Nicaragua Protest Movement Back to the Streets until Ortega Leaves Office

They reject any amnesty and will form a “political council” to accompany the Civic Alliance, with a focus on peaceful protest.

They reject any amnesty and will form a “political council” to accompany the Civic Alliance

22 de marzo 2019


Beyond the brutal police repression of the march held last Saturday, March 16, the Blue and White National Unity movement (UNAB) sees the events as a relaunching of the citizenry’s “political challenge” to the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship in the streets. According to Violeta Granera, a member of the UNAB and the Broad Front for Democracy, this marks a new return to an intense period of mobilization which begun on April 18, 2018.

“Since April, the Nicaraguan people have been mobilized,” Granera noted on the news program Esta Noche.  “Obviously, for some time back, the mobilizations have been of a rapid-fire type, because the regime’s repression has been pretty brutal. I believe that the events on Saturday were opportune, because there was a need to express the people’s determination to push a democratic agenda, beginning with the liberation of the political prisoners which was the slogan of the mobilization,” Granera affirmed.

In the words of this civic leader, it’s a matter of once again propelling “the concept of civil disobedience, and of political challenge,” despite the extravagant police deployment that generated violence and had 164 people detained. Granera sees Saturday’s mobilization as signaling “a return to the streets” that will last until the regime departs.

She clarified that the UNAB was the organization that convoked Saturday’s march. However, leaders and some of the negotiators and their alternates from the Civic Alliance participated. The member of the Broad Democratic Front clarified that the Civic Alliance is part of the UNAB, and in the negotiations they can’t ignore the national demand for the liberation of the 760 political prisoners.

“Just as Ortega uses repression to negotiate, we have to negotiate using pressure tactics, protesting and demonstrating. It’s the only form by which we’ll manage to get results – if there are any from that negotiation – and have them respect the people’s will. What occurred on Saturday proves that no one here has demobilized,” Granera declared.

Two complementary strategies

Although in the first weeks of the dialogue, the UNAB was critical of the Civic Alliance’s negotiation posture regarding the political prisoners, Granera maintains that their positions have now come closer together.

“The Alliance is the body charged with the negotiation process, but we of the UNAB are those responsible for accompanying the people in Nicaragua’s streets. They’re not two divergent strategies; on the contrary, they should strengthen and complement each other,” Granera stated on Esta Noche.

She explained that in the UNAB’s founding manifesto, it’s “clearly established by consensus” that they support the Civic Alliance’s role as negotiators in the dialogue. According to this civic leader, there’s no conflict and no competition between the UNAB and the Civic Alliance. “The UNAB isn’t trying to be part of the negotiations, but we do have to maintain very good two-way communications,” Granera remarked.

UNAB to form a political council

The UNAB member revealed that they’re in the process of forming a political council to bring some order to the different expressions of resistance to the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship. According to Granera, this council would bring together the different grassroots leaders, including those outside the country.   The objective is “to have order in the UNAB without detaining the action.”

“This political council as an institution is set it up to respect the democratizing thrust of the Nicaraguans’ struggle. It’s been a somewhat slow process, sometimes to the point of desperation. There’s pressure to identify a clearer leadership, but that doesn’t mean that they’re going to be out in the stratosphere making decisions, but that they can be more easily identified,” Granera stated.

The UNAB assured that all of the organizations that comprise this umbrella group have been consulted, and they’re in the process of developing “mini-assemblies by sector” to elect candidates who will then be ratified in a full assembly of the UNAB.

“Part of the wealth of the Blue and White National Unity movement is the diversity of their leaderships. It’s an important leap in the country’s political culture. There are leaders from the outer territories, of the youth, of those outside of Nicaragua, not only those who’ve had to go into exile, but all those Nicaraguans who’ve been organizing in the different cities of the world,” Granera affirmed.

“National consensus for the dialogue”

During the interview for Esta Noche, Granera also made reference to what they expect from the negotiations between the Civic Alliance and the dictatorship. According to her, this involves fulfilling the “national consensus” that was gathered by the opposition group and was reemphasized this past Monday, March 18: liberation of the political prisoners, justice, democracy and the fulfillment of the agreements.

“Contrary to what the lawyers say, that a bad deal is better than a good fight, I believe that the Nicaraguan situation is so serious that we must opt for the good fight instead of the bad deal. A bad deal will only prolong the agony of the situation,” warned Granera, who was a candidate for vice president in the last elections.

The UNAB member said that Daniel Ortega should be grateful that “the people are willing to negotiate and look for a way out” of the crisis, despite “the wrongs he’s inflicted on the country in terms of human rights and economics”.

Nonetheless, to Granera, negotiating doesn’t mean a pact to gain impunity for those responsible for the massacres. The leader assured that all throughout its history, Nicaraguans have resolved their differences through two disastrous methods: violence and impunity.

“The issue of justice has to do with there not being a return to impunity… we’re speaking of a process that recognizes and demonstrates truth, justice, compensation for the victims and a commitment never to repeat these events. It’s a fairly long road, but it’s unavoidable. If we don’t act firmly in this, we’re opening the door for the cycle of violence to repeat itself once more in Nicaragua,” said Granera. 

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Wilfredo Miranda Aburto

Periodista. Destaca en cobertura a violaciones de derechos humanos: desplazamiento forzado, tráfico ilegal en territorios indígenas, medio ambiente, conflictos mineros y ejecuciones extrajudiciales. Premio Iberoamericano Rey de España 2018.


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