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The time for the opposition

From the many exiles that make up our history, conclusive struggles have been organized. Let’s make this our common task today from exile

From the many exiles that make up our history

Gioconda Belli

23 de enero 2023


The Nicaraguan dictatorship isn’t slacking their pace. The latest guilty verdicts against priests and close relatives of Javier Alvarez (eight years in prison for being a relative of someone who fled persecution?); the predictable outcome of the trial of Monsignor Rolando Alvarez; the arrest of high-level Police commissioners, and many more, with no detailed explanations of their crimes…all of these are flagrant examples of intolerable abuses perpetrated against Nicaraguan citizens.

The control that Ortega and Murillo exercise over the judicial apparatus threatens the freedom of any person they decide to accuse of “undermining the national integrity.” They employ that broad and capricious “crime” against anyone in the country who they deem critical of their actions, or who dares to name the human rights abuses that are committed daily in Nicaragua.

You can’t help but wonder how it’s possible that a country that rose up in 2018 against that family dictatorship appears to have been left with no resources to confront it. The reign of fear and State terrorism has created a situation of silence and docility, that only encourages the dictatorship to continue consummating more and more outrages against the population. The flight over unmarked border crossings, the legal or illegal migration, currently presents itself as the only viable solution to that toxic atmosphere of terror that weighs upon the exercise of freedom in the country. Ten percent of the Nicaraguan population has emigrated. The country is being stripped of its most important capital resource: its people.

Meanwhile, the opposition in exile continues stumbling. Personal or ideological disagreements appear to be the most important obstacles keeping them from consolidating one unique front that could represent Nicaraguans’ decision not to accept the regime’s arbitrary actions.

Certainly, many groups located in various geographic zones have generously and consistently lent their voices and efforts to clamor for the freedom of the political prisoners, and to denounce the dictatorship’s abuses. However, the dispersion and fragmentation of these efforts have impeded the existence of a recognizable and representative organization that brings together these groups. They haven’t managed to set up a valid organization that can represent the opposition before the international community. They haven’t managed to accumulate the experience or capabilities needed so that those within the country can glimpse a face that grows in prestige and inspires trust; one that can feed hopes of a change in the medium or long term.

The level of courage needed to confront the dictatorship inside the country is unimaginable without the existence of some promise of an alternative to what currently exists. Simply being fed up or furious isn’t enough, if those feelings aren’t channeled into collective activities whose objective goes beyond overturning the dictatorship. We already saw and lived through this in April 2018. Without unified objectives and aims, no epic struggle will succeed in moving from massive mobilization towards an outcome of realistic changes that inspire sacrifices and encourage valor.

Agreeing on that new proposal, that objective, seems to have been at the root of the discord and distrust that currently exists among the opposition groups in exile. Magical thinking has brought the different factions to believe rigidly that their proposals will shape the exact situation that will reign inside the country once the objective of defeating the dictatorship is obtained. In wanting to trace a future in accordance with ideologies and particular interests, they fail to consider that the most urgent matter is a humanistic proposal aimed at reestablishing the essential values contained in any of the declarations on human rights. A minimal program for reconquering our truncated freedoms, supposes a platform that reflects the things we agree on. Thinking about the gradual transition that would have to dominate in a post-dictatorship could perhaps alleviate the resentments that, right up until now, have kept the opposition mired down and the country sunk into the darkest hopelessness.

There are several women, in my judgement, who could, become the standard bearers for that united opposition. The stance they’ve taken for the humanity of those in prison, and the manner in which they’ve moved geographically to find support for their demands have given them very valuable prestige and authority. Today, they are symbols of steadfastness and bravery, symbols of the struggle to reestablish the basic human rights of Nicaraguans. I believe that uniting around an opposition bloc where these women’s faces are the spearheads could comprise a first step towards that unity for action. It’s important and necessary that our joint effort has a common voice that can personify and symbolize the opposition.

I allow myself to propose this idea, motivated by the obvious need to respond to the insistent question about where the Nicaraguan opposition is at and what they’re doing, in the face of seeing their people subjected to so many evils. My proposal is a program aimed on recovering the lost human rights, coupled with a feminine face that represents those aspirations and has the support of the entire opposition effort. Such a step could mark the beginning of a positive and affirmative step towards uniting so many disperse energies.

From the many exiles in our history, conclusive struggles have been successfully organized. Let’s make this our common task today from exile. The time has come to transcend the personality differences and doctrines that separate us.

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



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Gioconda Belli

Gioconda Belli

Poeta y novelista nicaragüense. Ha publicado quince libros de poemas, ocho novelas, dos libros de ensayos, una memoria, y cuatro cuentos para niños. Su primera novela “La mujer habitada” (1988) ha sido traducida a más de catorce idiomas. Ganadora del Premio La Otra Orilla, 2010; Biblioteca Breve, de Seix Barral (España, 2008); Premio Casa de las Américas, en Cuba; Premio Internacional de Poesía Generación del ‘27, en España y Premio Anna Seghers de la Academia de Artes, de Alemania; Premio de Bellas Artes de Francia, 2014. En 2023 obtuvo el premio Reina Sofía de Poesía Iberoamericana, el más prestigioso para la poesía en español. Por sus posiciones críticas al Gobierno de Daniel Ortega y Rosario Murillo, fue despatriada y confiscada. Está exiliada en Madrid.