The resignation of Rafael Solis as magistrate of the Supreme Court, after 21 years in office, and his militancy in the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), “is a political earthquake, and a moral earthquake.” It has shaken the government, responsible for the brutal repression of civic protests, which has left 325 confirmed dead, more than 3,000 injured, dozens of disappeared, more than 600 political prisoners and 60,000 Nicaraguans in exile fleeing from political persecution, says guerrilla commander and leader of the Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS), Dora Maria Tellez.
In an interview with journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro, on the television program “Esta Semana” (This Week), Tellez (see below) argued that the resignation of Solis from the State-FSLN Party controlled by the presidential couple is a political earthquake because he was from the small inner circle of people close to Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo (of whom he was best man), and “a box of secrets” of Ortega.
Furthermore, Tellez believes it is a moral earthquake, “because the departure of Solis confirms what most of the people know: that this regime is dying, is defeated and that the problem that we Nicaraguans have is that Ortega insists on staying in power by blood and fire.”
The emblematic guerrilla commander, maintains, however, that Ortega can no longer remain in power and argues as proof is that “even from his innermost circle, from his advisors, from the people with whom he has worked, are simply telling him: this is over, it is time to take another path, and it is also time to make changes that will allow Nicaraguans to live in peace.”
A “qualified witness” against dictatorial abuse
Solis’s letter is a harsh criticism of the way in which Ortega and his wife and Vice President Rosario Murillo, have handled the crisis: “I always believed that good sense and reason would prevail on you and proceed to a political negotiation that would allow for early elections and some of the points raised by the opposition, but reality has shown the opposite,” lamented Solis.
The 3-page letter of “resignation and denunciation”, was signed on January 8th, a day after his arrival to Costa Rica.
Solis assures that in Nicaragua a “true state of terror has been imposed, with the excessive use of paramilitary forces or even of the Police itself with weapons of war,” a situation that he maintains has “sown fear.”
“There is no longer—Solis complains—any right that is respected, with the inevitable consequences of the installation and consolidation of at least a dictatorship with characteristics of an absolute monarchy of two kings, that has made all the powers of the state disappear, leaving the same judicial power to which I belong reduced to its most minimal expression.”
For Dora Maria Tellez, Solis has become a “qualified witness” to prove two arguments of the struggle against the dictatorship of Ortega and Murillo.
The first, she says, is the “confirmation, from the highest echelon of the judiciary, that the judicial system completely lacks independence, and is totally subordinated to the Ortega-Murillo family.”
“That is to say, it is not a separate power, it does not exist as an independent system, and this has to do with the argument to invoke the Democratic Charter, in the sense that the separation of powers and democratic institutionality in Nicaragua were lost,” explains Tellez.
The second and “not minor” argument, she assesses, is that this letter states that “the sentences that have been issued against the political prisoners, are emanating from the El Carmen Ortega family bunker, and this is valid, both for the judicial system and the Prosecutor’s Office…it is invaluable for the absolute annulment of all the trials that have been carried out. And for all the cases that are being organized against them, of those that have not yet been prosecuted,” she says.
According to Tellez, Solis “testifies that there is an institutional liquidation instrumented from El Carmen, by the Ortega-Murillo family, and that in effect these (those imprisoned after the April Rebellion) are political prisoners, for whom crimes have been invented, witnesses have been invented, (trials) are held behind closed doors, in absolute illegality and the sentences arrive signed and written from El Carmen to the judges.”
In addition, the guerrilla commander who excelled in operations against the Somoza dictatorship, such as the assault to the National Palace in 1978, considers that in the ranks of Ortega there is “demoralization.”
“They realize perfectly well that they have been lied to. For more than 48 hours they were saying that the resignation (of Solis) was false, and like those lies, there are many others. Ortega has lied about the murders, he has lied about the coup, by referring to a supposed foreign conspiracy, about the role of the police and the paramilitaries, to a segment of his followers and now those lies have been completely exposed,” she adds.
Tellez interprets that “if someone who is above, and knows all the secrets, because Rafael Solis is a box of secrets, says that it is over, then it is logical, for any other person who is in the periphery of the Sandinista Front to say: yes, in fact, it is over. And, everything that Ortega is saying are falsehoods and fictions to retain still one month, two months, his power apparatus, and the same will happen with the top leaders in the government.
The Army, an “accomplice,” still has a chance
Before his judicial career, the now ex-magistrate Rafael Solis fought against the Somoza dictatorship in operations, such as the fight in the western neighborhoods of Managua and was a founding member of the Sandinista Popular Army (EPS in Spanish).
In his letter to Ortega and Murillo, Solis states that “the reality is that beyond the number of deaths, so heartfelt by myself for the pain of the mothers and other relatives, which could be more or less than the 325 indicated and that were mostly from the sector opposed to the government, and in circumstances that could be assassinations, according to the IACHR and the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI in Spanish). Even beyond the more than 500 prisoners considered political by the opposition and in a great majority including myself, I always believed that good sense and reason would prevail in you and proceed to a political negotiation that would allow early elections and some of the points raised by the opposition, but reality has shown the opposite.”
Tellez expresses that “I would like to think that what Rafael Solis has said induces the Army chiefs to do an examination of patriotic conscience.”
