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  Number 467 | Junio 2020
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Nicaragua

“I can’t envision the FSLN’s future”

Dionisio Marenco died on May 19. One of the FSLN’s most skilled militants and politicians, he was among Daniel Ortega’s closest advisers until 2008, when Rosario Murillo labelled him a “traitor” for speaking his mind. He was just ending his term as Managua’s mayor with 90% approval. Nicho looked back over the FSLN’s history for envío’s readers twice, first 20 months after Ortega’s return to the presidency in January 2007, then again the month after his controversial reelection November 2011. Those critical analyses of the Ortega-Murillo regime are a valuable legacy that can’t but make us wonder what Nicaragua would be like today had Nicho been the presidential candidate in 2011 instead. We offer his own words as our eulogy to his memory.

Dionisio Marenco

I ’ve never been a theoretician of anything; I’m not an intellectual. What I am is a practical man; an operator, a “shoemaker,” as they once called me. I don’t have what it takes to do very profound analyses. Life has led me through different responsibilities in the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) and I know its history over more than 40 years, because I’ve been part of it. I’d like to look back on some of the milestones in its history, to understand why the party is as it is and where it is today. I’ll try not to hurt anyone or cause any more fissures than already exist, because a destructive focus does nothing to help the FSLN, Nicaragua or the social organizations prosper.

The FSLN swelled its ranks
with university students


The FSLN’s birth, which officially dates back to 1963, is the take-off point, although that date was a very low-profile reference until 1979; very few knew it. I got my initiation in the nation’s political life that year, the same year I graduated from high school and enrolled in the Central American University, the UCA. I remember one afternoon in October or November they explained that we had to demand the bodies of several comrades killed in Bocay. That was the first time I heard that there were guerrillas and that they had died fighting against Somoza.

In its first 10 years the FSLN basically drew its cadres from the Revolutionary Student Front (FER), a student movement in the Autonomous National University (UNAN) and the UCA.

The most important political demonstrations against the dictatorship sprang from university life, where a social idea of Sandinismo was also taking shape.

In 1967 the FSLN was a small clandestine group conducting armed actions in banks in the city: basically what we called “economic recuperation.” It was also trying to set up some focos [small bands of revolutionaries engaged in guerrilla warfare] in the mountains.

In October 1966, we in the UNAN and the UCA took over the National Stadium during the inauguration of the Baseball League. The stadium was full: 20,000 people. By that time I was president of the UCA university center. Thirty of us, 22 men and 8 women, got onto the playing field and unfurled an enormous banner that said, “No more Somoza! University Centers.” We were protesting because Anastasio Somoza Debayle [son of Anastasio Somoza García, the first President in the Somoza family dynasty that began in 1934] wanted to be President, which would make him the third Somoza in government. Our idea was to take advantage of the presence of that multitude and all the journalists to make our protest and then get out of the stadium. But it was such an unexpected, scandalous event that the National Guard’s repression was very strong. They captured eight of us, 1 woman and 7 men. I spent 28 days hospitalized, with both hands broken. They also broke my jaw on the left and busted my eardrum.

January 22, 1967:
My baptism by blood


Another milestone in the sixties was the march of January 22, 1967, which ended in a massacre by the National Guard. The march was led by Fernando Agüero Rocha, director of the Conservative Party, which belonged to the National Opposition Union. But we university students were at the head. There were militant Social Christians and Socialists and simply militant anti-Somocista individuals in that march.

The FSLN participated very marginally. The bulk of us were youth from that anti-Somocista opposition, who acted as shock forces. We went out into the streets looking to clash with the Guardsmen, to provoke and fight them. That day the response was a massacre. A lot of people died; I don’t even know how many. I saw more than a hundred people fall and saw blood running in the street like rainwater. It was a miracle I got out alive; that day was my baptism by blood in the anti-Somocista struggle.

Between 1965 and 1968, when I graduated in engineering and left the university, a first Sandinista generation was born, the one I belonged to, although not organizationally. That’s the generation that’s now, in 2008, in government.

The two Ortega brothers
were expelled for “adventurism”


The next years were a process of silent accumulation of forces; a good part of the first FSLN leaders were outside of Nicaragua for security reasons and there was a lot of organizational work here inside. In those years the FSLN engaged in a series of small skirmishes in Managua that were nothing more than bank assaults. There were small guerrilla groups in the mountains; it was never really an extensive guerrilla force, but always a very select guerrilla foco.

