Nicaragua from the inside: dialogue with the dictator?

Nine months since April’s insurrection in Nicaragua, the scenario has significantly changed. There has been a constantly changing process in the correlation of forces in the resistance. These have been though months, signed by pain and death. In this moment, in Nicaragua, everything is about to be defined. It is necessary to raise some issues about the path that the process of struggle against the dictatorship has taken. In this column, we’re not just trying to inform, but also to make a collaboration to the Nicaraguan struggle. The situation is quite different from the April protests, and although the Ortega government is isolated in the international level and is still in power only through the use of the force and installing a terror doctrine; the correlation of the popular forces isn’t able yet to resurge as a revolutionary strategy of popular resistance. Yet it has not lost its combative spirit.

The rupture at the base

The regime started to show the first symptoms of disintegration within its base. In November 2018 was the scandalous resignation of Ligia Gomez, former head of Economic Investigations of the Central Bank of Nicaragua and political secretary of the FSLN (Sandinist National Liberation Front), who in exile denounced and detailed the phases and forms of the repression carried out from every ministry under the leadership of Rosario Murillo, vice president and wife of Daniel Ortega. From that moment on, more and more high-ranking officials are slowly taking distance and denouncing the repressive machine that governs the Central American country.

Such is the case of the superintendent of banks Victor Urcuyo, whose resignation was presented on December 20, 2018. Then came the ex magistrate of the Supreme Court of Justice Rafael Solis Cerda, who is considered one of the main political operators of the FSLN. In 2009 he was the man responsible for emitting the court decision that allowed the re-election of Ortega in 2011. His resignation from the judicial power on January 2019, was announced outside of Nicaragua through a public letter he named “Letter of resignation and denunciation”, where he refers to the crimes against humanity committed by the government after the April protests and exposes Ortega as a dictator; adding that “the separation of powers in Nicaragua is over, it’s all concentrated in their hands”. Also, Solis warned about Ortega and Murillo´s lack of intent to abandon power and murder.

So what do these resignations mean in the middle of the crisis? They are not unimportant. On one hand, the dictatorship seems to be faltering and losing strength from within. These government officials are key witnesses of the corruption and functioning of the Ortega-Murillo regime. they’re important pieces of the unstable board of the dictatorship. These resignations confirm the level of threats inside the party and the fear officials of the regime feel, knowing it is on its way down; but the popular outcry is clear, “we celebrate the resignations, but we do not forget”, every accomplice of the regime must be investigated and judged to pay for their crimes.

The diplomatic solution everyone but the Nicaraguan people want.

Another important development is the presentation of the last report of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts of the CIDH (Inter-American Court of Human Rights), after a field study, which condemns the crimes against humanity in Nicaragua, directed by Ortega through the National Police and paramilitary forces close to the FSLN government. These declarations, presented in an extraordinary session of the OEA (Organization of American States) on January 10, 2019, confirmed at a diplomatic level what the Nicaraguan people have been denouncing since April 2018: in Nicaragua there is a dictatorship that murders, rapes, incarcerates and disappears anyone who raises their voice to demand freedom, democracy and justice. The presentation of this report has opened the path to the threat of the application of Art. 20 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, with which they could suspend Nicaragua as a member country of the OEA. This diplomatic stance isn’t innocent and has the clear intention of looking for a negotiated way out of the crisis through international pressure. But be careful, it’s necessary to be clear in our position about the solution to the dictatorship and the supposed attempts that are promoted from the hegemonic powers in Nicaragua; the Catholic church, through the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua, private companies through the COSEP and the Ortega dictatorship itself, through the judicial institutions and the legislative power.

In the last weeks there has been a media campaign, pushed by the private sector, led by the Civic Alliance, that insists on the restoration of the table of “national dialogue”, where they hope to appeal to the good will of the dictator, doing the same old thing but still hoping for a different result. We must remember that this is the same sector that didn’t give everything they had to overthrow the dictator when they could have, and now they insist on giving the regime a rest, like they already did in May and July 2018. It’s necessary to clarify that the Nicaraguan people, the mothers, the prisoners and exiled people aren’t willing to dialogue with the murderers or accomplices of the dictatorship. The solution must be popular, and must create the conditions for judging and condemning the accomplices and perpetrators of the massacre of the Nicaraguan people. We are calling for the greatest solidarity of the people of America and the world to support the struggle and self-determination of the Nicaraguan people that aim for the refoundation of the state and the search for justice. But for this, the departure of the dictators is fundamental.

Mexican volunteers to mediate in the Nicaraguan crisis

Although Mexico abstained from intervening in favor of the Nicaraguan people in the OEA (Organization of American States) and condemning the crimes against humanity of the dictatorship of Ortega-Murillo; the undersecretary for Latin America and the Caribbean of the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs (SRE), Maximiliano Reyes, manifested in the Mexican Senate that the government of Lopez Obrador offered to act as mediator and facilitator to help solve the internal conflicts in Nicaragua “related to its self-determination” and “under the principle of non-interference”.

This offer exposes the socio-political interests of Mexico in the Central America in crisis, mediating in the Nicaraguan crisis would mean influencing in the crisis of the isthmus, in the migrant caravans going to Mexico and the United States, and even maintaining the economic relationships of Mexican companies in the region.

We can’t affirm that the Mexican abstention in the OEA is a declaration of support for Ortega, although it stills recognizes its pseudo-left government as legitimate; the current problem is that there are still sectors of society that do not accept that the end of the regime is the first step for any dialogue, a dialogue without Ortega. The first action of these interlocutors and the people must be disregarding Ortega as presidential figure, as “authority”, and that is non-negotiable.

The conditions for dialogue do not have the correlation of forces they had in May-June 2018, that are necessary for the popular demands to be “put on the table”. In this moment, there isn’t a resistance of barricades on the streets, nor massive mobilizations. Most of the feminist, student and rural leaders are incarcerated, murdered or exiled; the repression, the violence and the persecution continue. So, what would be different this time for those who claim to speak for the people and negotiate an unknown agenda with the dictatorship? The problem isn’t the dialogue itself, but the proposed agenda and interlocutors that legitimate a foul system in a context that doesn’t favor popular resistance.

For us, amnesty is not an option. We believe that dialogue is necessary but as a tool for a local, open and inclusive discussion, for the community, popular and territorial bases, organizing neighborhood assemblies and discussing the immediate issues, as the liberation of the political prisoners, the annulment of every ongoing judgment and repatriation of the exiled. And on the medium term, collectively think of independent alternatives for the political transition once we overthrow the dictatorship, policies of memory and assistance for the families of the victims and the mothers of April, with guarantees of no repetition and access to real justice.

We believe that in Nicaragua a process of Constituent Assembly is necessary, with a real representation of the interests of the people. It has already been proved in the attempt of national dialogue -that started in May of last year- that there are some sectors that want to maintain the same system that existed before April’s revolution. In Nicaragua, the youth and other sectors have the possibility of carrying out a definitive revolution that doesn’t only end with the dictatorship of Ortega but to also creates the conditions for the refounding of the country. The structural problems of Nicaragua must be discussed at a national level to generate changes that improve the living conditions of he Nicaraguan people, and that definitely won’t happen in any discussion table headed by private companies and the groups of real power in Nicaragua.

Ariana McGuire Villalta