“We are not going to speak here in moral and religious terms, but rather of a patriotic examination, which leads the high command of the Army to say: yes it is true, we have responsibility in having allowed the formation of a paramilitary forces and we do have a responsibility so the people of Nicaragua could reach a condition of peace, well-being, opportunities, democracy, freedom and justice,” she demands.
Tellez explains that she is not saying that the Army takes to the streets, but “to say no” to different actions that show their complicity with the dictatorship.
“There are military intelligence officers, committed to the political espionage of personalities and organizations, for the purpose of political espionage for the Ortega Murillo family, and ordered by the military command. I would like to see that the Army high command remove those officers who are in espionage activities, violating the law and prohibited by the Constitution.
“But, I would like to see, above all, the military command advising Ortega and telling him: look, this is over, put an end to it for good, before the economy in Nicaragua worsens, more Nicaraguan people head towards disaster, the suffering of the persecuted continues, that ordeal of the exiles worsens and that of the political prisoners. Let’s search for justice,” said Tellez.
The leader of the MRS, who has had to opt again to go underground, due to the harassment and persecution of the new dictatorship, assures that the “the military high command has a responsibility” and hopes that “the reflection that Rafael Solis has made, from the very complex position he was in” serves “the Army to make a patriotic reflection, that would serve Nicaraguans to get out of these complex circumstances, and open paths of democracy, freedom and justice for Nicaragua.”
In Nicaragua there is no vocation for war
In his resignation, Solis has also warned of the danger of civil war in Nicaragua.
Tellez admits that “this is always a risk in Nicaragua,” but holds that “this is the first time, I believe, that a large majority of Nicaraguans decided that this crisis, this conflict, should be resolved through the civic protest.”
“That has enormous value for the future of Nicaragua, but the risks exists and Ortega has been pressing it constantly,” she regrets. Furthermore, Tellez points out that the resignation of Solis reveals the lack of Ortega’s will for the dialogue.
“The statement by Solis, that Ortega has no will to dialogue is fundamental, especially for those countries that in the OAS have been insisting on the need to dialogue. Bolivia for example, Mexico itself. The Caribbean countries that have been insisting that we have to dialogue. Thus, the assertion by Solis tells them clearly that the lack of will to dialogue has been precisely on the side of the Daniel Ortega regime, and this has to accelerate the decision to apply the Democratic Charter, with strong measures to search for a solution in the short term,” she says.
Tellez assures that “a war needs two parties” and considers that “evidently here there has been a determined will, from the immense majority of the people, not to resort to arms, against Ortega.”
“And, not because they do not find weapons”, she says, “Here in Nicaragua many people have weapons. They have legal weapons, illegal arms, there are old weapons, there are stockpiles of arms from previous wars. There are weapons everywhere. In the mountains, everywhere. Here, they do not fool anyone with that. We all know that.” However, she maintains that “there is no war here, not because of Ortega’s will, (because) Ortega has unleashed a war against Nicaraguans, but because most Nicaraguans have not responded to that war with arms. And, I believe, that we have to continue cultivating that will.”
“The risk (of civil war) exists because to the extent that the civic struggle does not open the channels for a national solution, some people get desperate, and say: no, this guy only understands the hard way, only by bullets,” she warns.
Tellez believes, however, “we must continue to direct all our efforts to fight for democracy, freedom and justice through civic means. And I am sure that we will achieve it. The Ortega regime is in outright agony.”
An absurd raid, she denounces
At the beginning of January, the home of Dora Maria Tellez, in Ticuantepe, was raided by the National Police, without a court order or explanation to date from the institution.
Tellez detailed that her house has been under regular paramilitary siege since the end of August and that by mid-October a permanent siege mechanism was established, which included the use of drones, deployment of patrols, surveillance and espionage, until the illegal siege was completed.
“Four police patrols arrived on one side, and several others on the side of a road, adjacent to my house, and proceeded without order of any kind, as they’ve been doing with any house here,” she described.
According to Tellez, the police officers “inspected the facilities, searched, interrogated the staff, threatened in a veiled way one of them by saying, ‘in we find a shotgun here you will go to prison’… in my house they told them: ‘there is no shotgun here, there has never been.’ And the police know perfectly well that I have permits for the handguns that I have.”
“They can check their files, take a look at the documents and see what weapons I have. Absolutely legal. So, they do not have any problem. The (police) chiefs of the sector have arrived, confirmed, there is no problem. But, this is a raid of a political nature. They sent three drones, surrounded the house, and entered without a search warrant to raid and search,” she remarked.
Tellez, however, alleges that the presidential couple gains nothing from the abuses and actions against her or against the civic rebellion that broke out in April.
Does the Ortega family win anything? It does not win anything. Does the Ortega family win anything by kidnapping young people all over the country every day? It does not win anything. Does it gain something by having 700 people in jail? It does not win anything.
The Ortega-Murillo family did a “Clean-up Operation,” caused a massacre, imprisoned hundreds of Nicaraguans, has thousands in exile, has liquidated communication media, has imprisoned journalists, harasses and besieges political leaders, leaders of the opposition, young people, social leaders, has liquidated NGOs, invaded lands, and after almost nine months, the question is: what did the Ortega-Murillo family gain?
The answer was given by ‘Payo’ Solis. They won nothing. They lost everything. Everything is lost for the Ortega Murillo family. They are even losing their structure,” she expressed.