Irlanda Jerez Proposes to Elect a Unified Leadership in Exile

Irlanda Jerez, Nicaraguan opposition figure.

Irlanda Jerez took the opportunity to ask several opposition leaders to stop delegitimizing other critics of Daniel Ortega.

By 100% Noticias

HAVANA TIMES – Former political prisoner, Irlanda Jerez, who is one of the visible figures of the April 2018 struggle, proposed a “unified leadership” among exiled opponents, who could be elected by Nicaraguans themselves.

“We have continued talking about presenting a proposal to be able to democratically elect the representation of the Nicaraguan opposition in exile. At this time, it is key to do so and that this opposition be truly democratically elected by Nicaraguans,” suggested Irlanda Jerez during her participation in the program “100% Entrevistas,” broadcast by “100% Noticias.”

Jerez took the opportunity to ask several opposition leaders to cease discrediting other critics of Daniel Ortega.

“We should not continue with an opposition as we have seen in social networks, including in meetings, of labeling: “I did not elect them,” “they were appointed by cronies,” “most of them represent the radical political left,” “many are dissidents of Sandinismo.” “They do not represent the people of Nicaragua,” criticized Irlanda, without mincing words.

“The proposal we are presenting to the entire Nicaraguan people and the international community is the reflection of this new democratic Nicaragua that we promote, for which we won’t be silent,” pointed out the exiled former political prisoner.

“The Nicaraguan opposition should be elected democratically through the vote of Nicaraguans in all different places where they are in exile,” she explains.

The intention of unity is gaining strength after a mass this past Sunday where Monsignor Silvio Baez, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdioceses of Managua, celebrated a mass at the Saint Mary of the Lake Parish in Chicago, advocating for unity to more than 600 Nicaraguans in attendance, including opposition leaders, diaspora and exiles.

“At times of so much polarization in our society, amid so many useless confrontations among those who dream of the ideal of freedom, it is comforting to learn that there is a way that could get us closer and move us towards truth and to life. It is Jesus. He is the most accurate way to live, the most reliable truth to guide us, the most hopeful secret of life. It is of little use to label ourselves as conservatives or progressives, as being of the right or the left. If we want to build a new society, we must make a different choice. We must consider life itself and the relationship with others from Jesus or from other paths that would lead us nowhere,” said Baez during mass in Chicago.

“The international community is a little confused because it is always welcoming one after another opposition leader, because that is part of diplomacy. But it is not the same that a democratically elected opposition speaks than people presenting the agenda of small groups or small movements, instead of a common agenda,” remarks Jerez.

Restructuring the opposition

Irlanda Jerez, who had shops in the Oriental market in Managua before the Rebellion, also said that in order to elect the representatives of the opposition, first they have to carry out a restructuring to be able to compete in primaries.

“We have to restructure and create this team of counselors and all these people who will supervise. With an independent electoral committee that will be in charge of the entire structure, and I am sure that the people of Nicaragua will be happy, excited and hopeful that finally it will be possible to have democratic elections in the opposition,” she states.

Regarding the cost of the electoral process of primaries, Irlanda proposes that it can be covered by all the civic organizations that receive money from foreign donations, in order to guarantee an orderly process without the need to seek the international community.

“Nobody can say that there are no funds and that it cannot be financed, it can be,” she insists.

“Imagine the amount of money that has been financed in these years to all those organizations, for forums, trips, meetings, trainings, and we have had no results. The international community and there are donors willing to finance this democratic process among ourselves and for us to carry it out,” insisted Irlanda Jerez.

Identifying leaders

For his part, Luis Fley, leader of the opposition Nicaraguan Democratic Force (FDN) sees Irlanda’s proposal as positive, but he recommends that to start the process, first the true leaders must be sought, in order to speed up unity.

“First, we will have to identify who the leaders are and what organizations they represent or what population follows them or support them, because after 2018 many leaders emerged and there is a great confusion, because leadership does not appear overnight. It is through a long process that leaders appear,” expressed Luis Fley, when consulted on this matter.

“Here we have leaders who have stood out on social networks, there are leaders who operate organizations and who lead organizations. But I could tell you that they could be chieftains, but a chieftain without Indians, because they are not really chieftains, they are not chiefs,” added Luis Fley.  

As far as Jerez’s proposal, Fley agrees with other opponents that the issue of opposition unity has been talked about for five years now, since the anti-government protests began.

“Unity is an issue, well, that has been talked about for five years and it has been skidding, because this has to be defined, who the leaders are and where are they, especially what they represent,” he recommends.

“For me the leadership must be inside Nicaragua, the structures should be within Nicaragua. In the National Coalition there was already an organization (of the opposition),” recalls Luis Fley.

Create a single opposition bloc

For her part, Haydee Castillo, human rights activist, recently noted in an interview to this media outlet that unity continues to be a loud cry among Nicaraguans who are inside or outside the country. Only then could democracy be recovered in the country.

“I am convinced that given the levels of distrust and the political culture that defines us, and five years have gone by without having the ability to meet and create a single opposition bloc to challenge power from the dictatorship, this will not be possible without external mediation. When the 222 prisoners were released, there was that expectation, but it has not been possible either,” stated Haydee Castillo.

Another proposal of this human rights activist is that in order to achieve unity among the opposition, external mediators must be sought to facilitate the dialogue.

“It is a shame to not be able to do this by ourselves, but five years is enough, so my proposal is that this dialogue should be mediated by someone external to be able to support and build trust among so many disperse forces. And as I have said before, my position is that one of the foundations that still sustain the dictatorship is the lack of consensus among the opposition forces,” remarks Castillo.

She also adds that she is confident that soon a dialogue among the opposition could be accomplished. “In the opposition there are honest leaders, people of good faith, and who can do a lot for Nicaragua. But no one can do it alone. It is urgent to dialogue, to find common ground and build that forceful opposition much needed by the Nicaraguan people. And the international community must also take bigger and rapid steps to recover democracy in Nicaragua,” she proposed.

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