…the opposition invokes the “hopes” of April
Francisca Ramirez, Yubrank Suazo, Maria Alvarado, Gonzalo Carrion and Eliseo Nuñez: “The task belongs to all who resist – in Nicaragua and from exile.”
By Ivan Olivares (Confidencial)
HAVANA TIMES – Four years after the April Rebellion exploded, the Nicaraguan people’s yearning for freedom remains pending. In fact, it’s grown even sharper, as the dictatorship continues ramping up the repression, and the number of political prisoners, exiles and unemployed keep growing. That’s the consensus of five exiled opposition leaders who spoke on the online news program Esta Noche.
Gonzalo Carrion, president of the Nicaragua Nunca Mas [Nicaragua never again] Human Rights Collective, noted that he and his Nicaraguan colleagues in the organization are now marking three years of exile in Costa Rica. Nonetheless, “we maintain the certainty and the conviction that Nicaragua will see that great, longed-for moment,” he stated, in reference to the end of the dictatorship.
The attorney admitted this doesn’t seem so clear at the moment, because “a state of brutal and ferocious terror has been imposed, which grows worse every day. But that’s also a demonstration of the weakness of a family that thinks they can impose themselves by force, with guns, because it’s all they have. They have nothing to offer!”
Maria Laura Alvarado, a member of the political council of the National Blue and White Unity (UNAB), has “many hopes for change, especially because Ortega and Murillo won’t last forever. They could be in power for a few more years, but they’re not eternal,” she insisted.
Amid this scenario, she called on the new generations to be prepared for the changes that the country will require, “whoever of the opposition comes to power.” She feels there should be a strong opposition force, that can above all, “construct a shared vision of the country that will allow us to reconstruct it on a new foundation, because Ortega and Murillo are going to leave it in ruins by the time we manage to get them out.”
Yubrank Suazo recalled the “April is Hope” campaign. He declared: “The hopes of 2018 continue alive in the hearts of all the Nicaraguans, and in a very particular way within the public employees who can’t raise their voices. They must appear at their jobs every day, because they have a commitment, an obligation, a duty, to put food on the table for their children every day.”
Reasons for the April explosion are still there
Eliseo Nuñez, a former Liberal party deputy, doesn’t believed that the spirit of April has evaporated, although four years have now passed since the Citizen’s Rebellion. “That momentum couldn’t be seized for a series of factors, but the reasons for what happened that April are still there.”
Among those reasons, he mentions the fact that people are still forced into submission, without the right to give opinions. They’re suffering the consequences of the corruption and the increasing poverty. “Although – according to the government – the economy is growing, it can’t be seen in the streets: many people continue jobless, just like in 2018, when the economy was growing but the wealth was all going into the hands of those close to the government, and those the government had decided to favor, while the population were living in poverty.”
“The April explosion came because – during all the years since 2007 – the government was incapable of providing better jobs for the people, better salaries. Nicaragua’s great competitive advantage, now as in April 2018, continues being the country offering the cheapest labor in the hemisphere,” Nuñez analyzed.
Farm leader Francisca Ramirez identifies with the rural people who, as she points out, were already mobilizing during the five years that preceded the April Rebellion. They marched repeatedly in defense of their lands, which were threatened by the [now failed] Canal Project and Law 840 that allowed expropriation wherever needed for this project.
“We farmers had been demanding change since 2013. Today we’re clear that we’re the people who must struggle to achieve that change. We must resume organizing internally in the outer departments, establishing actions of resistance that aren’t limited to the social networks, but are actions,” Ms. Ramirez detailed.
The task belongs to everyone, notes Yubrank Suazo, including those who “persist in their resistance” from inside the country, as well as those who remain organized although in exile, “those who are in Costa Rica and in the US, trying to unify our actions in a very specific way,” he expressed.
In regards to the Nicaraguans inside the country, Maria Laura Alvarado of the UNAB recommended that citizens make evident their passive dislike of the regime; point out what’s wrong within the system. “The regime violates every institutional norm of government, so it’s important the citizens continue denouncing these irregularities.”
She explained that as an opposition organization, the UNAB is trying to articulate their forces. They understand that combatting the dictatorship isn’t something that can be done alone. They’re trying to join together with all the other opposition forces through political dialogue, and to strengthen the connections with the Nicaraguan diaspora in the United States and Europe.
Did the April Rebellion fail?
Despite the deaths of over 300 citizens, while Ortega and Murillo continue dug ever further into power, Nuñez, Alvarado and Ramirez don’t agree with using the word “failure” to refer to the cry for freedom that exploded in April 2018.
The farm leader affirmed: “The April Rebellion and the demands for change haven’t failed. Those who failed are the ones who, at that time, represented the dialogue. The rebellion was clear about its demands. The sector that wasn’t clear was that of large capital, because they never wanted to make economic sacrifices. They always put economic interests first, not the demands for change. The people will achieve that change,” she predicted.
Maria Laura Alvarado of the UNAB asserted: “the demands of the April Rebellion reached the ears of the international community and achieved some results at that moment. However, they weren’t the results that the citizens were hoping for, which was to get Ortega out. That wasn’t achieved, but there were some successes we should recognize. It isn’t a complete defeat.”
Nuñez explained: “These are long processes,” especially since it’s a non-violent struggle. Such struggles “normally don’t achieve their objective in the first attempt, because it’s easier to get angry than to organize.” This model of struggle involves great anger, a lot of reaction to what the dictatorial regime does, but little organizational capacity.
Four years later, what can be seen is “a civil society fused with the political entities, their interests channeled into parallel organizations and another series of expressions. Today, there are exponentially more organizations against the regime than there were in April 2018,” Nuñez estimated.
In April 2018, the Nicaraguan citizens rose up in protest over the government’s unilateral changes to the Pension Law. In addition, they demanded justice and democracy, a demand that was shifted into a “dialogue” which, in the end, was nothing more than a ploy to gain time, while the paramilitary forces loyal to the government dismantled the protests through blood and fire.
According to documentation collected by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, the result of that violence was the killing of at least 355 people. Although the omnipresent dictatorship promotes the conclusion that those deaths were in vain, sources point to one sure fact: this story isn’t over.