In his diatribes against the sanctions that different governments have applied to his private businesses and the ill-gotten wealth of his cronies, Daniel Ortega recurrently appeals to his old rhetoric about sovereignty, the violation of human rights and the suffering of the people.
At best, these speeches reflect the sick mania of tyrants who, in their messianic delusions, come to feel that they are the incarnation of the homeland and the personification of popular interests. Some of that can be seen in the expression "the people are president".
Beyond the messianic hallucinations, Ortega is sufficiently informed that the US sanctions, for example, have in no way affected economic relations with the United States: neither exports, nor imports, nor remittances, nor transactions with free trade zones, nor recent credits from multilateral financial institutions. On the contrary, the amount of these transactions increased in 2020, despite the pandemic and its negative economic impacts in that country.
Therefore, these are rather hypocritical speeches intended to cover up their sympathy for the damage and disruption caused to their business by these sanctions.
However, there are sanctions that do seriously damage national sovereignty, popular sovereignty, human rights and the living conditions of Nicaraguans. These are the sanctions imposed by Ortega himself.
Is there a greater sanction to national sovereignty than the mafia mortgage agreed by the dictator with the Chinese speculator Wang Jing for the inter-oceanic canal project?
The 'homeland-selling law' is still in force and we still do not know what kind of shenanigans may have been carried out, or are being carried out, under the protection of that ignominious concession. This attack on national sovereignty penalizes the country with a mortgage that has a term of one hundred years.
Is there any greater sanction to popular sovereignty than the electoral circuses set up by the dictator to circumvent the sovereign will of the people, which should be expressed in free elections? And now, there he goes again to stage another electoral circus.
But the dictator has also punished and punishes the Nicaraguan people with other costly sanctions.
He punished the INSS pensioners, taking away approximately 800 million córdobas with a monetary maneuver. The modifications to the exchange sliding rate was the screen of the artful plundering, which for the majority passed overnight. It is only when they face the grocery store and can no longer buy what they used to buy with their meager pensions, that the retirees realize the blow. But they do not know where it comes from.
It penalized current members, of any age, income or profession, by raising contributions, on the one hand; and, on the other, by drastically reducing retirement pensions. Unfortunately, the laments of the new retirees fall on deaf ears when they see how the sacrifices of a lifetime are reduced to ridiculous pensions. The most repudiatory thing is that these sanctions are imposed to cover the financial crisis of the INSS, caused by the waste, corruption and incompetence of the servants of the regime.
The dictator also imposes onerous sanctions on businessmen of all sizes with the tax reform, the increase of the INSS contribution and the customs abuses. Millions of córdobas are sucked daily from businesses and productive activity so that the dictatorship can sustain the state apparatus and its repressive mechanisms.
The confiscations and occupation of properties, mainly of opposition citizens, are also sanctions.
For present and future generations, a burden has been placed on them by the dictatorship with the increase of the internal and external public debt, which, at the end of the day, in the present and in the future, will be unloaded on the backs of taxpayers. The public debt grew by almost one billion in 2020 and will grow again in 2021.
And the fraudulent fuel prices, the high electricity rates and the abuse through the bills are a daily punishment to workers, businessmen and consumers. This daily punishment has the insatiable voracity of the mafia in power as a counterpart, since it is clear that the dictator is involved in both businesses, energy and fuel.
But the dictator also imposes cruel physical sanctions. Widespread repression, imprisonments, persecutions, illegal searches. Tortures, extrajudicial executions and disappearances and massive violations of the human rights of Nicaraguans have led international governmental and non-governmental organizations to signal the dictatorship of perpetrating crimes against humanity.
And, as if that were not enough, it threatens Nicaraguans abroad with Putin's daughter law -which they call the law of foreign agents-. It intends to sanction bankers to force them to open financial operations to mafiosi; it intimidates with the law that establishes life imprisonment and reserves the despotic power to imprison any citizen for 90 days, without any kind of trial.
The country-seller who sullies national sovereignty with the opprobrious concession to the Chinese Wang Jing; the individual internationally signaled out as responsible for massive violations to the human rights of Nicaraguans, including crimes against humanity; the dictator who mocks popular sovereignty by imposing electoral circuses; the character who subjugates, intimidates, blackmails and punishes; is the same one who whines about sanctions to his businesses and talks to us about sovereignty and human rights.
When the dictator speaks of sanctions, what we have to do is to remember the merciless sanctions with which he punishes the Nicaraguan people.
This article has been translated by Ana María Sampson, a Communication Science student at the University of Amsterdam and member of our staff.