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FSLN Leadership Succession to Laureano Ortega is a "Challenge to Historical Sandinistas"

Julio López, former secretary of international relations of the FSLN, says that Ortega and Murillo are trying to "build a dynastic regime."

Laureano Ortega Murillo and Li Mingxiang, representative of the Communist Party of China

Laureano Ortega Murillo (left) greets Li Mingxiang, representative of the Communist Party of China, at an event in Managua on December 2, 2023. | Photo: El 19 Digital

Redacción Confidencial

12 de diciembre 2023


The veiled succession of Daniel Ortega to his son, Laureano Ortega Murillo, is a "challenge" to historical Sandinistas, says political scientist and Sandinista dissident Julio López Campos.

On December 2, the son of the dictators Ortega and Murillo made his debut as "special representative of the secretary general of the FSLN" –a position only his father has ever held–, during a meeting with a delegation of the Communist Party of China.

This new position for Laureano Ortega is in addition to his appointment as presidential investment advisor, which allows him to represent Nicaragua in diplomatic missions and negotiations with China, Russia, and Iran. 

For López Campos, Laureano's promotion is also "a strong message to the country that [Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo] are willing to impose a dynastic regime."

In an interview with Esta Semana and CONFIDENCIAL, the former director of International Relations of the Sandinista Front considers that in this dynastic regime, Murillo "continues to be Ortega's natural successor," but in their "malevolent intelligence," Laureano Ortega is conceived as "a card that could potentially be used in future negotiations."

Over the weekend the dictatorship signed a memorandum for interchange and cooperation with the Communist Party of China, but it was notable that Laureano Ortega Murillo was listed as a special representative of the FSLN secretary general, Daniel Ortega. What is the symbolism of this mention? 

It is a clear message in which they are telling the people of Nicaragua that in the underworld of El Carmen [the presidential residence], they are determined to build a dynastic regime in Nicaragua. 

This is a strong message they are sending to all of us. Once before, Somoza's Chigüín [Somoza's son's nickname] had been attributed, without his own merits, all the representation of the Nicaraguan state. So now this new "Chigüín" is capable of signing, in the name of the people of Nicaragua, of the Government, and of the State, all possible and imaginable agreements and accords with what they consider their strategic allies, in this case, China and Russia.

Now this new Chigüín signs on behalf of the Sandinista National Liberation Front. This is something that had never happened before. A year and a half ago, people were discussing whether Rosario [Murillo] was going to be able to replace Daniel, whether [Ortega] was going to give her his place. Now things have changed.

This dynastic profile is now accompanied –since the signing of this agreement with the Chinese– by a totalitarian profile, which includes the use of a party figure and through that, the symbolism of a political organization in which you end up subordinated to that flag, to that protagonism. That is what we are now seeing in Nicaragua, in a short time, we have gone from an old regime to an authoritarian regime, to a dictatorship, to a tyranny, to a dynastic regime with a clear authoritarian profile.

Where does this relationship between State, party, and family begin and end in Nicaragua?

It's a strictly symbolic question. And speaking of the allies of this regime, in China, it is very clear that it's the party that rules, and now here [in Nicaragua] they are telling us that the representative of the party –in this case, it's this new version of Chigüín– also rules. Here the most important thing is to ask ourselves the following question: 

Are the people of Nicaragua really going to accept to live as slaves of the El Carmen underworld? The symbolism of the signing of the agreement was also a direct appeal to all those Sandinistas who played a very important, leading, and even heroic role in the struggle against the Somoza dictatorship. Are all those people going to accept that this guy is the heir of that political struggle, that heroic protagonism? Or are they going to continue to be afraid, afraid of losing their position, of losing their post, of losing their property? Or are they going to accept the challenge to which the regime is forcing them to react?

The people of Nicaragua are interpreting that message, which is also a challenge to the people themselves. And we saw Nicaraguans, just a little while ago, when they decided to take to the streets. They didn't ask for permission from anyone, not from the police, not from anyone. They just came out with force, with vigor. I believe that in the face of this challenge from the dictatorship, we are going to begin to see people organizing and working in new ways, discreetly, and silently, with everyone looking for ways to contribute to the weakening of the pillars of the regime. And they are going to do it however they can, with whatever they have, within their own possibilities. If they are in the government, if they are public employees, if they are in a mayor's office, if they are in the countryside, if they are in the city, if they are in the Army or even in the Police, they will look for ways to weaken the regime.

Nobody is worried about [Laureano Ortega's] signature in the name of the Sandinista Front, because the Sandinista Front that made the Revolution, the one that overthrew the dictatorship, that Sandinista Front has not existed for 25 years. Now what exists is just a mechanism to steal elections, to carry out fraudulent elections, to blackmail people with their most primitive needs. What exists is a security control apparatus, a parapolice apparatus. So, from the point of view of substance, this representation does not refer to that thing that at one time was called the Sandinista National Liberation Front. 

How is the Sandinista Front seen today in the context of Latin American political parties and in these forums of Latin American left-wing parties?

The impact of that victorious [1979] revolution –which ended up being betrayed– was so strong that there are many people who still have difficulties understanding that in Nicaragua we tragically went from "Sandinismo" to this odious deformation that is "Orteguismo." Internationally, many people have difficulties understanding this because, in the first place, we did not inform them sufficiently and, secondly, because they themselves worked so hard for –and had so much hope in– that revolution and they are afraid that if they act with greater belligerence they will affect those people who fought so hard and caused so much enthusiasm and interest in Latin America.

It is a quite complicated situation, but it must be said clearly that in Latin America a cleaner reading of what is happening in Nicaragua is advancing. I believe that an example of this is the president of Chile, [Gabriel] Boric, for whom there is no doubt that in Nicaragua there is a hateful regime and a terrible dictatorship, from which the people will have to emerge.

The role of Laureano Ortega Murillo

Where does Laureano Ortega fit in with the political project of dynastic succession, given that Rosario Murillo is supposed to be the natural successor?

Laureano could be playing a role in this dynastic dictatorship that they're trying to establish, as a card that could potentially be used in future negotiations. They know they won't be able to sustain this regime of terror forever. They know that it is necessarily going to come to an end. And probably, from their malevolent intelligence, they are preparing options to deal with possibilities that are going to open up in the future, as new leadership is being built in Nicaragua.

There, in [Nicaragua], among Nicaraguans, the leadership that is really going to open the floodgates for democracy in Nicaragua is being built. All of us who are in exile are going to follow, help and support from the outside, but young people, workers, women, the people of the countryside and the city and the neighborhoods, are already quietly building the new leadership, just as they did in the past. I know that everyone is going to do what they can wherever, whatever, and however they can, because the people of Nicaragua will not accept being slaves to these madmen.

This article was published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by our staff. To get the most relevant news from our English coverage delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to The Dispatch.


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Redacción Confidencial

Redacción Confidencial

Confidencial es un diario digital nicaragüense, de formato multimedia, fundado por Carlos F. Chamorro en junio de 1996. Inició como un semanario impreso y hoy es un medio de referencia regional con información, análisis, entrevistas, perfiles, reportajes e investigaciones sobre Nicaragua, informando desde el exilio por la persecución política de la dictadura de Daniel Ortega y Rosario Murillo.