Speech of Daniel Ortega on the 85th anniversary of the death of Augusto Sandino

This is an important speech because in it Daniel Ortega announces the renewal of the National Dialogue, and provides his perspective on it. As is his custom, his speech touches on many international issues. He also makes reference to the controversial tax reform that has been sent to the National Assembly for urgent approval. But toward the end he refers to the meeting he had with 5 of the wealthiest Nicaraguan businessmen to renew the dialogue (capitals are in the original Spanish text).

Speech of Daniel Ortega on the 85th anniversary of the death of Augusto Sandino, Feb 21, 2019 published in El 19 Digital, official website of FSLN.

Brother and Sister Nicaraguans; Family of our General of Free Men and Women, Augusto César Sandino…[greetings to different people follow]

All our Love, all our Affection from the People of Darío, the People of Sandino, to the People of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela that today are waging, once again, a Fight for Peace! This our Brother, the Constitutional President Nicolás Maduro, has expressed with complete clarity: Fight for Peace! fight for Sovereignty, fight for Independence!

The Fight for Peace is a Commitment that has its bases in the Spirit and Conviction of our Latin American and Caribbean Peoples, which is their Commitment to Peace. And that is how we left it written, all the countries, all the Peoples, all the Latin American and Caribbean Governments. They are there in their Principles, in their Pillars.

All of the Latin American and Caribbean is one Region, a Zone of Peace! This is what we said, this is what we committed to, this we swear to, this we ratify today on the 85th Anniversary of our General of Free Men. And Peace will have to be defended, and Peace will finally triumph, beyond the threats, because I am convinced, and all the Latin American and Caribbean Governments has thus said, in this we are unanimous, beyond the differences, where they would not allow, do not support an intervention, a military aggression against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Likewise have spoken the Countries of the European Community. Beyond the differences, beyond their political positions, they have said it with complete clarity. The differences do not mean that they would be in favor of intervention, of war; but that there is an agreement: it has to be worked on, initiatives have to be developed within the Constitutional Framework of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and Peaceful Initiatives, to find a solution through a peaceful means. This is how it has been left reported, and all of us hope, all of us desire that the threat can be transcended, that the attempts to want to turn the Region into a Region of warlike conflict be transcended, and that in the end Peace is going to prevail.

For our People, for the Nicaraguan Families, our recognition for the way in which they have been facing the challenges that the Coup attempt left us. Not just the irreplaceable loss of Human Lives, but also the damage to the infrastructure of Hospitals, Schools, Homes…how much damage! The damages to the Economy, to Jobs. With this criminal action they threw many Nicaraguan Brothers and Sisters into unemployment; they affected the foundation of our Economy that had sustainable growth in an uninterrupted way, growth that was between 4.5 and 5%. As we were attacking Extreme Poverty, reducing it, and reducing Poverty, carrying out Health Care Programs, Education, all to the Benefit of the Poor who are the majority of our Country, all to the benefit of the Workers, the Working People, all to the Benefit of peasants, to the Benefit of Youth, to the Benefit of women.

How many programs that were moving ahead, that were being multiplied, and the tenacity of the Nicaraguan People winning the respect of the International Community, and the International Community contributing Resources, Projects, Programs to the Benefit of Nicaraguan Families, and to the Benefit of Communities, Villages, Municipalities. And how grateful we are for that Aid, that Unconditional Solidarity that you have offered and continue offering, you Brother Peoples to the Nicaraguan People.

The Coup was so hard in the economic terrain, in the economic sphere that it led us to have to discuss, debate in the National Assembly, and opening the discussion to the different Economic and Social Sectors, from the Smallest to the Largest, so that they might contribute their ideas, their Proposals to the Tax Reform.

A Tax Reform that bears the objective to seek how to raise, in an extraordinary situation, the basic resources to maintain the Health Programs, so that the Hospitals do not close; to maintain the Schools, the Education Programs, and that the Schools do not close; to ensure Basic Services for the Population; to inject through different Programs greater strength in what is the Entrepreneurial Spirit of Nicaraguans.

Because the Brothers and Sisters who were left unemployed did not stay  seated along the sidewalk, but immediately an entrepreneur was born there. Because all of us have the potential to undertake the most diverse tasks, the most diverse activities, and these initiatives have multiplied, which give rise to the fact that Productive Activities from below are being strengthened, while the medium and large Sectors that were affected, also are looking for a way to strengthen themselves, and that, uniting efforts, all of us Nicaraguans can take up again the Path that we were walking at a good pace, that we might take it up again, that we can open again this Path of Security, Well-being for Nicaraguan Families.

