Category Archives: Nicaragua Unrest

“If the Police enter, or I die, ring the bells”. The order of Fr. Edwin Román during the abduction of the Church of San Miguel

This article interviews the participants in the recent eight-day hunger strike for the release of political prisoners in the San Miguel Church in Masaya. In response to the strike, the Police cut off access to the Church, and cut off the electricity and water. In the end the International Red Cross were permitted to evacuate the participants. 16 young people who tried to pass water to the women were promptly arrested and the government has charged them with illegal possession of weapons.

“If the Police enter, or I die, ring the bells”. The order of Fr. Edwin Román during the abduction of the Church of San Miguel

By Abixael Mogollón in La Prensa, Sunday Nov 30, 2019

[see original Spanish]

In this way the mothers of political prisoners survived the police siege in the St. Michael the Archangel Church in Masaya. Those abducted tell the details of those days of “hell.”

In the kitchen of the priest´s house in the San Miguel Arcángel Church in Masaya, the lawyer Yonarqui Martínez, looked at a bag of dog food, and thought about what she could do to cook it with a little rice and some spices. It is the last thing left in the small cupboard of Fr. Edwin Román. Hunger and above all dehydration had the 14 people who had spent more than a week under siege inside the Church on the verge of collapse.

In the end, Martínez abandoned her attempt to mix the little rice she had with the food of Patches, the dog who accompanied them in the closure. She left the bag of concentrate stored as a final alternative.

“Fr. Román was very weak and in the desperation we were at the point of eating dog food”, the human rights defender now recounts, who a few days ago was released from the hospital, but who still has serious impacts on her physical and psychological health after suffering the siege of the combined forces of the police and Orteguista mobs and paramilitaries.

“I was not going to participate in the strike”

In the morning of November 14th, they called Yonarqui Martínez to tell her that a group of mothers of political prisoners had started a hunger strike in the San Miguel church. The human rights defender was in Tipitapa , doing some errands. In the afternoon she went to Masaya as a show of solidarity with the women who were protesting.

From the first moment she noticed that across from the church there was a large deployment of police. Thanks to the fact that she could communicate with Fr. Román, he let her into the priest´s residence of the church.

At 3:00pm the priest celebrated mass nearly in the atrium, because several faithful tried to enter the church to participate in the Eucharist, but the police blocked them. After the celebration Martínez said good-by to the women who had started their strike. She tried to leave through the same back door of the priest´s house, but there were now police stationed outside there.

It was 5:00pm in the afternoon when the lawyer received a call from a local journalist who told her that she was not going to be able to leave the church because of the large deployment of police. The lawyer tried through the front door, and she faced the police.

“If you leave, you are going directly to jail or we are going to shoot you in the head”, one of the officers told her. So it was that she realized that there was no turning back, and that she had just been abducted by the Orteguita Police. Since October 20 Martínez had been receiving medical treatment for several illnesses. It did not matter.

Around 6:30pm they cut off the electric to the San Miguel Church. Out of instinct, the mothers ran to gather water as soon as the crew showed up. That same afternoon they also cut off the water service.

“It was the moment they cut the light. We ran to fill a barrel, buckets, pots and jugs of water. We were able to collect a little, which is what kept us alive for the first days”, recalled Diana Lacayo, one of the mothers who participated in the protest.

The First Night

No one slept inside the San Miguel Church November 14th. Once night fell, the police began to beat and scratch on the doors, insulting the people who were inside and threatening them with death.

“When you smell the stench, it is because all these whores have died”, shouted the police. Left abducted inside the Church were Fr. Edwin Román, the lawyer Yonarqui Martínez, the former prisoner Marlon Powell, Flor Ramírez, Martha Alvarado, Wilber Calero, Cinthya López, Flor Rivera, Hazel Palacios, Karen Lacayo, Suleyka Sánchez, Diana Lacayo, María Gómez and Luisa Guevara.

Powell was the first one who heard when a group of members of the White and Blue National Unity arrived, along with several human rights activists, to try to leave them water. It was nearly impossible.

There were only a few bottles and they were able to pass them through the windows of the church. The mothers and Fr. Román himself insisted that the youth should leave the surrounding area of the Church, due to the fact that they ran the risk of being detained by the paramilitaries or the police.

At last the youth left the recipients of water outside the church, water that later was dumped out by the Police in front of the church, as a sign of derision. That night 16 of those young people were arrested, those who now are accused of illegal possession of weapons, among other supposed crimes.

The siege continued the entire night. Within the church, Fr. Román told the mothers that the only thing left was to hope and pray.

Rationing

By dawn on November 15th, San Miguel was surrounded by police who had cordoned off the surrounding blocks. The mothers now had spent 12 hours fasting. But Fr. Román, his sacristan, the lawyer Martínez and Marlon Powell were not part of the hunger strike. Which is why they decided to see what food was available.

From the beginning the priest clarified for them that he did not have a large amount of provisions in his cupboard, but that the little he had, he was going to share with them. A couple bags of rice, some spaghetti, a pineapple, some cans of sardines, oil, spices, an egg, some flour and sugar. The essentials for a single man to survive for several days.