It was understood that the mountains were for those with the greatest ideological level and commitment. We had this rather mythical idea of the guerrillas in the mountains. Henry Ruiz, Commandante “Modesto,” was the most emblematic figure.

The FSLN conducted two spectacular actions in the seventies. The first was the assault on the house of Chema Castillo in December 1974 and the second the assault on the National Palace in August 1978. Major repression was unleashed against all the FSLN support networks in 1975, following the Chema Castillo event, and many, many people were taken prisoner in the regime’s roundups.

The repressive response sparked a very strong and agitated discussion within FSLN ranks. One sector—which came to be called the Proletarian Tendency—began to question the spectacular military blows, dismissing them as “adventurist” because they provoked such major repression, and ended up leaving the FSLN weaker.

The Proletarian tendency faced off against the traditional FSLN, which favored guerrilla struggle in the mountains and was known as the Prolonged Popular War tendency. They insisted that the revolutionary struggle required the development of a guerrilla foco in the mountains to consolidate forces that once sufficiently mature would descend on the cities as an army.

It was an idea influenced by the Cuban model of revolutionary victory. This discussion within the FSLN was incredibly virulent and aggressive. The two Ortega brothers were expelled for “adventurism.” The same tendency of the Left to fragment was happening everywhere, but I think that tendency is something more in Nicaragua. I think it’s in the blood; it’s genetic.

In those years the debate in the FSLN was over ideas: like whether you had to create a party of workers with class consciousness before going into the revolutionary struggle so that the Marxist-Leninist concepts could be applied during that phase… And this in a society that didn’t have a single factory, and thus not a single worker. It was a society consisting of peasants in the countryside and merchants in Managua’s Eastern Market. Yet the debate was whether the Nicaraguan working class should be at the vanguard of the struggle…

Emergence of the Tercerista Tendency


Eduardo Contreras—who was “Comandante Cero” in the assault on Chema Castillo’s house—had studied abroad and had more university knowledge, and I think for that reason analyzed reality more broadly. Together with Humberto Ortega, Daniel and Carlos Fonseca himself, he began to introduce the idea of seeking alliances, trying to create a force that was not as segmented as we had at that time.

Debates between the two conflicting tendencies led to the emergence of a new one that was later called the Insurrectionist or Tercerista [Third Way] tendency. It argued against debating so much whether we needed a party, or whether the forces in the mountains had to mature, insisting that we had to—and could—launch an insurrectionary struggle against the dictatorship immediately. Those ideas began appearing in 1976.

The Tercerista Tendency opened up a very audacious policy of alliances, incorporating elements of Nicaraguan civil society into the FSLN’s struggle, including wealthy businesspeople and well-known anti-Somocistas. It formed what was called the Group of Twelve, the visible face of a transition government project for when the dictatorship fell.

The part of Nicaraguan history covering 1978 to 1979 is the best-known one, except for the last hours of the dictatorship, starting with Somoza’s departure on July 17 and ending on July 19. They aren’t very well known even though a series of unplanned events occurred that completely changed the history of Nicaragua.

We were prepared to die, but not to govern


July 19 is now agreed on as the historic date of the triumph of the revolution, but at 10 at night on July 18 nobody knew what was going to happen the next day, and anybody who says differently is lying. There was a very favorable correlation of forces for the FSLN, but if they had closed the airport or the border on us, we could have been kicked out and who knows what would have happened. The air transport forces could even have invaded us…

What armaments did the FSLN have at that time? Three thousand rifles. That’s all the FSLN had in the entire country. For the September 1978 insurrection, we had brought 12 war rifles into Managua to add to the 70 we already had in Nicaragua. That was our whole military force.

The final events were so precarious. And it often happens like that: power is consolidated one way or another by unanticipated events that have nothing to do with the intentions of their protagonists. This history also shows that the revolution was born, grew and flourished almost unexpectedly. Twenty-four hours before the triumph of the revolution nobody knew what was going to happen.

All of us were prepared to die. We got into this without knowing what would become of our life; we just tried not to get killed. And that training, that mentality, can damage an organization: a rather suicidal nature doesn’t measure the consequences of its acts, but throws itself into things to see what will happen.

None of us was trained or prepared to live or for what to do after the victory. I was a minister in the first revolutionary Cabinet. They said to me: ‘You’re going to be minister of construction’ and I got to know the construction ministry the day I walked into it. Each of us did what we could.

