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  Number 461 | Noviembre 2019
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Nicaragua

“We already won the elections; now we need to organize to make it real”

This expert in electoral issues offers a detailed examination of the essential changes the collapsed Nicaraguan electoral system needs in order to guarantee free and transparent elections and the extremely difficult political conditions in which the blue and white opposition would go into the next elections.

José Antonio Peraza

The Electoral Reform Promotion Group has been working in Nicaragua since 2002, and has made a very important contribution to this institutional challenge. The current Electoral Law, resulting from the pact between Daniel Ortega and former President Arnoldo Alemán (1997-2001) eft problems in our electoral system that were already noticeable back then. After that came the frauds with Ortega’s total control over the electoral branch of government. That’s how we’ve come to the present moment, facing a dictatorship we must throw off in a civic way—electorally—s soon as possible.

Our proposal’s four main points


Starting with what the first Promotion Group produced, several sectors and organizations have produced a new project in which we have also collected, processed and included elements of many other initiatives as well. It’s the document that has achieved the greatest consensus among the opposition groups in the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy and the National Blue and White Unity (UNAB). Both have committed to taking it into account in any future political negotiation with the dictatorship to hammer out the terms of the next elections.

We named this proposal “Electoral reform: Democratic solution,” and have disseminated it widely. Given our country’s conditions today, those of us who have worked on this document and those who have agreed to it know that we can’t aspire to achieving everything we’ve put into it. We’re aware that those who must negotiate an electoral solution with the dictatorship must concentrate on not yielding in the most fundamental aspects, leaving all the other very important but not vital aspects for when we get rid of the dictatorship.

The proposal has four main points. The first is to “recover trust in the electoral system.” It’s impossible to hold elections in Nicaragua when people don’t believe in the system we have today, which has totally lost credibility. The second point is to “re-establish electoral transparency and guarantees.” It’s also impossible to go to elections without minimum security that the will of the people will be respected. The third point is “openness to broad, comprehensive, plural and equal electoral competition.” After what we’ve seen in Nicaragua since April 2018, the majority of Nicaraguans want a new political force to go united to the elections and win. The fourth point is “mechanisms for citizen participation.” Here we’re referring to tools we’ve never used—the plebiscite and referendum—and how to improve voter registration mechanisms.

Each of those four points has many proposals, all of which are necessary. But some among them are absolutely vital to be able to hold these elections and to encourage people to participate. They are the ones that must be prioritized in the political negotiation with the dictator, and thus are the ones I’m going to focus on, only mentioning the others.

Point 1: Recovering trust
in the electoral system


In the first place, changes are needed in the electoral authorities to recover trust. The current Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) represents an ethical problem because its magistrates don’t have the slightest idea about political ethics. They don’t inspire trust because they only obey orders. And if that first condition, trust, doesn’t exist, it makes no sense to participate in elections or call on people to do so. The deterioration of Nicaragua’s electoral system is hard to compare with any other system in the region. There’s no doubt that the deterioration is far worse here than in Bolivia, where two electoral authorities resigned. That’s inconceivable in Nicaragua; nobody resigns here even though they all should.

The CSE magistrates all need to be changed to recover trust in the electoral system. We propose the “creation of a new non-partisan Council” following what the Constitution establishes. It says magistrates are proposed by the President and legislators “in consultation with civil society organizations,” something that has never happened.

We propose that this article of the Constitution be changed so civil society organizations can also propose magistrates for the CSE. Besides, a “reserve de ley” will be included in the Constitution specifying within the Electoral Law the requirements for eligibility and mechanisms established for use by a National Assembly commission in selecting the CSE magistrates. [A reserve de ley is a stipulation that the legislation is non-delegable, i.e. that its regulation or implementation cannot be transferred to anyone else, such as the executive branch.]

The eligibility requirements and selection mechanisms are the ones the European Union Electoral Observation mission established in its 2011 report: those elected should have “accredited professional prestige and an independent and neutral profile.”

Knowing that one thing is what we hope for and another is what’s possible, we must accept that Daniel Ortega will never go to elections with electoral magistrates he doesn’t control. That being so, what can we realistically hope to accomplish? The CSE is made up of seven magistrates and three alternates. Ortega isn’t going to give up having at least four full magistrates he totally trusts. If it’s only four, what about the other three? Perhaps the Constitutionalist Liberal Party (PLC), Citizens for Freedom (CxL) and Alliance for the Republic (APRE) will push for one of them.