This is the Battle for today, and this we all know. This is the Fight today and we are all committed to this Fight, and in this fight, of course, the Example of our General Sandino inspires us, because it is a Fight for Sovereignty, it is a Fight for Self Determination, it is a Fight for the Well-being of Nicaraguan Families.

Because we know well that the Thinking and Program of Struggle of our General Sandino did not just propose the defense of the National Territory and Sovereignty in the face of the foreign invasion to the point of expelling it, but that it also involved Social order Programs, and a very big emphasis on Programs to Benefit Peasants, Craftspeople, what was the economically active population in those years, in that time.

And as a good son of Bolivar, he also demanded the Supreme Dream of Bolivar, and he expressed it well, that he presented well in his Document written there in the Segovias, where he presented the Plan for making a reality the Supreme Dream of Bolivar. In other words, the Unity of the Latin American and Caribbean Peoples. That is how he reflected it, that is how our General Sandino raised it up.

We know that we are immersed in a Fight where expansionist interests are always moving, always interests are moving for which there are no borders, and they think that borders constantly have to be defined by the force of military might. Still, in spite of the fact that the World has advanced in terms of Plurality, in the Economic Order, in Trade, and in the Military Order, there are also those who resist understanding that the World for a good while now has ceased to be Unipolar, that Planet Earth cannot be dominated and subjected to any empire.

Those times have now been left behind, and now other Economic Forces were configured, other Political Forces were configured, other Cultural Forces were configured, they have now been empowered, and we are now facing what is the emergence of the Multipolar world, which is emerging, developing and is going to be established.

Previously it was one Power. After what was the disappearance of the Soviet Union, only one Power was left, the US power, and at that time it could have been thought: well, now the World has become completely Unipolar, the entire world moves subjected to the might of the US Power. But beyond the existence of those two blocks, which was the Soviet Union and the United States, already being configured, already being developed were other Economic Forces, other Social Forces, other Countries, other Nations, and that is what we have now on our Planet, and that is what has to be established and what will finally come to ensure and affirm Peace in our Planet.

In this Region we have the possibility of developing and strengthening a Power, without atomic weapons. Because by Principle and Commitment, we Latin American and Caribbeans have in the Tlatelolco Treaty the commitment from that time: No nuclear weapons! Our weapons have to do with the enormous Wealth that our Nations have in Latin America and the Caribbean; the first Wealth, the People! People with Identity, Hardworking People, Creative People, with a lot of creativity, Entrepreneurial People, Fighting People, and then the Natural Resources of the entire Region.

That is why Rubén [Darío] used to say, and then Sandino, “Latin America and the Caribbean United!” Not to wage war against anyone. Not to turn us into a Power to go fight over Territories and the dominion of other Areas, but to eradicate Poverty from our entire Region, and develop Well-being, develop Health Care, develop Education, develop Culture, Technology.

Everything that today is in the hands of the Developed World, develop it here in our Latin American and Caribbean Region, and here, all united, of course we turn ourselves into a great Power. A Power for Peace, a Power for being brothers and sisters with other People, with other Nations, to put into practice as well the Principle of Solidarity, which is a Principle that is in Human Nature.

Meanwhile, here we continue struggling to defend Peace and ward off the threats that always exist in the World, of provoking acts of violence, or Terrorism; or acts of violence like those that we see every day in other Nations.

In the very United States of America, how many acts of violence! How many deaths! And it does not make us happy, it hurts us, because we are also Brothers and Sisters of the US People. We are not enemies of the US People, we are Brothers of the US People! Our General Sandino was not an enemy of the US people, this is what he said and wrote, he left proof: Brother of the US People!

What we cannot accept is that the most powerful feels the Right to abuse the one he sees as weaker, in economic terms and in military terms. That is not democratic. This is not just. This is not Christian. This goes against the Principles contained in the Charter of the United Nations that we on the Planet have all signed, from the most powerful Countries to the smallest Countries. It is left enshrined there: We have equal Obligations! And we have equal Rights; therefore, we have to respect one another! And Peace, like the Economy, like Health Care, like Agriculture, like everything, Life itself, has to be taken care of every day, it has to be defended every day.

We already know about this other plague that crosses our Region… General Avilés, General Díaz: Drug trafficking and Organized Crime, where the big consumers are in the North, unfortunately, sadly, they should not be in neither the North nor the South, because drugs are poison, in all its forms, all are aggressive and end up annihilating the one who falls into drug addiction.

We already know that the big market is in the North and the production is in the South; a production that was never conceived by our ancestors, nor by the coca growing Peasants of Colombia, Bolivia, from those Countries. It was never thought to turn it into a drug.

A leaf that is energizing for the Peasants, for the Indigenous, energizing like Coffee can be, our brothers and sisters still chew it there. But later with Technology, for evil, with Science, for evil, then poison came from there, and the market began and those who produced and processed the drug there in the South, because, well, the path was made, Central America – Mexico to get to the big market, the United States.

