We interviewed Lorena, a young activist of SOS Nicaragua–Chile, a space that was born in solidarity with the Nicaraguan people and against the authoritarianism of the government of Ortega-Murillo, grouping young people from this country in Chile. A dialogue that gives us a panorama of what’s going on in the country, a call of attention for the left and how the resistance is being organized.
The interviewer is Maura Gálvez Bernabé (Anticapitalist Movement – Juntas y a la Izquierda).
Maura: Last April, a revolution started in Nicaragua as a response to a drastic reform on the pension system, a measure dictated by the IMF that directly attacked current and future pensioners. How is the situation today for the Nicaraguan people almost a year after that revolt?
Lorena: The situation is uncertain but mostly hopeless, the people after seeing how the repression has turned systematic, most of them have chosen to try to return to “normality”, a normality marked by fear, by the shadow of over 300 deaths, more than 700 political prisoners, more than 20,000 exiled, censored independent channels and their journalists in jail or in exile. This is the current panorama, a state of exception that, according to the GIEI (Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts) report of December, the State of Nicaragua has committed crimes against humanity in its repression of manifestations and other mobilization attempts in defense of freedom and human rights. As if this was not enough, spokespeople of the private companies and the clergy have accepted to have a first meeting towards a “negotiation” with Daniel Ortega; behind closed doors and breaching the principles established by the CIDH as minimum conditions for the return to conversations. Distrust reigns over those who were considered potential spokespeople of the interests of the people.
M: this year is the 40th anniversary of the Sandinist revolution against the dictatorship of Somoza, and to this day there’s almost nothing left of that revolutionary vanguard. Daniel Ortega, the historical leader of the FSLN, is currently confronting the Nicaraguan people with persecution and authoritarianism. What do you think of he Chilean left hat defends the regime of Ortega-Murillo?
L: Being certain and as a Nicaraguan child of the post-war era and with parents that actively took part of the revolutionary process, who were active in the FSLN for many years, there’s nothing left other than its symbols, which are being cynically used by the presidential couple.
After more than 12 years in power, Ortega has not hesitated to ally with the right, old representatives of the counter-revolution and the corporations. These alliances are characterized by being paternalistic, authoritarian and clientelist, all in order to remain in power.
It is necessary to know that Daniel Ortega as re-elected according to the 2011 laws, but later modified the Constitution and in 2017 was re-elected for a third time accompanied by his wife Rosario Murillo, as vice-president.
Since his return to power, this government has knitted a network of mechanisms that progressively allowed it to own the country. Since 2008, the presidential couple controls the powers of the State: executive, judicial, electoral, comptroller and the Parliament. Every attempt to build an opposition force has been crushed. Pretty much the entirety of the media were bought by the reigning family, reducing freedom of expression. And on the issue of social mobilization, it was progressively normalized that these end with repression and thug groups directly and publicly linked to the governmental party and, on many occasions, like today, to the police itself.
Corruption is the lifestyle of the representatives of the powers of the State, like the emblematic case of the president of the Supreme Council Roberto Rivas, a magnate with private jets, mansions and beach houses, plus properties in Spain and Costa Rica, against whom the United States applied the Magnitsky global law.
The list of misconducts is quite long, and among them we can find: the harassment of human rights, feminist and environmentalist organizations, the suppression of university autonomy, the delivery of the country to foreign interests with the concession of the canal, among other measures, which would only extend the betrayal of the martyrs, the men and women who gave their life for a social project in which everyone could live in peace and liberty.
For the aforementioned reasons, I’m convinced that the Chilean left acts from a deep disinformation and romanticism of what the revolution was. It’s as if they’re stuck in time, without seeing what the Nicaraguan people have lived since the return of Daniel Ortega to power. Although the panorama of the country didn´t improve in the 16 years of neo-liberal governments, the current party has done nothing but continue the implementation the policies imposed by the United States, though camouflaged with a leftist speech and sustained in the bases with populist practices. But they only want to assure their eternal permanence in the power.
M: could you tell us more about SOS Nicaragua–Chile, its conformation and proposals?
L: As a consequence of the rejection caused by the Nicaraguan policies and that the few organizational forms were controlled by the State or else where suppressed, the political plurality and the opportunities it offered were crushed. You need to know this context to understand how the Nicaraguan people in Chile have had difficulties to organize and build from the diversity of though an alternative solution to the situation in our country. We do not have a culture of political organization, it’s strange but true, and even stranger since it used to be said that the Nicaraguan people organized even the stones. As of today I can only speak about the conformation, but on the issue of the proposals there are none as a collective.
On the conformation, we got organized in a kind of reactive way when the first mobilizations and murders happened, we organized vigils and fund raisers for the wounded. The last activity we coordinated was a group of around ten people to accompany the informative caravan.
M: in that sense, a few days ago some videos from the jails of Managua saw the light, confirming what everyone knew about Nicaragua. Illegal detentions, physical and psychological torture, accompanied by the constant harassment of the families of the detained. In the women´s jail, the comrades denounce systematic abuses, beatings that have caused abortions, among other humiliations. In that repressive context, the State of Nicaragua is developing in a moment in which women fill the streets to question gender violence, the feminist wave that is taking place across the world and questions the governments and the entire system. This year the strike is being internationally organized. What would you call for on 8M?
L: this 8M we strike for our political prisoners! To this day, there are 63 female comrades that have been incarcerated with absurd sentences that reflect the state of exception Nicaragua is in. These prisoners are young students, workers, doctors, engineers; brave women that made the struggle of the youth that’s been mobilizing since April their own. This 8M, Nicaraguan women will fight more than ever! They took so much from us that they even took away our fear! The women in Nicaragua won’t be able to protest on the streets as, in spite of everything, they have the previous years, so they will fight through social media, with the conviction that this will end and that we will work like the ants for this to end soon and with justice. For making the stories of Amaya Coppens, the girl with he eternal smile, of Tania Muñoz, detained for taking food to the tanks, of Ruth Matute, cosmetics seller in the indigenous neighborhood of Monimbo, of Kenia Aviles, Maria Adilia, and so many more women that today are physically imprisoned, but freer than ever, visible. I want Chilean women to know that there are 63 women imprisoned for believing in freedom.
M: Any final thoughts?
L: The cliche that says “the one who leaves doesn’t die, only those who forget die”. We must not let Nicaragua die, that small country of 6 million people, of loving people, of people that remembered that power had always been theirs and once they conquered it again they never let it go.