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Central American University - UCA  
  Number 111 | Octubre 1990

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Nicaragua

On Concertation: From Left to Right

Envío team

Unless otherwise noted, the following statements are selected excerpts from a debate on concertation sponsored by the National Autonomous University (UNAN) in Managua on August 31 and September 1. The dictionary defines the verb concertar as: to reconcile, harmonize, coordinate, join together or agree upon.

Antonio Lacayo, Minister of the Presidency. “There's been a lot of talk about concertation, and the truth is that a lot has been done, too. Because in some ways, though there wasn't much dialogue, we Nicaraguans began concertation many years ago in order to get rid of a dictator. That was a decision shared by a very large majority of the people. [Now] we're talking about reconciliation, about ending polarization, about the constructive spirit that must pervade every one of our actions. [This is] very difficult after a war, when just a few months ago Nicaraguans confronted each other face to face with huge loss of life, huge material losses, with deep resentments accumulating—all valid, all real. But it's time to leave them aside in order to look toward the future.”

Daniel Ortega, former President, FSLN. “The Bible says, 'By your deeds you shall be known.' The desire for reconciliation exists but under vengeful policies: more than 3,000 state workers have been fired. If the government takes destabilizing actions, then just as the government has the right and responsibility to govern, the governed have the right and responsibility to protest. The only [solution to Nicaragua's economic problems] is in the hands and consciousness of the workers. The wealth that Nicaragua needs will arise from this combination of work and consciousness. Concertation is indispensable, but that doesn't mean making agreements from above while everything below falls apart.”

Bonifacio Miranda, Revolutionary Workers' Party (PRT). “The word 'concertation’ is in vogue, especially since the UNO victory, though previously under the Somoza dictatorship they were called compromise pacts, and under the Sandinistas they were called secret pacts and compromises. I keep wondering what they’re going to harmonize—water with fire, God with the Devil? Given the economic policy of hunger and misery promoted by the UNO government, what’s in question in this country is the destiny of tens of thousands of workers who are being threatened with layoffs, low salaries, huge [utility] rates.... Between capitalists and workers, there is nothing to reconcile.”

Roberto Urroz, Nicaraguan Democratic Movement (MDN/UNO). “I want to talk about the role that the Nicaraguan businessman should play. It can no longer be the role played under the Somoza dictatorship, eminently exploitative of the working class; nor can it be the role played during the Sandinista era, eminently speculative, not wanting to invest. We have to awaken a new mentality in the Nicaraguan businessman, a mentality with a new goal—where business fills its social function, where workers receive real wages, share in the profits of the business, participate in its administration. We must be willing to take risks to build a future without risks.”

Mauricio Díaz, Popular Social Christian Party (PPSC). “Our democracy is and will be Nicaraguan style, with a high degree of popular participation, which should be instituted in concertation through the following accords: (a) the establishment of specific mechanisms for popular participation through interim associations, (b) a relation of respect and coordination between the state and popular organizations in the resolution of common problems, promoting [those organizations’] capacity to solve their own problems, especially food, housing and health, through community and self-help projects, (c) strengthening and depoliticizing the national cooperative movement.”

César Caracas, (PPSC). “Will this concertation be free, with the consensus of all the Nicaraguan people? Or will it be with the okay of the US Embassy?”

Rita Fletes, market woman. “It’s true that one of those who speaks better, more prettily, one of the ones we believe a little is Mr. Lacayo, [but] whatever he says, the opposite is done at the base. Compañero Lacayo, if you're talking about concertation, let there be a real concertation at the base, not this pure demagoguery that you’re carrying on with the people! We believe that we can agree to concertation, as long as it doesn't hit the working class, the housewives, the market women who don't make enough to eat right now, as long as the wealth is shared among all, and those who have more give to those who have less. We will applaud when you come down and see the problem of people's hunger.”

Bayardo Altamirano, UNAN faculty. “UNO is a mixed salad, and the UNO government is a mixed salad. Don't you all need to agree first? Because, as the
compañera said, you express good intentions, but what you create with your hands, [Managua's] Mayor Alemán erases with his feet.”

Carlos Cuadra, Marxist-Leninist Popular Action Movement (MAP). “I'd like the government to be explicit about what it's willing to give up so that the workers—the majority—can solve their problems. What will the bourgeoisie and the business people give up? Are they going to freeze profits during the next ten years, so they will be reinvested in social benefits—in education and health—to strengthen the development of the work force? Maybe we can begin there so we'll know if it's even worth talking out concertation.”

Vice President Virgilio Godoy. “We know of other cases where [concertation] has been tried in Latin America—in Argentina, Peru, Mexico. With bad luck in one, moderate success in another, and notable success in the latter.”

Francisco Samper, United Revolutionary Movement (MUR). “Let's look at the results of concertation in other Latin American countries, starting with Mexico. Concertation in Mexico has only profited US capital because they sold the state businesses. That’s what they want to do here in Nicaragua. And what's been the result of concertation in Brazil? Due to lack of medical supplies, due to economic adjustments, 144,000 die. And in Argentina, Uruguay and Ecuador the results are the same. And they’ll be the same in Nicaragua too.”

Daniel Ortega. “The case of Nicaragua isn't the same as the other Latin American countries that have been mentioned, because here there's been a revolution. Here, concertation cannot be imposed from above—the workers' voice, ideas and proposals must be heard and debated.”

Emilio Alvarez Montalván, National Conservative Party (PNC/UNO). The principal actors are not ready [for concertation]. The executive can't have an unstable, precarious and unsure majority in Congress. The same with the opposition party: it’s not ready yet. Daniel Ortega's speeches show he has learned nothing and forgotten nothing. He continues to repeat the same rhetoric of 1979.”

National Directorate, FSLN (communiqué released 9/13). “Concertation is necessary for a lasting and stable peace in Nicaragua, but the government has the primary responsibility to create the minimum conditions: to comply with the agreements signed with the workers; to renounce the application of Decree 11-90, which has generated insecurity in tens of thousands of families; to take strong action against government officials who promote or permit vengeful actions; to guarantee respect for the land, lots and houses of those who benefited from the revolution; and to refrain from unilaterally implementing new economic measures that intensify the people's critical situation. The first stage of economic concertation should produce a reconciliation between the government's economic policies and the vital needs of the majority of the population as its principle result.”

Augusto Zamora, Barricada columnist (quote from Barricada, 8-25). “What can those of us on the bottom gain in negotiations and concertation with a government that does not comply with what it signs? To sit and dialogue only so they can say they are dialoguers is farcical; to dialogue only to approve the government plan is suicide. To sit to discuss, revise and readjust the plan sounds more responsible. But if the government says its plan is not up for discussion, if it does not previously annul Decrees 10-90 and 11-90, if it does not comply with its previous accords with the FNT, then shoemakers to your shoes—the government to govern, the opposition to oppose and the unions to unionize. Any other conception or discourse is simply to propose the burial of the revolution. The end of our history: is this what we want? Quo vadis , Nicaragua?”

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