Given the complete refusal of the Ortega – Murillo regime to resume the national dialogue, on July 31st the Civic Alliance entered into a debate on how to transform itself into a “political vehicle”. In doing so, given the new context of the socio –political crisis, it must leave behind its former identity as “merely a negotiating tool”.
“From the beginning, the nature of the Alliance as a negotiator has been overwhelmed by peoples´ demands and expectations. Many want the Alliance to assume a more political and activist role. We´re weighing that,” declared Douglas Castro, a member of the Alliance.
“Some take the position that we shouldn’t stop being an instrument for negotiation, but there are others who want to transform the Alliance into a political vehicle – not an electoral one, but one that can succeed in channeling the citizens’ energy,” added Castro.
The government’s delegation was a no-show at the INCAE business school on July 31, as proposed by the Civic Alliance. Castro explained that their absence was no surprise, but that the Alliance had requested their presence at the negotiation table to demonstrate to the international community that Ortega had no will to engage in good faith negotiations.
“For the opposition in general, it’s clear that the government lies, but their incessant campaign has had an impact. The government and its allies have projected the idea that we’re an inflexible opposition, and there are those who’ve begun to doubt,” Castro noted regretfully.
He added that the Alliance will now seek a way to attain their objectives outside of negotiations, but for this to happen they “need to exert the greatest possible pressure.”
“Right now this pressure isn’t being felt, because we haven’t taken back the streets. Also, on an international level the topic of sanctions and diplomatic pressure has faced obstacles,” said Castro.
“We believe that within the framework of the latest resolution of the Organization of American States, it’s going to become clear to them that the government has no intention of returning to the negotiating table in good faith, nor of implementing the accords reached in prior negotiations. That could speed up the application of the Democratic Charter that’s already in process. Article 20 has been exhausted, and they are looking at Article 21. If the government does nothing, in another 75 days we´ll be headed towards expulsion from the OAS.”
Repression has made organization difficult
Castor was interviewed on the internet news program Esta Noche, together with Edwin Carcache, student leader and former political prisoner. Carcache affirmed that at this stage, the work of the university students within the Civic Alliance will be fundamental in organizing the movement. However, he noted, up until now, circumstances have made this difficult. “Groups of students aren’t even allowed to meet, because immediately a police patrol vehicle arrives,” said Carcache.
Douglas Castro recalled that the Civic Alliance is part of the National Blue and White Unity movement, and that they’ve intensified the discussions regarding organization. “The discussions are being conducted on two fronts, both within and outside of Nicaragua, but even within those two areas we’re aware of the expectations and the scope of the social explosion, and we lack the organizational level to be able to channel that energy in the best way possible,” the university leader affirmed.
Representatives of the Civic Alliance and the National Unity movement traveled to Costa Rica this week to meet with groups of exiled Nicaraguans and community leaders who can’t enter Nicaragua due to the political persecution.
Both Castro and Carcache recognized the level of desperation that exists within and outside Nicaragua, especially the difficult situation of the over 70 thousand exiles, the majority of them in Costa Rica.
This past July 19, during the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution, Comandante Ortega offered a unilateral electoral reform. This topic has been rejected by the Alliance and the Unity movement and has taken up a large part of their discussions, together with the demand to move up the elections.
We’re discussing topics that provoke a certain amount of passion, for example the electoral reforms. Almost everyone is confused about what such an electoral reform might consist of. We’ve spoken with members from all sectors (of the National Unity movement) and we agree that the proposal that the Alliance presents should represent the interests of all,” Castro explained.
“Along this line, we know that there’s desperation, people who want to protest, go out on the street, but there’s one thing we should be sure of: what happened in April 2018 was spontaneous, it wasn’t organized,” he noted.
According to Castro, a new wave of protest now wouldn´t be as spontaneous as the one in that April. The member of the Civic Alliance pointed out that organization and planning is needed to protect those who go out on the streets. Further, they must succeed in finding a way to break through the fear that the police and paramilitary repression has caused among the citizens.
“Logically, protests have a forward push, and then a retreat and a wearing away. We’re in the retreat phase. We have to prepare the new wave. It’s a healthy debate. There are people in the social movement who don’t see themselves as political protagonists. There are many groups that only want to protest, and that’s legitimate. Others believe that we need to present a real alternative for the country right now,” Castro explained.
Meanwhile, Carcache insisted that the university sector should continue in the Civic Alliance, as well as in these discussions.
“While it’s true that in April we didn´t make an agreement to go out on the street and it happened spontaneously, now is the time for all the students to get organized and work towards the common good that we need,” Carcacha emphasized. “From within our sector, we’re going to continue demanding what the Nicaraguan people want. From that point of view, we’ll weigh the strategies. We have to lift our voices from within the Alliance, so that all the other sectors listen to us.”
The origins of the Alliance
In relation to criticism regarding the Civic Alliance’s representation, Castro recalled the fact that the Alliance was born out of the necessity of the moment. Prior to April 18, all the state institutions lacked credibility, so the Episcopal Conference called together all the self-organized social sectors to participate in the dialogue with the regime.
“Later, these participants put aside the particular demands of their sector. The private sector said that they wouldn´t talk only about the economy, the members of civil society put their agendas aside, and we said: “We’ll go with a common agenda, which is justice and democratization. That agenda also included the student sector,” Castro affirmed. “We’ll always allow our representation to be questioned, but the question of political representation goes hand in hand with democracy.”
“That is,” added Castro, “if we don’t have conditions that allow us to meet, to organize and to mobilize, due to the police state, it’s hard for us to come to an agreement about any formal representation.”
Carcache stated that, as students, they desire an “inclusive” Nicaragua, so as to break up those institutions that are corrupt. He adds that they must continue “looking for ways” for this to occur. “And in order to obtain this main objective, we need to be united.”