If that happens, we could pick the other two, people who meet the criteria of honesty and capacity we are asking of all of them. We believe that two or three independent magistrates would be capable of saying if there was fraud, something that until now we haven’t had. This will be a controversial issue within the political negotiation. What we must ensure in choosing our democratic magistrates is that the EU criteria be used. We have to set the example.

Greater voter freedom
and less FSLN control


Under the Supreme Electoral Council are Departmental, Regional (the two autonomous Caribbean regions) and Municipal Electoral Councils. These structures are even more important than the CSE itself, because they are where the frauds actually take place. Each of those structures has three members: president and first and second member. We propose that the members of all these structures be nonpartisan, appointed by the CSE magistrates with the same criteria of aptitude and capacity by which they themselves were theoretically chosen.

Will Daniel Ortega allow these authorities to function freely? Never.

I took on the task of reviewing all of Central America’s electoral legislation and no country, not even Costa Rica or Panama, have totally nonpartisan structures. Nor does any other country in Latin America except Chile. How are we going to take a leap no other country has taken? This issue will also be part of a political negotiation, where we know that in addition to the Alliance and UNAB, the political parties, PLC, CxL, Conservatives, APRE… will probably also participate. That’s why I believe the composition of the departmental, regional and municipal Councils will be a product of that negotiation. In the end what will hopefully be achieved is that no political force will be above any of the others. I don’t think we can get any more than that. I don’t see Ortega giving up much in elections he knows he’s going to lose.

Non-partisan voting
table boards are vital


Where we must not yield, what we must hammer on until we get it, is the make-up of the polling stations’ tables, where voters specifically come to exercise their right. The tables’ boards are also made up of three people. According to the Electoral Law from the pact between Ortega and Alemán, board members are allotted proportionately to the parties based on their respective vote percentage in the previous election. In recent elections, most of the presidents are from the FSLN and the first member is from the PLC. A big advance would be to eliminate this and elect all three members randomly from the voter registration list of 300-400 voters for each table, requiring only that they know how to read and write and have finished at least third grade, requirements already established in the Electoral Law. We have also proposed other requirements, such as that they not belong to any party structure. This random selection has been working in Costa Rica for some time and in El Salvador for the past two years.

It’s on this level of the electoral structures that we must focus to achieve the greatest possible voter freedom and least FSLN control possible. There is total consensus that this is where we cannot yield. It’s vital. If the statistics of the recent polls are correct, we [referring to the overall nonpartisan opposition to the current regime generally referred to as the blue and white movement. which is greater and more amorphous than UNAB] have the sympathy of at least 60% of the population, while the FSLN may make it to 30%. That gives us a theoretical advantage because the majority of the board members, if chosen randomly, would not be FSLN militants or sympathizers.

Achieving random selection of the table boards and putting a stop to the irregularities that tend to be committed in the polling stations depends not just on honest table board members but even more importantly on our own organizational capacity and the participants’ motivation. That is also true of the monitors chosen by each party or alliance. They are the ones who oversee the table and defend a clean vote, watching closely to ensure that things work out at their table. I have proposed that nobody be paid for being a party monitor representing the blue and white movement because we want people who are motivated by conviction. The table board members—the ones we propose be chosen randomly—should be paid, however, because they will be CSE officials on election day.

To restore trust in the electoral system we also propose the Monitor and the Electoral Prosecutor be restored. These two authorities didn’t exist in the last two elections because no one even remembered to appoint them. By the same token, the recent figure of “polling station coordinators,” who decide whatever they want, should disappear. It’s not even in the Electoral Law.

Point 2: Reestablish transparency
and electoral guarantees


The second point of our proposal seeks to restore transparency and guarantees. We propose full national and international electoral observation. Without that guarantee there can be no elections. Good observation always provides guarantees. I don’t believe we’ll have as many this time as we did for the 1990 elections when Nicaragua’s geopolitical importance in the East-West conflict was so great, but as many observers as possible should be invited. The three indispensable international ones are the OAS, the European Union and the Carter Center.

While observers from the UN, Central American Integration System and political parties of America, especially from Central America, Europe and Asia should also come, national observers will be even more fundamental. They should be able to enter and remain in each polling station, as they once could in the past. They should also be able to accompany the tallies. In short, they should be able to observe everything, from start to finish. As with any other theft, if someone wants to steal the elections, they’ll do it, but with good observation we can prove it happened and how.

