I couldn’t avoid a smile as I read Fernando Barcenas’ ideas for reformulating the resistance to the Ortega regime in an interview published in the Sunday magazine section of the Nicaraguan newspaper La Prensa. Among other things, he proposes “starting a newspaper”, “speaking with the Army”, “bringing the combatants back from Costa Rica”.
Barcenas then goes on to issue an implicit invitation for an armed struggle, while expressing his scorn for the National Blue and White Unity movement (UNAB), and adding disdainful comments about manifestations of rebellion such as the red lips and the blue and white balloons.
I disliked the arrogance of his positions, as well as his affirmation that the civic struggle has been defeated and that Ortega has won the match.
The truth is, I’m pretty sick of so much speculation, of so many preaching the “magic” or textbook remedy to resolve a situation like the one we’re facing. This situation could be defined much more easily if we had the humility to simply face the fact that a forceful civic struggle like the one carried out over these past 6 months in Nicaragua must now reconsider how best to confront a ferocious repression.
It’s clear that to stay in power, the Ortega regime has had to resort to dictatorial methods that hadn’t been seen in Latin America for many decades. He’s acted more like the right than the most recalcitrant and unholy right-wing regimes, such as that of Augusto Pinochet in Chile and Jorge Rafael Videla in Argentina. Returning to that past represents his most definitive defeat, no matter how loudly they proclaim the return of normality, or his triumph.
The alternatives for civic struggle for unarmed citizens facing weapons that don’t hesitate to shoot in the hands of those bent on dominating their opponents by force or imprisonment have dispersed, but surprisingly haven’t lost their vitality and their determination. What’s now up in the air isn’t the proposition that sprang to life on April 18, but rather the “how” of that proposition.
While I would criticize many of Barcenas’ points, I’ll grant him one: the need for leadership. It certainly seemed a little pathetic during the UNAB’s recent press conference that so many people appeared just to read a brief communique denouncing the inexcusable attack on the female political prisoners.
To be precise, the real proof that they’re a unified group would be that they’re not afraid to delegate the authority of the collective to a few trusted representatives. It’s past time that they named an executive committee, an agreed-upon leadership. Five people would be enough. Why don’t they have a vote and elect them?
To speak of a Government Junta is a little premature in my opinion, but they could easily begin by making visible some people who have earned the trust of the rest. Awarding such trust shouldn’t be hard if the whole group agrees on the essential direction that they see for this anti-dictatorship alternative.
The UNAB would have to hold a retreat and come to an agreement on a minimal program and a proposal to defeat the regime. If this weren’t possible, they’d have to recognize that there isn’t any real basis for such a unity.
From the far reaches, one notes that the UNAB comes out with a communique and later the Articulation of Social Movements comes out with something else. It’s obvious that there’s a back-and-forth between the leadership that the Articulation wants to assume, and the actual diffuse personality of the UNAB. There’s a roadmap of the intentions and proposals of the Articulation, but there’s no ultimate clarity.
On the other hand, the Civic Alliance, which has had a recognized leadership, doesn’t seem to be taking on that role either. From within it, some of the leaders who would make up this Executive Committee would also have to be chosen. After all, they’re the ones whose representation is known. They were elected to represent important sectors, because those sectors don’t exclude anyone. And that’s what we need in Nicaragua: to stop thinking in exclusive terms, to stop dedicating ourselves so ferociously to pointing fingers of blame. The future of this country doesn’t lie in hanging all the guilty in a public square, but in respecting the differences, the options that each one of us chooses.
Just as we blame the large business figures in the COSEP, so we could well blame the inertia of those who didn’t do more or react before we reached the point of no return that we’ve now arrived at. There was no lack of voices that warned of the dictatorial direction that Ortega’s regime was taking. Where were those who are speaking out now, when they were called on earlier to protest?
Many groups and organizations tried for years to mobilize students and citizens in general, only to find themselves alone in thorny demonstrations. So, if we want unity, and if we truly want democracy, we must join forces and not try to stick each other with the overdue bill. It’s not about that at this time. It’s about forming a credible, coordinated, and representative leadership, one that’s above all capable of determining the direction and leading the struggle that lies before us: astutely, efficiently and with the lowest possible cost in lives.
Directing this struggle requires clear objectives, transparent political proposals, honesty, and a shared vision of that Nicaragua that we’re willing to construct. When there are risks of jail and death, like the ones we’re running in this road to liberation, people should know what they’re placing their bets on.
Up until now, that bet ends with the regime’s departure. But supposing that happened tomorrow – What would come afterwards? At this juncture, it’s not only illusory but also irresponsible to continue calling on people to fight for a tomorrow wrapped in the fog of so many vague ideas or ideas left obscure for “tactical” reasons.
Once before, in 1979, we experienced a revolution that presented itself and gathered support around some ideas that later turned out to be only palatable arguments to obtain the support of the majority. The Nicaraguan people have given so much of themselves, have been so extraordinarily ready to believe in the good propositions, which they later feel themselves betrayed by. This scenario shouldn’t be repeated anymore.
Let’s make this a real unity, then. Let’s achieve internal consensus to know where we’re going, what is the Nicaragua that we’re proposing to construct, how will we construct it; and let’s dare to name representatives who will make visible those ideals and who have won the trust of the majority. That’s the most important struggle that we should be assuming at this time, so that this enormous effort can bear fruit.
That’s how we’ll demonstrate maturity and gain the trust that’s essential to consolidate the victories that we’ve achieved.
Translated by Havana Times.