The disputes among the
tendencies never really healed


At the time of the triumph, the correlation of forces among the three FSLN tendencies favored the Terceristas, because it had pushed the armed struggle, received the most weapons and controlled virtually all the country’s military fronts.

Although the three tendencies had unified into what was called the Joint National Directorate even before July 19, I don’t think those old disputes ever really healed. There was always distrust. And if we look at how the government was structured during the years of the revolution, one way or another the three tendencies were still reflected in the members of the different ministries, according to who headed it.

Nobody expected we
would lose the elections


Jumping past the stage of the revolutionary government, which is much better known, another milestone in the FSLN’s history happened in 1989–90, in which a revolution that triumphed through armed struggle was unexpectedly defeated at the polls. Nobody believed it would happen. Some now say they had predicted what would happen, but that’s not true. Nobody expected that we would lose the elections.

By that time, I was working in the FSLN’s department of propaganda. We did election surveys, but we weren’t experts. We asked people who they intended to vote for and many said, ‘I don’t know,’ so we started inventing from the crossed information: this one says he doesn’t know but also says he likes to read Barricada, so he’ll vote Sandinista; this other one says he doesn’t know, but says Violeta is stupid, so he’ll vote Sandinista; this one says he doesn’t know, but called Daniel Ortega a bad name, so he’s a contra... As you can see it was quite a rudimentary method.

The only time I’ve felt afraid


At the very end of the electoral campaign the CID-Gallup and Borge & Assoc. pollsters started to suggest that the correlation was going against the FSLN, but the party said those polls were manipulated by the CIA, the Yankees, the State Department, the enemies of humanity, and that anyone who paid attention to them was a sellout. That was more or less the level of our reasoning.

I recall a letter sent to me by the head of CID-Gallup at the end of the campaign, thanking me for getting two of his pollsters out of jail in San Jorge. He wrote: “Nicho, I’m sending you the results of the poll. What you’re saying is false. Our survey is well done and you’re going to lose the elections.” At the end he added: “They say that, in the past, tyrants used to kill the bearer of bad news. I hope you don’t kill me.”

The polls weren’t wrong. We lost and we weren’t prepared. It was a very hard moment. That night was almost the only time in my life I’ve felt afraid. Something cold inside: a mixture of sadness, fear and uncertainty.

Daniel deserves credit
for keeping the torch lit


From then on there were pacts between Toño Lacayo and Humberto Ortega during the government of Violeta Chamorro and the whole transition period. I think it needs to be very clearly recognized that in those years Daniel Ortega grabbed the FSLN’s reins with a lot of courage and said: nothing has happened here; we’re going to govern from below. And he came up with that slogan. Following that unexpected defeat, the FSLN began to split, with some blaming others, others asking why we had lost, and still others charging that some were hiding from the blame… That debate happened fairly clandestinely.

After that came another of those moments I consider milestones in the FSLN’s history. When the Sandinista Renovation Movement was founded in the mid-nineties, the FSLN had 38 representatives in the National Assembly, of which 36 went with the MRS and only 2 remained on the Sandinista bench.

If that had happened to a party in Spain, Germany or Japan, it would have been the end of the party; not even ashes would remain. But it didn’t happen to the FSLN. I believe Daniel Ortega deserves credit for keeping the torch lit and traveling all over the country until the circumstances changed again in the next elections, when the FSLN got 40 representatives and the MRS only 1.

The pact: Nothing was ever
leaked from all those meetings


That ushered in another stage for the FSLN: in the opposition during Mr. Alemán’s government. It also produced the famous pact, which is currently the focal point of debate and control of the country’s political life.

The pact was basically born out of the fact that at the beginning of the Alemán government, the FSLN created a series of violent protests, just as it had done at the start of the Chamorro government. Alemán needed to buy social peace to be able to govern and to destroy the FSLN, which was his real objective. I recall the first negotiations we had with Alemán, during which a relationship was worked out between General Humberto Ortega and Jaime Morales Carazo, Alemán’s godfather and most important adviser, establishing points of agreement. Later they brought me into that negotiation, together with Alemán’s private secretary, Alfredo Fernández.

We worked for about three months and when a series of discussion points had been formulated, President Alemán and former President Ortega were incorporated into that small committee. Humberto stepped out, leaving just Daniel and me for the FSLN, together with Alemán, Morales and Fernández. It was a secret commission. Everything discussed was private; no one knew anything about it and that’s still true right up to today. Nothing was ever leaked from the thirty-some meetings.

