JUNE 12, 2018

Oscar René Vargas Escobar

Nicaragua: the end of Ortega Murillo / Oscar-René Vargas / June 12, 2018

  1. Uniformed police, sharpshooters, para-police forces close to the Ortega-Murillo government shoot at close range at disarmed people. The para-police forces are applying state terrorism mechanisms against unarmed and peaceful civilians. Under these conditions a dialogue cannot be held with the government, say the Bishops of the Nicaraguan Episcopal Conference (CEN).
  2. In this political-social struggle no one is neutral. There are different levels of awareness, different levels of commitment, different capacities for sacrifice, but 90% of the population wants a definitive change, because Ortegism in crisis has revealed an unacceptable criminal face.
  3. Up to June 11, 2018 at least 150 deaths had been counted, more than 1,500 wounded, hundreds of disappeared and political prisoners. Without exaggeration it can be said that the repression of the Ortega dictatorship against the peaceful demand for justice and democracy is a massacre.
  4. Very few citizens prefer to continue living under a regime that murders unarmed students, and ends up being unviable for the future stability of the country. The essence of the current matter lies in the circumstances and methods that will produce the change, the fall of Ortega-Murillo.
  5. The ethical, moral and institutional foundations of Nicaragua up to April 17, 2018 were already undermined, the Ortega-Murillo government and big business had sold a false image, a fiction of: individual and legal security, economic growth and peace. Ignoring the innumerable deficiencies of the population, the unemployment, poverty, inequality and lack of social justice.
  6. Since the start of the crisis, in practice Ortega-Murillo and their family are prisoners in their residence in El Carmen (residence and offices of the dictatorial power), because they cannot move about peacefully in the capital and much less in the rest of the country. Which demonstrates the social isolation they are under.
  7. Less than two months since the beginning of the social-political crisis, the S&P Global Ratings agency changed the prospects of the credit rating from stable to negative. This raises the cost of commercial financing that Nicaragua obtains outside the country and makes the country less attractive for foreign investment.
  8. June 12, the 24 hour strike called by civil society and the different productive sectors of the city of León is nearly 100% effective[2], the streets appear deserted, the transportation sector that includes taxis and buses are very scarce. Most of the population of León joined the strike, an example of struggle that can be imitated by other cities of the nation.
  9. The strike in the city of León, the second most important city in Nicaragua, is a total success. The markets of the Estación and Central are closed and protected by the merchants. The surroundings are closed, neither the Municipal Government nor the Police have been able to remove the barricades in the center of the city. The principal stores of the city are closed: Gallo más Gallo, La Curacao, El Verdugo, El Tropigas, Sinsa, Pali, Proquinsa, etc. The streets are deserted and the few that are traveled, people are moving about in motorcycles, vehicles and on foot. They are out looking, taking photos so that no one can tell them or deceive them with “face new”. This can be repeated on the national level. In León the strike was able to be done.
  10. Since Ortega came to power, January 2007, he stablished an alliance with big business. Until April 2018 that sector had maintained support for the Ortega-Murillo government. After the civic insurrection of April-May-June it has distanced itself from the government. Nevertheless, it aims at a soft exit that means: early elections, that everything would change so that nothing changes.
  11. Not only is the Ortega-Murillo government to blame for all this, but all the oligarchy and political elite of this country, by complicity or by incapacity. The agreement between the Ortega-Murillo government, big business and unions has allowed Ortega-Murillo to govern without counterweights, preverting state institutions and eliminating the opposition, with the blessing and complicity of big business that, in exchange, dictated the economic measures and benefitted from the State.
  12. The country does not have true opposition parties. They were bought out, neutralized or declared illegal. The role of a true opposition is being played by the students, the people in the barricades, the peasants, civil society and the self convened people in general.

13 The current political-social crisis blocked all the institutions, none can act independently. The legislative branch, police, Supreme Court, Attorney General, Comptroller, Supreme Electoral Council and the principal municipal governments are subordinated to and controled by Ortega-Murillo.

