Open Letter to the Left from the Left: Nicaragua and the responsibility of the Left

This is a statement signed by hundreds of people from the left in Spain and Europe that criticizes the left that continues to support Ortega.

Open Letter to the Left from the Left

Nicaragua and the responsibility of the Left

Hundreds of people, including deputies from Podemos, IU and PSOE in Spain, Spanish and British professors and doctors, sign the pronouncement.

Published in Confidencial on Sept 7, 2018

In 1979 the Sandinista Revolution brought an end to decades of tyranny and Yankee interventionism in Nicaragua, starting a fruitful period of justice and social progress, that won the admiration and solidarity of the Left on a global scale, mobilizing thousands of internationalists in its defense and support. The FSLN (Sandinista Front for National Liberation) was the organization that led this process, and Daniel Ortega their highest representative.

For that reason there are those who from the left maintain that criticizing the FSLN and Ortega at this moment would only serve to open fissures in the face of imperialism, the revolutionary thing being to entrench oneself in a narrative appropriate of the 80s, sidestepping a condemnation of the Ortega government. Meanwhile murders, kidnappings…State terrorism are happening there.

The debate in the heart of the left should be supported on cross-checked data based on the many direct testimonies that come from Nicaragua, beginning with the protagonists of the struggles, and followed by the reports of human rights organizations. Only in this way will we avoid fulfilling the prophecy that whatever comes after Ortega will be worse, because who is going to trust in a left that refuses to denounce the barbarism, that for 10 years were not interested in Nicaragua, and in the eleventh hour is quiet and stutters in the face of the barbarism?

For this debate we the signers bring forward our position in a synthesized form:


  1. The FSLN entered into a process of decay since the loss of power in the year 1990 with the famous “piñata”, which entailed years later the spin off of the MRS- Movement for Sandinista Renovation- persecuted and finally proscribed by the Ortega-Murillo government.
  2. The recovery of power by the FSLN in the year 2006 reflected the depth of the Sandinista sentiment among the population, but their “socialist, Christian and solidarity” program entailed the abandonment of all intention of social transformation. The recovery of power was based on the alliance with the most reactionary church of Cardinal Obando, the anti-constitutional and anti-democratic pact with the corrupt right of Arnoldo Alemán, and the flirtation of the new bourgeoise of the FSLN suckled by Ortega with COSEP [the Superior Council of Private Enterprise].

2.1 This alliance of Orteguism with the church and the economic powers never deserved much interest for many analysts of the European left. Now, in contrast, when the ecclesiastical leadership is opposed to the government, some see it as a sign of the revolutionary character of Ortega. Likewise, the fact that the high Nicaraguan bourgeoise is looking for an arrangement independently from Orteguism would indicate the anticapitalist character of the program of government. That does not suppose any contradiction with the fact that the Ortega-Murillo family might be one of the richest families of the Nicaraguan economy.

2.2 The official discourse in these twelve years of despotic power continued the anti-imperialist rhetoric, at the same time that, in practice, on the one hand US companies have been able to extract the resources that they have wanted from the country, and the IMF has comfortably imposed its neoliberal policies.

2.3 In terms of the situation of women in Orteguism, the decision of the FSLN turns out to be especially serious, in its opportunistic rapprochement with the ecclesial hierarchy, to promote the abolishment in 2006 of the right to a therapeutic abortion, in effect in the country since 1837, which became prohibited even in the cases of danger to the life of the mother, where the pregnancy is the result of rape, in the face of serious deformities of the fetus, etc. Later reports from human rights organizations and organizations that defend women and children have warned of the dramatic consequences that this legislation is having on a country with a high rate of violence against women, rape and forced marriages of adolescent women.

  1. The reality is that the ideological drift of the Ortega regime toward evangelical esotericism, as well as and especially their social and economic policy, have been consistently conservative and anti-democratic, no matter how much it was eventually seasoned with paternalistic and charity programs financed with Venezuelan resources, as long as they were flowing into the country. The characterization of a regime as leftist, or progressive, cannot be sustained on its rhetoric, but on its deeds; a camarilla that violates rights and freedoms, that holds on to power, that negotiates with the resources and sovereignty of the country, that enriches itself and fills all the crevices of political, media and economic power with relatives and friends, that finances, arms and mobilizes paramilitary groups to sow terror among the population…is not a regime of the left nor is it progressive.


