Yaser Morazán has an important presence in social media in Nicaragua, and had been critical of the business sector´s reluctance to get involved in acts of civil disobedience to show resistance to the government. The business sector´s gradual dominance of the Civic Alliance has also been a complaint of several sectors, and was highlighted in a tumultuous meeting of exiles in Costa Rica recently. The Civic Alliance recently restructured itself to make itself more inclusive of other sectors of society. In this interview Yaser goes into more depth about these issues.
Without Pressure there are no Negotiations
Interview of Yaser Morazán in Domingo, La Prensa, August 18, 2019
by Abixael Mogollón
[see original Spanish here ]
He is loved and hated in social networks. Yaser Morazán knows this. From exile he is working on a document to resist the dictatorship, and in this interview explains how small actions that go from releasing pieces of paper to more radical actions like building a barricade on the border with Costa Rica are going to end up forcing Ortega to return to the negotiating table. He has met with members of the international community, and members of the Civic Alliance, and he states that this is a key moment for the Alliance, since it is important to renovate it or it will be destined to disappear.
What forced to you to into exile?
In order to continue sharing the ideas about civil disobedience, focused boycotts and other campaigns, it was better to put myself in the safety of exile. I have more than 100 screenshots of death threats, or that reveal my address, so I thought that the only way to continue doing my work was by going into exile.
What are those other campaigns?
The national and international plan of civil disobedience I started to suggest while in Nicaragua in a meeting with the Civic Alliance. It is not an initiative that started from my exile. It is a proposal that intends to create a mechanism of economic, institutional, cultural and social pressure; to be able to weaken the pillars that sustain the dictatorship. They are civil resistance strategies without using the body as a human foxhole, and that ensure freedom and life for the people who participate.
What type of actions does this document have?
First, I start from recognizing the violent nature of this regime. To the extent that we understand that we are in a state of exception, our capacity to struggle has to adapt to that reality. Basing myself on this, we have to create a series of actions to stop participating in the social, cultural, political and economic dynamics of the country; like national, school stoppages, fiscal and tax strikes, paralyzing state institutional processes, not participating in events sponsored by the regime, like fairs, festivals, congresses. It is creating a social blockade where we demonstrate to the regime that it does not have a country to govern.
How would these measures be applied?
We have to prepare a document that would be presented to Nicaraguan public opinion, where activities, roles, resources and times would be established, in this plan goals or demands will be defined that we are going to ask the dictatorship to meet. For example, the return of the legal status of the NGOs that were confiscated, the return of the equipment stolen from journalists and communications media. For this to happen, we have to tell the regime that we have this work plan where we establish actions of low, medium and high impact. They will be implemented over time to the extent that the regime responds to our needs, otherwise we will increase the intensity.
We would begin with a simultaneous press conference in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and the United States where Nicaraguans, exiles and the diaspora would present this plan, even have this document read in the pulpits of churches. Then we would hold a virtual march. Then we would organize masses and religious ceremonies for peace throughout the entire national territory. Then we would continue with actions that have been effective and that people like, such as releasing blue and white balloons, small pieces of paper of those same colors, papers with messages, blue and white paint or writing on public buses, bathrooms, and currency with the slogan #SOSNICARAGUA. All in secret and anonymously, because we cannot continue doing it facing weapons and violence.
We are talking about fighting a dictatorship with pieces of paper and paint.
If they do not listen to our demands we would move to medium impact actions. That can be that the diaspora call for temporary stoppages of sending family remittances, the stoppage of sending packages to Nicaragua, stop buying airline tickets to and from Nicaragua, preparation of lists on the national level of businesses and companies connected to the Sandinista Front. That can begin with businesses of the Army, the National Police and the Ortega Murillo family.
It is important to promote media and political pressure against the embassies of Taiwan throughout the world for continuing to finance the dictatorship. We have to be confrontational with the Central American Bank for financing the dictatorship, this has to be an action plan among all the actors, those in exile, the diaspora, the Alliance and the National Unity. Finally, if after a year these actions do not work, I think that we have to be considering once again revisiting the idea of an indefinite national strike.
