Nicaragua: between the surge of the streets and the tramp of the dialogue

After the actions of September 2018, the mobilizations and actions on the streets against the regime of Ortega-Murillo are back. The violent repression against the popular rising that since has been questioning its government since April 18 had stopped the process with fire and blood. Nonetheless, the rebellion wasn’t completely crushed and the resistance is on the streets once again. Conscious of a possible defeat, Ortega negotiates with imperialism, the bourgeoisie and the Church a political solution that assures him impunity in the so-called National Dialogue.

In Nicaragua a democratic revolution began in 2018 against a regime that had been on the streets for many years governing like the dictatorships that reigned in the continent years ago. Among them is Somoza, which Daniel Ortega himself, as commander of the FSLN fought against. It’s been many years since that glorious 1979 when the old dictator fell and the dictator Ortega and his wife Murillo now co-govern with the Church and the great bourgeoisie, applying plans dictated by the IMF and repressing every popular protest. The misnamed “socialist” leader showed what he really was: a defender of capitalist businesses in the country. Business thanks to which he also gained a great personal fortune.

But the cuts of the pension reform that he attempted with the reform to the INSS (National Institute of Social Security) was the spark that lit the rebellion in April 2018. An uprising that cornered the regime and, despite constant attacks, spread to a great part of the country, establishing a dual power which, had it organized and answered strongly, could have ended with the dictatorial regime for good.

For many months, maybe until the defeat of the bastion of Monimbo in Masaya, there was the possibility of overthrowing the dictatorship. If this did not happen, it was because of the role of the leaderships that conformed the Civil Alliance for Democracy and Justice, led by the COSEP and other business organizations. The Alliance, along with the Church and the control and support of the US imperialism, was an essential part of the National Dialogue, organized with the government to try to find a political solution that avoided the victory of the uprising and the fall of the dictatorship as a result of a popular revolt.

The sessions of the Dialogue during 2018 failed. While the representatives of the so-called opposition tried to agree on a deal with the regime, calling for a “pacific resistance” and to trust in the negotiations with the dictatorship, the regime used these expectations to recover from the initial blows, resume the repressive offensive against the mobilizations, occupations and barricades, using its police and parallel forces, leaving more than 500 dead, hundreds disappeared, 802 imprisoned and more than 60.000 exiled, who mostly ended up in next door Costa Rica.

The Articulation of Social Movements unites the leaders of dozens of struggling social organizations, among them the leaders of the students movement grouped in organizations as the University Coordinator for Democracy and Justice, the Rural People of the National Council in Defense of the Lake, Land and Sovereignty, human rights and feminist organizations, etc., which started the spark on the streets, the universities and the barricades. After the first moments, when the spontaneous character of the rising prevailed, the Articulation did not pose an alternative to the policies of dialogue It took part on several opportunities, with many internal debates and contradictions, as the left wing of the Dialogue. Today, along with the Civil Alliance for Democracy and Justice, they are part of the White and Blue Movement.

The people are losing fear

Although they have been harshly hit by the persecutions, political imprisonment, murders and the forced exile of a part of the vanguard that confronted the regime, the democratic revolution of the Nicaraguan people has not been defeated. The traditional bourgeoisie is conscious of this, as well as the Church and imperialism. For them, there is a danger of a strong uprising of the process of democratic struggle, that could give birth to a much more radical wing in the political terrain, capable of overpowering the current leadership of the Civil Alliance.

This situation worsens because the economic crisis, which was already visible when the Ortega government decreed the austerity plan, which was provisionally canceled in the INSS in April, is now felt with more strength, in a gradual deterioration which has the traditional sectors, lie tourism, stagnated, while others show clear signs of hardship. The political crisis is doing its bit and the flight of capital is of almost 120 million dollars per day, which could jeopardize the entire credit system if it is perpetuated, as was said in Confidencial on 21/03/2019.

In response to the crisis, the government attacked again with two measures: the reform of the INSS, retaking the path of last April, and an important tax reform which, though mostly affects popular sectors, also affects some businesses of the opposing bourgeoisie. This increasing austerity causes unrest which affects the sectors that were the social support of the regime, which were maintained with clientelist policies.

To the weakening of the social base of the regime, which strengthens its bonapartist character, depends more and more on the military and police apparatus, we must add two key elements: on one side, the constant pressure of imperialism and on the other side the increase of actions on the streets, which, though modest in relation to the first two months, mark a very dangerous uprising.

The United States wants to force a political renovation. It pressures through its partial economic sanctions, which it threatens to extend, and through the OAS. The later threatens with applying the Democratic Charter and its human rights organism has put Nicaragua on the blacklist of governments that violate human rights in the continent. Imperialist interests have nothing to do with the democratic attitude they try to show. For years they maintained good relations with the dictatorship of the “Bolivarian” commander Ortega. Like they do also in Venezuela, they try to establish a government of the traditional bourgeoisie to intervene directly in the crisis, with the objective of “normalizing” capitalist business and impede a future triumph of the democratic struggle, which could affect the interests of the multinationals and the Nicaraguan bourgeoisie that used to pact with the dictator.

The National Dialogue reopens

In this situation, last February the negotiations of Ortega with the great bosses began again, agreeing on a “road map” for these new sessions of the Dialogue. They are re-initiated publicly, because the regime´s conversations with the great bourgeoisie and imperialism never actually stopped.

