The backbone of the Ortega regime’s political communications strategy at this time is centered on the attempt to demonstrate that the country has returned to normal.
It’s a sterile effort, condemned to failure, since the realities and the very decisions and actions of the regime all point in the opposite direction. Not even the insiders and followers of the government themselves are swallowing the tale of normalcy.
Perhaps the most brutal but true portrait of our current reality is the episode captured on a video that’s circulating widely, where some police patrols detain a boy in front of a public school. A girl then picks up a rock and throws it towards the police. The reaction of the uniformed officer is to take out his pistol and brandish it threateningly before the group of girls and boys.
The episode shows, on one hand, the condemnation that the genocidal regime has provoked, even among the children. Condemnation and bravery, we should say. On the other hand, the episode also shows the soullessness and inhumanity of the repressive forces that are willing to point a gun and threaten a group of defenseless girls and boys in front of their own school, symbolically dressed in their blue and white school uniforms.
To speak of normality is a solemn lunacy. What we’re really experiencing is a State of Siege.
What’s a State of Siege? A condition in which all of the basic rights of a human being are suspended. It’s imposed when there’s a war or a national emergency, catastrophe or exceptional threat. It’s precisely for this reason that it’s also known as a State of Exception. However, at the time and place that a State of Siege is decreed, it must be defined by explicit laws; the decree itself should specify in writing the constitutional rights that have been suspended.
In Nicaragua, this didn’t happen. Martial law or a State of Siege has been imposed helter-skelter, with no legal basis. All the rights of Nicaraguan, men and women of all ages, have been suspended.
If we want to spell things out, Daniel Ortega has carried out a true coup d’etat. He is the real Coup perpetrator. He presides over a de facto government, so much so that he doesn’t recognize either the Constitution, or the laws, or the rights of the population, and his principal coercive body is an irregular army.
There’s no right to life. Nor is there any right not to be submitted to torture, or cruel or inhumane treatment. There’s no right to circulate freely, nor to the free exercise of conscience and of thought. Nor to due process, or the presumption of innocence, the sanctity of the home. Nor to freedom of expression or of the press. Nor is there the right to property. And this only mentions some of the rights that have been truncated.
To speak of normalcy to the families of the deceased, to the families of the men and women political prisoners, to the families of the tens of thousands of Nicaraguans who must cross the border to escape the regime’s persecution, is simply an act of cruelty.
To speak of normalcy to the families of the hundreds of thousands of Nicaraguans who lost their jobs because of the crisis and the erratic economic maneuverings of the regime is to make a jest out of the people’s suffering.
To speak of normalcy to the business owners, of all sizes, who are trying to maintain their businesses amidst uncertainty, distrust, disrespect for the laws and the invasions of property is a sinister mockery.
As if there were a need to undermine further any possibility of normalization, the regime unleashed a new repressive wave in the last few days. Not a single barricade has been raised, nor have there been any attacks on the police or public institutions, but nonetheless the repressive forces proceeded to capture, lay siege to, harass and persecute.
They militarized the principal roads of Managua. They abducted members of the Civic Alliance, students and farmers, and they detained – although they didn’t arrest – Jaime Arellano, Miguel Mora and Juan Sebastian Chamorro, three recognized opposition figures. Finally, the police issued a communique that lacks all legal foundation, denying the National Blue and White Alliance the right to hold demonstrations.
Such actions, nonetheless, only managed to shatter still more the possibilities for economic recuperation or of restoring some minimum of trust. They deepen the insecurity, the indignation of the population, and the rejection of the international community. Precisely on Friday, the Human Rights Office of the United Nations issued a declaration stating that the cancellation of demonstrations is far from being a sign of a return to normal. That same day, the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights classified the regime as a Police State.
Under these conditions, the question that arises is: What’s the purpose of the regime’s frustrated insistence on proclaiming a normalcy that no one sees, that no one is living with, when we’re all really experiencing a state of exception, or of siege.
There are two possible explanations. Either the upper echelons of the regime find themselves in a psychological state of delirium, leading them to see a twisted version of reality; or they’re applying an evil strategy of communications patterned on the Nazis, in which they hope to pound into our heads that the current state of siege and the cancellation of Constitutional rights is the new normality that we must accept.
Happily, the Nicaraguan public has already opted for their freedom.