Dilemmas of the Latin American Left and the Nicaragua Crisis

The Latin American left is divided into at least three blocs: the dogmatic, the Machiavellian, and the democratic.

Foto: Archivo | Confidencial

14 de octubre 2023


 Since the April 2018 rebellion, the Nicaraguan crisis has been a headache for the Latin American left. Roughly speaking, its positions have been shaped by two factors: the remnants of the original model and denial of the roots of the protests.

Regarding the former, some left sectors still do not want to acknowledge that a large part of the Nicaraguan population did rise against a government that supposedly was of their own, which also considers itself the heir of the Sandinista Revolution of the 1980s. In a fit of political schizophrenia or simply cynicism, they supported the protests that later occurred in Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru but continued to turn a blind eye to the fairness of the April uprising, although conceptually and politically, the Nicaraguan one shares the same motivations and traits as the South American rebellions.

As for the second, some leftist parties have “bought” Ortega’s argument on the conflict that rejects the endogenous origin of the protests and attributes them to the sponsorship of the US government. Likewise, they assume de facto the dictatorship’s denial of the generalized and systematic violation of human rights despite factual evidence —the dead, the injured, the prisoners, and the exiles are not a theoretical construct— and close their ears to the worldwide condemnation.

Both factors have acted as parameters to group the positions of the Latin American left into at least three blocs:

The dogmatic. They are represented by the unconditional supporters of the dictatorship, such as the regimes of Cuba and Venezuela, most of the communist parties, and their satellite groups. For them, the current FSLN continues to be a leftist party that embodies the organization that led the 1979 revolution, regardless of the neoliberal policies it has promoted since 2007. Likewise, the fact that the current dynastic model of family enrichment has nothing to do with the project of social change that inspired so many people from the four corners of the world. No, what matters to dogmatics is the discourse that justifies their steadfast positions, the Stalinist echo protecting their utopias of oppression and misery.

Thus, it is not surprising that they have assumed Ortega’s propaganda and that they repeat the fanatical mantra that the April Rebellion was a coup attempt paid for by the United States, that the non-profit organizations and the rest of civil society are agents of a conspiracy so well plotted that no one, not even their efficient intelligence services, could detect it. Also, like other authoritarian regimes, unable to refute the evidence of the brutal acts, they prefer to reject the universality of human rights and the veracity of violations documented and denounced by all kinds of international organizations.

The Machiavellian. Here, we find Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina’s governments (and their respective political parties). They attach more importance to historical antecedents than to the fact that the regime in Managua abandoned the leftist camp long ago. They know that the protests had endogenous origins and privately acknowledged the human rights violations, but they do not dare to openly criticize the dictatorship, cautious of the reactions that such positions might cause in the internal currents of their parties. This makes these governments sometimes seem trapped in a duality between complicit omissions and critical positions, such as that of Brazil in the United Nations Human Rights Council, contradictory to its abstentions in the OAS and its recent adherence to the group of Latin American countries demanding the release of political prisoners and the restoration of human rights.

The democratic. This group includes what could be called the governments of the new Latin American left in Chile and Colombia and the parties of the democratic left, such as most of the internal currents of the Frente Amplio in Uruguay. But also, the parties and political movements of the anti-capitalist left, such as those grouped under the umbrella of the Fourth International, one of whose manifestations organized a solidarity caravan with political prisoners in July 2022 to the Costa Rica and Nicaragua border. For the left of this bloc, neither the historical antecedents are carte blanche to violate the human rights of the Nicaraguan people, nor does the Ortega family represent an emancipatory project or of social change. Their recent experiences show that people tend to rebel against oppressors when the cost of not having freedom is greater than that of suffering repression.

The usual scenarios of the Latin American left, the Sao Paulo Forum and Puebla Group, reflect the correlation of forces between these groups. Although the dogmatics continue to assert the outdated glories of the FSLN and insist on continuing to waive anti-imperialism as safe conduct for tyranny, the irrefutable evidence of the repeated violations of human rights and the demands for justice for the crimes committed have ended up carving a place for themselves in the opinion of the other leftist parties.

For this reason, it is not uncommon for the stronghold of this obtuse left to remain increasingly more marginal when the Nicaraguan issue is discussed. This does not mean that it still does not have the capacity to make noise and block regional consensus against the dictatorship. But the sign of the times is that of a modern and dynamic left, which inseparably vindicates freedom and social equality without ties to the past or current subjection to imperialist powers expanding in Latin America.

There are no possible dilemmas between human rights and a past that smells of naphthalene, broken promises that have only achieved despotism and hardships for our people.

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


Your contribution allows us to report from exile.

The dictatorship forced us to leave Nicaragua and intends to censor us. Your financial contribution guarantees our coverage on a free, open website, without paywalls.

Silvio Prado

Politólogo y sociólogo nicaragüensese, viviendo en España. Es municipalista e investigador en temas relacionados con participación ciudadana y sociedad civil.