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Did They Up the Ante, or Go Off the Deep End?

They’ll be proclaiming they won the elections, but what they’ll really have won is the gold medal for the most extraordinary spectacle.

Rosario Murillo, vicepresidenta de Nicaragua, y Daniel Ortega, presidente de Nicaragua. Foto: Cortesía/ Archivo

Gioconda Belli

9 de agosto 2021


The conduct of the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship is a source of daily incredulousness. Their actions over the past months reflect an absolute disregard for the laws and even the most essential norms of peaceful coexistence.

If in 2018, they’d already filled to overflowing the cup of iniquity, with the deaths, injuries and exiles they inflicted on the country in response to the April protests, now it seems they’ve lost all semblance of reason. In the beginning, one might think they were trying to up the ante of the political game with their arrests and offensiveness; now, the only thing left to think is that they’ve gone off the deep end right in front of their own people and the international community.

What benefit can they possibly imagine this display of measureless aggressiveness will bring to Nicaragua?

Their international and national image has suffered a profound and devastating deterioration. To the world and the newspaper headlines, they appear as arbitrary despots, condemned by the most serious human rights organizations, and criticized and reproached by both left and right.

How could it be otherwise, if they’ve doled out bitterness and ice every which way: fabricating accusations; ordering arrests by the dozens; inhibiting candidacies, up to and including that of a well-intentioned young woman like Berenice Quezada. Now, they’ve arrived at the summit of their manipulations by stripping the Citizens for Liberty Party of its legal status. Immediately afterwards, in a gesture of enormous cruelty, they canceled the nationality of Kitty Monterrey, the party’s president, an energetic woman who’s married to a Nicaraguan, mother to Nicaraguans, and legally Nicaraguan for decades.


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What logic has led them to delegitimize their own elections while antagonizing foreign aid organizations, democratic governments, and the international media? All to defend a concept of sovereignty that resembles a childhood tantrum typical of those kids who strike out at their classmates when they’re in a rage.

It brings to mind a phrase spoken by Rosario Murillo’s sister, who stated that when Murillo was a child, things were either hers, or no one’s. Judging by the vice president’s idea of sovereignty, that’s still her reasoning.

They’ve transformed our Nicaragua, the second poorest country in Latin America, into a kind of isola [islet], like the one Don Quixote offered to give his squire, Sancho Panza, a tragicomic instance of desolation and alienation: a land that won’t be anyone’s, if they can’t have it. Now they even want to adjudicate even the awards that others receive for their personal merits, as if these were their own?

They’ll proclaim that they won their elections, but what they’ll have won is the gold medal for the most extraordinary spectacle that any regime has presented during any election.

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.