Interview: With Department of Information of the Nicaraguan Workers Confederation - CTN
Exclusive interview with Alfredo Woo and Donald Espinoza, Members of the Department of Information of the Nicaraguan Workers Confederation (CTN)
Question: What does the CTN think of the way the government is now implementing the mixed economy, as the principal part of its politico-economic policy?
Alfredo Woo: The position that we have today is the same as always. Our movement was born within the workers’ movement with an anti-capitalist position, because we believe that there is no room for capitalism at this point. We also affirm that there is private capitalism and state capitalism. This is one of the principal reasons why we oppose the Marxist projects which exist in the world and which they have tried to implement in Nicaragua.
With respect to the mixed economy supposedly functioning in Nicaragua, we think that more than anything else there has been some agreement reached between the state and private enterprise. (We refer to the private businesses which existed in the time of Somoza and managed a great deal of capital). If we label this a mixed economy – a solution to the problems of the workers of Nicaragua – it would be a great mistake. What do we call a mixed economy? Is it what the workers have in Germany or in the European countries? Is that what we want to implement? Well, if that really was the project to be carried out in this country, I think that the first steps would have to have been taken by now. Here in Nicaragua nothing has happened. Here in the confiscated firms, those completely in the hands of the state, the worker has not ceased to be a worker. And the working conditions have remained the same as they were in the time of Somoza. So we believe that the mixed economy as it has been implemented in this country is nothing more than an agreement between private capitalism and state capitalism and that is what is functioning here.
Question: If the mixed economy is not resolving the problems of the workers, what would be an alternative?
Donald Espinosa: The alternative, the only alternative, is that the workers assume the responsibility of directing the businesses of Nicaragua. Only in that way can we get out of the economic stagnation in which we find ourselves. The mixed enterprises have put the workers at a disadvantage. I say this in the sense that even though it encourages work, the work is always forced. The workers are practically obliged to work overtime and this dehumanizes them.
Question: In other words, the CTN proposes greater worker participation?
Donald Espinosa: I believe that you have to design work geared towards teaching the workers how to administer a business. It is said here that the state firms are the people’s firms, so they are supposedly the worker’s firms; but this only exists in words. The workers have not ceased to be tools for production… We think that what has happened here is nothing more than a change of boss, and this has not benefited anyone at all.
We also believe that it’s time to define the type of business which should exist in the country. We are convinced that there should be mixed, state and family businesses. But there should also be “self-management businesses” – a term we use to define a business which belongs to the workers.