ban a march that was going to be massive, the crowd shatters and flickers in the form of hundreds of picketers. Blue and white balloons emerge from any rural outcropping, patron-saint procession, public school or mall. That is why the presidential couple redoubled the police and military presence, and rushed to graduate new cadetes and police dogs, as badly trained the latter as the former. Six hundred promotions in the police – most lower ranking, not leadership positions – they want to buy loyalty in a legion that has become the principal support for the dictatorship. The same thing happened in the army, in whose 40th anniversary their highest general saw himself invited? Obliged? to read a speech that sealed his unconditional fidelity. The simultaneous exhibition of heavy weapons was just the intimidating background for the tragic comedy. What is the next step? Maybe a pair or series of (self) attacks to justify the deployment of soldiers in allegedly strategic objectives. The organization of retired soldiers was only an appetizer that has more hermeneutic use than military effectiveness.
The second spectre is as fearful as the previous one: the union of all the opposing segments in one anti-FSLN force, like the one that was capable of defeating them in the 1990 elections. Maduro and the Cuban Politburo probably insist on the fact that no way would they let power be taken away from them through votes if they can retain it with bullets. With swollen bags under their eyeballs, the dictatorial couple does not know what to do. Before the April rebellion, Almagro was willing to play their game of an interminable electoral reform. That farce can no longer be continued without revealing itself. A group of kids ruined that play and its monstrous development. The only margin for action that the dictators have they invested in buying time and dividing. Buying time to see what happens: to see if a stroke of luck would benefit them, if more presumed leftist governments would come to power, if a generous sponsor would emerge, if Trump is replaced by a less aggressive president…But in general buying time is losing time: the deterioration of the government progresses, Venezuela closed its wallet and increasingly has less chance of opening it up again, and a change in the president of the United States does not guarantee a change in policy toward Orteguism, which in fact has benefitted from the fact that Trump is a dog who barks louder than he bites.
The work of division the opposition itself is doing, which is cut through by several fault lines: lifelong anti-Sandinistas versus anti-Orteguistas with Sandinista roots, ferociously anti-business sectors versus those who look for more leadership from big capital, those in favor of a soft landing versus the partisans of making a clean sweep of the current system. Until they reach an agreement on the urgent objective, they will be pawns in a strategy that benefits Ortega.
The third spectre is the loss of the sponsors of the revolution. There is no doubt that the fall of the socialist block at the end of the 80s, that contained a big pocket of solidarity toward the Sandinista revolution, was decisive for the FSLN to make the decision to make important concessions in the negotiations with the anti-Sandinista resistance. Ortega and Murillo are afraid of being left without rich friends outside the country. In the face of the important decline in Venezuelan aid, they are courting Iran, Russia, Taiwan. Hence the trips of Laureano Ortega, Denis Moncada and Paul Oquist, white collar, or red and black collar, beggars. There are desperate measures: they shook the dust off the canal project, to see if someone would bite.
There are more ghosts dwelling in El Carmen, where That 80s Show runs daily, which in its current version consists of a family, a gang of followers and two legal but discredited coercive forces who attempt to subdue a people. A sector of the opposition also conjures these ghosts. But that is another kettle of fish and the topic of another article.
 El Carmen is the name of the neighborhood where Ortega´s home and presidential offices are located.
This article published by the official government media, summarizes and extensively quotes a speech by Daniel Ortega on the anniversary of the birth and death of Benjamín Zeledón. In this speech he applies the context of Zeledón´s time- US invasion – to the current situation, and claims that now, as then, “they talk about dialogue…sign agreements, and in the end do not recognize them.” In these times, however, the OAS and human rights organizations have been critical of the government for not fulfilling their promises from the previous two dialogues.
President Daniel Ortega and Compañera Rosario Murillo preside over the event in Honor of General Benjamín Zeledón
The president of the Republic, Commandante Daniel Ortega Saavedra and Vice President, Compañera Rosario Murillo, presided this evening October 4th over the central event in homage of the national hero, Benjamín Zeledón, on the 140th anniversary of his birth and the 107th anniversary of his journey to immortality.
Officers of the Nicaraguan Army, the National Police and the National Assembly of Nicaragua accompanied the president in the event.
They inaugurated the Benjamín Zeledón museum building in La Concordia, Jinotega
On beginning his intervention, President Daniel Ortega stated that the Nicaraguan youth are the present and the future of Zeledón. Then he provided details about the life of the national hero who confronted the traitors and the Yankee troops in a crucial moment in the history of Nicaragua.
