Nicaragua from the inside: thoughts on the scam of the dialogue
In Nicaragua, on February 16, the dictatorship of Ortega and Murillo published a declaration in which they say that they met with a “group of spokespeople of the Nicaraguan private sector to discuss issues of the common interests of the country”. The meeting was also attended by the Cardinal and the Pope’s Apostolic Nuncio. The statement also says that “the necessity of an agreement to begin negotiations, through a serious and sincere meeting, has been confirmed”. The rejection of broad sectors was immediate. With this logic, the traditional powers strike again against the people and want to dialogue with the capitalist and murderous dictatorship, with the support and pressure of businesses and the Vatican. A tremendous contradiction. This “negotiation” is a trap of the dictatorship to earn some time in a moment of great contradictions and weakness.
A dialogue with the criminals of El Carmen is contradictory. Ortega and Murillo (ORMU) now are weakened and trapped. First, because ten months ago, the people got tired of them and massively mobilized against government repression, against the economic measures promoted by the IMF, against the “government of consensus with private companies” and against the limitations to our unalienable liberties. The people decided to mobilize and May began with 85% of people on strike. That pressure was due to independent people that organized strikes, mobilizations, barricades and trenches in the universities, fields and neighborhoods. Like the case of the indigenous neighborhood of Morimbo, the City University of Leon, the eastern neighborhoods of Managua, the student body of the Autonomous National University of Nicaragua, the peasant people on the canal road, as a few examples of the sectors that have given everything they have to confront this violent dictatorship, their bodies.
In the end, none of the big businesses stopped the country, nor Michael Healy and his tractors after he said that “if we do not see developments [in the national dialogue] next week, the producers will use our machinery to stop the country and show him [Ortega] that he’s alone, trapped”, in an interview on the program This Week. In said interview, he also talked about the need of the stoppage of the private sector, meaning a national strike. Healy is the president of the Union of Agricultural Producers of Nicaragua (UPANIC), one of the five spokespeople of the business sector that are part of the Civil Alliance for Justice and Democracy (ACDJ), a pro-dialogue organization and counterpart of the dis-government on the national dialogue installed in May 2018, with the support of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua, which also acted as witness and intermediary. In the current dialogue, it’s a substitute. The aforementioned interview happened on May 30, day on which millions of Nicaraguans mobilized demanding justice for the victims, as a response to the call of the Madres de Abril -organization of relatives of the deadly victims of ORMU. In Managua, the dis-government answered with bullets, shooting the youth in the head and chest. Those who where in the front line of the “mother of all mobilizations” were murdered by Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. The answer of the dictatorship was similar in the rest of the country.
Today the dictatorship is trapped because the private sector now understands that ORMU won’t give in and their goal is surviving until 2021, which means great losses for their profits. In that train of thought, a “national dialogue” is contradictory to attaining the liberties we demand, with the leadership of the business sector, accomplice of the consolidation of the dictatorship, imposing its economic interests over the desired popular liberties.
The other actor that is pressuring the dictatorship is the “international community”. The Organization of American States threatens with applying Article 20 of the Democratic Charter. The European Union threatens “strong” sanctions after the disregard of the dis-government of the agreements for the visit of a delegation of Euro-representatives by injuring political prisoners inside La Esperanza jail. For the dictatorship, the dialogue is a political process with the objective of taking a breath from its fatal state, assuring that its power over the State is maintained, no matter the results of the transitional process. The most demanded transition is early elections to choose a new government. This transition is being promoted by the ACJD, the business sector, the Organization of American States, the European Union and the United States. This is the transition that’s more convenient for the regime. As said before, a contradiction.
On the guarantees for dialogue
Most of the popular organizations that emerged from the insurrection of April have reached a consensus for minimal conditions to have any negotiation. The first is the liberation of political prisoners, currently over 767 according to the preliminary list of January 15, 2019 elaborated by the Committee for the Liberation of the Political Prisoners (CFPLPPP). The end of the repression, persecution and harassment, the public forces as the National Police and the Army must dissolve the parallel groups linked to the dictatorship. There must be safety guarantees for the return of thousands of exiled people; re-establishing complete freedom of speech, association and mobilization. The delivery of the stolen goods to the media and human rights organizations is a necessity. Allowing international human rights organizations to return to the country to continue with the investigation of human rights violations that the Nicaraguan people have denounced since before April’s insurrection. The base organizations agree on all of this. Human rights are not negotiable.
If these conditions are not met, accepting a dialogue with the murderous and torturing dictatorship would mean betraying the Nicaraguan people. It is a betrayal because the political prisoners want us to be strong and not negotiate over shed blood. It is a betrayal because we’re being used by the business sector to protect their interests. It is a betrayal because the trial and punishment of those responsible for crimes against humanity is essential. They won’t give us what we demand.
We must take it
In a national transmission on February 21, Ortega confirmed what the big corporations already knew: the negotiation will be opened again, starting on February 27, with a small group behind closed doors, and already said what the negotiation will be about: economic reforms. Almost immediately, the Civil Alliance for Justice and Democracy, behind the backs of the people and the National Union -where the ACJD, the Articulation of Social Movements AMS, and several popular organizations that emerged from the April insurrection and before, including political parties, participate-, released a statement announcing its six negotiators, all men, three of them businessmen: Jose Adan Aguerri of the Superior Council of Private Companies COSEP, Juan Sebastian Chamorro of the Nicaraguan Trust for the Social and Economic Development FUNIDES, Mario Arana of the American Chamber of Commerce of Nicaragua (AmCham), from the academic sector there’s Carlos Türnnerman, Jose Pallais (a right wing politician from the Broad Front for a Democracy Party) and Max Jerez, a student from a small student organization without an organized university base, accused of being aligned with the interests of capital. Capitalism, patriarchy and reformism in a “negotiation” table with the dictatorship. A contradiction.