  1. The dictatorial state has become, in it entirety, a terrorist State. We see mayors directing paramilitary and gang members to repress defenseless people. We see the Minister of Health ordering doctos in the public hospitals to not treat wounded citizens.
  2. The police and para-police forces are acting hand in hand with the central power and/or municipal power. All are applying a policy of fear against the population to demobilize the social protests in effect. Nevertheless, the disproportionate repression on the part of the police forces and the shock forces close to the government has resulted in the population joining the civic insurrection.
  3. A decade of unlimited authoritarianism, an accumulation of indignation in the face of the abuses, arbitrary actions, corruption, inequalities, unemployment, unpunished crimes lit the fuse of the protest. In other words, the ever more absolute and suffocating arrogance of power helped the protest to become generalized.
  4. The decision of Ortega-Murillo to organize and arm criminals, provide them complete impunity and license to kill, steal, loot and burn public and private establishments. These forces are acting in the barrios, in the cities, in attacks on barricades with complete impunity and accompanied or protected by the police. These criminal forces are the ones responsible for the crimes with the unarmed civilian population and for attacks on businesses.
  5. For this reason the population places the police on the same level as mobs, criminal forces, para-police forces and the armed groups acting outside the law.
  6. The Ortega-Murillo objective is to lead/push the civic and unarmed protest to the path of armed confrontation. At the same time, the strategy of the Ortega-Murillo government has been and continues to be to gain time, wear down the ranks of the rebellion and use indiscriminate repression against the population to plant fear and terror.
  7. Another objective of the Ortega-Murillo government is to endure as long as possible, thinking that people will get tired and desperation will set in. At the same time, through the Organization of American States (OAS), provide oxigen to the puppet opposition that they control. The Secretary General of the OAS has been questioned for his closeness to Ortega-Murillo.
  8. The strategy of Ortega-Murillo is to indiscriminately repress in order to try to change the correlation of forces, combined with the removal of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua as mediators of the national dialogue. Their objective is to put in the OAS as mediator and include in the dialogue the puppet parties, evangelical sectors close to the government, for the purpose of changing the direction of the ongoing negotiations.

    22. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur of the United Nations (UN) on the situation of defenders of Human Rights refers to the situation that Nicaragua is experiencing and that is seriously affecting the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful association and political participation, as well as the right to life and personal integrity.