The pact worked well for the
FSLN’s return to government


What was the FSLN’s objective? To recover political spaces. We had no representatives in the Comptroller General’s Office; just one magistrate in the Supreme Electoral Council, and only one or two justices in the Supreme Court.

We were a total minority in the public institutions. And if you don’t have a presence in the state institutions, you’re nowhere when the electoral process rolls around, because we’re not living in Switzerland or Sweden here, where the laws are respected fully. The truth is that here you have to be overseeing things personally, because otherwise you’re nothing.

From that perspective the pact functioned very well. In fact it functioned so well that the FSLN was able to return to government in 2006, thanks to having lowered to 35% the percentage required to win on the first round, as long as you also get a 5-point advantage over the runner-up. Without that agreement the FSLN would never have won elections. Seen from the perspective of the FSLN returning to power, the pact was a success. Looking at the result of the 2006 elections, they seem made to the measure of that decision.

Today, in September 2008,
where is the FSLN headed?


Well, those are some milestones in the FSLN’s history, which has gone from clandestinity to power, from power to electoral defeat and now from electoral victory… to where? We’re currently [September 2008] living out the next point of inflection.

There’s a lot of controversy about this government, a lot of debate about how Daniel Ortega is governing, the exclusion of different social actors, the stridence of the foreign policy, the government’s clashes with other parties and other social forces, the CPCs [Councils of Citizens’ Power], which are really an extension of the FSLN. I believe it was a mistake changing the name from the FSLN, because the CPCs in the barrios are the same FSLN people and nobody else joins. I imagine they’ve done that as a strategy to pack the party organization.

I’m not a dissident or a traitor


I was the FSLN candidate for mayor of Managua in the 2004 municipal elections and won, so I’m now the FSLN mayor, a Sandinista mayor. In my first two years in office I had to contend with an anti-Sandinista government, which the Bolaños government definitely was.

When the FSLN won the presidential elections I was delighted and thought I could rest a bit because I was going to have a government from my party, which was going to help me. Unfortunately, there were some misunderstandings and they’ve separated me out from the FSLN. I’ve had zero communication for two years. Zero. I’m all alone, without my party’s backing. And yet I’m not a dissident or a traitor, as I’ve been called several times.

I believe that anyone has the right to express an opinion about what’s happening in the country. But if any Cabinet ministers dare say a tenth of what I’m saying here, they’ll be sure to find their office locked when they arrive the next day.

They can’t get rid of me because I’m an official who doesn’t depend on the central government. There’s an almost police-like control over the ministers now. They can’t talk among themselves, they can’t meet. If I call them to ask about something, they cramp up. The atmosphere inside the government isn’t healthy.

The FSLN’s military nature


Over time the FSLN was built up through the people who were leading… and who were dying. All the most important FSLN leaders up to 1979 are dead. What would have happened if Carlos Fonseca were alive? He would very probably be the head of the FSLN. What would have happened if Pomares, Contreras, Pedro Aráuz, Casimiro Sotelo, Julio Buitrago, Julián Roque and others were still alive? Probably many of the current cadres wouldn’t be in the top positions they have today.

But on the other hand, the military nature of the Sandinista organization explains a lot of what we’re seeing even today. We spent ten years with the slogan, “National Directorate, order us!” During the revolutionary government, the National Directorate members walked onto the stage of any public act in a given order, and we had to stand up when they came in. That was automatic, like in an army, and it creates a special organizational culture, very different from that of an environmentalist youth club or a club of musicians or philosophers.

It creates a military organization. Moreover, 200,000 people fought during the revolutionary government period. They carried weapons, were trained by the Army and acquired military customs that they then brought with them into the party structure.

You have to recognize
Daniel’s tenacity


During all those years power was also concentrating around Daniel Ortega. Seniority has always counted for a lot in the party. It carried tremendous weight if you were a long-time militant, had been clandestine, had been a prisoner or had fought. It didn’t matter a fig if you were an engineer, a doctor, or had gone to the Sorbonne.

You were only viewed positively if you had a trajectory, and Daniel had a long trajectory: he had been a prisoner for seven years; he had participated in the armed struggle. Maybe he was the person with the least charisma, the least knowledge, the most boring speaker. But one has to recognize his tenacity.

After the electoral defeat, Daniel ended up controlling the party alone for 16 years, for better or worse, but that has to be recognized. The others went off, leaving all the power in a single person.