Real-time announcement of
the polling station results


Another fundamental issue is the immediate announcing of the results from each polling station, a process that was abandoned in 2008, with the electoral fraud in the municipal elections that year. We propose that the CSE report the results in real time on its website, as the tallies come in for each polling station. We want to avoid it not publishing all the results with the excuse that “the tallies from the rural areas or those from this or that place aren’t in” because that’s another way they pull off the fraud: they start by publishing all the tallies in their favor and thus setting up a supposed trend… Until now the tallies leave the polling station and in a tortuous process go first to the Municipal Electoral Council. We are proposing that they go directly from the polling station to the CSE so there is the least handling possible and the results are transmitted as quickly as possible.

We also propose that these provisional results start being reported publicly at 8 pm the evening of election day and that 100% of the results be published no later than 24 hours later. We further propose that the ballot tally from each polling station be published, as well as the resolution of all electoral challenges, defining and regulating all rulings, appeals and reviews, something that’s been distorted or simply ignored since the 2008 fraud.

We propose a separate ballot for each election (President-Vice President, at-large National Assembly candidates, departmental National Assembly candidates and Central American Parliament) rather than have them all on the same ballot, which favors fraud.

Yet another fundamental proposal where there can be no yielding is that all political parties must be free to have their monitors present during the whole process, with their credential guaranteed in due time and with the times and periods for the different steps that need monitoring clearly established and communicated.

We propose that all procedures be laid out clearly, because the CSE establishes many things then doesn’t set norms for them and also changes them from one election to the next to play with an advantage. How the tallies are delivered, how they are written up, how they are transported, who’s going to watch over them … all these procedures should be clear.

All this is fundamental because fraud takes place in all these steps right within the polling station. We also propose a detailed electoral calendar with enough lead time, because the CSE has become accustomed to not accepting any recommendations made by the political parties.

Point 3: Broad, comprehensive,
plural and equal electoral competition


The third point of our proposal is “openness to broad, comprehensive, plural and equal electoral competition.” This is the most complex proposal of all because neither the dictatorship nor the PLC and the CxL want any new party approved.

To form a new party the current Electoral Law requires that it have directive boards in every one of the country’s 153 municipalities and they all have to be formed a year before elections. Our proposal is that a new party can be formed with half that many municipal boards and that it have the right to propose positions for election immediately. But neither the PLC nor the CxL will accept this. Claiming the “great effort” they’ve made to have boards in all municipalities, they question how people with only 50% of the boards can say they represent all of Nicaragua. These are fallacious and tendentious arguments with which they are siding with the FSLN to prevent the formation of any other party. Article 80 of the current Electoral Law says that to run as a political alliance there has to be a party heading it. That’s what the PLC, CxL and the Conservative Party are each saying: “Unity! Join us and we’ll all go with our flag!”

How are we going to solve this? On the one hand, I don’t see the FSLN or the other existing parties yielding on this issue. On the other, I see all the other groups wanting a new party or alliance in which we can join together with our own emblem, color and flag. We must solve it because the possibility of creating a new political force and transforming the electoral structures as far as we can are the two basic vital proposals to be able to go to the elections with minimum guarantees.

The indispensable minimums are to clean up the CSE as much as we can and ensure two or three independent magistrates, see to it that the polling table boards are made up of people randomly selected from the electoral rolls and unite a diversity of groups around a single ticket. Those are the things we do have to fight for, doing everything we can and not getting lost in asking for other things that in the current situation are secondary and not worth trading the essential issues for, no matter how important and necessary they are in the longer run.

Some important but
improbable ethical issues


This point of our proposal also includes issues such as candidate inhibition and elimination of party defections. Non-reelection is also in this point. We know it will be very difficult for Daniel Ortega not to be the FSLN’s candidate again. There are those who say that if he’s the candidate they’ll boycott the elections… But let’s not waste energy on this. Maybe the issue of his participation can be used as a trading piece in the negotiation, but nothing more. We know the FSLN will never run any candidate other than Ortega. We’ve seen him as its candidate for 40 years… Are we going to waste time over this?

In this point we also propose, for ethical reasons, the establishment of the vote of Nicaraguans abroad. It’s a moral duty because they have struggled from the diaspora, contributing US$1.5 billion in remittances… but we also know it will be hard for them to vote in these elections. When we return to democracy, the vote pf Nicaraguans abroad must be a priority. They deserve it; they’ve earned the right. But it will be a very tough issue to negotiate now because Ortega won’t concede it. How’s he going to accept it if he knows there will be at least 200,000 votes against him?

