The big jigsaw puzzle: Who will pick up the pieces?

With the announcement of the renewal of the National Dialogue on Feb 21st, voices were raised questioning the government´s motives, as it was the government that walked away from the first attempt at dialogue. Furthermore, the government´s sincerity in wanting to dialogue has been questioned by some, as people continue to be picked up without judicial order by police and para-police forces, and in this period peasant opposition leaders were sentenced to over 400 years in jail. This article reflects that perspective, and was written by someone who knows Daniel Ortega well, but who now lives in exile. 

The big jigsaw puzzle: Who will pick up the pieces?

By Oscar-René Vargas / February 19, 2019.

Published on Feb 21, 2019 in Nuevas Miradas, and online magazine.

  1. Since April 2018, the Ortega-Murillo government began to take in water until it ran aground, crisis after crisis, on not very kind beaches.
  2. Under the heat of the possible application of the Democratic Charter of the OAS, the US sanctions (Nica Magnitsky Law) and the threat from the European Union of other sanctions, and the certainty of a worsening of the economic crisis; the regime only had the option left of admitting that we are experiencing times of apprehension and discouragement.
  3. After the visits of the US delegates (Jan 23), the delegation of the European deputies (Jan 23-26) and the arrival of the OAS officials (Feb 14); there was talk about the existence of secret conversations of the Apostolic Nuncio with Ortega-Murillo to unblock the social and political crisis.
  4. On Feb 17 the meeting of the principal members of big capital with the Ortega-Murillo regime became known. It should not be lost from view that big capital thinks, principally, about their businesses, a bankrupt economy is bad for the bankers; and Ortega-Murillo are thinking about buying time.
  5. The worsening of the local economic crisis puts in high risk the political and social cohesion of the Ortega-Murillo regime. That is why the regime accepted meeting with the delegates of the Pellas/Ortiz/Zamora/Baltodano/Sacasa capital with the hope of buying time and avoiding the sanctions.
  6. The posture of the regime has to change, it cannot continue pretending to buy time, for several reasons: a) the economic crisis is getting worse every day, including the businesses of the new class and the presidential family. b) the situation of Venezuela is deteriorating to the detriment of Maduro and those close to him. Therefore, the regime cannot continue betting on the political stagnation of the Venezuelan crisis that would allow it to buy time. c) The Vatican distanced itself from the Venezuelan regime for non-compliance with the previous accords. d) The crisis of Petrocaribe, because of the sanctions on PDVSA, are going to have repercussions on the positions of the CARICOM countries in the next meeting of the OAS, which make it more feasible getting the 24 votes needed to apply the Democratic Charter on the Ortega-Murillo regime.
  7. It needs to be kept in mind that Nicaragua is a very hierarchical country, has a high context culture. In other words, what is not said is as or more important as what is said.
  8. Secrecy and power constitute two fundamental pillars of the world of politics of the two de facto powers: secrecy and the concealment of the social and political agreement. That is why most of the activities of the dominant class are protected by secrecy.
  9. Secrecy is also a power mechanism. Power uses secrecy to protect and/or increase the operational strength of the powers that be. Secrecy tends to hide vital parts of an agreement whose unveiling would be dangerous for their interests.
  10. Secrecy is organized to hide certain maneuvers that are not very clean. Under the mantle of secrecy the traps and abuses of the regime and the traditional political class are left hidden.
  11. Precisely for this reason, those who participated in the meeting on Feb 16th are not saying everything that they really talked about. This makes the social and political interpretation of the situation difficult, and ultimately decision making as well.
  12. In the meeting on Feb 16th, they possibly spoke about the helpfulness of the opening to dialogue. They spoke about starting it the first days of March to prevent the implementation of the US and European sanctions that would weaken the Ortega-Murillo regime, and would sink the economy more with negative repercussions for everyone.
  13. It is important to not lose sight of the fact that in the negotiations the Ortega-Murillo regime, in order to give themselves some legitimacy even for a short period of time, had to immediately call for dialogue. Even more, the regime has gone into a dead end in which it finds itself. It finds itself on the edge of a cliff, it needs the dialogue. It does not have international credibility. It is afraid of the sanctions. It does not have a base, it sustains itself by the force of arms.
  14. To begin to talk about dialogue a framework needs to be found in which traps are not set. Not setting traps is recognizing that no solution can be obtained outside of recognizing that the solution to the social and political crisis passes through the departure of Ortega-Murillo from power.
  15. Before the installation of a dialogue to discuss the social and political agenda, the following actions should be carried out: immediate liberation of all political prisoners; freedom for all the communication media that were attacked; 100% News, Confidencial, Radio Darío and other independent media; suspension of the regional elections of the Caribbean Coast; confinement to the barracks of the police and para-police forces; disarming of the paramilitary; end to the repression; immediate freedom of assembly and demonstration; return to Nicaragua of the IACHR, MESENI and GIEI; as well as the OHCHR; re-establishment of the offices of CENIDH and the ANPDH.
  16. Those who go to participate in the dialogue on the part of civil society have to distrust the apparently serene man, while others talk, he observes; while others act, he plans. And when everyone finally rests…he attacks.
  17. We are in the presence of a group of hawks led by Ortega, a taciturn, hidden conspirator. The vice of Ortega-Murillo is their uncontrolled appetite for power.

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