The power of Ortega emanates from the mouth of a rifle
It is necessary to build a united coalition between the sectors that fight against the Ortega-Murillo regime.
There are two possible readings around the resolution of the political conflict; they are differentiated by how the capacity of political mobilization of the uprising is perceived and appreciated, and therefore, of the power relations between the sides that dispute power. The first one perceives the democratic forces, which dispute the political power against the Ortega-Murillo regime, as capable of going beyond the State until, by way of force, to make Ortega resign and, through that vacuum of power, to make surrender to the political regime, establishing a transitional government board that claims for itself the representation of the popular will and conform Government. It is debatable.
The second reading does not deny the capacity of the people, however, in these moments of the struggle, we perceive a kind of mutual contention or a tie where none of the opposing sides has the capacity to impose the totality of their interests; On the one hand, the democratic forces can not impose on their own the will from the street to overthrow the regime and, on the other hand, the Ortega-Murillo regime can not restore stability prior to the eighteenth of April. Each of these sides has a capital or resource that the other lacks. Although the democratic forces have gained social recognition from the people and resisted the siege of the regime, the latter holds the relative monopoly of violence now not legitimate; therefore, the repression of the regime and the resistance of the people, in the absence of an interlocutor that requires a negotiated resolution of a just resolution to the political conflict, would produce a burnout. There the role of the National Dialogue.
The National Dialogue would not produce the effects desired by the people immediately, as the generation and fulfillment of political agreements will be relatively determined, on the one hand, by the pressure exercised by the advance of the mobilization of the people raised , and, on the other hand, by the regime’s ability to continue repressing through the institutions of a state in a process of breakdown and, in an interrelated manner, the capacity of democratic forces to face repression and its definitive cessation. This catastrophic draw could take some time until its resolution, however what is certain is that the socially established frameworks, prior to the eighteenth of April, through which the political power was managed have been broken; In this way, the regime can no longer manage political power unilaterally and impose itself by force, since the people demand the demonopolization of the right to decide on matters of general interest. Negotiation is necessary. The National Dialogue is the non-institutional framework through which political power is being managed.
What is negotiated in the National Dialogue proposed by the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua (CEN)?
Given the catastrophic political stalemate between the opposing sides and the negotiation to which they have had to resort, Ortega, ethically defeated in front of the people and in front of national and international human rights organizations, could be i) opting for the way of political change or ii) by the continuity in power.
For the first case, Ortega, in the National Dialogue, has tried to delay the process in order to negotiate, with different actors at national and international level – in a suspicious way with the United States – the most favorable conditions for his departure. In this way, the regime has tried with relative success to reduce its responsibility for acts of violence and therefore the possible sanctions that may be exerted on its direct and indirect actors, while using repression and media manipulation to create a more or less favorable correlation of force in the dialogue table. That is, Ortega could agree to accept the agenda of early elections following constitutional reforms in exchange for impunity for him and his relatives; but not for the entire regime. For this reason Ortega is reluctant to provide a “formal and official” response, as requested by the Bishops of the CEN, to the extent that such action could display a message of “betrayal” and worsen the internal crisis of the FSLN, the dispute over the positions of power of the same and, with this, create a discontent in the bases attached to the mandate of Ortega and Murillo.
For the second case, repression and media manipulation have been deployed as strategies for the generation of terror in search of the demobilization of the uprising, that is, in the interests of continuity in power by Ortega-Murillo. The exaltation of the “peace caravans”, as the regime has categorized them by militant Ortega in territories besieged and repressed, is the way in which a vision is carried out around what is happening: the liberation of territories “kidnapped” by “delinquents”. The criminalization of the people’s struggle, the prosecution of the protesters and the denial of reality has been a constant.
In both cases, any expansion of the process by the Ortega-Murillo regime is aimed at oxygenation of its regime, the management of its internal crises and the possible configuration of arrangements with key actors of national policy (non-reformist fractions of the private sector) as a condition to enter into a possible electoral contest with a greater probability of victory or in a crude way to impose power by force and repression in favor of the prolongation of the dictatorship. As Mao would say, in the last instance, real power emanates from the mouth of a rifle; and they are rifles that carry the parapolicías adepts to the regime assassinating its own town.