Another issue similar to this one, also more for ethical reasons than because it is fundamental for these elections, is the percentage needed to win the presidency. We propose that it be 50% plus 1 valid votes and that a second electoral round be established for anything less. We all agree it should be this way. But Ortega did everything possible in the pact with Alemán to bring the percentage down from 45% to 35% because it was the only way he could win an election without fraud.

Those in the PLC who granted this to him showed that either they didn’t have the slightest idea of the political problem it would cause or believed Liberalism would be in power “forever” as Somoza use to say… It was a serious political error we now have to deal with.

As it would mean burying himself politically forever, how could we expect Daniel Ortega to concede on this point? It took him ten years to get it lowered to 35%... only to bring it up to 50% now? No way. That issue should be raised in the negotiation, but only knowing it will be very hard to achieve. So how do we solve the problem of there being no electoral minimum of 50% plus 1 or a second round? Just like with so many other things: by maintaining a broad and monolithic unity both now and after the elections.

Unity is vital


Having laid out what’s vital for the next elections, I want to talk about something that’s even more vital, unity. We are clear that divided we won’t win, but that wouldn’t be Daniel Ortega’s fault; it would be ours.
One of the latest polls says the Blue and White Unity and the Civic Alliance currently have 30% sympathies between them. They also show that Daniel Ortega, with all his resources and all he’s able to do, has a maximum of 24%. Let’s say he can even make it to 30%. I’m sure that when we have a definite candidate and show cohesion and unity, we’ll reach 60%.

Daniel Ortega has never, even in his best of times, reached 50%. Never! I did calculations in 2011 and with all the stealing he did during those elections he only reached 48% real votes. So, it’s urgent that we unite, because if we do we’ll achieve 60% or possibly more. And afterwards, with the presidency and a parliamentary majority, we can make all the transformations we want, this time prioritizing our country, something we’ve never taken on, but now it’s our priority, and we can do it. Rest assured: if there’s unity, Daniel Ortega will lose. He can steal the elections, but if he does there will be a lot of evidence and he’ll pay a very high price. He’ll do everything to stay in power but nothing he does will be sustainable.

Unity is the big challenge we face. To achieve it we need political maturity, something else we’ve never had as a country, except during brief moments in times of desperation. It would be ideal if the Civic Alliance and UNAB could build unity, put together a party or a big alliance, present a political proposal and talk with the parties that have influence on their grassroots base so we all join together and can get 60% of the votes to later make all the transformations we can’t make before the elections. It will of course be hard to maintain that unity since there will be a hodgepodge of people coming together. This is where the maturity we’ve reached during this crisis will be tested.

Let’s build a center away
from divisive extremes


The differences between the Civic Alliance and the Blue and White Unity aren’t so much in perspectives, but more like differences disguised as ideological contradictions to hide interests, where the ideological issue is trivial. I’ve proposed that we construct a center, not ideological but pragmatic, in the best sense of the word. A realistic center, away from the right or left ideological extremes, because with extremes we can’t achieve unity.

What are these extremes? One extreme is those who have the syndrome of fear of any change and the other is those who have the July 20, 1979 syndrome, when it seemed possible to change absolutely everything.
For those who fear change, every march of people in the streets since April made them nervous. They are the ones who have been seeking negotiation from the beginning and have been betting on a “very soft landing,” making no transformations in the country.

And the other extreme? They believe that after April they can do everything they didn’t do during the years of the revolution.

Those of us who don’t share either of those two extremes are being called minimalists. It’s not that those of us in the center are pure, because we aren’t. There are many of us now in the center and we come in all ideological and political colors. I believe it’s those from the center who should lead this process. Nicaragua needs a change of course with many transformations and with a leadership very different from the ones we’ve had for the last 40 years, which have proven to be failures. In fact the last nearly 200 years since Independence have shown that we haven’t been able to govern ourselves based on the country’s development, but rather on very personal or group interests.

Point 4: Mechanisms
for citizen participation


Most of the proposals in this point are longer term, but there is one very important thing we need to decide on for this election, even if it isn’t a real solution for the future. And that is the list of registered voters. Ideally it should be purged of deceased and emigrated former voters, buty that isn’t possible for reasons of time, money and political will.

Right now we have four lists in Nicaragua. One is supposedly the total record. Another is called the “active list” which is of all those who supposedly have voted in the last two presidential elections. Then there’s the “passive list” with all those who supposedly haven’t voted in those two elections. The fourth, called the “real” one, is supposedly cleansed of the deceased and those outside the country.

