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Ortega-Murillo dictatorship dedicates July 19 festivities to Putin and lashes out at critics

Four hours of choreography, a concert of confiscated music, few international guests, and a Sandinista Youth crowd.

Daniel Ortega y Rosario Murillo

Los dictadores Daniel Ortega y Rosario Murillo en la celebración del 19 de julio. Foto/19 Digital

Octavio Enríquez

23 de julio 2023

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There was room for brief but virulent attacks in Rosario Murillo’s “kingdom of love and Jesus.” At the celebrations of the anniversary of the Sandinista revolution Daniel Ortega lashed out at the European Union and Ukraine’s “Nazi president” Volodymir Zelensky, while Murillo targeted her enthusiastic fury against “treacherous vipers” and asked, “How can we understand the absurd chorus of snakes?”

Ortega and Murillo turned the private party of their dictatorship —attended since 2020 by dozens of selected government leaders and a crowd of Sandinista youth activists— into a demonstration of their “unconditional support” to the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. The same support was expressed in a letter sending “hugs” to Putin at the end of last June, when his power was threatened with the Wagner Group's advance towards Moscow, surprising everyone.


“The majority of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) countries could not accept to seat the fascist from Ukraine there. So, afterward, the Europeans insisted on introducing some paragraphs that blamed the Russian Federation for everything happening in Ukraine. Thus, we could not accept this. It made no sense to put those issues on the agenda,” said Ortega, referring to the recent summit in Brussels, where the dictator aligned himself with Russia and avoided condemning the invasion.

Ortega said the European Union “sowed discord” in CELAC. For him, it was a crucial issue. During his speech, he was accompanied by the presidents of the branches of government he controls, meaning the police chiefs and the army commanders who maintain him in power.

The main platform of the event was placed at the foot of a statue of Sandino in the vicinity of the old baseball stadium in Managua, where one day, there was another statue in honor of Somoza, torn down at the fall of the dictatorship of that family 44 years ago. A scene that summarizes Nicaragua’s history: a tyranny celebrating the fall of the one it replaced.

Ortega also called on Colombian President Gustavo Petro to abide by the rulings of the International Court of Justice. The Court recently ruled in favor of Colombia, denying the extension of Nicaragua’s continental shelf in the Caribbean beyond 200 nautical miles from the Nicaraguan coast, but also demanded Colombia to comply with the 2012 ruling when the Highest Court recognized 75,000 square kilometers to Nicaragua.

“Thus, we have the opportunity we sought to depict this in a decree, where it is made clear that Nicaragua owns and is exercising control over those 75,000 square kilometers that the Court gave to Nicaragua in the Caribbean Sea. In the best spirit of peace and understanding, I am sending this message to President Petro,” said Ortega.

At that point, more than four hours of a musical concert passed, in which Ortega and Murillo recognized the “loyalty to the revolution” of the musicians at the event. At times, one of them imitated the voice of Carlos Mejia Godoy when he sang the confiscated songs of the Mejia Godoy brothers, who are now in exile.

Young people in white T-shirts danced, jumped, and displayed FSLN flags to official media cameras. Murillo introduced all the representatives of the branches of government and enthusiastically greeted Fidel Moreno, whom she identified as the “secretary of organization” of the governing party, a post held by retired Coronel Lenin Cerna until he was ousted in 2011.

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From the beginning, Ortega approached to greet two officials sanctioned that same day, July 19th, by the United States: attorney general Wendy Morales, whom he hugged, and the First Secretary of the Assembly, Raquel Dixon, to whom he also responded with a smile. Both were part of the 13 officials and deputies of the ruling party that were included by the State Department in the “Engel List” for “undermining democracy.”

Murillo: from the “kingdom of love” to the “vipers”

When Vice President Murillo gave her speech, after her interventions as master of ceremony, she said “lovingly:” Here Jesus reigns. Love reigns here. We are the love of love; we are a flag waving for all times. 

Seconds later, the government leader seemed to be another person: visceral and combative, in her best style of 2018 when she called thousands of opponents “puchos” (trifle), for whom she ordered to be attacked with “everything,” the prelude to a massacre that would mean killing 355 people and more than 2,000 wounded.

“We oppose human decrepitude, the decadence of the spirit, the disintegration of the legitimate aspirations of evolution. How can we understand the absurd chorus of snakes, treacherous vipers, manufacturers of lies, paid slanderers, morons, hired killers, and assassins who crawl to serve their masters?” She asserted.

Murillo’s fictitious kingdom of love ignored the voices of more than 50 political prisoners of the regime, including the bishop of Matagalpa, Rolando Alvarez, sentenced last February to 26 years and four months in prison. It also ignored the victims of police besiegement and the thousands of exiles, including police and government party deserters. She threatens them with imprisonment.

The comments among “comrades” and “puchos”—Murillo’s favorite adjective to attack opponents—became the most amusing part of the event’s live broadcast. On one side was the most radical, calling for censorship of the critic’s opinions, and on the other side were the others mocking the ability to “listen” to the dictator’s rhetoric and the obligatory patience of public officials.

The official script allowed Ortega to attack “Yankee imperialism,” remember national heroes, including Cacique Diriangen, Puerto Rican Roberto Clemente, and journalist Pedro Joaquin Chamorro Cardenal, assassinated in 1978, whom he said was not an “extremist.” However, he did not dare to mention the career of the journalist and anti-Somoza fighter in defense of freedom of the press, democracy and social justice, non-reelection, and his struggle against corruption, violated under the dictatorship that has criminalized the children of the martyr of public liberties: Pedro Joaquin, Cristiana, and Carlos Fernando Chamorro Barrios.

The night of July 19th was a long one. Afterward, Ortega faded to the background. A short video of a yawning Sandinista Youth girl —published in social networks— was more appealing. If anyone could be delighted, despite that, it was Murillo. She was the star. If the event was a rehearsal of the succession, her choreography prevailed, dressing herself in pink. Nobody could outshine her.

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

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Octavio Enríquez

Octavio Enríquez

Periodista nicaragüense, exiliado. Comenzó su carrera en el año 2000, cuando todavía era estudiante. Por sus destacadas investigaciones periodísticas ha ganado el Premio Ortega y Gasset, el Premio Internacional de Periodismo Rey de España, el Premio a la Excelencia de la Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa, y el Premio Latinoamericano de Periodismo de Investigación del Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS).

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