This has implied a struggle that threatens the Sovereignty of our Peoples, because Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime aspire to take over Institutions, the States that are located along this path, including taking over the Institutions there in the big consumer market. Because for the drugs to get in there, there has to be complicity; so that it can then circulate in the Neighborhoods of the US Cities, there has to be complicity; so that they can launder billions of dollars in the US Banks, there has to be complicity. I don´t know if it was last year, or 2 or 3 years ago, because it happens frequently, there was a news story, a US Bank that had laundered I don´t know how many billions of dollars, punished! How? They fined it, they fined it, they applied a fine.

In other words, it is an activity that is pervasive, and in our case here in the Central American Region, well, connected to gangs, connected to the Maras, so a situation of insecurity Is created, instability for the Families of the Region, and they cannot move about peacefully, they cannot sell their products peacefully because they impose a tax on them. And if they do not pay it, they kill them. And they impose a tax on transport providers, and if the transport providers do not pay it, they machine gun their vehicles, and kill all the passengers that are in the bus.

This is happening with frequency in our Region, in all of Mesoamerica, we know it dear Brothers and Sisters, all of Mesoamerica is shaken by this terrible violence, terrible, that sows terror in Families and then also causes the exodus of Families that, seeking Security, migrate to the United States itself with the dream that in the United States they are going to find Security, they are going to find Jobs.

And he we are waging the battle, yes, with the lowest Budget of all of the Central American Region. Nicaragua has the smallest Budget, Nicaragua has the smallest Gross Domestic Product of the entire Central America Region; our Soldiers in the Army, our Police, have the lowest salary of the entire Central American Region; they have the lowest Budget, the institutions of the Amry, Police, of the entire Central American Region. And with these limited resources here the Battle is being waged, and this Battle is being won and has to be defended every day. Peace and Stability have to be defended every day, Security every day, and this Battle has been waged to give Security to Nicaraguan Families, to give Security, Stability and Peace to the country, this Battle is being waged.

And what is it that inspires the Commanders of the Army, the Soldiers of our Army, the Commanders of the Police, the Soldiers of the Police? What is it that inspires them? The Thought of our General Sandino inspires them. The heroic, vibrant, brave Fight of our ancestors inspires them, and that Sandino knew how to unite in one Thought, in a Program.

And this Fight has an element which is fundamental: Mystique! Mystique! That is why it is not by chance that the Army, the Police, with this mystique know how to wage the Battle against Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime. And they know that, to achieve effectiveness in the Battle, it is not enough that the Companions who are in the ranks of the Police, it is not enough that the Companions who are in the ranks of the Army; they know well that for this Fight for Security, for the Stability of Families to be effective, the Army and the Police have to be connected, be embodied with the Community, with the Neighborhood, with the people in the Countryside.

There is the great Strength, a Unity with the Institutions of the People, which explains the effectiveness that our institutions have to have achieved building a Retaining Wall in the face of Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime. And coordinating also from here, logically, with Brothers from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico; beyond, coordinating the Fight, and here in the Retaining Wall, and Families working in this Fight. Here is the explanation.

And recognizing the work the effort of Nicaraguan Families who in this difficult stage have been installing Small Businesses, Medium Businesses, of all types, to maintain themselves and their Families, and to offer services also to the Population, understanding that it is important to create better conditions so that the Country can be recovering.

This past Saturday, the 16th, we sent an invitation to a Meeting to talk about the Issue of Stability, Security, Peace, Economic Issues, and logically also there Political Issues came out. And in that Meeting we were having exchanges with Leaders of the Business owners, Leaders of Nicaraguan Business owners who since 2008 until April 2018 were working, without political conditions. In other words, it was not a Political Alliance. They with their Political Thinking, without ideological conditions, they with their Ideological Thinking. It did not even occur to us to tell them that they should become Sandinista Affiliates or Militants, it did not occur to us! Because we know well their Political Thought.

In all the Elections that we had, since the one of 1990 to the one of 2016, in all these Elections they always voted for, or sympathized with or supported the Parties in Opposition to Sandinism. But they did understand that it was essential, given the conditions of underdevelopment, because we have to say it in that way, of the Nicaraguan Economy, there had to be Agreements, Alliances of an Economic Order to fight Poverty, create Employment, develop Health Care Programs, etc, everything that the State needs to be able to respond to the People in their basic demands. And we were moving forward at a good pace.