  1. The popular uprising of the last three months has been led by young students, who were joined by people from popular neighborhoods, a spontaneous, self-convened and peaceful uprising, fruit of the discontent incubated over a long period, and without a political leadership nor a program for change.

4.1 This uprising was preceded by two years of peasant struggles against the transoceanic canal and other extractive projects, peasant struggles supported by urban and ecological sectors. The canal project, principal catalyzer of the opposition, is a faithful image of a policy that bets on mega-projects of a decadent capitalism, independent of any ecological, social, economic or even mercantile consideration.

4.2 In fact, the first detonator of this popular uprising were the protests, above all student led, over the inaction of the government in the face of a prolonged fire in the Indio-Maíz natural reserve. After the later explosion (let us insist on its peaceful character) over the pensions, the government has entered into a spiral of State terrorism using its police forces as well as its aligned militant groups and bands of armed and financed fringe elements.

  1. Apparently with the rebellion quelled at bullet point, after nearly 400 killed, hundreds of peoples arrested and disappeared and thousands of people wounded, in these moments the Ortega-Murillo government is using a selective and more discrete repression, but likewise arbitrary, of the dissidence: roundups, purges (by mid August according to Human Rights Watch 135 doctors had been fired), processing…The continuity of the repression is blocking the path of the national dialogue to which the government had committed itself.


  1. The left of the Spanish state has not expressed, in general, a clear position in the face of the Nicaraguan situation. The political leaders are quiet while at the second level some texts and press releases are written that call the grassroots to not allow themselves to be captured by international manipulation to weaken the bastion of the Latin American left. It seems that his anti-imperialist discourse is enough to continue considering Ortega “one of ours”, a criteria that reminds one of Roosevelt in his relationship with Somoza (“he is our son of a bitch”), and that involves renouncing political principles in favor of a mafia, caste or sect complicity.

6.1 Some pro Ortega-Murillo positions have been disseminated based on reasoning that is as simple as distant it is from reality and the values of the left. Some extreme examples are: “The empire against Nicaragua” (June 10, 2018) signed by the Director of International Relations of the PCE; “On Nicaragua and feminism” (July 10, 2018), press release of the feminism area of the PCE.

6.2 At the same time, the denouncements of old Sandinista reference points are silenced or ignored, like Ernesto Cardenal, Gioconda Belli, Sergio Ramírez, Dora María Téllez, Mónica Baltodano, Henry Ruiz or Edmundo Jarquín, just to cite some examples, all of them participants in the anti Somocista struggles and insurrection, and from the first revolutionary government presided by Daniel Ortega, as well as the great majority of the representatives of culture, like Carlos Tunnermann, Alejandro Serrano Caldera, the Mejía Godoy brothers…Have all these people been bought by the CIA or have they succumbed to the imperialist logic?

6.3 Also in many cases the testimonies of the direct protagonists in the struggles are ignored or discredited. It is the case of the Nicaraguan students who have traveled across Europe tyo explain the situation in that country (Caravana Informativa de la Solidaridad Internacional para Nicaragua), certainly having the support of representatives of Nicaraguan immigrants who obviously are living those events with particular intensity and proximity. It is just to recognize in this respect the support to the Nicaraguans of some formations of the field of the left in our country, like the UGT and CCOO unions in Madrid.

  1. The Nicaraguan issue is not a political anecdote, it is a cornerstone on which to demonstrate our commitment to those values that precisely define the progressive and leftist camps, as elemental as democracy, human rights, social justice and the defense of the planet. A left that does not know how to read the reality in these terms, and that in the face of truth chooses rhetorical loyalty to some corrupt acronyms and caste complicity will not have any authority to make proposals.
  2. As is logical, the Nicaraguan right and their international allies take advantage of the popular disaffection toward the regime to prepare their return to power without Orteguista intermediaries. If a good part of the international left, and the Spanish left in particular, do not do anything in relation to the current just democratic struggles in Nicaragua and in defense of the population that is demonstrating unarmed in the face of state repression, it should not be strange that this spontaneous process might be an open field for opportunists and rightists.
  3. We should recognize and celebrate, aside from this, that not all the left has shown itself to be dogmatic and insensitive to these events. One example among many others, is the “Urgent Declaration for Nicaragua” from July 17th, signed by Latin American intellectuals and activists, from which we take this sentence: There is no worse imperialism than the internal colonialism that becomes oppressive violence dressed in anti-imperialistic rhetoric.

Madrid, September 7, 2018


José R. González Parada,

Luis Suárez-Carreño,

See signers here: la carta original aquí.




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