Do you think a national strike is viable? Taking into account the small and medium businesses which would mean closing and hoping that Ortega would leave power?
Personally I have not called for an indefinite national strike on social networks, first of all because I am not in Nicaragua, and secondly because I recognize the real fear of the business owners, and thirdly because I do not promote activities where I cannot participate. Nicaraguans have to understand that it is not viable either to live in a dictatorship, in fear and under repression. The situation is already radical for us, and we have to take radical actions to be able to survive. The other option that we have is not do anything and resign ourselves to live in a dictatorship like the people of Cuba did, or hope for what is eventually going to happen as in Venezuela.
You do not believe in the national dialogue to remove Daniel Ortega?
Negotiation is an end and not a means,. The dialogue will happen when the regime, pressured by our actions, now sits down to negotiate. In April it was the blockades, then it was the marches, but now we do not have anything to offer, and those who have nothing to offer have nothing to demand. I am convinced that without pressure there is no negotiation, and without destabilization there is no liberation of Nicaragua.
It has been said on social networks that among the strongest actions is doing a blockade on the border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
Done by the exiles themselves. In this way we paralyze regional commerce and we create a crisis in the region that will force the presidents of the isthmus to take clearer and more forceful positions.
Do you think that this really is possible in a foreign country?
We activists do not ask permission. If people had asked permission in Nicaragua, no blockades would have been built. I think that we are experiencing a crisis and drastic measures are required, at least in Costa Rica the most that they can do is put you in jail, but they are not going to kill you, as can happen in Nicaragua if you want to build a blockade.
A little while ago on social networks there was a call to boycott a business for having red and black chairs in their place, don´t you feel that this is diverting attention to superficial things?
I am happy with this new version of a country that we have, because I think that Nicaraguans have stepped it up to identify any manifestation of violence. In this case the regime has used symbols to repress. Violence is not just blows, it is also when they rub in your face that they have power over public spaces. In Nicaragua red and black means mourning, grief, blood, death, and we all know that. In terms of the issue that you are mentioning, that business is the property of a Sandinista deputy from Rivas, and what she did was mark off her territory and she has the right to do it, but the people also have the right to decide where they are going to consume, and where they are not going to consume. When we quit consuming in a Sandinista business, what we are doing is giving our income to a blue and white business, and that is a very effective way of protesting, because we are touching on what most hurts the Sandinista Front, which is money.
Before the crisis you openly defined yourself as a Sandinista. Then you made the distinction between being a Sandinista and an Orteguista. What has happened to that idea since you went into exile?
I come from a Sandinista home, where I was taught the ideals of Sandino and I believed that the FSLN represented those values. I refused to see the corruption and the lack of values that public institutions and people directly connected to the party exercised. Always looking for a leftist orientation, I started to participate in the Sandinista Renovation Movement, because I thought that that was where it was at. In fact, in the first marches of April I wore my t-shirts with Sandino, diverse Sandino, or Sandino with a cell phone logo, because it was my way of reclaiming my idea of Sandinism. Starting in April and May I was seeing that the same methods that they were using to repress the population, like the torture and killings, were exactly the same methods that I imagine they used in the decade of the 80s to justify their revolution. For me April was a wake up call. I insisted in the fact that I was a non Orteguista Sandinista, but I have come to the conclusion that it is the same thing. Some killed in the 80s and others do now.
At this moment is seems everything is stagnant, it seems that people are not united at least on social networks.
I think that it is part of the democratic processes that people have the capacity to say the things that they are thinking. Some just resort to insults, aggression, vulgarities. Nevertheless I prefer that people are expressing their opinion in excess, and not that they express their opinion as we did prior to April. Although at times they might go over the mark for nearly everyone, including me. It does not matter, it is better than a complicit silence.
There is a sector that hates you and another that adores you in social networks, and some criticize you over the fact that being in exile you call for actions like the boycott.
I defend freedom of expression. People have the right to say what they are thinking about me or whoever. Likewise I have the capacity to ignore or block what does not interest me. We are all part of this process, it is normal, healthy, it is necessary. I have been generating material for social networks for four years, which meant that I was somewhat media friendly and I have received a lot of threats. I only suggest, propose, challenge, criticize, but I never impose, and those who want will join, and those who do not… The beautiful thing is that we all do what we can with the resources that we have.