After counting up what they had, the lawyer Martínez offered to ration the food. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the food of Patches, the dog who accompanied Fr. Román in the priest´s house.

The diet of those days consisted in those few foods. Yonarqui managed to make a fruit drink with the only pineapple that the priest had; she made a pineapple chicha by soaking the rind, and with the leftover, she made rice with pineapple.

“I do not know how I did it, but one day with half a pound of flour and one egg I made manuelitas[1] for the priest and the boys”, commented the lawyer. When there was only some rice left, she decided to join the hunger strike so that Fr. Román might have something to eat.

With the water it was worse. The three men used one of the bathrooms of the priest´s house, while the women used another one close to the church. The bathrooms were used all day and night. Not until the following morning would they dump some water in them to partially flush them.

The afternoon went fast that second day in San Miguel. The siege was less in the hours when the sun was the hottest, but by nightfall they knew the worst was coming.

By order of the priest they placed the benches against the principal door of the church, and they blocked the entrance to the priest´s house with the little car of the priest. The same car where they were able to partly charge the cell phones, to try to maintain contact with the outside world.

The sacristan climbed up the bell tower and tied a rope that he dropped to the area close to the tabernacle, where the mothers slept on the floor. “If the Police enter, or I die, ring the bells”, Fr. Román told them.

The Police took over the homes around the church and from there began to try to enter San Miguel. The owner of the house that is up against the back wall of the church, an 80 year old woman, began screaming in terror when uniformed police entered by force. They assigned an officer to follow her everywhere. They put up a ladder next to the church and from there spied on the mothers.

“Patches alerted us each time the masked men peeked in, the poor thing would bark and get desperate”, said Martha Alvarado, the mother of a political prisoner. She ran to put up curtains in that area of the patio of the priest´s house, so that the uniformed police were not able to see inside the church.

“They sent drones in on us at night, we would see and hear them”, stated Diana Lacayo.

The shouts in the middle of the night

It was a hard weekend for Fr. Edwin Román and the mothers, but they were on the verge of experiencing something even worse. In the morning of Monday, November 18th they opened the windows for a moment to see how things were in the street. The panorama was desolate. Only police and some people who dared to pass by the police line on foot. Masayans tried to get food, water, oral rehydration fluids to them, but it was impossible.

“A woman tried to bring ice with the priest´s insulin, but they took it away from her. Other young people shouted at us to continue resisting, that they would bring food, but they were not able to. Others brought drums and encouraged us from afar”, recounted Marlon Powell about that day that hours later would leave him profoundly affected.

The afternoon came. The inside of the San Miguel church seemed like a monastery. Those who were not on the hunger strike were fasting, when they ate, it was the minimum necessary, and they prayed the entire day.

On the advice of the priest they did the canonical hours or prayers. Laudes at dawn, Nones or holy hour at 3pm, Vespers at sundown and Complin before the evening harassment.

At midnight exactly loud shouting could be heard at the entrance to San Miguel. There were several people there.

“I am your wife! Leave the church. They are not going to do nothing to you. Let´s go home”, was heard. And the same pleading shout was repeated, but on the part of a mother to her son. The Orteguista Police had taken by force several family members of the people in the San Miguel church to try to get them to open the doors of the church. One of those people was the wife of Powell.

Inside, Fr. Román calmed the relatives. “Do not answer them, it is a trap”, he told them while the crying relatives hugged one another. They spent their time like this until the early morning when finally the police, that had deployed and were awaiting to arrest them, went back to their siege.

“The priest is going to die”

By November 20th there was no longer anything to eat, and almost no water. Some nights before a heavy rain had fallen that served to gather some water and also to partially bathe.

“That was a gift from heaven. All of us ran to gather water and bathe”, said Martha Alvarado, smiling. After the downpour the priest opened up some boxes of donated clothing that he had received, and told them to take what they want, in addition in order to encourage them, he opened another box where days before he had received toys for the children of his parish, and he told the women to take something to their grandchildren and their small children.

“Fr. Edwin Román is a good man. It was not possible that he would die on us in those circumstances. He fed us, he clothed us, he opened the doors of the church and he took care of us”, said Yonarqui Martínez nearly murmuring, with her voice breaking.

November 21st and 22nd no one ate no drank in San Miguel Church. The day before was when Yonarqui Martínez thought about cooking the last handful of rice that was left, combined with the food of the watchdog. The priest spent those two days in bed; which is why the mothers, on seeing him so weak, decided to talk to him and suspend the protest. Even though in the beginning he resisted, they finally ended up convincing him.

After a couple of calls to several priests, among them Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, two ambulances and two pickup trucks were sent to San Miguel to remove the mothers of the political prisoners and the priest.

Tears took over all the people inside the church when they saw the ambulances arrive. The Police withdrew, the mobs quit the siege, and even the very commissioner himself, Ramón Avellán, who was in charge of the operation  the entire time, left the surroundings of the church.