“And Zeledón rose up against what was the Yankee intervention which happened when the US government through its representative, the Secretary of State Philander Knox, sent the famous Knox note to Zelaya. And Zeledón did not accept that, he could not accept it. He said it very clearly, he expressed it with complete clarity, and rebelled against that abuse of the sovereignty of Nicaragua, and pointed out the traitors, the sell-outs who had promoted and encouraged the coup against Zelaya, and that was when Zeledón rose up in defense of Nicaragua and was defeating the army of the traitors and sell-outs. So, to avoid defeat, the sell-outs called in the Yankee troops. And the Yankee troops began to disembark in Corinto, and Zeledón knew that he was confronting then in those moments an unequal fight, because the Yankee troops, who were a decisive and strategic force, came together there to confront the patriots led by Zeledón, they joined forces with the troops of the sell-outs. And he knew that there was no other alternative than the fight under completely unequal conditions. So convinced was he of his fate that he wrote that to his family, his wife, his children and he made it known to our people. We cannot forget that Nicaraguans fought there with Zeledón who did not surrender, did not sell out and gave their lives”, he recounted.
“History repeats itself later with Sandino. And Sandino, at that time a child, remembers Zeledón. And Sandino becomes aware, a boy, when they [the Marines] went through the streets with the corpse of Zeledón, showing him off like a trophy. And Sandino remembers him and expresses his rejection, his condemnation of the sell-outs and the Yankee troops that had invaded our territory”, he added.
The history of betrayal of the sell-outs is repeated
Commandante Daniel Ortega reflected that the betrayal in which the sell-outs murdered Zeledón and Sandino is repeated in these times.
“And now history repeats itself, because the hands of Nicaraguan sell-outs, who were at the service of the Yankee troops, killed Zeledón. After the battles in Coyotepe, now wounded Zeledón, those who killed him were the evil sons of Nicaragua. And [in the case of] Sandino, after expelling the Yankee troops, who carries out the order of murdering Sandino? A Nicaraguan bastard also, Somoza, who ambushed him after Sandino had been at a dinner invited by the President, now with a signed peace accord. Peace had been signed, but the thing is that these people do not respect any agreement, they talk about dialogue, it has always been this way, they talk about dialogue, they sign agreements and in the end they do not recognize the agreements. Why? Because the empire and the sell-outs are sons of the devil, they are the sons of Cain. You cannot believe anything they say”, he said.
“And history is being repeated again. We see the parade of sell-outs. As the flights and financing increase so that they can traveling constantly to ask that the Nicaraguan people be attacked, and they do it calmly, and they take their pictures there with the representatives of the US government, and they strive to show the photo here, to brag about the fact that they are the chosen ones by the Yankees to be the future rulers of Nicaragua, or to be the future rulers of Nicaragua. And the financing comes from the taxes of the US people. I do not know who they will be acountable to, those who from the United States are organizing these campaigns to give the image of a country where there is no peace nor stability. That is the image that they are out selling”, expressed President Daniel Ortega.
“If here a crime is committed, immediately they attribute it to the Government, the authorities, being Nicaragua the safest country and the one with the lowest homicide rate in the region. But the manipulation is crass, and laden with viciousness, laden with evil”, stated Commandante Daniel.
The 19th of July of 1979 the people were filled with awareness and love for the Country
In spite of the fact that history is repeating itself, President Daniel Ortega said that now there is a difference from the past.
“The difference now, after July 19, 1979, passing through the 17 years when we Sandinistas were outside the government, July 19, 1979, a new awareness was acquired here in the hearts of most Nicaraguans, most peasants, workers, youth, and professionals. Finally Nicaragua from 1979 had a people full of awareness and love for the country,” he stated.
“Of course, the sell-outs did not disappear, but in addition the empire is always nourishing them. It sends them resources through the programs that they say are programs to promote culture, to promote education. They are programs to promote hate, but in addition a good part of these programs that move through some NGOs, [are] tremendous businesses, why? Because what they receive, which supposedly is food for the people, they go to sell in the markets, they sell them there,” he commented.
“Non governmental organizations of every political and religious tendency end up in the markets, and they want exonerations for everything, and that has to be very closely reviewed, it has to be very closely reviewed. If food is going to come in here for people who need food, like the packages that the youth go out to deliver, well, if that is certified, it has to be certified, because so far they have been working, they simply disclose: “it is food”. Or suddenly vehicles, or suddenly appliances and other articles, or medicines, or medical equipment that end up also in the market,” he denounced.
The president pointed out that many times these resources are diverted by these organizations to “try to destabilize, sow confusion, poison the hearts of the youth and the people.”
True Nicaraguans are against the sanctions
President commandante Daniel also stated that those who truly feel and act as Nicaraguans are those who love Nicaragua and are against any outrage “of the fact that they call sanctions that they apply against the economy of our people.”
“When there are self-respecting people, then the aggressions come, or the so-called sanctions or poorly named sanctions that do nothing more than affect first of all the poor. They do nothing more than affect employment,” he pointed out.
“Where were thousands of workers fired from last year? They were fired from the big businesses that called for the coup, and that ordered their workers under the threat of firing if they did not attend the marches. And their workers went there to march under the threat. When they were not successful (nor will they be), then what did they do? Because they did enormous damage to the economy, they committed a crime, a crime, a crime causing the death of brother Nicaraguans, a crime causing enormous damage to the Nicaraguan economy”, he recalled.