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Who said that all is lost in Nicaragua?

The dictatorship knows that if the cauldron of hope still boils, there’ll be heat enough to keep seeds of change alive, that’s why they fear activism

Madres y familiares demandan una Navidad sin presos políticos, en una vigilia a finales de noviembre. // Foto: Carlos Herrera

Silvio Prado

2 de junio 2023

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Who said that all is lost?
I come to offer my heart
Fito Páez

The Ortega regime’s continual police raids, and their propensity to expel from Nicaragua all those who oppose them in thought, word or deed, are aimed at discouraging the population, and sinking them into the most extreme defeatist lethargy. However, the successive arrests and new modes of lightening bogus trials can also be read another way: behind every police detention, there’s a focal point of resistance. The population’s problems haven’t been resolved by the repression, nor have the little worms of self-organization been wiped out by the furious onslaughts against civil society. Who said all is lost?


“…The river has taken so much blood. I come to offer my heart.”

Weeks ago, a meeting of community organizations for local development was held in some location within Nicaragua. Each organization presented their agenda, elaborated through diagnostic studies of the problems that most affect their neighborhoods and rural counties. These are problems the population suffers in their own flesh – the same necessities that have always sparked communities to work on solving for themselves, or to organize in order to demand answers from the authorities closest to the territory. Even though each one of these agendas was put together clandestinely for security, none of them contemplated actions that violate the laws, like robbing banks, kidnapping authorities or killing the local thugs. None of the groups were hiding plans to form armed bands or to organize civic protests, despite the suffocating situation generated by a government that excludes, persecutes and banishes – a situation that would seem to push people towards desperate actions.

On the contrary, for each group of problems, people proposed what they knew best how to do prior to 2018: to organize themselves and participate in public affairs. As if the sure risk of being jailed for organizing wasn’t evident, people preferred the optimistic hope of being able to resolve the deficient or null existence of public services by initiating interactions with the authorities they didn’t elect.

“It won’t be so easy, I know what’s going on. It won’t be as simple as I thought, like opening the chest and removing the soul…”

With a dictatorship determined to do everything to exterminate from the roots any spark of civil society, certainly this isn’t an environment conducive to the flowering of initiatives for social activism. Nevertheless, there it is – that profound stubbornness in the population, that refuses to write off everything as lost. Immune to discouragement, they persist in regrouping after each blow, even knowing that their children and their spiritual guides are in prison, and seeing their families scattered by the march into exile. Against all logic, they remain impervious to the threats of the hatchet men who come to their homes to warn them, “don’t speak badly of the Comandante,” or “don’t post anything against the Revolution.” Despite calls to defeatism, and fears of being next on the extermination list, the prevalent rebellion that nested permanently within the people five years ago, remains on its feet.

You can’t say that the tyranny hasn’t tried everything to inject fear into every body. They’ve used the international human rights charter as a road map to squash all possible spheres of life. They’ve killed, wounded, tortured, imprisoned, stolen and banished; they’ve completely closed off all civic and democratic spaces. But not even thus have they been able to extinguish the flame of resistance. Despite their use of all possible forms of violence, protected by the jackal’s impunity, the seed of rebellion is still there, waiting for the best opportunity to resprout, maintaining at bay the oppressors’ desires to inject the repression into the most intimate spheres of each person’s thoughts and feelings.

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“… Moon of the poor, always open. I come to offer my heart.”

The dictatorship promises beating and exclusion; the population, with no other alternative than surviving, must devise some way of facing their communal problems, as humanity has been doing since our species came down from the trees. If wastewater runs down the neighborhood streets for lack of a drainage system, the residents propose the construction of drainage pools in their homes; if the well is controlled by the FSLN and has become corruption’s petty cash box, the users demand that the CAPS [committees for potable water and hygiene] be functionally independent as Law 722 establishes; if the municipal garbage collection service is markedly deficient, they propose the self-management of every household – selecting, recycling and bringing the rest of their waste to places where the municipality can pick it up. And so on, in an interminable etcetera of examples that reveal irrefutable truths. These citizens neither sit down to see how poverty has covered them from head to foot, nor do they renounce organizing themselves to seek or contribute to common solutions.

“… And I speak of countries and of hope. I speak for life, I speak for the void.”

In any other part of the world, these people would be viewed by governments as partners in local development. Their initiatives would be studied in academic centers as examples of public-private non-profit association, and their ties and citizen participation would be viewed as a positive feature of social capital.

But not in our sequestered Nicaragua; in our country they are persecuted for being autonomous, for not asking permission of the political secretary, or however the local minion is called; they’re spied on as dangerous, for carrying the seed of irreducibility, of those who won’t give up; and they are threatened for harboring hope.

“… I am talking about changing our home. Of changing it for changing sake.

The dictatorship knows full well that while the cauldron of hope still boils in society, there’ll be heat to keep alive the seeds of change. That’s why they fear any form of social activism so greatly, and that’s why they go after it swinging their sticks blindly. Because as long as there’s an urgency to try and resolve the problems of ones own community, the germ seeds of a new country will remain alive. Even though today the night may be darkest, who said that all is lost?

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

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Silvio Prado

Silvio Prado

Politólogo y sociólogo nicaragüense, viviendo en España. Es municipalista e investigador en temas relacionados con participación ciudadana y sociedad civil.

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