“Are we going to do this again? Of course, and we are going to continue holding protests until we see our children in freedom”, stated firmly Martha Alvarado.

Hunger strike in La Modelo

This past November 14th in the morning, after the group of mothers began their hunger strike demanding the freedom of their children, they transferred the political prisoner Melkissedex López to isolation in the La Modelo jail. Inside the San Miguel Church were his spouse Luisa Guevara and his mother Martha Alvarado.

“The guards told me that they were going to move me from the cell in case there was an uprising”, Melkissedex told his mother, referring to the more than one hundred political prisoners who are still in La Modelo.

The issue of experiencing hunger is not new for Martha. She is about to have spent a year feeling every day that heavy sensation of emptiness in her stomach that is produced by lack of food.

“I was accustomed to it. Since they kidnapped my son in December of last year, I walk around in the street broke, in meetings, picketing, protests and at times I did not even have bus fare”, she confessed one day after leaving the Vivian Pellas Hospital.

She realized that her son was in isolation when she left San Miguel and went to visit him in La Modelo. She found him emaciated and more concerned than ever.

When Melkissedex became aware that his mother and wife were surrounded by riot police in a church in Masaya on a hunger strike, he decided that he too would quit eating. It was the way in which he could feel closer to them while being cut off from communication with the outside world.

Melkissedex asked his mother to quit protesting and to work on taking care of her health. “Don´t ask that of me”, she responded.

In La Modelo she had time to tell him about some of the details of her ordeal in the church, which was the focus of the world for several days, and how prepared psychologically these women were for what would become eight nights of terror.

[1] Nicaraguan dish similar to pancake, sprinkled with cinnamon and cheese, then rolled up and served.

The Two Catholic Churches of Nicaragua

A debate has emerged within Nicaragua, on social media and more traditional outlets, on the role of the Church currently. The most recent trigger was the guarded response of Cardinal Brenes to the siege of St. Michael the Archangel parish in Masaya, where the pastor opened the church to Mothers of Political Prisoners who were holding a hunger strike. The reaction of the government was to send truckloads of heavily armed police, block access to the area for 8 days, cut off their light and water, and arrest 13 people who brought them bottled water, and charge them with transporting weapons. The Cardinal was asked to intervene publicly on their behalf and clearly denounce the response of the government. This article comes out of that context.

The Two Catholic Churches of Nicaragua

By José Luis Rocha

November 18, 2019 published in Confidencial

[original Spanish]

The calculating one or the prophetic one. The Church fearful of the FSLN, and the one that opens their temples to peaceful resistance.

The Church is casta meretrix– saint and sinner, chaste and prostitute – many theologians remind us. It doesn´t matter whether Saint Ambrose of Milan meant to give that meaning to the expression that he coined in the IV century, but rather to point out that the Church remains holy even though it welcomes sinners. The fact is that from its first steps the Catholic Church has had this dual nature. Schizophrenic, if you will. The two-faced nature intensified its differences with the institutionalization of Catholicism when, after the conversion of Emperor Constantine, empire and church were merged and blended, resulting in a hierarchy, political division, protocols, symbols of power and formulas that were absorbed as its own, which is why it began being a small religious sect, an insignificant division within the Judaic creed, and nevertheless survived thousands of years beyond the empire that it mimicked.

Since then the most visible elements of Catholicism harbor contrasts that, if they did not exist in reality and were repeated in each century, could be taken as delusions of novelists with runaway imaginations. How can you reconcile the fact that Saint Francis of Assisi belonged to the same institution as Cardinals with extravagant lives and outrageous luxury? There are many other examples. Saint Theresa closing loose-living convents that lodged her in stables to take their predictable revenge. The Brazilian Bishop Helder Cámara preaching against the military, and the spiral of violence in Latin America strewn with chaplains of murderous armies. The current Church has a Cardinal Bernard Law who did not renounce trips in his private plane, not even after his diocese and others had to pay millions to the victims of pedophile priests which he concealed for decades. But it had and has Alejandro Solalinde, the24/7 apostle of migrants, who washes their clothing and bathes in a bucket to be more like the people and more human.

A high point for that prophetic church were the six Jesuits murdered thirty years ago, on November 16, 1989. They paid the price of their commitment when their lives were cut down on the verge of the peace that they struggled for, and without seeing a glimpse of the justice that inspired their writings and homilies. Ignacio Ellacuría, from the presidency of the UCA in El Salvador, made that university a platform for denouncement with a beneficial influence on politics that his successors have kept strong. The Jesuits were assassinated by the elite Atlacatl Battalion. The Government tried to make it appear that the guerrillas had killed them, which would have ended up being credible to a certain extent, because their criticisms also were directed at the guerrillas, even though much more toward an Army who greater responsibility in the war crimes was established by the Truth Commission.

