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Nicaragua, a revolution betrayed, a democracy crushed

Those of us who signed this text are struck by the silence of some leftists to Nicaragua’s antidemocratic drift

Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. Photo: Government / Taken from El 19 Digital

Isabel Otxoa Crespo

5 de diciembre 2021


Those of us who signed this text have strong ties with Nicaragua, some built during the eighties and others more recently. Our bygone solidarity goes hand in hand with the indignation we feel today against a dictatorial government that shoots people in the name of a revolution that has been betrayed.

Every day more of us become aware that historic Sandinismo is the antipode of the autocratic power of a president who obscenely uses the language, slogans and even the songs of an extinct revolution, to manipulate the feelings of the people and make them believe that the repression, the hundreds of people killed, imprisoned and the thousands of exiles, students, feminists, human rights defenders…are the way to a better life.

The latest episode of the repressive regime less was the November 7 elections. Fraudulent and commandeered by the Government and a subordinated Supreme Electoral Council, they left out of the competition candidacies and political forces that could challenge Daniel Ortega’s hegemony. The arrest, imprisonment, and exile of candidates, in addition to the banning of various political parties, are the most recent proof of the crushing of democracy.

The repressive escalation of a regime that eliminates freedoms and persecutes opponents comes from way back. The Ortega-Murillo regime was launched at the end of 2006, implementing the approved new Criminal Code that declares all types of abortion a crime, including therapeutic abortion and when the life of the mother is in danger. That was the price that Ortega paid to Cardinal Obando y Bravo for not interfering his access to the presidency. Naturally, the women’s movements threw themselves into the protests and then became a priority target of the regime’s repression.

Since his inauguration as president in January 2007, the regime’s repression has been systematic and progressively broader and radical, reaching the extreme of committing crimes against humanity when it repressed with blood and fire the civic insurrection of April 2018. Since then, dozens of NGOs have been closed, both local and foreign. Organizations that watch over human rights have been dissolved. Indiscriminate arrests and imprisonment as a method to sow fear are added to the repression of relevant political and cultural figures. The malfeasance of judges is rewarded, and trigger-happy militias are mobilized to stop legitimate citizen protests. Newspapers and radio stations that exercise their right to criticism are closed; independent work of journalism is impeded; young activists are expelled from universities.

It must be noted that the Ortega-Murillo couple has a special preference for continuing to persecute women’s movements. Something that stems from the complaint made, at one time, by feminist movements against the president’s sexual abuse of his stepdaughter, Zoilamerica Narvaez, who with her testimony (1998) shook Nicaragua.

Those of us who signed this text are struck by the silence of some leftists to Nicaragua’s antidemocratic drift. It is true that some prominent people—mainly of the world leftist’s intelligentsia—, have been distancing themselves from the Nicaraguan government. The late Eduardo Galeano, when he learned what happened in the “piñata” (1990) promised himself not to return to Nicaragua. And he never did. “Subcomandante Marcos” called Ortega a traitor. José Pepe Mujica asked Ortega to leave the government after the April 2018 massacre. Boaventura do Santos and Noam Chomsky criticize the autocracy, as do Leonardo Boff and Gustavo Petro. But it is equally true that the political left, mainly the institutional one (without including social democrats), have continue to support the Government of Ortega and Murillo, with few exceptions.

We are also struck by the fact that an important part of those leftist organizations, including the Basque ones, accept the official version that describes the events of April 2018 as an attempted coup d’état. It is really absurd to think that some protestors holding sticks and banners are going to carry out a coup d’état against a power that has the Army, the Police, the majority of the National Assembly, the malfeasance of judges, and the paramilitary forces. It also has the majority support of the media totally controlled by the children of Ortega and Murillo, once the independent opposition media have been swept away.

We are even more struck by the fact that these leftists are silent in the face of systematic repression against opposition people, which since 2018 includes murders, arrests and massive exile and remain silent about the horrible conditions in which political prisoners find themselves in, about 170 at this time. In solitary confinement, without access to hygiene, without electricity, without a piece of paper or pencil, with virtually no food, where incarcerated women and men survive no better than in Somoza’s prisons.

It is clear that human rights have no place in Nicaragua, no matter how Christian and Socialist the Ortega-Murillo regime proclaims itself to be. A confessionalism that should put those leftists to shame.


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In our surroundings we hear voices that describe the autocratic regime that we denounce as the lesser of evils. They say that with the right everything would be worse. But there have never been more people in Nicaragua seeking migration as a way out due to lack of opportunity, to which we must also add 200,000 people forced into exile since April 2018.

In reality, Ortega has privileged specific policies that have very little to do with leftist tenets: he has preferred free market policies, free trade agreements, facilities for the maquilas and unconditional concessions to foreign capital. In addition, he applied US anti-migration policies with a heavy hand, and no one who might have plans to emigrate to the United States entered the southern border of Nicaragua. Ortega turned the Nicaraguan border into Trump’s desired wall.

Likewise, Ortega authorized the United States military presence and activities of the DEA in Nicaragua under the pretext of combating drug activity. All of this led Nicaragua to obtain the best grades from the IMF, the World Bank, and IDB (strongholds of the world’s left, as we all know). Likewise, relations with the United States until 2018 were among the most cordial, based on the principle that what mattered was what the Nicaraguan government actually did, not what it appeared to do, and much less what it occasionally said.

Nicaragua is not in the second phase of a revolution, which was crushed a long time ago by those who govern today. What it really is, is trapped by a dictatorial family regime that turns its back on the separation of powers and with an antiimperialist language executes welfare-oriented policies that in nothing change neither the property structure nor the economic model of the country. The poor are still poor.

We believe that solidarity with Nicaragua today involves taking a stand against the regime that oppresses its people and supporting those who are suffering repression for exercising their political rights.


*Article originally published on Naiz.eus in the Basque Country.


Jose Luis Albizu
Eukene Arana
Jon Aranguren
Iratxe Arteagagoitia
Izaskun Azurmendi
Raquel Barahona
Joxe Iriarte “Bikila”
Kepa Bilbao
Gerardo Carrere
Concha Castells
Mikel de la Fuente
Ana Tere Díaz
Esther Dominguez
Antonio Duplá
Marlen Eizaguirre
Ana Elosegi
Rasso Enzenbach
Irune Etxebarria
Manoli Etxeberria
Mario Fernández
Germán García
Mikel Goenaga
Luis Guridi
Juan Hernández
Marisa Lamas
Maribi Lamas
Juana Larrauri
Jesús Martín
Maite Martínez
Maitena Monroy
Clara Murguialday
Maite Murguialday
Lourdes Oñederra
Iñaki Orube
Nekane Orue
Isabel Otxoa
Carlos Peña
Josu Perales
Amaia Pérez Orozco
Victor Santiago Pozas
Mercedes Revilla
Uri Ruiz Bikandi
Covadonga Sanchez
Anabel Sanz
Lourdes Unceta
Koldo Unceta
Juan Luis Uría
Josune Urkijo
Norma Vázquez
Juan Carlos Vázquez
Javier Vitoria
María Jesús Vizán
Dominic Wyatt
Idoye Zabala
Begoña Zabala
Ramón Zallo

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



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Isabel Otxoa Crespo

Isabel Otxoa Crespo