The Nicaraguan Crisis: Activism and Silence

Totalitarian tyrannies aren’t built upon the virtues of totalitarians, but upon the lack of democrats. -Albert Camus

By Armando Chaguaceda

Miguel Díaz Canel, Nicolas Maduro and Daniel Ortega.

HAVANA TIMES – In May, the Cuban Communist Party (the only legal and ruling party in the country) published the “Ideas, Concepts and Guidelines” document, a summary of its program and strategy. It explicitly proclaims: “its solidarity with Chavez’s and Maduro’s Venezuela, as well as with Sandinista Nicaragua; loyalty in defense of sovereignty and the peoples’ right to exercise free will.”

Strongman, People, Nation and State, all united in the authoritarian canon. Solidarity and collaboration efforts, within a regional system of governments (and regimes) with a political project that shares common points and features.

A week ago, the Sao Paulo Forum (which shelters most of the Latin American Left), extended this narrative in its “Statement in Defense of Nicaragua’s sovereignty.” This justifies the wave of repression in this country, claiming that “people involved are investigated for crimes against the Homeland, based on a law that was approved by a legitimately-elected Legislative power in October 2020, that seeks to defend the country’s sovereignty against the advances of foreign and imperialist forces.” Rounding off, it points out that “We support the Nicaraguan Government and people at this time when their sovereignty and independence are being attacked.”

While this was going on, the Grupo de Puebla (presented as a space for progressive regional renewal) made three statements (on June 10, 11 and 18) about Peru’s post-electoral situation. However, they said nothing about repression in the run-up to elections in Nicaragua. Leaders, intellectuals, members of the armed forces that live there have said, on and off, that they are concerned about the situation in Nicaragua. However, it seems that there wasn’t an agreement or urgency to speak out, as a group and institution, about what is happening in this Central American country.

At the same time, Argentina and Mexico (leading members in this Group) issued a Joint Statement in which they declared their “concern for events”, invoking “the principle of non-intervention” and refusing “to impose guidelines from abroad.”

In line with this statement, both governments abstained from voting last week on a Resolution passed by the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States, which is calling for political prisoners’ release and the return of democracy. While rumors circulated about Argentina playing a mediator role, Ortega’s repressive radicalization was the only news.

Such an attitude clashes with other precedents. The Mexican and Argentinian ambassadors actively involved themselves in the crisis of Bolivian politics, taking sides with former president Evo Morales. They supported his party returning to power, via the same election channel that is now being refused to Nicaraguans today.

In Bolivia, calls for “non-intervention” were interpreted very lightly. In order to support the Movimiento Al Socialismo, both governments pushed for militant diplomacy, when today they are taking careful precautions with Ortega. The latter stance has led Erika Guevara Rosas, director of the Americas at Amnesty International, to remind us that “The principle of non-intervention in a State’s internal affairs does not apply to human rights violations and international law crimes.”

Double standards shift towards the intellectual side. The Central American centers of the Latin American Council of Social Sciences (CLACSO) called for “The release of political prisoners, respect for human rights, ensuring academic freedom and freedom of organization, mobilization and communication that a free and democratic election demands.”

They also invited “the Steering Committee and over 600 affiliates that make up the CLACSO network to take a similar stance on the Nicaragua situation.” At the time of writing this article, this petition still hadn’t found an echo in the organization’s leadership. This is somewhat ironic for an entity that is longwinded in critical declarations about the situation of societies and academics… under neoliberal governments.

In Latin America, the organic solidarity between regimes, parties and movements of the authoritarian Left is not counteracted by a democratic activism of representatives of so-called progressivism. Silence and ambiguity dominate this space which only consolidates repression in the face of crisis, such as in Nicaragua. In the face of different national conflicts, Sao Paulo falcons and Puebla pigeons seem to chirp, with different tones still, but in a tune of agreement.

Political ambiguity of political forces that accept pluralism (as a democratic principle) and others that suppress once they are in power, and their coexistence in the same forums, is taking an ethical and practical toll on the democratic element of Latin America’s Left.

As a result, complaints about Managua, just like Caracas and Havana, remain confined mostly to the political center and Right, today. There are figures and movements which, from an intellectual, movement or community Left, repudiate the onslaught of the Ortega-Murillo regime. However, they don’t represent a critical mass that are able to challenge the complicit stance of party and movement leaders who are based within the region’s most important organizations.

Not so long ago, Latin America was a continent seized by right-wing dictatorships, that collaborated with each other to wipe out their opposition and many other innocent people. Most of democratic public opinion (of the Left and Right, within and outside the region) denounced what was happening, without beating around the bush.

Today, the real victims of “revolutionary” governments are abandoned by those who invoke abstract emancipation, from a position of false moral superiority. In the name of “sovereignty”, governed by an authoritarian State, that rhetorically invokes the same people it annihilates and subjects.

Breaking News: Infobae reports Monday that Argentina and Mexico have called home their ambassadors in Nicaragua for consultation, given the repressive escalation in the country. Hopefully, it will be the beginning of a progressive policy change, so necessary in the Latin American left and, even more so, for the democratic stability of the entire region.

Read more from Armando Chaguaceda here.

Armando Chaguaceda

Armando Chaguaceda: My curriculum vitae presents me as a historian and political scientist. I'm from an unclassifiable generation who collected the achievements, frustrations and promises of the Cuban Revolution and now resists on the island or contributes through numerous websites, trying to remain human without dying in the attempt.