The civic rebellion that began in Nicaragua on April 18, 2018 and that continues in a tireless struggle has been a challenge for all sectors of the citizenry. It has been so for the Catholic Church, whose moral integrity was put to the test, and whose two-faced nature was laid bare once more to the faithful and all Nicaraguans and the world. Thus appeared a venal Church, that pulls out a calculator to add and multiply, and that does not want to return to the lean times when the State was less generous in subsidies to maintain the churches and works of charity, and in awarding public posts to family members of high and medium level clerics. Or maybe this is also a Church fearful that the FSLN would make their little dirty acts and large sexual and financial dirty acts public. Or maybe it remains mute because its members aspire to an ecclesiastical career, and are waiting for the not always clear and at times oscillating signs from the Vatican, in order to know on which side to place itself without putting at risk future promotions, prelatures and other perks.

But there is also another very different Church. The one that risked its life placing itself in front of the people in demonstrations and protecting them from police and paramilitary harassment. That church continues opening its temples to peaceful resistance and making their pulpits tribunals of denouncement, in the best tradition of the prophets Samuel and Isaiah, Simone Weil and Edith Stein, Oscar Arnulfo Romero and Pedro Casaldáliga, always against power, putting their lives at risk.

This Church is not calculating. It lets itself be taken by the wind of the spirit, that passes as a soft breeze over the victims and the underprivileged of this world. It is the church of charism, not of power. In the end it is the Church of Jesus Christ, who did not think about founding any church and never calculated, did not have assets to defend, nor left behind a history of scandal. And he did not care whether he earned a terrible reputation as a drinker and big eater for enjoying his friends when he could.

On one side is a Church which has the Archbishop of Managua Leopoldo Brenes at its head. A prophetic phrase has never come out of his mouth, nor does it seem it ever will. Disorganized ideas spring out, destined to confuse the common people. Brenes is not stupid, but he thinks the people are, and he considers them so stupid as to take his gibberish as pious phrases, or even as expressions that imitate that vaporous complexity unique to theology books. He never makes a direct denouncement, but through phrases that mean to be enigmatic. When it is assumed that he condemns an act, his Archbishop´s office issues a press release that speaks about him in the third person, each time with more confrontative phrases and tones with the Ortega regime, but never with his own thundering voice that might echo the laments of the victims and match the urgency and definition that the situation requires. No Orteguista will tell him that he said what he should not have said, because it is always more what he says by what he doesn´t say. The Nuncio Waldemar Sommertag accompanies him in his disdain for the Nicaraguan people. Swirling his luxurious cassock, for months he strutted as the missing link between La Modelo [prison] and El Carmen [home and office of Daniel Ortega] and earned himself the title of the Great Prison Freer Panjandrum, which the texted gossips assigned him as a disgraceful nickname. The number of prisoners continues to increase and, according to what is seen and heard, the Nuncio has lost his liberational gifts and fallen into a suspicious – hopefully not ominous – muteness.

Many partners accompany him. Those concerned with little things, as one of my aunts would say. And not because they are less capable than those mentioned, but because they have not been successful in occupying responsibilities in accordance with their level of corruption, even if they be bishops, like Vivas and Sándigo[1]. Not even the papacy would lift them to that level.

On the other side of the street is the other Church. Both are diverse. But there is more charisma than power in this other one. The Bishop of Estelí, Abelardo Mata, stands out among its leaders. His frugal ways are not able to hide a solid education. He knows how to communicate with the people and does not underestimate them. He listens to them and takes their cries very seriously. They have an impact on him, and they move him to act. I suspect that I do not agree with him on many views, but it is impossible to not respect and tout his courage, dedication and clarity. In this Church is the Bishop of Matagalpa, Rolando Álvarez, and the pastor Edwin Román who stands out with even more audacity, who every day outdoes himself. When it seems like he has reached the peak of his commitment, he adds another breathtaking action. It was not enough for him to receive ten mothers of political prisoners in his parish. He joined their hunger strike, in spite of his diabetes and the police harassment. The Nuncio did not make a statement about this Church. He discredited it by legitimizing a fake-dialogue with his attendance, which this Church denounced and in which it refused to participate. His reputation sank into an abyss when not even the most obliging sectors went to the extremes that the Nuncio did, always with an easy smile for the Orteguista operators, and a sour face for independent journalists.

On which side is the Auxiliary Bishop of Managua Silvio Báez? Among the rebels he is the most popular of the bishops. But he is subjected to the institutionality of a Church that is not one, but holy and sinful. I do not know how his role will be seen from his Roman exile. From there I see him tweeting again and again, maybe seated under the dome of St. Peter, maintaining his opposition to Ortega. And that is very well. But I have a twinge of doubt, and I am beginning to suspect that there is more than one hidden reason for his abrupt departure from Nicaragua. It is clear that he had to protect his life, and that Sommertag was the Salome who served his head on a platter. Is there another reason? For better – or worse – the Vatican Inc wanted to prepare itself for the eventuality that Ortega would fall and have ready a chess piece with good credentials who would represent it when the opposition came to power, and whose presence alone in the refurbished hierarchy might suggest to the faithful that the Brenes/Sommertag combination did not represent Catholicism, but the good Silvio Báez. Time will tell how much of that is true. It would be better not to wait so long. One word from Jorge Bergoglio[2] right now would be enough to let us know which of the two Churches is making the decisions in Rome: the calculating one or the prophetic one. 