Democratic transition: a new government or a free and sovereign constituent assembly
We must reflect on who has the legitimacy to discuss the immediate and long-term future of the country, which certainly does not imply a “negotiation” table with the dictatorship of ORMU and great capital, with the support of the Vatican and the Church. The issue of justice, that is imperious for commencement of the transition, marks the key points: the relatives of the deadly victims of the dictatorship -organized in the Mothers of April organization- and the Committee for the Liberation of Political Prisoners have expressed their interest in being the negotiators to ensure the prosecution. But this will not happen with Daniel and Rosario sitting at the table. These families don’t deserve having to see the faces of the murderers and torturers of their children, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters. These families deserve justice. Ensuring this will not happen again and a deep process of integral reparation for other affected sectors, like the student organizations, rural workers, indigenous people, the public workers harassed by the dis-government and the thousands of people exiled by the crimes of the regime. Each of these sectors gave everything they had in order to confront the dictatorship.
This is why in any future negotiation, legitimate and popular, the main point has to be justice for the victims of the dictatorship. Our commitment with justice, non repetition and reparation must be irrevocable, betting on the processes that re-build collective memory and establish the truth of the crimes against humanity, against the poor people, the constant attacks on university autonomy, the crimes that the working people suffered. The harassment and persecution of the rural anti-canal movement, the indigenous people, the women´s organizations that have been on the vanguard of the struggle in defense of our rights for decades. It is our historical duty to break with the cycles of violence that have caused so much suffering in Nicaragua. We also deny amnesty, impunity and immunity to the material and intellectual perpetrators of the crimes against humanity. Ortega and Murillo are not eligible for amnesty.
The issue of the democratic transition is the common point among the sectors, with differences on the results it can offer to the Nicaraguan people. The business sector, the Church and the “international community”, including the government of the United States, strongly wager on early elections to elect a new government to administer the State. The contradictions in these elections lay in that they would become the “soft way out” for the regime. A solution with which they can maintain an important quota of the power in the State and its institutions, media and the apparatus of the party inside the territory for social control, the main snitches of their fellow citizens. As Ortega used to say in the 90s, a “government from below”.
For the reconstruction of the State, first it’s necessary to get rid of the State, its institutions and the social contract condensed in the Constitution of 1987 and its reforms. We must get rid of every guarantee to obtain the liberties we need and desire.
A Popular, Free and Sovereign Constituent Assembly becomes the way to achieve those guarantees. Let us make a new State, create new institutions, decide how to govern. Let us dismantle this State of private business and landowners, let us build a new one with Latin Americanist perspectives, aspiring to the regional unity of all the peoples of Central America, a country divided by artificial borders imposed by imperialism and the local business sectors. We will do this to guarantee a democratic political system for the majorities, without privileged castes, with recallable mandates. We will take over everything. As a sovereign people, we will conquer every liberty. This is the radical answer to the oppressive regime.
A free and sovereign constituent assembly will dialogue a new constitution that must be validated by the people. Supported by the greatest mobilizations Nicaragua has ever seen, to watch over the proposals of the constituent representatives. This assembly must be summoned and chosen by the people, and for that, creating an electoral institute with ethical and expert people, that haven’t been part of the dictatorship and its crimes, is imperious. And calling for universal, free and secret elections. The candidates to the constituent assembly must legitimately represent and have the support of the sector they are part of. The historically oppressed people must conform the constituent assembly, women, rural people, students, indigenous communities, neighborhood organizations, including the representation of the main victims of the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship. There will begin the new foundation of our Nicaragua.
The exit of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo is unavoidable. That is why we bet on the “negotiation” card that the people have: mobilization. It is our duty to lead the forces that have organized and articulated to strengthen the mobilization of the people. The anniversary of the April Insurrection is nearing and the desire to mobilize and take over the streets can be felt in the air; the dictatorship and the regime know this, that’s why the “negotiation” with the business sector and the ACJD has sped up.
At this point, the actions of platforms such as the University Coordinator for the Democracy and Justice (CUDJ) and the Articulation of Social Movements (ASM) are essential. The first one is a platform conformed by eleven diverse university organizations with their own agenda; the second one is an articulation of movements and organizations born in the times of the insurrection and organizations of civil society that have joined the people to fight against the attacks that Nicaraguans have historically suffered. They both have an important territorial presence across the country, with their own experiences in participating, organizing and leading social mobilizations, and have presented radical proposals for collectively decided objectives.
Because of their nature, these platforms and the other territorial organizations have the duty to: first, denounce to the people the pact between the leaderships in the government, the business sector and the Civil Alliance for Justice and Democracy, declaring them illegitimate as spokespeople of the interests of the people; simultaneously disregard that negotiation and others that take place while the ORMU dictatorship is still in power. We must strengthen the organization for the mobilization and propose an integral program collectively designed by and for the bases. A program that answers to the historical demands of the much needed liberties of the oppressed people, leading us to the radical transformation we need and wish for.
This is where the need of building a political tool that is ready to govern and lead the political, economic and social transformation of Nicaragua arises from; without private businesses, without the interference of the Vatican, without murderers or human rights criminals. Now it is crucial that this tool emerge from the unity and decision of the people that gave everything, of the repressed sectors in April and those historically repressed by the regime, and not from the current negotiators that validate the dialogue with the dictatorship..
Exiled Nicaraguan student. Member of the University Coordination for Democracy and Justice