What’s more, Daniel is tireless. In the 16 years we spent in the opposition, not a day went by that he wasn’t off somewhere in the country: he’d head off to San Pedro del Norte, sleep in La Gateada, be in Bluefields at dawn, and in San Carlos by sunset, then suddenly appear in Potosí. He was like a will o’ the wisp blowing through the country. All that helped build his power, make him a force.

It’s a matter of time...


What’s happening is that Daniel is repeating in his speeches today what he was saying over thirty years ago: the poor, the peasants, imperialism, the oligarchy… He has a discourse that takes you way back past 1979 to his time in prison. It’s the most radical discourse possible. He’s repeating the ideas that were the cement of the FSLN, and they still resound in the head of the oldest cadres.

But now half of the population doesn’t even know who Somoza was. And if we tell a young kid that we took Toño Mora Rostrán hostage in the assault on the Palace, he’ll ask, ‘Who was he? I don’t know who he is and I don’t care. The only thing I care about is that I’m about to graduate and I want to go to college and can’t. All I care about is finishing university and finding work…’ Those are today’s problems. In such a young society the problem is how to give opportunities to this country’s enormous number of children and young people.

It will probably take a little time before many Sandinistas start questioning the divergence between Daniel’s discourse and reality. For now they’re saying: ‘Terrific, I’m poor and it’s a poor person’s government, and we wretched of the earth are arising.’ But when a year goes by, then another and another and those poor don’t arise or go anywhere else for that matter, they’re bound to start thinking, ‘I’m hungry and I want a job and my kid’s sick…’ It’s just a matter of time. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to see this government come out of this badly; I’d really like to see Daniel create an excellent government.

I can’t envision the FSLN’s future


We’re facing two enormous problems today: the demographic problem, which is going to do in the entire national political class; and the climate problem, which will affect the whole planet, us included, with a temperature rise of only two or three degrees Celsius.

But we aren’t talking about those enormous problems. Our political discussion is very primary; it’s downright folkloric: so-and-so did this, and what’s-his-face said that… And if you don’t repeat the slogan of the moment like a parrot, you’re an enemy, a sell-out, or whatever. Regrettably, we don’t discuss serious, profound things, the ones that we’ll have to face up to tomorrow or the next day, when the rhetoric runs out of steam and we have to talk about reality.

I find it very difficult to have a definitive opinion about the future of the FSLN. What I do believe is that the government’s course and the way the FSLN is governing are unnecessarily virulent.

There’s no need to fight with so many people at the same time when you can work out all kinds of things through negotiation, agreements, dialogue... If things continue like this it seems to me that unnecessary situations wracked with social tension could crop up.

Venezuela’s support is
a window of opportunity


I think it would be very sad for the FSLN to blow off this second opportunity to govern in peace, with all the possibilities the Venezuelan oil agreements give it to bring in money and do so many things on behalf of the people.

Venezuela’s support opens up a great window of opportunity for us to do all kinds of things, particularly in a country like Nicaragua, where paving a street is like you built a freeway, or building a school benefits thousands.

The confrontational posture
could produce very negative effects


It seems to me the government’s weakness is its confrontational manner. Objectively I don’t know why it’s acting like that, but I think it needs to be corrected or it could produce very negative effects for Nicaragua. That unnecessarily discourse is doing both the FSLN and the country a lot of harm.

A country like ours, which has so few resources, can’t afford the luxury of fighting with everyone. It has to seek internal consensus with all the forces it can cooperate with.

It has to get everyone doing their bit to lift up the country. I think it would be much healthier to look for a more constructive approach in both national and international relations, so the FSLN can write this new stage of its history in positive language.

I’d accept an offer to be
the presidential candidate


For the moment, I see a huge question mark hanging over the FSLN’s future and I think many people in Nicaragua share that uncertainty. How will we be in 2011?

My greatest interest is how to finish off my job as mayor of Managua in peace. Fortunately, I think I’ve done things well and nobody can accuse me of having robbed even a pencil, although someone could invent that I did. I have no doubt that they could launch a campaign of that type against me, but I don’t care if they do.

When people ask if I’d be a presidential candidate for the FSLN, my response is that I don’t have the slightest interest. But if you ask me what would happen if they offered me the candidacy, then yes, I’d accept it as a responsibility to fulfill. Because if I say no, they’ll say I’m giving up and if I say I want it without them offering it to me, they’ll say I’m too ambitious.

I don’t see any possibilities of going to work with the government after I leave the mayor’s post given the tensions surrounding me. I also don’t have any great interest. I’ll probably have to look for work as an engineer or a consultant. But if they hassle me and begin to persecute me and I can’t find a job in Nicaragua—which could happen—I’ll have to look for work outside the country.