[1] Retired bishop of León and his replacement, respectively

[2] aka Pope Francis

The UCA, the heart of the university protest against the Ortega Murillo dictatorship in Nicaragua

The UCA, the heart of the university protest against the Ortega Murillo dictatorship in Nicaragua

By José Adán Silva, La Prensa, November 24, 2019

[original Spanish]

The UCA is considered the only place in Nicaragua where protests actions and marches against the Ortega Murillo dictatorship remain alive.

A gate of iron bars, subjected to an intense tug of war on both sides, separates rebellion from repression: the force that is pushing from the street is dressed in a uniform, bears firearms and wears boots.

They receive shouted orders and furiously brandish night sticks in the air, while the deafening noise of sirens and red and blue lights from dozens of patrol trucks grate on the atmosphere.

From the other side of the gate rebellion pushes with placards, white and blue balloons, flags of the same colors, slogans, shouts of ridicule and squirts of water.

Even though they cover their faces with masks and blue and white kerchiefs, their voices are left undisguised when they shout against the brute force on the other side of the gate, and they reveal themselves for what they are: young students demanding democracy.

UCA, Bastion of University Resistance

The scenario of the high-tension spectacle is the Central American University (UCA) in its southwest gate, in front of University Avenue, the prior scenario of university protests and massive marches that were repelled by bullets.

Every day and for more than 18 months dozens of police converge here at the service of the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega to intimidate the students, whose energy appears to be unending in the face of the recurring and disturbing scene of stark repression.

What does the UCA have that would make dozens of patrols of the political police of the regime, motorized forces, civilian para-police forces, fanatics of the dictatorship and even buses full of anti-riot police park in its surrounding area?

Against the “system of terror”

“We are the last site in Nicaragua where protest marches are still done against the dictatorship and its system of terror”, says under condition of anonymity for security reasons, one of the students of the student movement.

She participates in the marches, sit-ins, and expressions of internal protest against the abuses of the dictatorship that the old dictator Daniel Ortega leads, along with his wife Rosario Murillo, who in the face of the university vision is the owner and madam of the most visceral hate speeches ever seen in the political history of the country, and at the same time, the target of the scathing and cutting ridicule of young university humor.

Another of her fellow students, 19 years of age and a law student, still agitated by the last protest in the face of the police repression, explained that the police fury which has stalked them for months, has gotten worse since they opened in that Alma Mater the Museum of the Memory Against Impunity.

The museum, a monument to memory

The site to which the young student referred is a dramatic initiative of the Association of the Mothers of April (AMA), which with the institutional support of the university was installed in the building of the Institute of History of Nicaragua and Central America within the campus.

According to the formal explanation of the site, the museum was built with the principal objective of contributing to honor the victims of the State of Nicaragua beginning in April 2018 and their memory: “The museum challenges the official narrative that criminalizes the citizens who participated in the civic protests and the climate of impunity promoted by the government of Nicaragua”.

In the museum are found profiles of the victims of the state violence, as well as information and stories of the events, photos, audiovisual materials and several documents that allow one to appreciate the dimensions of the social protest context that under the orders of Ortega Murillo took the lives of 328 people, including students, police, workers, peasants and even boys and girls.

The “sins” of the UCA for the dictatorship

Nevertheless, for one of the few professors who dared to speak to La Prensa under condition of respecting their identity, because he was speaking without the institutional authorization to do so, the rage and fury of the regime against the UCA comes from before April 18th.

His thesis is that the UCA committed two actions that to the eyes of the dictatorship were “symbols of challenge and betrayal”.

“The first reason for the hate is that the UCA under the leadership of the Jesuits ended on campus the harmful influence of the Union of Students of Nicaragua, the armed wing of the Sandinista Front of National Liberation (FSLN), in most of the universities financed by the National Council of Universities (CNU)”, said the professor.

Seed of the 2018 protest

And the second reason, he interprets, happened in the context of the current crisis of repression that scourges the country from El Carmen.

The first protests against the forest fire in the Indio Maíz Reserve came from the UCA, and the first group of students who came out to protest on April 18th in Camino de Oriente, most of them were students from the UCA, “so that when the Police and Sandinista Youth attacked them, they ran for refuge into the campus, they chased them here and they attacked them with stones and mortar shots”.

They went out to protest in the afternoon, after that morning in León a demonstration of retired workers who were protesting against the Social Security reforms were clubbed by members of the UNEN [National Union of Students of Nicaragua].

So the UCA eliminated UNEN from its campus

Those scenes of both demonstrations under attack, transmitted by social media and the few independent channels that used to operate back then, ignited the social rage, and protests broke out that later the dictatorship crushed by force in the entire country, except in the UCA, where the tally of protests and actions of demands against the dictatorship are counted by the dozens.