  9. The social-political crisis that Nicaragua is experiencing is having an impact on the other Central American countries in three ways: trade activity, since much of the merchandise that moves about on land has to go through Nicaragua; the negative effects on the economy of each country; and the social and political repercussions that can be presented through the existing communication vessels between the countries of the Central American region.
  10. On the days of June 10-11, government repression increased in several principal cities of the country (Jinotega, Matagalpa, Jinotepe, Diriamba, Las Maderas, Masaya, Sébaco, Estelí, Ocotal, Somoto, Mulukukú, etc.), and also in the eastern neighborhoods of the capital, Managua, where once again the population pointed out police, para militaries as those responsible for the aggression against the citizenry that are demonstrating against the Ortega regime.
  11. Land takeovers are reported throught the Pacific side by members of the paramilitary forces. It is the form of payment of the Ortega-Murillo government to the paramilitary, in exchange for attacking the barricades and using them as para-police forces against the civic demonstrators. That is why they are so aggressive. The regime trafficks with poverty and need to turn them into hitmen. The last four murders in Chinandega have been caused by these forces installed as land takeovers. In Managua they are in the area of Ciudad Belén and are heading toward Sábana Grande (close to the international airport).
  12. In each city or community (León, Chinandega, Managua, Carazo, Matagalpa, Estelí, etc.) it is known who are those who are illegally invading land: marginal and criminal groups. The land is invaded under police protection and the protection of the political secretaries of the party in power. These groups are establishing territorial bases from which they can operate flagrantly to commit crimes and terrorize the population. The strategy of Ortega-Murillo is to unleash chaos so that the population will ask for State intervention.
  13. Ortega has regrouped the lumpen forces that they can, in some places more and in other places less, to make them act as paramilitaries, attacking people from their own town, neighborhood or city, or in neighboring towns, neighborhoods and cities. They are calling this a “Cleanup Operation” and the mayors, political secretaries and their principal leaders in each place are actively involved.
  14. The Army cannot live in a bubble during this civic revolution, on the margins of the fate of the country. The Army will have to openly choose between the democratic republic or the dictatorship. The current prudence of the Army indicates that it has larger interests than those that the corrupt legal framework of Ortega offers. The Army, for their survival, has to separate itself from the irreparable errors of the Ortega-Murillo government.
  15. The Army as an institution has become an important economic power principally in real estate. At the same time, it has large investments in the NY stock market. For these reasons it cannot openly support Ortega-Murillo. Any open involvement would have disastrous consequences for the institution on the national as well as international levels.
  16. According to another opinion survey, more than 70% of the Nicaraguan population over 16 years of age agree with the demands of the student movement and other sectors, that Daniel Ortega resign and abandon power along with his wife Rosario Murillo, the Vice President of the Republic, because they think that they are the principal people responsible for the massacre of more than 150 people, from April 18 to today.
  17. Information that circulates in the social networks, coming from workers at the international airport of Managua, indicate that two private jets have landed from Venezuela, coming from the airport in Maiquetía/Caracas, one of the planes is a military plane and it was denounced that it brought in weapons and munitions.
  18. Ortega-Murillo are cornered. They have lost important sectors of their social base, according to the same opinion survey only between 14-18% of the population surveyed supports them. Many of their officials secretly have ceased supporting them, they do not say so publicly, but they manifest it on a personal and private level, some have secretly left the country.
  19. Each day the peaceful insurrection continues Ortega-Murillo lose the ability to continue governing. Ortega-Murillo are being left with only repression to be able to remain in power. This distances them from a negotiation process with a “soft exit”, the people are not going to allow them to remain in the country in any departure that is established. We are at a true crossroads where Ortega-Murillo accept leaving power, or the crisis is going to be extended, without a favorable prognosis.
  20. On June 9 a messenger arrived, sent by the President of the Foreign Relations Committee of the US Senate. He has had meetings with the Bishops, Ortega-Murillo, bankers and sectors of big business. The message is; support the Episcopal Conference as the mediators of the dialogue; move up elections with national and international electoral observation; stop the repression; and the departure from power of Ortega-Murillo.
  21. The US pressure is strong, with the threat that the US Senate could approve a law, in case the indiscriminate repression continues, that would directly affect the Ortega-Murillo family, ministers and governmental allies.
  22. There are three possible scenarios for a way out: first scenario: that Ortega with fire and blood is able to overcome the crisis and remain in power indefinitely. Not very probable scenario.
  23. Second scenario: that an agreement be reached for a soft exit with elections moved up for 2019. a) that Ortega is able to negotiate that he would remain in power to organize the elections. b) that Ortega would have to resign and a transition government would assume control. This scenario is seen as the most probable, leveraged by the US, big business, sector of Ortega´s followers, the Army and some members of the Episcopal Conference.
  24. Third scenario: as a product of the increase in social insurrection, barricades and the strike in the principal cities, Ortega abandons power and a Transition Junta is called, a Constituent National Assembly is called to refound the State. The magistrates of the Supreme Court, Supreme Electoral Council, mayors involved in the repression, Comptrollers, Attorney General, pincipal leaders of the Police, etc are all removed.

Managua, June 12, 2018.


[1] Oscar René Vargas joined the FSLN in 1967, and went into exile that same year. In the 1980s he was an advisor to the National Directorate, and in June 2007 was named Ambassador to France.. That nomination was revoked after he gave an interview to La Prensa. He is an economist and sociologist, and the author of 55 books.

[2] written before the national strike was called for June 14

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