After the Dictatorship – What to Do and What to Expect?
In politics, you can’t be a romantic. I want to note the difference between aspiring to democracy and the supposed “recovery” of our democracy.
The formation of a Blue and White National Unity movement (Unidad Nacional Azul y Blanco) with representation from the majority of the social and political sectors that actively oppose the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship, is a great historic event due to its broad political agreement without ideological discrimination or sectarianism. The ten principles, ten values and thirteen commitments of their founding proclamation must now move beyond unity and into action as the only way of achieving victory.
Two of their essential propositions sum up all of them; and from this starting point all the others must be developed in a continuous and simultaneous way, but without a linear or mechanical vision. The first task is getting rid of the regime through any civic route, be it via the dictators’ resignation, or their defeat in early elections. In that way, the unity movement can fulfill the humanitarian objective of freeing society from the tragedy of seeing its young taken prisoner, persecuted or killed.
Later, a program of action and transformation must be undertaken, based on the 23 principles, values and commitments outlined. These will guide the eradication of Ortega’s system and begin the historic job of constructing a legal system built on respect for human rights and guarantees of all the democratic civil rights.
This isn’t at all easy. None of the changes proposed to advance economic, political and social programs will be possible without achieving in practical terms that which presently exists only as a stated intention: putting aside ideological differences in favor of carrying out each common task, and resolving the difficulties between groups with the least possible degree of sectarianism.
This means that when a law is discussed – or the entire body of laws – to regulate the unjust social relations that have characterized our historically unjust system, that which is merely spoken now must be made real. For example, we might suppose that some of the business representatives in the Unity Movement could call for absolute freedom of enterprise, as historically they’ve done, with the objective of getting around the issue of social justice.
Or, in an opposite example, suppose that some representatives of the salaried workers sector adhere to the mechanical concept that the defeat of the dictatorship means a victory for the radical social revolution. I bring this up, because people almost always abandon the idea of reflection when acting in defense of special interests and that tends to confuse things. Conceivably, out of selfish class interests, some would be working to maintain the unjust economic and social system (the Ortega system without Ortega), while others would expound an ingenuous and infantile radicalism.
The reality is that unity in action must be practiced to reach common objectives (rights and liberty) without losing the ideological autonomy of each group to exercise their freedom of thought while respecting the thinking of others. Unity in action won’t bring about an absolute harmony, but a mutual understanding at the moment of removing the barriers that impede everyone’s freedom.
From the moment the Blue and White Unity Movement came into being, the traditional sectors of the opposition have already been expressing opposing criteria. Despite proclaiming their agreement with the struggle against the dictatorship, they reject the route traced by the Unity Movement and, prompted by their sectarianism, raise party questions. It goes without saying that acting in this way will only leave them to stagnate with their prejudices. Without meaning to, they end up reinforcing the students’ beliefs about the uselessness and undesirability of the traditional strongmen leaders and their parties, as political actors who’ve been left behind in this new form of historic struggle.
No one wanted these differences to arise, but they had to be foreseen. Since they’ve already arisen in a weak and tentative way, the most probable thing is that these parties will be left on the margins of history, obsolete as a political force, while as individuals they end up resentful, or as pawns in the electoral farces.
Certainly, other phenomena will arise in the united struggle, when the dictatorship had become nothing more than just a sad era of the past. There may be no antidote for some of these happenings, but they can be foreseen and not frighten us, with the understanding that such phenomena are inevitable in politics and we can act accordingly.
In politics, you can’t be a romantic nor become confused because someone refuses to understand that in every struggle and every field of political action there are opposing interests at play. But if you renounce sectarianism, then finding a better way of conducting politics is a much safer bet.
This isn’t the first time that – in the face of extremism from one side and the other – I’ve tried to tackle the topic of democracy and the democratic. These two words may seem the same, but in my view, they aren’t. I’ve given my opinion and I continue to do so, that in today’s Nicaragua we’re not struggling to “recuperate” our democracy, but to construct it, because it’s never existed here in any finished form.
Looking backwards… During the first 30 years of the nineteenth century, there was a conservative version of democracy, in that it practiced the alternation of parties in power. However, this alternation involved only a few families from the oligarchy, while the very poor (those who didn’t own property worth at least 100 pesos) and the illiterate couldn’t vote. It was a democracy only for the minority.
In the 125 years that have passed since 1893 (spanning 7 years of the nineteenth century, the entire 20th century and 18 years of this 21st century) we’ve never had a democracy which satisfied all sectors. The dictatorship of Zelaya followed, then there were governments of the liberal or conservative parties, puppets of the United States’ armed intervention, including the Somoza dictatorship that they left us, right up until the Sandinista revolution of 1979.
That revolution was only such in terms of some political and social changes; it was later cut short or left at a halfway point by another form of pro-North American armed intervention, and due to the Sandinistas own mistakes. It lasted only eleven years, and it was a democracy for the classes that had historically been passed over, but a dictatorship for the other social classes.
After that, we had sixteen years of a democracy that was more formal than real, although it did allow political liberties. However, it also embraced the traditional class privileges and a rapacious administrative corruption, especially during the presidency of Arnoldo Aleman. It could be said that respect for political liberties was no compensation for the rampant social injustice.
And now, we have the worst of all the dictatorships, the two-headed rule of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. In addition to their level of criminality and corruption, he’s tried to swindle and continues to swindle many, especially his friends outside the country, with the lie that his regime is the continuity of the 1979 revolution. In fact, they themselves have done and are doing more than enough to definitively bury that revolution.
With this brief summary of our history I hope to make clearer the difference between aspiring to democracy and the supposed “recuperation” of our democracy. In passing, I’ve tried to explain the difference between the aspiration for democracy and what we can in reality hope to attain after the dictatorship is defeated: a democracy under construction with full respect for all the human and political rights for all.
To help construct that democracy is the goal of the conscientious, honest, non-sectarian participation within the Blue and White National Unity movement, if true to its objectives, values and commitments. Demanding other conditions won’t bring any success, and, in fact, would be a gift to those who oppose all stripes of democracy.