Democracy is, above all, a way of living in society. Democracy encompasses realities such as the full exercise of rights and freedoms, the respect for the law by the rulers and the governed, accountability by public officials, the effective right to elect and be elected, citizen participation in public affairs, to cite some.
But democracy also has, as a backdrop, the sustenance and development of a democratic culture. It involves individual and collective values ??and behaviors.
We Nicaraguans are about to complete two centuries of independent life. In these two hundred years we have lived a few democratic babblings. Under such conditions, it is very difficult for a democratic culture to be entrenched in us, regardless of age, gender, schooling or economic or social status. We must, therefore, strive to cultivate it day by day, from space to space.
I make this preamble because we are going to enter the thorny terrain of evaluating the performance of the Civic Alliance. Why do it? Because it is imperative to extract lessons that help us clear the path and move forward.
Throughout these stormy months, it is the organization that led the negotiations with the regime, having nothing less than the present and the future of the entire country on the table: lives, physical integrity, freedoms and rights, assets, subsistence of families and companies…
It is natural then for citizens to take stock of their performance, not because of inquisitive cares, but because democratic construction is also a learning process that includes educating ourselves in recognizing merits and pointing out weaknesses.
Not everything is dark or all bright. There are lights and there are shadows.
What do we recognize in the Civic Alliance?
First, its unity in diversity. Something unusual in our country. It is true that there was, and there is, a preponderance of the business sector. But they showed that one can go beyond left and right antagonism, and Sandinismo-antisandismo. It is obvious that neither Dr. Carlos Tunnermann, nor Azahalea Solís, nor Sandra Ramos, to cite some names, nor Jose Adan Aguerri or Michael Healy, to cite others, can be signaled having lowered their ideological flags. And they could work together. You may excuse me, but in our environment, pregnant with Manichaean polarizations, this is a performance to highlight.
It is obvious that not all sectors were represented, but let’s be clear, there was no way to achieve this.
Secondly, we must recognize the cohesion they exhibited. They traveled a rough road, with crossroads at every step and diverse interests. And despite the discrepancies or contradictions, which surely they had, it is clear that they were able to resolve them because they always appeared together, holding shared positions. Fractures were not known. They were consistent with the agenda they presented. And that in our society is a merit. Even more when they did not have a leader to obey or partisan commitments to abide by. Of course, we are not going to be innocent here in the face of the interests expressed by the representatives of the business sector.
I can underline a third feature. In the history of Nicaragua, all political negotiations have resulted in opprobrious pacts, imposing personal or group interests, above national interests. The Civic Alliance, for whatever reason, didn’t make a pact with Ortega. So much so that the negotiations were canceled. Despite the flattery and intimidation, which undoubtedly there were, the “pactismo” failed to impose itself. Many could argue that it is the least that could be expected. But it is fair to appreciate that, in this matter, they made exception and did not fall into the historical defects.
Finally, the Civic Alliance cannot be charged as responsible for the failure of the negotiations. Ortega sat at the table when he realized that Maduro’s days were numbered. Maduro did not fall, for now, Ortega was emboldened, squeezed the rope and kicked the table over.
Let’s move on to the shadows
The first is the not transparent way in which the negotiators were appointed. No one has given a reasonable explanation about the predominant presence of representatives of the business sector. And that, in such a transcendental process, was, and is, a democratic deficit of origin. For the future, it will have to be corrected.
Second, they misread the signals and failed to properly interpret political moments and correlations of force, nor distinguish the means from the ends. They sat down with Ortega as if they were with a ruler, dealing with state affairs, when in front we have a heartless mafia, responsible for crimes against humanity and determined to hold on to power at any cost.
Third, they showed poor strategic vision and combative spirit. While Ortega was fighting on all sides, the Alliance was limited to the negotiating table. Even one of the negotiators candidly declared – to use a kind qualification – that they contained popular mobilizations because they were negotiating sensitive issues. In addition, there was a lack of willingness or capacity to expand their support bases, through communication and consultation with organized social and political sectors. They did it late and poorly. Of the bad communication policy, not to mention.
Do you agree with this balance? Well, that’s democracy. There are arguments in the saddlebag, but here we stop.
We do not know what the Civic Alliance will do or become in the future. For now, we must learn from their performance, their lights and their shadows.