In no serious country could elections be held under these conditions, but can we solve this mess before the next elections? No.

There are three ways to get the updated single electoral register we propose. One is to do what the CSE and its team did back in October, 1989: have everyone register anew. But this requires time, organization and money. On that occasion it was done during the four Sundays of October, but the population was only 3 million then, whereas today we’re almost 7 million. And back then there was willingness on the government’s part to do it while today there is none.

A second way is to hire a company to do it. I contacted one and they said it would take six months to do, with all the technology needed. Something like this implies a lot of money, about US$10 million.

The only other way is to put all four lists into one with 5 million registered voters, knowing it contains some 1.2 million who are dead or living abroad. We’ll probably have to do it that way because there’s no money and no government interest to solve this problem. We can’t force Ortega and we can’t just say we’re not going to participate in elections without a new list.” No, that won’t work because we need to get rid of this dictatorship asap and there are realities that can’t be easily solved the way things stand.

Elections in 2021 with
the basic conditions


Almost everybody has come to terms with the fact that there won’t have early elections; that they won’t happen before November 2021. They could be before, but there would have to be a lot of maturity on both sides and we still don’t have that.

The OAS told us eight months ago they had programmed experts to restructure the technical aspects of Nicaragua’s electoral system—the political aspects are our responsibility. They also said they could acquire the US$2 million they need for this task. The European Union seems very willing to contribute to improving the voter rolls and registration process, providing all their knowledge and experience, which is the best in the world, to help us create a good electoral system.

Luis Almagro’s intentions, whatever they may be, don’t matter. The results of the experts’ work are all that matter. What we want from the OAS in the political agreement that still needs to be reached are the basic conditions that will guarantee elections with the greatest transparency and freedom. I say “basic conditions” because I don’t believe we should go directly to comparative electoral law to see what’s best to apply in Nicaragua. We Nicaraguans first have a lot to learn about democracy. What we need to know for now is how to accept what’s both simple and possible, adapting it to what we are today.

The characteristics
of our political culture


And what are we? We’re a society that has never lived in democracy. We’ve never been able to reach agreements. The social and political make-up of our country is fractured, which always generates great instability. We aren’t logical, don’t unite and can’t seem to coexist with those who are different…

We’ve always solved our political problems in one of three ways: civil wars; foreign intervention and accepting imposed dictatorships. Since the 19th century, if one side couldn’t beat the other in the riots and revolutions in which they killed each other, or if it couldn’t pull off a coup to do the job, it invited a foreigner, a William Walker, to get rid of the other… And if that didn’t do it, a dictatorship imposed itself. It’s the only way we have enough stability to grow a little, to develop some, until the dictatorship becomes unsustainable and the country is destroyed again.

This is the cycle that has always repeated itself, that has defined Nicaragua’s history. It’s why we’re the poorest country in Latin America. Today most of us want to overcome this without a civil war, without weapons or foreign forces. To achieve this, we need to swallow a lot of things and have a lot of patience.

Emilio Álvarez Montalván has identified the characteristics of our political culture. He speaks of heteronomy: we believe we don’t have the ability to solve our own problems so someone has to come in from abroad to do it for us. It’s been like this since 1854, when Francisco Castellón signed a contract with Byron Cole who commanded 300 mercenary soldiers sent by William Walker fight with the Liberal band in 1836. A second trait is the mistrust of some towards others. A third one is exclusion, in which every group excludes the rest. A fourth trait is the magical sense of life. And a fifth persistent trait is political violence to get rid of the opponent, to diminish it so it can’t dispute our power.

Never, ever have we succeeded in overcoming these characteristics.

I believe we’re now starting to understand for the first time why in the 1980s the revolution incited the extreme of all these traits. That leadership proved incapable of transforming this country and it was logical that it would produce what it did. Doesn’t this dictator come from that? A man who struggled his whole life to destroy a dictatorship is today equal to or worse than the one he fought against.

Get Ortega to disarm
the paramilitaries?


There are those who say, and with good reason, that there is no “climate” for elections with the active presence of paramilitaries all over the country and that we shouldn’t go to elections if Daniel Ortega doesn’t disarm them beforehand. But I don’t believe they are thinking it through when they say that because how could Daniel Ortega keep himself in power without them? If he were to withdraw all his armed people tomorrow, there would be a million people in the streets asking him to step down. I don’t consider it realistic to think he’ll disarm them. He built his private army to keep him in power and he knows that if he goes to free elections, he’s going to lose. No, no he won’t do it. What we have to do is mobilize people to pressure, watch out for and prevent those weapons from being used to intimidate voters. This is also a fundamental mission of the observers who will be in the country.

