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Another grim page in Nicaragua’s history

Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo will be inaugurated to continue being the rulers of a country whose society they have fractured

Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo will be inaugurated to continue being the rulers of a country whose society they have fractured

Gioconda Belli

11 de enero 2022


It is inevitable to be sad these days. A new year usually means renewal, the possibility of change. In Nicaragua, however, we will begin the year with the already well-known ceremony of inaugurating the same president and his wife-vice president.

For eleven years [starting 2007] there was an abundance of tolerance for them. They were tacitly allowed to change the Constitution, the statutes that maintained a halfway professional army, the laws with which the country’s institutions were being destroyed. But the accumulated discontent manifested itself surprisingly. The country seemed calm until, in 2018, due to a protest, and there were many in Latin America in those years, the anguish of losing power unbridled them and they decided to attack their own people.

Since then, they have not stopped doing it. They have failed to recognize that they themselves lost the path of what they had proposed: a safe country, with class alliances, with handouts to make their popularity grow, with investments, a country open to the world, but absolutely controlled by them. Many people did not oppose those aims. Big capital, the middle classes and many in the population did not approve of the centralization of power, but it seemed to them that, if it was the price for living in peace, they would pay it.

There were few of us who warned that they had acquired such control that, as I remember saying myself in an interview before 2018, when I called the regime a “soft-dictatorship,” we would be fine until Ortega wakes up in a bad mood, because to crush us he already had all the instruments at hand to do it. I believe that has been bitterly proven since 2018.

It is not my purpose to refer here to the damage they have done to us because I think most of us feel it and live it directly or indirectly. I want to refer to their own failures, the failure that they have brought upon themselves with their merciless and dictatorial way of acting.

Because this inauguration will be lackluster and sad for them as well. They are smart enough to know that their antiimperialist discourse is just a fabrication. The United States through its ambassador meets and has met with people from the opposition. It is part of his job just as it is for all ambassadors. The United States now, are not the United States of the 80’s, they are involved in their own domestic problems and in the Middle East. Their intervention in Latin America, loathsome, by the way, no longer has the same level of importance. They are concerned about drugs and migration and were satisfied with the Ortega government. Likewise, they do not interfere by changing leaders as they did in previous decades.

But at the propaganda level, the presidential couple, knows that that antagonistic ghost works for them, and they use it. But they have not only confronted the United States, but the whole world that is governed by certain rules. The rules may not be perfect, but they are the ones that exist in order to live more or less civilized within the western culture that Nicaragua shares. We have much more in common with the culture of the United States and Europe than with that of Russia or China. But, cornered against the wall by their own outbursts and displays of omnipotent power, the couple is now inclined to insert the country in an orbit of countries known for their abuses against their own peoples, no matter how much money they can offer.


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Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo will be inaugurated to continue being the big bosses of a country whose society has been fractured by them. A divided society. They will rule over a country where people seek to migrate, where in recent years there has been the biggest brain drain in living memory; where talented young people who were beginning to generate new ideas have left, are leaving, or have been persecuted. There is almost no family that is not wounded by some death or by mishandling of the coronavirus, whose victims they have wanted to hide. A country where there are 167 people unjustly imprisoned and suffering prison regimes typical of a merciless Gulag.

They will rule surrounded with heavy security because they are afraid of the people, circumscribed to a very small group of cronies who are with them because they owe them favors, but whom they know they cannot trust blindly. They will continue to be cheered by public employees who are forced to do so and over whom they keep strict control.

They will be supported by a party that no longer exists, where operators are paid off by their loyalty, or are capable, like fanatical hordes, of killing and breaking bones, if their “bosses” so request it. They will rule with an army of fanfare, with old and fat leaders, whose loyalty lies in not wanting to risk their comforts and privileges and who knows how much more; with a Police force that was manipulated and subjected so that, from being a police force respected by the people, it became the face of repression and abuse.

Their project, everything they promised to return to power: jobs, peace and reconciliation slipped out of their hands because they were ambitious, because they believed they were anointed by that God they invented in their own image because they never believed in the God of justice. It happened to them because they were incapable of humility, of self-criticism, of accepting that they could not spend their whole lives in power. They themselves turned into the monsters they once despised. And now, their vanity, their pride, their messianism, has put them in the position of needing to sell and deliver the country to regimes that will feed them and keep them in power, but that will destroy the Nicaragua of Ruben Dario and Sandino, the Nicaragua that existed and that so many of us love.

This inauguration will be a requiem for the soul of Nicaragua. It will plunge it even deeper into the disgrace of a country that has been plundered, impoverished, humiliated, forced into submission and silence, a country that many Nicaraguans will want to abandon because it no longer belonged to them.

On January 10, 1978, Pedro Joaquin Chamorro was assassinated; this January 10 will mark another grim page in our history.

This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by Havana Times


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Gioconda Belli

Gioconda Belli

Poeta y novelista nicaragüense. Ha publicado quince libros de poemas, ocho novelas, dos libros de ensayos, una memoria, y cuatro cuentos para niños. Su primera novela “La mujer habitada” (1988) ha sido traducida a más de catorce idiomas. Ganadora del Premio La Otra Orilla, 2010; Biblioteca Breve, de Seix Barral (España, 2008); Premio Casa de las Américas, en Cuba; Premio Internacional de Poesía Generación del ‘27, en España y Premio Anna Seghers de la Academia de Artes, de Alemania; Premio de Bellas Artes de Francia, 2014. En 2023 obtuvo el premio Reina Sofía de Poesía Iberoamericana, el más prestigioso para la poesía en español. Por sus posiciones críticas al Gobierno de Daniel Ortega y Rosario Murillo, fue despatriada y confiscada. Está exiliada en Madrid.