Alfonso Malespín, a former-professor of the UCA for more than ten years, goes farther back in the history of the grudge of the FSLN against the UCA, and traced it back to the nineties, when Sandinism was in the opposition and was destabilizing the country through the UNEN in street battles over the budget of 6% for the universities of the CNU.

“In the years of President Xabier Gorostiaga leading the UCA (1991-1997) the university said that it would quit being the central garrison of the fight for the 6%. This implied a type of rupture with Daniel Ortega, who then was governing from below.”

The infamous figure of Jasser Martínez

“In those years, FSLN operators from the UCA directed the student movement. The position of the UCA was key, for being in the new center of Managua. Since then, the turbulence moved to the UNI”, explained Malespín, to later go back to the internal history that talks about how the Jesuits purged UNEN from their campus.

“After that, the University Student Council of the UCA (CEUUCA, the representative of the UNEN in the UCA), was corrupted, lost legitimacy and its impact on university life,” tells Malespín.

“The Jesuits pushed them out of the University Council, and then moved their office from pavilion J all the way to the back, where the UCA press used to be. After the CEUUCA led by Jasser Martínez (then an UCA student and later a deputy of the FSLN) took over the UCA at the beginning of the past decade (year 2000), the Jesuits made the decision to completely erase the corrupted CEUUCA”, recalled Malespín, who was a full time professor of the School of Communications on that campus.

Attempts by the FSLN to be based in the UCA

“With that the presence of the student movement directed by remote control from El Carmen was eliminated”, he explained.

Later, the leadership of the FSLN tried in different ways to position itself within the UCA, but they were unsuccessful.

“There were at least three attempts to revive the CEUUCA, but the great majority of the student body were not enthused at all. So it is that Jasser Martínez was the grave digger of the student movement of the UCA. Since then the FSLN lost influence through that path. They have tried to recover it through the Juventud Sandinista 19 de Julio, but it has not resulted in very good results,” analyzed Malespín.

The Siren songs of the FSLN

So, he says, the new attempt of cooptation began from above with a strategy of a friendly approach to the highest authority of the UCA.

“The UCA, like big business owners, had an extensive honeymoon with Daniel Ortega. Part of the well known political operators of the FSLN were professors in the UCA: Antenor Rosales (former president of the Central Bank), Francisco Rosales (Vice president of the Supreme Court), Edwin Castro (deputy and head of the FSLN bench in the National Assembly), Wálmaro Gutiérrez, dauphin of the FSLN in economic affairs…”, he recalled.

In addition, remembered Malespín, “most of the lawyers of the FSLN who later moved on to lead the courts, the Prosecutor´s office and high posts in the Police and the Army were trained in the UCA”.

A decade of silence that was broken in 2018

“The UCA was silenced for nearly a decade. What changed everything was the student explosion. The students pulled the president out of his accommodation bubble”.

“You have to remember that the current president (José Idiáqiuez), shortly after taking the post (2014), declared in La Prensa that they [student leaders] would not take the role that corresponded to politicians, and that the universities (the UCA, at least) would no longer be the general barracks of the ideological or political struggle”, remembered Malespín.

So, according to the former professor of that university, the honeymoon ended in 2018 “when the Jesuits saw the face of the monster in front of the UCA, attacking and killing people. May 30, 2018 is the watershed date that marks the end of that harmonious relationship between the UCA and Daniel Ortega.”

7 actions that turned the UCA into the principal bastion of protest against the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo

From its corridors came the first students who went to Camino de Oriente to protest on April 18, the first ones to be attacked and persecuted by the Orteguista police and mobs, and the UCA opened its gates to protect them.

The now destroyed principal access to the UCA served as an altar on April 27, 2018 to render public homage to the journalist, Ángel Gahona, murdered on April 20 of that year while he covered the protests in Bluefields. Since then, the UCA has honored the victims of the Orteguista repression.

From May 2018 to now the UCA has issued different press releases and other types of communications strongly and clearly condemning the repression on national and international levels, advocating for dialogue, defending democracy and protecting their students and teaching and administrative staff.

On May 30, 2018 the UCA opened its doors to protect the more than 5,000 demonstrators who sought refuge in the campus, after para police, police and mobs of the regime massacred by gunshot the March of the Mothers. The merciful action, and then the international denouncement of this crime, earned the president and Jesuit priest José Alberto Idiáquez death threats.

The denouncements and condemnations of the authorities of the UCA, and the protests of their students, netted the university a large budget cut of their part of the 6%. The voices of the Orteguista UNEN have been shouting since then to expel the UCA from the public budget.

The UCA is the only Nicaraguan university that has promoted works to keep alive the recent memory of the 2018 massacre so far, through different cultural events like the exposition of images of the repression and this year, the museum of the memory against impunity.

The UCA is the only university and Nicaraguan institution that keeps alive the peaceful protest actions inside and outside its campus, in spite of the overwhelming intimidation campaign against it. According to the tally of the student movement of that university, just this year 157 protest actions have been carried out: marches, proclamations, sit-ins, balloon releases, activist campaigns on social networks, paintings and other activities of rebellion.

