Sunday, September 24

Nicaragua Elections: Ortega and Murillo write their epitaph | Opinion

The first time I voted in my life was in 1984. I never did during the dictatorship of the Somoza family that ruled Nicaragua from 1936 to 1979. I grew up in a family opposed to the dynasty. When I was 18 years old to vote, I knew it was a futile exercise. Somoza always won the elections. I remember a sign written on the wall of the Managua Military Hospital: “Somoza forever.” The only time the opposition challenged the reelection of Anastasio Somoza, the youngest of the tyrant’s sons, on January 22, 1967, the National Guard massacred a crowd that gathered on the main avenue of the city. At least 200 people are estimated to have died that day, when soldiers fired at protesters at close range.

I was part of a generation that, under the slogan of “Enough now” and in the absence of civic alternatives, opted for armed struggle. The dictatorship and its electoral fraud led us to the conclusion that Somoza would only be defeated by arms. That’s how it went. In 1979, the dictatorship was overthrown after the popular insurrection led by the Sandinista Front guerrillas, which from 1960 began their armed actions at great cost to the guerrillas. The best Sandinista leaders were assassinated by the dictatorship.

The presidential formula for the first elections, in 1984, to which the Sandinista revolution called, was headed by Daniel Ortega and Sergio Ramírez as vice-presidential candidate. It was the first time I voted, but it was not a happy election. The dissatisfaction of a sector of the middle class and upper class of the country with the radical measures of the Revolution had already generated a significant political opposition and an armed opposition. The legitimacy of the 1984 elections crumbled a few weeks before the elections when the opposition decided to withdraw.

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His retirement was part of the offensive by the Ronald Reagan administration. Since 1982, the US has been openly involved in the civil war that became known as the Contra war, the counterrevolution. The Sandinista revolution’s connection with Cuba, the USSR, and its support for the Salvadoran guerrillas proved unacceptable to the hawks in the White House. The war denatured the libertarian spirit of the revolution and contributed to the development of authoritarian tendencies in a guerrilla organization that failed to shake off the militarism of its origin. The Sandinista Front had become a political party of order and command. In civil or military life, its members were believing and disciplined soldiers. It was a left of sacred dogmas. We argued internally, but the “imperialist threat” argument suppressed any attempt at sustained and strategic criticism. Building a democratic society took a back seat to the demand to defend the revolution. The attrition of the war eventually led to a peace accord with the Contra leadership in 1988, which included bringing the elections forward to 1990.

By then, the leadership of the Sandinista Front had lost contact with the reality of the majority. The shortage due to the US blockade was terrible. Essential things were missing and young men recruited for Military Service returned home in coffins, too often. The FSLN leadership, however, did not doubt that the people would vote for the continuation of the revolution. In 1985 I had left the positions I had to write The inhabited woman, my first novel. Perhaps because I was away from the life of the party and more in touch with the daily routine of managing my house, the queues and, above all, the people who listened or with whom I talked in these matters, I began to fear that the absolute confidence that Most of my colleagues believed that we would win the elections, it could be unfounded. I discussed it with them. I even prepared a memo for the election campaign team, suggesting that they should prepare for the “worst possible scenario.” It was like preaching in the desert. Nobody wanted to hear it.

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The defeat of Sandinismo in 1990 was totally unexpected. The party had not even prepared a plan B, in case that happened. International supervision and the figure of an honest man in the presidency of the Supreme Electoral Council, Mariano Fiallos Oyanguren, who, despite his Sandinista sympathies, did not hesitate to abide by the popular will, convinced the Sandinista leadership that there was no alternative but accept defeat. Ortega gave one of his best speeches in the early morning hours of February 26, 1990, when he awarded Violeta Chamorro the victory. But in his heart he did not accept defeat. Two days later, at an event with his supporters in a small square in Managua, he announced that he would rule from below. Since then, he has not given up on his ambition to return to the presidency, sacrificing along the way the ethics and principles that once qualified him as a revolutionary.

A famous phrase of the commander of the revolution, Tomás Borge, after Ortega’s return to power: “Everything can happen here, unless the Sandinista Front loses power, no matter the price that has to be paid” sums up the mentality that prevails now. in Ortega’s mind. At Borge’s funeral, he said: “There will be a Sandinista Front for a long time, as long as to say 100 years, as long as to say forever.” In other words, the hope of a free country that Sandinismo once fought for was shattered in front of the mirror of the phrase that the Somoza dictatorship once wielded as truth. “Somoza forever” is now the banner of a new dictatorship: “Ortega forever.”

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The elections this coming November 7 in Nicaragua will be an empty ritual and many will abstain from voting. However, the country is no longer the same. The Ortega and Murillo duo revived, in a few months in 2018, the memory of the dictatorial repression and the rejection of the Nicaraguans. By catching candidates and critics in this election year, they have shown that their only strength lies in repression, manipulation and weapons. Whatever it lasts, this dictatorship has already written its epitaph.

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