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Using sovereignty as an appeal for immunity

Didn’t that same OAS, that they’re now calling a “cesspool”, once emit a statement against the Somoza government that was negotiated by the FSLN?

Didn’t that same OAS

Gioconda Belli

19 de noviembre 2021


“No man is an island,” wrote poet John Donne. He was referring to the fact that we live in societies, linked together by affective, economic and cultural ties of all kinds, and unbounded by geography.

In the last few months, Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo have invoked the idea of sovereignty, non-intervention and national independence as their defense against the accusations of different nations for the scandalous methods they used to proclaim themselves victorious in the November 7th elections.

Their diatribes no longer focus only on imperialism; now, according to them, there are many countries of the world conspiring to undermine the sovereignty of our poor Nicaragua. Apparently, they haven’t realized that their attempt to use sovereignty like a shield, to provide them with immunity, is totally transparent. They claim the Homeland belonging to all of us grants them a license to do what they will in the country, even to go above the Constitution that should be serving as a framework and constraint on their actions.

The principle of sovereignty arose during the French Revolution. Sovereignty is vested in the people, they declared, contradicting the monarchic idea that it resides in a king who receives his power directly from God. When they guillotined King Louis XIV, the French Revolution reclaimed the concept and assigned it to the people, through their representatives.

Later, the modern notion arose that the State is the proprietor of a nation’s sovereignty. It began with the concept that the State, as a political institution, is the body that brings together the diverse components of the nation: its legal structures and territorial dominion, in addition to the popular representation. The State represents the citizens, to the extent that those comprising it have been democratically elected via electoral processes guided by each country’s Constitution.

It’s clear that a State that uses its power to misrepresent the will of its citizens can’t appeal to sovereignty. A State composed of people illegitimately elected isn’t a sovereign state.

Sovereignty is normally invoked in cases of territorial and border conflicts, in which a country finds itself threatened by outside forces.  None of this is occurring in Nicaragua. Ortega and Murillo have forged a great lie, in order to accuse their opponents of acting in favor of “imperialism”. How dare they? I wonder.


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No donation then or now makes us less Nicaraguan. Former leaders of the “Contra”, now referred to as the “Resistance”, were indeed financed by imperialism. I celebrate the fact that they weren’t expelled from the country. Many of them are even Ortega supporters now. Seeking support from other countries to back certain political positions is a common practice, especially in countries afflicted by dictatorships.

Wasn’t it the OAS, the body they’re now calling a “cesspool”, that emitted a statement promoted by the FSLN against the Somoza dictatorship? It was, of course, an important act of condemnation, since it culminated in a resolution approved on June 23, 1979, demanding the “substitution” of the Somoza dictatorship.

From the time World War II ended, in an effort to avoid the conflicts that led to that conflagration, the nations of the world have agreed to maintain a multi-national web, in order to forge common rules of civilized coexistence and norms of State behavior. That’s why the refusal of 40 countries to validate the Nicaraguan elections, and the fact that 25 member countries of the OAS also consider them illegitimate is a very serious signal. It’s useless for the dictatorship to try and attribute this to imperialism.

With their isolationist and artificially fiery and offended narrative, the Ortega Murillo regime is exposing our country, and all its citizens, to the threat of more sanctions and a prolonged seclusion. That absurd arrogance will lock us in, in defiance of the reality that in this twenty-first century a country like Nicaragua can’t turn a blind eye and cut its ties to the world.

It’s absolutely deplorable that Ortega and Murillo should pretend to be defending our Homeland, when it’s obvious the only thing that interests them is shielding themselves behind patriotic language, in order to be granted immunity.

It’s painful and regrettable to watch them continue to impose their absolute will, in a way that will only bring suffering to the country. And it’s still more painful and regrettable that some of those surrounding Ortega and Murillo were once capable of risking their lives against Somoza, but now won’t even risk losing their positions.

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.