The Catholic Church, on Daniel Ortega´s enemies list

In light of recent incidents were several parishes supporting mothers of political prisoners on hunger strikes were harassed and attacked by Sandinista supporters, the online news magazine nicaraguainvestiga did this report. Fr. Román and the mothers mentioned at the end of this article were evacuated from his church in Masaya on Nov 22nd, and were taken to the Vivian Pellas Hospital. 

The Catholic Church, on Daniel Ortega´s enemies list

Published in Nicaraguainvestiga.com Nov 18, 2019

[original Spanish version]

Looting, destruction, fires, death threats, physical aggression of priests and exile for others are some of the practices which have been directed against the Catholic Church in Nicaragua since the social conflict exploded in April 2018.

According to the “International Report on Religious Liberty”, published by the United States, the State of Nicaragua does not allow freedom of worship in the country. Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes has stated that the role of the church has been being “on the side of the victims”.

Some Catholic churches functioned as refuges for opposition demonstrators, and the bells of some churches were rung as a sign of warning each time that a city was attacked, above all in the provinces and small towns like Jinotepe and Masaya.

Likewise, some parishes were collection and medical attention centers in the face of the refusal of hospitals to treat wounded demonstrators. This is the case of the Cathedral of Managua that on April 20 sheltered dozens of youth who were fleeing the state repression, and which remained under siege and threatened in the religious compound for more than 20 hours.

In May 2018 the bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua (ECN) were witnesses and mediators to the National Dialogue, and one week after starting the National Dialogue, the ECN denounced death threats and the discrediting of bishops and priests, above all against Mons. Silvio José Báez who usually spoke strongly against the government of Ortega.

The ECN stated in their press release that the attacks were “from the Government, orchestrated by anonymous official journalists and communications media on Facebook and Twitter”.

Like the bishops, some priests denounced having individually been the object of threats and aggressions, like the pastor of the Santiago the Apostle Church in Jinotepe, Juan de Dios García, who denounced that in May 2018 he was the victim of death threats on the part of Sandinista sympathizers after having provided refuge to young demonstrators.

Mobs Attacked the Bishops in Diriamba

One of the actions that most caused condemnation among Nicaraguans happened on July 9, 2018 in the Minor Basilica of San Sebastian in Diriamba, when Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes along with Mons. Silvio Báez, the Apostolic Nuncio Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag and other priests of the Archdiocese of Managua, were attacked by Sandinista mobs.

The religious arrived due to the fact that there was a group of 12 demonstrators in the church who sought refuge inside the Church after Sandinista paramilitaries were found in the city carrying out Operation Cleanup, which consisted in violently removing the roadblocks with firearms. The Catholic authorities showed up there to mediate the departure of the demonstrators, but the paramilitaries along with the FSLN mobs attacked the religious. From the time the priests got out of their vehicles they were insulted by Sandinista mobs who shouted at them “Murderers, coup supporters, pedophiles” and they in turn shouted “we want peace.”

Mons. Báez was wounded in his right arm by a knife. “Attacked by an angry mob that wanted to enter the San Sebastian Basilica in Diriamba, I was wounded, hit in the stomach, they took my episcopal insignia from me, and verbally attacked me. I am fine thanks to God. The Basilica and those who were there were freed”, wrote Bishop Báez in his Twitter account. Days before the event the ex-Sandinista guerrilla Edén Pastora publicly threatened Báez with death, saying on an official television channel that “bullets pass through cassocks.”

After the attack, Cardinal Brenes stated to the communications media, “We have never seen situations like this in Nicaragua. Our word has been proclaimed, we were content in the midst of weaknesses, insults.” That same day in Jinotepe the Santiago Apostle Church was looted by Sandinista mobs who beat the priest Elías Hernández, broke religious statues, threw some objects that are used to celebrate the Eucharist into the street, and some medical items that are used to treat the wounded were set on fire. The  priest´s house was also destroyed by the mobs.

For her part, the Vice president Rosario Murillo stated in her midday speech that July 9th that the ECN had notified them of the visit that the bishops would make to Diriamba, and that they would be accompanied by the Nuncio. Likewise, Murillo justified the actions of her mobs and said, “we understand that those emotions and this suffering were expressed. We are sure that the Nuncio understands how they are expressed and precisely how we Christians give witness to how our feelings are expressed.”

According to the Canon Law expert Fr. Camilo Díaz, that action represented part “of the religious persecution whose objective is to silence the church” that has publicly denounced and condemned the repressive actions that the civilian population has suffered during the political crisis.

Armed attack against a parish

On July 13, 2018 the parish Divina Misericordia was attacked for more than 15 hours by officials of the National Police and paramilitaries, who had removed at bullet point the youth who were entrenched in the Autonomous National University of Nicaragua (UNAN) Managua, and decided to take refuge in the parish.