But on the other hand, there were the extremist groups who condemned and challenged this Understanding and that Alliance, accused the Businesspeople of being now like Militants of Sandinism, as if now politically and ideologically they have turned into Sandinistas, and as always, going to the United States to denounce them there, when the results were being seen of a Country that was progressing, was growing, was defeating Poverty. But in April that understanding was broken, was destroyed with the loss of Lives that those who attempted the Coup caused; they also did enormous damage to the Economy of the Country.

And well, to meet with them and so that later it would not be said outside that they had come to seek their Sandinista Militant identity card, so the presence of Cardinal Brenes and Nuncio Sommertag was necessary for them. So they came, the Cardinal came, the Nuncio came who were Witnesses about what we have talked about and what we said there.

And what should we do to ensure Peace, Stability, Security? And that we might open a new Path, because we can no longer speak about the fact that we are going to return to the previous situation, no longer, that is already past! That is a stage that was burned, they burned it with everything that that terror meant in those months starting in April.

But rather opening a new Path, and to open a new Path then one of the expediencies, talking, exchanging, of establishing, well, opening an Encounter, installing a Round table in that Encounter, a Roundtable to negotiate, negotiate to establish Peace in our Country, negotiate to build that New Path, that New Road that would improve the conditions so that the Country, and therefore the Nicaraguan People, can more quickly be recovering from the effects of the Coup attempt of April. So we made known the topic of the Encounter, and that the objective was that, and we agreed there to begin to dialogue so that they also might work on their Proposal, and with whom on their part could this Roundtable be installed. Because, well, they have to decide that, we cannot say who they are going to place from their side for a negotiation with the Representatives of the Government. That is a Principle in any negotiation.

This Process has been happening, and I would say that we are making efforts so that this Roundtable can be installed for the Negotiation, that now next Wednesday [February] 27th the Roundtable can be installed, no longer with the multitude, no, no longer with the multitude, nor with the Communications Media. That is not correct in any Negotiation.

We there really with that Negotiation, now some laugh in the midst of a tragedy, because it is a true tragedy; but in that Negotiation, we broke a Guinness Record, yes, we broke a Guinness Record, because it is the only negotiation that there has been, that has existed, multitudinous and transmitted live and in color…Never! Never! So nothing good could come out of that Negotiation.

All the successful Negotiations have passed through even completely private Processes that have lasted weeks, months, at times years, and where then those who negotiated were 2 or 3 on each side. In other words, that is the Procedure, and big fights, big battles like that of the Heroic People of Vietnam, finally arrived at some Negotiations where likewise it was step by step, discussing between both parties how it was done, where it was done, details, and then the Accords came out.

The Negotiations that the United States have carried out, for example, with the Popular Democratic Republic of Korea, something that seemed impossible, because the United States only would offer “rocket attacks” at Korea, and Korea “rockets” as well, and that is how they were. So it seemed like the End of the World was coming, the Third World War now with atomic weapons.

All of a sudden a Delegate from the United States converses there, a Declaration comes out, after Declarations from the President of the United States, and then the Initiatives that the Government of the President of Korea took; first, he took the Initiative of inviting a Delegation from North Korea to the [Olympic] Games there in Korea, and the Delegation arrived led I believe by a Sister of President Kim Jong-un. See that is what Diplomacy is there.

Then the Meetings that the President of Korea has had, they have had several Meetings with the the President of North Korea, advancing in Agreements. And the President of the United States meeting with President Kim Jong-un…Who would imagine it? Who would imagine it? Whoever listened to the President of the United States talk about President Kim Jong-un before all these exchanges, it seemed impossible that they could even speak! Well, they had a Meeting, now they are going to have a second Meeting the two Presidents there in Vietnam.

That is the example that has to be followed! This the Government of the United States should promote here in Latin America, with those Nations with which they do not have good relations. They should promote this type of Policies, of Communication, of Negotiation for Peace, in this case for the Peace of the Latin American and Caribbean Region, like it is doing with Korea.

And if the United States can do it with Korea, why are they not going to be able to do it with Latin America? Or do you need to have Atomic Weapons for them to be able to treat you in this way? Then we would be feeding the arms race, and we would be feeding the atomic arms race; because any Country is going to say: Well, for them to respect me I need to have Atomic Weapons, and the more Atomic Weapons we have in the World, at any moment, for any mistake even, an atomic weapons goes off, atomic artillery of any Country where there are atomic arsenals, and the World blows up, we all get blown up!

That is how we are, we are on top of an atomic arsenal, with the potential in atomic weapons to blow up 10 times the Population of Planet Earth, or 100 times. But well, the Path is the one for Peace: Negotiation! And here with the greatest seriousness, the greatest responsibility, we are taking on the commitment to our People, that this Encounter and that Negotiation that we hope begins on Wednesday, be charged with Good Will, Commitment, for what? So that we give our People what our People deserve, which is Peace with Justice and Dignity. Thank you.


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