Daniel Ortega, a tyrant hanging on by a thread

The President of Nicaragua doesn’t appear to understand that the widespread mobilisations against him are a result of social malaise accumulated during his time in power. Español

José Zepeda
1 August 2018
NICARAGUA 1_2_0_0.jpg

The president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, in the middle, embraces the Venezuelan leader Diosdado Cabello under the watchful eye of the First Lady Rosario Murillo during a celebration of the Sandinista Revolution in Managua, July 2013

Daniel Ortega has not hesitated in denominating the recent protests that have shaken Nicaragua to its core over the past three months as terrorist acts carried out by members of “satanic sects” – people who have been convinced by the devil that Ortega is the enemy. “Many temples were occupied like barracks to store arms, bombs, and to attack” the president affirms. 

There is another possibility however: that he is in fact misguided enough to believe his narrative will be accepted by people out with his closest circles. Ortega has shown signs of craftsmanship and astuteness in order to remain in power.

However, he doesn’t acknowledge that the majority of the Nicaraguan people have turned their backs on him. Refusing to see the situation for what it is and only perceiving what he wishes to see can only be described as a grave error. 

In spite of the incontrollable government repression that has taken place, the youth of Nicaragua, the workers, and the farmers have taken to the streets. They can beat them, they can throw them in jail, they can even kill them, but they can’t calm their desire for freedom. Nicaragua is bleeding itself dry, but it won’t give in. 

Ortega hasn’t been able to crush the rebellion and social unrest however hard he has tried. The times when his people lovingly referred to Ortega and his government as “the boys” are a distant memory now. 

Ortega hasn’t been able to crush the rebellion and social unrest however hard he has tried. The times when his people lovingly referred to Ortega and his government as “the boys” are a distant memory now. They were young revolutionaries in those days that gave the nation hope that once the tyrant Somoza had been taken down, a light would guide them to a better tomorrow.

Today the image of the dictator has been superimposed on Ortega. Somoza killed students, but Ortega has killed many more. Somoza sent his people to be tortured, and Ortega too. Somoza accumulated wealth at the expense of his people, Ortega has accumulated wealth in the name of doing so for his people.

I asked a friend in Nicaragua to help me locate a humble woman, the type lacking in pretensions and desire to take to the streets for risk of being gunned down or worse. When I got in contact with her, what surprised me the most was that she said Somoza had taken years to destroy the country however Ortega had managed to do so in a few months.

She told me of the horror she’s experiencing, because death plagued the streets of her country. She told me that armed men wouldn’t let people remove the corpses from the streets and that they were being devoured by vultures.

Her words were not of ideology, but of pain and anguish of the majority of Nicaraguans who can’t sleep because those on the look out at night are those who they fear during the day. 

The woman concluded by claiming the radio says Ortega isn’t prepared to call early elections, that he’s clinging onto his power.

As I search on the internet, the words of the president himself appear: “ Our electoral mandate will end with elections in 2021, when we have our next elections”. Calling elections now will apparently create “instability, insecurity, and would worsen things” further.

Ortega won’t call early elections for the good of the country according to his own words. All dictators say the same. They don’t remain in power because they wish to, they remain in power because it is their duty to do so.

It’s likely that certain sectors of the left in Latin America are prepared to stand by his unacceptable behaviour, as if condemning Ortega is a betrayal of revolutionary principles.

Dora María Téllez, commander of the Sandinista revolution, spells it out clearly: “I don’t recognise any force that justifies the indiscriminate repression of its people as a legitimate left-wing movement.

In other words, I think one of the ethical paradigms of the left-wing movement is to accompany the people in their demands. This is completely necessary. The people are demanding justice and democracy, so those who support a repressive murderer are outside of the ethical paradigm of the left for me.”

In this document from the 22nd of June, it was established that armed groups loyal to president Ortega were shooting at the head and the chest with the intention to kill.

“It’s shameful that there are people from the left who support a murderer. Would you want paramilitaries from any party walking the streets of France, without law or order, killing people because of their beliefs? No, so why would you want it for Nicaragua? Would you want there to be electoral fraud in Spain? No. So why would you want it for Nicaragua? Would you want a government that robs public funds in Holland? No, so don’t wish this upon Nicaragua.” 

“If the left or those who define themselves as pertaining to the left are unable to defend basic human rights unconditionally and persistently, then they need to re-evaluate their values. Because then we wouldn’t be talking about the left, but of Stalinism.” 

Antonia Urrejola Noguera, rapporteur for human rights in Nicaragua for the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, was able to show how the government had regressed during her visit to Managua a few weeks ago since the first commission report.

In this document from the 22nd of June, it was established that armed groups loyal to president Ortega were shooting at the head and the chest with the intention to kill.

Today this has turned into a selective yet persistent repression, consisting of the search and capture, and sometimes murder of protestors, with the aim of taking down the movement and intimidating the population.

This strategy greatly worries the Inter-American commission because it’s based exclusively on the use of force, it’s contrary to any democratic legal process and it makes searching for a solution to this humanitarian and political crisis through dialogue and negotiation impossible.

These circumstances, alongside the persecution of the church in Nicaragua, have led to bishops appealing to the president to ask if he wishes for the church to be a mediator in the eventual negotiations. 

After almost 100 days of protests, this is the state of affairs. More than 350 dead, numerous amounts of displaced people, criminalisation, threats, and intimidations. But many believe that it’s a matter of time, and that Ortega is over and lacking in any kind of support. One can only hope they’re not wrong.

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