The spray of bullets can still be seen on the walls of the Church and the priest´s residence of the parish located in Villa Fontana, Managua. “It was a devastating attack, with high calibre weapons. Military type bullets that even caused large holes in the walls of the priests´ residence” said the pastor Raúl Zamora, who worked to get wounded youth out of the UNAN and take them to the church in his pickup truck so that they did not end up murdered.

In the early morning of July 14, after mediating with Daniel Ortega, Cardinal Brenes along with other bishops of the ECN were able to get the youth to leave the parish on two buses on route to the Cathedral of Managua. Two young people Gerald Vásquez and Francisco Flores were killed that night as a result of the armed attack.

Ongoing siege of parishes

In 2019, especially starting in April, Catholic Churches have been seen to be constantly under siege and attacked by Sandinista sympathizers every time that masses are celebrated in memory of the demonstrators who died because of the state repression.

The last case occurred on Sunday November 17 in Matagalpa, in a mass in memory of the ex political prisoner Eddy Montes, who died in the Jorge Navarro Penitentiary System known as “La Modelo”, after a guard shot him in the thorax.

During the mass in memory of Montes, Sandinista mobs threw stones and attacked the faithful and some demonstrators who showed up to shout slogans outside of the San Felipe de Molagüina church, which is why a large police presence also arrived to besiege the church.

Likewise this past June 15th, Sandinista mobs along with the National Police attacked and threw stones at the faithful who arrived at the mass in memory of the altar boy Sandor Dolmus in the Cathedral of León.

In the report of the US State Department on the state of religious liberty on the international level, it highlights that in Nicaragua religious leaders find themselves under “threats, intimidation and persecution”, and mentions that the Ortega government accused the Catholic Church of being “terrorist and mentally dangerous”.

On July 19, 2018 in a public speech Daniel Ortega accused the bishops of the ECN of being “committed to the coup supporters. They were part of the plan with the coup supporters” and called them “terrorists”.

“I know clearly who is behind the roadblocks, in other words, encouraging crimes that on principle, as Christians, as pastors they should be completely rejecting, any crime (…) It has nothing to do with Christians and they act with a terrorist, criminal mentality. They happily joined the terrorist and criminal coup”, declared Ortega in another speech in December of last year.

Recently Ortega said in another public speech about the bishops that “there are a few schizophrenic and whitened sepulchers who are part of the conspiracy (…) They want to crucify Nicaragua”.

Another aspect that the US report details is the political manipulation of religious festivals, like the celebration of San Jeronimo in Masaya in 2018, which the Catholic Church refused to celebrate out of respect for the grief of the families of the mortal victims of the repression.

“The clergy cancelled the traditional patron feasts to respect the grief of the families who lost their loved ones during the protests, and announced that in stead they would mark the occasion with a mass. The municipal government officials of the FSLN, along with the local police, ignored the decision of the clergy, and held a parade with a replica of the statue of the original patron saint. At a very loud volume they played a mixture of religious and party music outside of the church during the mass”, detailed the State Department report.

Bishop Abelardo Mata stated that “the government through the institution of the police and other similar groups has intensified the persecution of our faithful, terrorizing them by filming them, taking their pictures, verbal and physical attacks and besieging the churches in the midst of liturgical actions.”

For his part, Fr. Edwin Román, pastor of the San Miguel Arcángel Church of Masaya, said that “coming to the church to surround it and then arrest those who leave is unheard of. The faithful and we priests go to the parishs to celebrate mass, worship God, and the people come to pray for the dead, for those who were murdered. They are not bearing bombs, they do not bear weapons, they go to celebrate mass.”

Today Fr. Román remains detained in his own parish in Masaya along with a group of mothers of political prisoners who have declared themselves to be in a hunger strike to demand the liberation of their prisoners. The San Miguel Church, where the priest is located, remains under siege by the National Police who cordoned off the zone in at least a 2 block radius around it and are not allowing vehicular access.

They have also cut off the potable water and electric energy services. A group of activists approached the night of November 15th to try to leave water for the priest, but the officers prevented them from approaching and detained 13 people who were brought to trial this November 18th.

Meanwhile the priest and the mothers in the hunger strike, remain dehydrated, without electric energy, food, besieged and harassed by the National Police and Sandinista mobs who threaten to “enter at any moment” and make an attempt on the life of the priest and the rest of the people.

 

 

What opposition, and what changes?

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. 

 What opposition, and what changes?

By Harley Morales-Pon and Juan Carlos Márquez

November 6, 2019 in Confidencial

[original Spanish]

 

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.

The explosion

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.

Message of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Managua, No. 2

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

[original Spanish version]

 

To the Catholic faithful and people of good will.

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

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

 

The Rebirth of Militarism and its Devotees

This article addresses the contentious issue of the role of the military in the current crisis, an important player that receives scant attention.

The Rebirth of Militarism and its Devotees

By José Luis Rocha

Published in Confidencial, October 7, 2019

[original Spanish version]

 

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

[original Spanish]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[He then welcomes the ambassadors of Austria and Namibia]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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