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Gioconda Belli: The New Year Arrives for Nicaragua

There are 365 days to stop the fall over the precipice and provide a true sample of love for Nicaragua and love for the poor of this country

On January 1st, time gives us 365 days in blank. How will those 8,760 hours be filled in this homeland besieged by the storm of a people blowing winds of change against the closed gate of stubbornness and cruelty of its rulers?

What have they gained in these months? Their victories are pyrrhic, deceitful, fragile victories.

Using a disproportionate repression, filling the streets with police and riot-police, arresting citizens, killing without compassion, they say they have returned to “normality.” What is that normality? The repression that they have unleashed has placed them before the world as a tyrannical and heartless government. It is because of that repression and no other reason, that the country now suffers from an international isolation that threatens the economy, and its survival.

They will no longer be able to pretend that the country keeps “always going for more victories.” In the days to come, the victories will vanish, our people will suffer.

But they still cling to the story they hatched to save responsibility for the mistakes they made in the first days of the citizens’ revolt. The response of the population to the death of twenty-three students in the first days of protests surprised them. After having previously attacked demonstrators, the kids of “Occupy INSS,” and getting away with it, they thought that similarly they would stifle the clamor of the people. But, it was no longer possible. We had already seen too much despotism, we knew that Alvarito Conrado could not breathe.

The large-scale abstention in the 2016 elections, should have warned them that the people were already clear of their intentions. Proclaiming an indefinite reelection and appointing his wife as Vice President was the straw that broke the camel’s back. That victory, “times of victory by God’s grace” as their billboards announced, dropped a blanket of silence and astonishment over the population.

We all already felt that they had us cornered, that a leaf could not be moved without that omnipotent power managed from the El Carmen bunker, arranging it. We had seen how the deputies in the Assembly surrendered, because they could not even abstain without being thrown out.

We saw those in the Supreme Court become the architects of legal ways to alter the Constitution or take out old lawsuits to strip the legal status of political parties that were preparing to go to elections and compete in a good fight. We saw how they left Roberto Rivas as President of the Supreme Electoral Council without functions, despite the well-known corruption that earned him the Magnitsky Law.

We saw the murder of young people in the countryside. Crimes such as “Las Jaguitas” go unpunished. We saw the Anti-Canal farm population being repressed, harassed, beaten. We saw the rampant abuse of power.

And in April came the INSS social security reforms. And the murders of young people. And the paramilitaries ravaging Monimbo, Jinotepe, Diriamba, Jinotega, Matagalpa. And the hunting. And hundreds of imprisoned students and peasants.

The civic rebellion was an explosion of being fed up, of repudiation. No empire had to come and say that things were going bad here. No imperialism came here to put up the roadblocks, to demonstrate in crowds never seen before.

Ortega initially acted with some wisdom: he withdrew the law and called for dialogue. But what he heard in the only session in which he participated: the clamor of the people to change the rules of the game, for a return to institutionality and respect for freedom, for justice, for a recognition of the right of the people to reproach him, he couldn’t stand it. Instead of listening as a statesman to the students who spoke, he listened to them with personal arrogance. He wasn’t capable of saying: “I’m sorry, guys, I recognize your pain, let all of us reconsider and I will hear your demands.” On the contrary, he unleashed the phantom of repression; a repression that has not stopped.

For that reason and not because of popular protest, Nicaragua is currently in the public spotlight, and they are recognized as guilty of crimes against humanity. But they do not stop.

The repression continues, and now they have gone after the free press, and they have committed the crime of confiscating NGOs that had 32,25, 23, many years of functioning. Miguel Mora, Lucia Pineda, Confidencial, CENIDH have been used as scapegoats to justify their narrative that the population committed terrorism, that it was a coup d’état, thanks to a maneuver conceived and executed by the United States.

They continue with this argument, when the United States, until April, had handed Daniel Ortega’s government more than 400 million dollars in aid, and his government was friendly with the DEA and even with the US military.

It is sad, devastating, to see a government so deaf, so incapable of self-criticism, willing to plunge the country into an abyss and sink itself with it, for not having the minimum of humility and remorse to amend their mistakes and open themselves to scrutiny and the popular will in early elections.

In eight months of mistakes and authoritarian excesses, they have lost the people and much of their base. Now they are looking for how to buy loyalties, such as conditioning government jobs to “party loyalty, paying dues and attendance at party activities.”

2019 is here. There are 365 days to stop the fall over the precipice and provide a true sample of love for Nicaragua and love for the poor of this country, setting aside the arrogance and accepting that it is time for a change. Daniel has held power for 22 years. More than any of the three Somozas.

No more, Commander. It is for humans to err and you erred. Accept your responsibility and that of your wife. Let the new year bring you peace and the love of maturity. Get yourself out of the bunker in which you take shelter.

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