I believe that, even with the paramilitaries, Daniel Ortega won’t be able to govern “from below” when he loses the elections. Those guys aren’t young. They’ve already killed more than 300 people. And the FSLN will fall into a major crisis after these elections. I believe some sort of international organization will have to be called in to disarm the paramilitaries and solve the problem they represent. That will also be part of the political agreement because it’s an issue that transcends elections.

We need to be clear about who we’re up against, to recognize that t’s impossible for Daniel Ortega to disarm them before the elections. He’s a man who believes in violence as a method to solve political contradictions, a man who will first “soften up” his adversaries until they either join him or leave… or he’ll kill them.

Political negotiations and
the correlation of forces


Since most of us are clear that the conditions for elections will only come out of a political agreement with this dictator, we’re interested in the quality of that agreement. The OAS and the European Union have demanded that Daniel Ortega negotiate with the Civic Alliance, but we’ve now moved past that. The negotiation will have to include the Blue and White Unity, which is already coordinating with the Alliance, and the existing political parties. The US government, the European Union and in general the rest of Nicaragua are very clear there will be no valid, legitimate political agreement if Daniel Ortega plans on negotiating the electoral process only with the political parties.

There are different interests in the Alliance, UNAB and the political parties. We hope that before the end of this year the Alliance and UNAB will come together and choose who are going to negotiate with Daniel Ortega, who hasn’t said a single word that shows a will to negotiate. Besides, we know very well that without people in the streets we won’t achieve an acceptable negotiated solution. But with the fear people have of demonstrating in the streets given the level of repression, that won’t be easy. Will the political agreement start with the lifting of the state of siege and the restoration of the right to mobilize? That has yet to be seen…

We must understand that what we achieve will not be what we propose… Negotiations are a process of give and take in which our advantages in the political agreement will depend on the correlation of forces. And that is measured in the streets. So how will the negotiation process unfold? It will depend on who negotiates and also on the correlation of forces at the time, which in turn will depend on the conditions under which the negotiation takes place.

If civil liberties are returned and the best political agreement is achieved with the vital reforms to the electoral system, can Daniel Ortega still steal the elections? Sure he can. He can bring the Amy out onto the streets and say he won. But he won’t survive. He can order more deaths and the imprisonment of us all, but he won’t survive.

A Constituent Assembly
creating a parliamentary system?


There’s also the possibility Daniel Ortega will suspend the 2021 elections. His foreign minister, Denis Moncada, is in Europe offering to suspend then and call a Constituent Assembly which could spend three years reforming the political system, very likely making it a parliamentary one in which Ortega would be President and another person would be Prime Minister. They would also reform the Electoral Law… and anything else they decide needs to be reformed. This process would take us into 2024, all to ensure himself more time in power and not put himself at risk in an electoral defeat.

Can he do that? He can. Any law in this country has to be agreed to with him, not with the National Assembly members, who are his puppets… Furthermore, any halting of the repression also has to be agreed to with him. That’s the reality.

Daniel Ortega has no intention of making any concession with anyone about anything. What he wants is to stay in power and be succeeded by his children. The biggest loser in this process is his wife, because even if he could impose her, it wouldn’t be sustainable. The US sanctions on her and their son Laureano were to affect the dynastic succession, to get the idea out of his head that either of them could succeed him.
Really, what we have in this government is incomparable; it’s surreal. And those who continue to back this surreal tragedy are accomplices.

We will win


All that being said, I remain optimistic. If there are elections, we have already won them. What we have to do is organize to make that a reality. There’s no possibility of Daniel Ortega winning elections if we are united. None. If we achieve the essential changes—acceptable changes in the Supreme Electoral Council, electoral observation at every level, true monitoring by the political parties at every level, clear procedures, detailed results transmitted in real time… and most important, a new alliance, coalition or whatever it ends up called, in which we all go together united…we will win. There’s no doubt. As for the leadership that will head that alliance, I am sure that the day we know who it is and can feel and see the cohesion and unity, everyone will line up behind them. That day, nobody’s going to get lost. We have demonstrated this before. Just as people are unrepentant in a lot of things and submissive in a lot of others, we will know who to vote for. And we will win.

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