Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 328 | Noviembre 2008




Envío team

On October 15, the influential Nicaraguan sports journalist Edgard Tijerino announced he would no longer be making any political comments on his popular radio and television programs or in his newspaper articles. In one of the pieces in which he announced his decision, Tijerino wrote “It hurts me to admit it, but we have come to a truly oppressive point in this country for which a government that is worse than that of Somoza is to blame… I have promised my family, wife and daughters, who are concerned by my very open attitude in response to the growth of a Dracula-esque dictatorship, which is capable of not leaving a stone standing in this worm-eaten society, in which more spaces are open to criminals than to honorable citizens. I am not afraid, and I never will be even if I have never fired a shot… How embarrassing to have supported these people when they deceived us disguised as revolutionaries. We didn’t have the least idea of the kind of people they really were or of their sinister plans. They unraveled the country without caring what Sandino, Carlos [Fonseca, founder of the FSLN] and Rigoberto [López Pérez, who assassinated Anastasio Somoza García] would have thought. They have held a whole society to ransom using any methods open to them. They took ownership of a flag to the point of pitifully discoloring it and have wanted to do the same to our consciences. They turned into political merchants, making us think Nicaragua was the worst place to live in….”

In early October, the National Council of the Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS) released the following resolution: “Considering: 1. That the regime of Daniel Ortega intends to consolidate a dictatorship by manipulating the public institutions, undermining legality, abusing the National Police, creating repressive vandalistic forces and enriching a new oligarchy using public funds and the resources from Venezuelan oil cooperation, 2) That the municipal elections and their fraudulent manipulation are part of a strategy to consolidate the Ortega regime, which is also preparing the conditions to enthrone itself in power by calling a constituent assembly or passing constitutional reforms, 3) That one of the fundamental pillars of the MRS’s principles and political program is democracy and the defense of citizens’ rights and liberties; it is agreed: 1. To call on all Nicaraguan people, as well as MRS allies and sympathizers, to vote en masse against the Ortega dictatorship and its candidates, 2. That our members and local organization in each municipality must actively promote voting in favor of those who can contribute to its defeat, demanding of those candidates a program that favors democracy, rejection of the pact and free citizens’ participation and benefits municipal progress.”

On November 12, the MRS National Council issued another statement saying that “Ortega’s dictatorial project has shed its masks and disguises with the colossal electoral fraud it intends to impose on the Nicaraguan population through blood and fire. It has to be said plainly: while Roberto Rivas and the other puppets of the Supreme Electoral Council are the material executors of the fraud, the intellectual author and main person responsible is Daniel Ortega... 1. We demand in all of the country’s municipalities a recount of each and every tally, in the presence of national and international observers. 2. We invite all political and social organizations to jointly call a national civic mobilization in defense of democracy and civic mobilizations in all the country’s municipalities. 3. We demand the immediate dismissal of the Supreme Electoral Council magistrates. 4. We demand that the Public Prosecutor’s Office investigate and remit to trial those who conceived, organized and executed this enormous electoral crime against the Nicaraguan people’s will. If through its puppets on the Supreme Electoral Council Orteguismo persists with its fraudulent pretensions, the National Assembly must declare the total annulment of the elections.”

In a conversation with readers of the newspaper La Prensa, outgoing Managua Mayor Dionisio Marenco evaluated his administration and the forthcoming municipal elections. Among other things, he stated that “In the Sandinista government, Daniel [Ortega] raised the slogan of ’Citizen’s Power.’ He should have started by strengthening local government. In reality, this Citizen’s Power would appear to be an alternative power to the municipalities. This won’t do anything to help build a more equitable or harmonious society. On the contrary, it will create a great deal of unnecessary tension.” He went on to say that “Managua is the first face foreign investors see. Undoubtedly a good face helps woo them. That’s the key role for the FSLN now: generate investment confidence. Otherwise, we will continue in this internal tragicomedy in which we tear each other apart. It would appear to be genetic, or an evil curse…. My party is going through a difficult process. I don’t want to go to any other party. Things have to be resolved internally. Fragmenting parties even more implies fragmenting society, and a fragmented society is a weak society. At this moment we need the whole nation united. The FSLN has more responsibility because it’s in power. The FSLN has to stop its unnecessary and exhausting attacks on everyone and recover its old generosity and force. That’s the only way we can push ahead. If we don’t get the whole country united, there will be no more country for the poor or for the rich, for revolutionaries or counter-revolutionaries, for puppets or anti-puppets.”