These new sessions are stumbling. They are badly seen by a great part of the people that hate the murderous regime and distrust of the bosses, that were its allies for a long time.

On one hand, the Church with its veteran political instinct, demands to the regime the liberation of prisoners and partially retires from the dialogue table with different excuses. On the other hand, as recently denounced by the imprisoned Yaritza Rostran, the apostolic nuncio of the Pope, who acts as mediator in the negotiation table, calls the prisoners to abandon the hunger strike because it annoyed the government, which was showing good will.

The members of the dialogue, the government and “representatives” of the opposition (designated through an agreement between the businessmen among the figures who are acceptable to the regime), agree on a dateline with Ortega to free the total amount of prisoners in 90 days. Currently, they already freed 160 but under different figures of domiciliary detention and with standing charges, over a total of 802 according to the report of the Committee for the Liberation of Political Prisoners.

The announcement of these dates, which constitutes a new maneuver of Ortega, made the student representatives abandon the Dialogue, which will resume in coming days with a very questioned representation. At the same time, there is an important struggle over the possible date of “early elections”, in which, though the dictatorship would accept that they take place before 2021, its “flexibilization” would contemplate a date before 2020. It is far enough to maneuver, to try and kick the table a few more times and essentially guaranteeing an agreement in which they conserve important quotas of power in a future government, and allow them to maintain impunity for the main supporters of the regime, responsible for the murders and the brutal repression.

The popular mobilization resume

On March 16, more than a thousand Nicaraguans resumed mobilizations in Managua, in an action which spread to other places. The regime answered with 160 arrests, trying to prove it controls the situation, and the prohibition of manifestations. Nonetheless, a few hours later, it had to free the protesters; this time it couldn’t intimidate with shooters and deaths like it used to. This Saturday 23 different pickets took place for two hours in different points of Nicaragua.

They are small in comparison to the great mobilizations of 2018, but show a trend towards fear evaporating, for now in sectors of the vanguard. But if they continue, this could mean the re-surging of the action of the Nicaraguan people on the streets. They also show peoples´ distrust in the Dialogue and its capacity for liberating the prisoners and expelling the dictatorship, and the understanding of the necessity of retaking the open struggle against the regime as the only assurance for the fulfillment of the demands of the Nicaraguan people. Although they are just the first actions, another important characteristic is the belligerency and pugnacity of the protesters against the actions of the repressive apparatus.

What works against a greater massivity is not only the repressive actions of the government, but also the doubts, obstacles, lack of will and betrayals of the leadership of the Civil Alliance and the lack of a combative leadership capable of taking the struggle to overthrow the dictatorship to the end, meaning the absence of a revolutionary leadership of the process. This being said, we must also point out that these betrayals of the leadership are causing ruptures and realignments, particularly in the student movement, that we must pay close attention to, since they could originate sectors willing to put up a coherent fight to overthrow the regime.

Freedom for the political prisoners! Down with the dictatorship! For a Constituent Assembly to rebuild the country on an anti-capitalist basis.

The only guarantee for the liberation of the political prisoners is the popular mobilization. We must not trust in the negotiations of the Dialogue for their liberation. On the contrary, if we do not mobilize, the liberation process could be maneuvered, like Ortega has already done before, and it even could take steps back. The same happens with the restitution of our democratic rights, from the right to protest to the functioning of the banned opposing media and the guarantees for the return of the exiled. In this lies the importance of the call by the main sector of the University Coordinator to organize a great march in Managua and the rest of the country on the anniversary of the rising against the dictatorship.

We must take advantage of the ruptures inside the regime to slip in a stronger process of mobilization on the path to overthrowing the dictatorship of Ortega and Murillo. If this doesn’t make the dictatorship fall, every electoral process in its hands will be fouled, in the service to make changes but without changing anything at all. This is what is being negotiated with the businesses and the Church, although they try to pose as defenders of democracy and justice. Next April 18, the first anniversary of the rebellion, there is a great opportunity to organize strong actions in Nicaragua and the world to make the dictatorship fall and to seek a radical solution that provides answers to the necessities of the Nicaraguan people.

To the tasks and the democratic program, it is very important to add the demands of the working class against the austerity plan. Against the reforms of the INSS that cut pensions, against the recent tax rise, for progressive taxes on the great capitalists, against the stagnation of the minimum wage, for a general rise of wages according to the family basket, for the rural demands of the anti-canal movement and a new agrarian reform, for the nationalization of the banking system under control of its workers and the rupture with the IMF, among other measures.

We need a constituent assembly to create the bases of a democratic Nicaragua, so the people can decide the necessary reforms to live with dignity. The struggle for a Nicaragua free from the dictatorship, without exploitation, hunger or misery, a struggle that questions the capitalist interests of COSEP, AMCHAM, FUNIDES and the businesses, the interests of the multinational companies and the church, that supported Ortega until the people questioned him in the revolution of April. Only a Nicaragua governed by the people and the youth that faced the bullets and lead the rising can rebuild the country on new bases. This is why we must build a revolutionary socialist organization that joins the coherent activists against the dictatorship of Ortega Murillo. We call on these heroic activists to build it.

Gustavo Gimenez