As I didn’t feather my nest with state resources, I don’t have a million dollars in some secret account or any farms. All I have is my capacity for work, the satisfaction of having fulfilled my duty and, thank God, an honorable name, my father’s legacy. Of course I also have great hope that the FSLN will find the right path, as in all the difficult moments of its history. For the good of our people.

The problem we’re facing
in Nicaragua today


Our problem here in Nicaragua [December 2011] is one of values. But it’s something no one ever discusses. No one defends the value of honesty, of respect for the citizenry, of civic coexistence.

If we were truly struggling to achieve a society in which everyone could live together and have a country that’s a little better than the one we have today, we’d surely pick the road on which we’ll one day find the solution. But no, the whole discussion is about whom to put in what post. This lack of values is our most serious problem today. The famous institutionality has turned into a divvying up of perks and favors to maintain the status quo.

Emphasizing the values of honesty, of telling the truth and not lying, of respecting all citizens, are all easy things, but they’re so important that it’s where many of our problems would be resolved. I’m in full agreement with the saying that social revolutions have to start at the bottom and ethical revolutions have to start at the top. That’s why I say it’s not enough to change the CSE [Supreme Electoral Council] magistrates, unless we change the values that made possible what’s happening to us today.

The FSLN comes from a military die


Many things need changing in Nicaragua. I think there’s a lack of democracy in the FSLN and in all the other parties as well. It’s a symptomatic problem in our whole society.

We have come out of a totalitarian society. The dictatorship was totalitarian. And we ousted it in the most traumatic way possible: at gunpoint. And over the cadaver of the dictatorship we built a military regime. That was the FSLN’s regime in the eighties, and it had to be to defend against the foreign aggression imposed on us by US President Ronald Reagan.

The FSLN comes from a military die, not a democratic one, because it was our lot to confront the dictatorship militarily, and many of the military features in the FSLN of that time haven’t changed. I don’t know how many years will have to pass before we can little by little cut another die.

We must choose our path
in a civic and peaceful way


The whole system, the whole process we’ve been using for the elections has to be subject to an in-depth review and very good engineering, making use of the best technology possible. This is a very big responsibility. Why? Because elections are the best way to avoid war. They are a way of saying among ourselves, No, let’s not kill each other, let’s use another way to choose the path we want, be it socialism; conservatism; social Christianity; the Christian, socialist and solidary model; communism; anarchism; the greens; Sandinismo…

Whatever path, but chosen in a civic and peaceful way. If we lose that path, if it becomes violent, it’ll lead us back into cycles of confrontation. If we have clear procedures, we’ll at least eliminate one huge obstacle, although not all of them. But if on top of our backwardness, of all the problems we have in Nicaragua, we also have a murky electoral process, you can be sure we’re headed down the road toward a violent solution and hence toward more poverty.

Our biggest
challenge is education


Our level of backwardness is too huge. The challenge in education is probably the greatest challenge we have. I’ll give you another figure: the number of India’s high school students who get top grades—those who graduate with a 10, the excellent ones—now total more than the entire high school student body in the United States. Imagine all that potential India has today!

And Nicaragua? Here our very best students can’t even pass the Engineering University’s admission exam in math. Not 10% pass that exam. That’s dramatic. It’s enough to make you cry. Surmounting that backwardness requires an enormous investment in infrastructure, resources and training, above all for primary school teachers, to raise the academic standard and make our children competitive, at least with Costa Ricans and Mexicans, never mind Chinese or Indians. We have to launch a massive education campaign to try to whittle away such a technological backlog.

May Daniel have
wisdom and humility


Right now the government is in a moment of enormous inertia of motion, with a lot of strength and a triumphal spirit. But that can change at any moment. In Nicaragua we’re capable of entering into an economic crisis from one moment to the next if Venezuela’s political conditions change. One thing is Nicaragua with Venezuela and a whole other is Nicaragua without Venezuela.

The only completely certain thing at this moment is that the FSLN has accumulated all the political power and Daniel had better be prepared to use it well. I’m hoping for the best. I’m hoping he will have the wisdom and the humility to unite the nation and cope with the future so we can all climb to the sky… or at least as far as we can.


Excerpts from “”I Know the FSLN’s History Well, But I Can’t Envision Its Future,” in envío, September 2008, and “The government must take Gadea’s 800,000 voters into account,” in envío, December 2011.

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