On November 13, he expressed his doubts about the election results in Managua. Comparing them with his own victory in the 2004 elections, Marenco came up short: “I’m not sure where Alexis [Argüello, the FSLN candidate and Marenco’s own deputy mayor for the past four years] got his votes from. Herty [Lewites, the FSLN mayor before Marenco] won with 135,000 votes and I won with 145,000. So Alexis should have won with 155,000, which is the natural growth in votes. But they say he got 225,000 votes. I have my doubts; it’s not possible to get that amount… I believe the CSE has the obligation to be more flexible and explain clearly, tally by tally, to ascertain who’s lying, who erased the tallies, who tampered with them.”

Another figure that increases the doubts about the election results in the capital is that Daniel Ortega won there with around 180,000 votes in the 2006 presidential elections. Could Alexis Argüello really have pulled more votes than the Sandinista caudillo, and in municipal elections, where the turnout is traditionally lower?

On October 27, the Nicaraguan Human Rights Center (CENIDH) attended the 133rd Period of Sessions of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Washington. During the event, CENIDH President Vilma Núñez de Escorcia and Director Bayardo Izabá denounced the Nicaraguan state’s “selective political persecution” of its adversaries, including the violation of the civil and political rights of expression, protest and association. According to Núñez, this violation “amounts to the collapse of democracy and the establishment of a new kind of dictatorship.” CENIDH presented a list of events and incidents to demonstrate its accusation and called on the IACHR to send a commission to Nicaragua to verify the situation. The representative of the Nicaraguan state at the hearing, Attorney General Hernán Estrada, minimized everything mentioned by CENIDH and stated that President Daniel Ortega was “the main defender of institutionality in the country.” Back in Managua and receiving new charges of “selective political persecution,” CENIDH said “there is evidence that a para-state group dedicated to acts of psychological and physical intimidation against civic organizations and people of independent criteria is being put into operation.”

Just before the elections, PLC representative José Pallais, president of the National Assembly’s Justice Commission, wrote the following in La Prensa: “An analysis of the history of Somocismo and the FSLN of the eighties leads us to conclude that President Ortega has already begun to go down that path. The signs are unequivocal: the latest, most alarming one related to attaining that project is the insistence on reforming the Constitution to eliminate everything in it that opposes him, achieving the longed-for goal of re-election. We should remember that the Somozas reformed our Constitution four times, allowing them to govern for over 40 years. In recent months we have observed the creation of organs of repression, which are christened with different names but which the people call ‘mobs.’ These assume the sad role of repressing public liberties with the specific objective of intimidating people and civil associations that oppose them… It is essential for any aspiring dictator to make both the police and the army answer to his party for his own personal benefit, which President Ortega is also trying to do. The manipulation of electoral votes to ignore the popular will is another sign to bear in mind, which is why the Supreme Electoral Council’s refusal to be observed is a worrying decision. The instrumentalizing of justice to turn opposition political leaders into hostages of the system is equally essential in attaining total political power...”

During the whole of September and October, there was an intense government offensive against NGOs, particularly feminist organizations such as the Autonomous Women’s Movement and well-known feminists, including Sofía Montenegro, who was attacked by the official media in a cruel and anti-ethical campaign. One expression of this offensive was the pressure exerted on the “Luisa Amanda Espinoza” Nicaraguan Women’s Association (AMNLAE) to incorporate itself into the new Sandinista Women’s Movement (MMS) created by the ruling party. AMNLAE is an organization with Sandinista roots, created during the eighties, that has 60 women’s centers throughout the country. The move to bring it into the MMS fold was justified under the argument that AMNLAE had turned into a private NGO. The new MMS demanded the resignation of AMNLAE’s president, former Sandinista National Assembly representative Dora Zeledón, whose letter of resignation contained the following words: “The blackmail, threats, manipulation and public campaign to question and invalidate AMNLAE’s work profile violate our organization’s autonomy, strategy lines and statutes… In the hope of stopping the other AMNLAE centers in the rest of the country from being taken over de facto [the government had already taken over two in Managua by force] and to try to help bring peace to our organization, I hereby announce my resignation, having reflected on and analyzed this unjust situation.”

Three months later and the dozens of unemployed people stationed at the major traffic circles sprinkled around the capital and along its access highways are still there, huddled under CPC tarps. They are paid a minimal sum and receive three meals a day in styrofoam containers.

Quite apart from putting up with sun, rain and honey pots, these days of protest marches and violence were probably the worst for them, particularly in the traffic circle at the Metrocentro shopping mall. Sandinista supporters bearing huge FSLN banners take over the traffic circle so that all that can be seen is a ring of red and black flags. It’s impossible for observers to see through them to know whether the dozens of people there praying everday shed their “love is stronger than hate” t-shirts and join the hooded youth shooting off home-made mortars filled with nails and other random shrapnel, or keep right on praying against the hatred that surrounds them.

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