How to move towards a bifurcation point?
I am not completely sure, however, we can outline some points that would pressure the regime to accept the advance of elections or, more radically, its immediate resignation; a demand that the people cry and that we as university students make ours.
First, if the relative monopoly now illegitimate on the part of the State is the resource deployed by the Ortega-Murillo regime to impose itself by force against the people, the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy (ACJD) must take advocacy actions within and outside the National Dialogue to demand the cessation of repression and violence, and, as a historical task, the disarmament of the parapolitical forces, a non-institutional repressive force of the state monopolized by the dictator.
Second, the presence of international organizations in Nicaragua such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) is an achievement of the ACJD; likewise, the creation of the Special Follow-up Mechanism for Nicaragua (MESENI) and the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI). However, at the national and international levels we must undertake the fight against impunity. As Fernando Bárcenas suggested, Ortega would resign if he perceived that the political cost of continuing in power would be greater than his departure, that is, that the sanctions would be greater for him and his relatives. In this way, the ACJD has to undertake the task of dismantling the discourse of “violence wherever it comes from”, a narrative that attempts to equalize the responsibility of acts of repression between the uprising people and the Ortega – Murillo regime, and overturn to the fight against impunity, making reference to the fact that the sanctions that can be applied to the perpetrators of crimes will be dictated by true justice. This would put the ACJD in a position of strength at the negotiating table. This would go from the difficult task of influencing the creation of an international entity against impunity, or the articulation of several international organizations to press with full force.
Third, to the extent that Ortega through the FSLN has monopolized state institutions, the cracking of the same through the emptying of legitimacy to its institutional procedures is creating a vacuum of power and governance. People do not have confidence in their institutions. In this way governing unilaterally is impossible for the regime that Ortega embodies. The fundamental task is to ignore them totally and, above all, not to finance them indirectly through our taxes.
Fourth, there are no suspicions, or crazy theories that there is a struggle, not completely open, for power within the FSLN. Historical tables of the party not sympathetic to Rosario Murillo have been displaced in recent years from positions of power that had been throughout the game when it still existed (sic). Therefore, if the crisis inside advances and these cadres align to recover their positions and, above all, in order to save a party that will never be the same under the perception of the great majority of the people, they press Ortega to accept the advance of elections with or without him in the previous process, this will allow the ACJD in the DN form true political agreements that come to be fulfilled. This does not mean that an Ortegaism without Ortega is the best way.
Fifth, and fundamentally, it is necessary that just as the COSEP and all the organized business broke with the regime after April eighteen these remain distanced from any attempt by the regime to want to monopolize them, in order to continue in power, to configure an arrangement that allows a relative and illusory stability to try to alleviate the sociopolitical crisis. Therefore, it is necessary to make a call and demand that the non-reformist fractions and with a desire for change take more belligerent measures on the situation; those measures that depend a lot on your appeal.
Sixth, and no less important, it is necessary to build a united coalition among the sectors that fight against the Ortega-Murillo regime. In the ACJD we have been emphatic that our negotiation strategy goes hand in hand with mobilization; of the people’s ability to find new repertoires of collective action, making use of those inherited as barricades, but also building new ones. No individual negotiation or notability will move us forward. Therefore, it is essential that various sectors, organizations, collectives and movements arising from the struggle join together so that, from their own “trenches”, we press the regime.
The possibility of moving forward to give way to this dispute is between an overflow of the people, an option that in my opinion is less likely, and the configuration of political agreements with future institutionalization capacity among, and this is important, reformist fractions and eagerly of political change of the old regime of Ortega-Murillo and fractions or broad blocks of democratic forces that, from the institutional outside, claim for themselves the representation of the will of the people and dispute political power. The history of transitions to democracy tell us that the role of political and economic elites in interrelation with the people is fundamental to their achievement.
Without any intention of exalting the triumphalism, one could say that the rifle is the only thing left to Ortega.
* Nicaraguan University Alliance (AUN). University Coalition and Civil Society. This article does not express the opinion of the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy.