Sandinista militant: “Ortega surpassed Somoza and is losing support from the FSLN bases”

The regime “is crumbling”, assures Chino Enoc, calling on public servants, civilians, and military to “abandon the dictatorship”

Chino Enoc

Marlon Sáenz, known as “Chino Enoc”

28 de febrero 2023


Marlon Sáenz, known as “Chino Enoc”, is a Sandinista militant remembered for inciting the brutal repression of the April 2018 protests, for which he now excuses himself by saying that he never actually participated in the repression on the streets. He is part of the “historical Sandinistas” who fought against the Somoza dictatorship in the 1970s. After being an active part of the FSLN ranks and supporting the repression in 2018, he came under fire from the regime for openly criticizing the power of Vice President Rosario Murillo, even though he still recognized Daniel Ortega as “his leader” at that time. 

He was captured in May 2022, convicted of drug trafficking-related crimes, and finally banished to the United States along with 221 other political prisoners on February 9. In exile and stripped of his nationality, he says that Daniel Ortega is a dictator worse than Somoza and that the narrative of the alleged coup attempt is part of “the ideological garbage” he believed until the day he was imprisoned in the cells of Auxilio Judicial in Managua, known as El Chipote.

In an interview granted to Esta Noche, transmitted through YouTube and social networks due to television censorship in Nicaragua, “Chino Enoc” assures that Daniel Ortega has lost and continues to lose the support of his base in the FSLN. He also states that the fissures in the Government party are not due to political differences, but to power struggles and corruption, and calls on civilian and military public servants to abandon the dictatorship. 

Why did Daniel Ortega's regime imprison and banish you if you were a Sandinista who supported the Government?

I began to fight against Chayismo (this word is derived from “Chayo” the nickname for Vice President Rosario Murillo) because Rosario took over the party without having any position in the party, violating the statutes. That is the confrontation that I had until the day I was imprisoned, when I was still defending Daniel, thinking that Daniel was a victim of Rosario's wickedness and I believed that until I began calling Daniel in the last year.

You said that the political prisoners in El Chipote were doing well in prison, that their guarantees and due process were respected, and that the 2018 protests were an attempted coup d'état. Which of those things do you think is still true?


What made you see the reality?

I had already started seeing it as they were getting richer, newly rich, and every day they were cheating people with Social Security. Then, I ended up being fully convinced once they threw me in prison, but I had been confronting Rosario and their family for more than three years, but I defended Daniel and considered him my leader. I was convinced when they threw me in prison, because of the way they interrogated me. It is precisely the prison and the treatment they put me through, the mistreatment they put me through in El Chipote and then sending me to Infiernillo for eight months, where I lost all my health.

The Somoza dictatorship also called its opponents or dissidents “traitors to the homeland and terrorists”, but never stripped them of their nationality. How do you categorize this measure of which you are now a victim?

Daniel surpassed the Somoza dictatorship, in the sense that they are even more scientific in the way they do things. They even take advantage of technology, and they have many professional people who are also in charge of repressing because there is not only this type of repression, there are other types. I realized when I started to open my eyes, that if they like a business, they ask the owner of that company to make them partners, and if they don't make them partners, they plant drugs on them, they accuse them of any crime and take away their property. But I only realized when they did it to me. When I arrived at the jail and when they released us, there were at least 40 of us political prisoners and they planted drugs on all of us.

How did you or the historical Sandinistas participate in the repression of the 2018 protests? 

Inciting. I do not deny that I incited (the repression) and I’m aware that I was asking the comandante: “give us the weapons”, with those words that you saw there (in video statements to the newspaper La Prensa in 2022), “we are going to take them out,” “Give the order, comandante,” and I said that for around two months because the (use of) weapons started in May, but most people did not have weapons of war, as I’ve said, and some did not even carry rifles. 

But I know, because I know who went in my town, in Estelí, I know who were the leaders of the retirees and some historical combatants, and not even twenty percent of the historical combatants went to those activities, precisely because many were angry; they voted for Daniel, but they did not get involved in anything. 

The Police, the Sandinista Youth, and historical combatants went, but these were not historical combatants of the guerrilla. Some who had retired from the Army did go, but I have always said that there were places where in the roadblocks they were also armed. Members of the Sandinista Youth were given training for a week all over the country. 

Who gave them the training and who gave them the weapons?

I don't know that part, but I do know that they were giving military training to members of the Sandinista Youth.

What was the participation of the Army and the Police?

I can't tell you because they never told me, and from the meetings I had or talks I had with the comrades, the majority were Sandinista Youth, Police, and historical combatants retired from the Army. They were not even ten, or fifteen percent of the total number of historical combatants, because they would have been a massive group. 

Through testimonies of public servants, we have documented the strong surveillance and control that is increasingly spreading against the high officials of the State institutions. Is there a crisis of trust?

The crisis of trust has existed for a long time and it is because of double standards, for selling the idea to the militancy that they are revolutionaries when they are actually of the most extreme right. All the discourse they throw at you on the outside is a lie and on the inside, they are managed like a mafia.

What are the weaknesses of the Sandinista Front that could lead to a break, to an internal crisis?

There is disenchantment, there is great abstention, people no longer trust in the elections, and the historical militants are no longer going to vote, it is falling apart. That is why I have called on the workers of the State to abandon the dictatorship, if they want to defect from the Police, let them defect, or at the last minute, let the Army do the same and stop them. They are crumbling not because the leadership of power has frictions among them, but because the rank and file are and have abandoned them. Those marches that they hold do not make 300 thousand people if you add them up all over the country. That is why they no longer do it, now it is a reduced circle, not even a thousand people seated on July 19, because they no longer gather people. They have run out, they are running out.

This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by our staff


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Elmer Rivas

Periodista y productor general de los programas Esta Semana, Esta Noche y Confidencial Radio, dirigidos por Carlos F. Chamorro. Exiliado en Costa Rica desde junio de 2021.


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