You have met with members of the international community who are following the crisis in Nicaragua. What assessment does their role deserve?
Their role has been mediocre and ineffective. In fact one of the ambassadors to the OAS told us that the sense of timing for politics is very different from the urgent sense of timing that the Nicaraguan people needed; and an authority from the US government told us that Daniel Ortega was not going to negotiate because negotiating his departure meant that he would end up in jail, and that that was not going to happen. The international community is not going to liberate us. Over above the interests of human rights, the international community has political and economic interests. It is not a coincidence that over all the condemnations, the United States continues being the principal trade partner of Venezuela and Nicaragua. Now is not the moment to continue complaining, it is the moment to look more within.
And what do you have to say about the Civic Alliance?
They have played a good role in what it has been theirs to do. My criticism always has been around what they have not done, for example, from the beginning the people of the Alliance were telling me that their mandate was not to direct a popular insurrection, but that their mandate was the national dialogue. I think that they have stayed in that role, and that role has been dictated by the business and bureaucratic approach that that structure has, that is the reason for my criticism that the Alliance cannot be abducted by big capital, the private sector has the right to have a voice and we to ensure that it have one, but not that it be the only voice. That the businesspeople have the power to vote but not to veto. This moment is important because the Alliance is destined to strengthen itself or disappear, but it depends on them and how they channel the popular unrest.
At what moment did big capital take that control?
The business version that we have of the current Alliance is different from the one that was called by the Bishop´s Conference. With the first version of the Alliance we all came out to support them. But as time passed, people were replaced, which is why in the last negotiating table 50% of those there were from the private sector. AmCham, FUNIDES and COSEP, and that made me reflect at what point these people were representing the people who were in the barricades in the neighborhoods, the mothers of April, the mothers of the political prisoners, and currently those ex political prisoners. I think that the Alliance should be restructured for the good of Nicaragua.
Until there is a dialogue, what should the Alliance do?
I think that they should go into a process of assessment about their strategies, effectiveness and efficiency about what they have been doing so far, and they should be sincere and say to the people of Nicaragua: “this is as far as we go or this is our new work proposal”. The departure of Ortega will depend on our measures. If we are not forceful, the regime is not going to ever want to leave power, and we will be destined to be Venezuela or Cuba. Ortega prefers to govern a country in extreme poverty than end up in jail. This type of dictator does not leave because they wake up one day being good people.
Has the scenario been considered where these measures are applied to the letter and Ortega remains in power?
No. Right now I do not have a plan B, because first I have to try plan A. Evaluate, to change, strengthen and remove. Rather I am sticking to these ideas, because I do not want to lead people to use methods from the past that no one wants anymore.
How are the exiles doing?
Where I am here in Costa Rica people are depressed, feel powerless, frustration, sadness. While in Nicaragua the people that belong to organized structures are afraid, suffer persecution, death threats; while the Nicaraguans who are not involved in anything are living the most normal lives in the world. Because the regime what it is doing is creating an enclosure, teaching society a lesson through punishments or rewards, so that you are clear, that if you demonstrate you are going to suffer, but if you do nothing you are going to live comfortably. It is the same Cuban model. We cannot have the luxury of going back to the same“ normality” that existed prior to April, but if we do not increase this pressure that is what is going to end up happening.
Yaser Morazán is 33 year old and is from the province of Matagalpa. He is the son of a retired soldier Alfonso José Morazán Castillo, who was abducted in October 2018 by the Ortega regime and was released in May 2019.
He did Chemical Analysis Laboratory studies in the National Technological Institute in Granada, and then studied Social Work at the Central American University (UCA). His first relationships with human rights organizations was in 2007 working with the Organization of American States (OAS). He also did post-graduate studies in Family Psychology.
He has been working since he was 19 years old. He loves Nicaraguan food, especially beans and tortillas. He has been an activist for 13 years, and before going into exile used to produce multimedia pieces for social networks. He says that ignorant and violent people make him nervous.