A new group has emerged: “Nicaragua gruppa LAG-Oslo”, a branch of the Norwegian Committee for Solidarity with Latin America. It is made up of both Nicaraguans and Norwegians who oppose the Ortega-Murillo regime.
By Solange Saballos*
HAVANA TIMES – The reddish lights hover over a small group of grey-haired Norwegians. In their youth, they believed in the ideals of Latin America’s second socialist revolution, which took place in Nicaragua. Now, gathered in the hall of Oslo’s House of Culture, they listen attentively to the denunciations of journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro, and heard the pain of exile in the voice of singer Katia Cardenal, accompanied by Nina Cardenal. There was a speech from Marcela Prado, who had received political asylum in Norway. The utopian dream that pushed them to leave their native fjords to aid a valiant people is now evaporating before their incredulous eyes, still filled with dreams.
On Monday, November 8, a seminar was held in the Oslo House of Culture (Kulturhuset) in the Norwegian capital. It was billed as an “Open Meeting regarding Nicaragua”. The event featured discussions of the political panorama in Nicaragua, one day after the presidential “election”, which ratified a new term in power for dictators Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. Dozens of countries have refused to recognize these elections as legitimate.
The event, held in English, was organized by the Nicaragua gruppa LAG-Oslo, a recently formed branch of the Norwegian Solidarity Committee with Latin America (LAG), with help from the International Support Fund for Students and Academics (SAIH).
It included the online participation of exiled Nicaraguan journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro, together with Mariel Aguilar Stoen, professor with the University of Oslo’s Center for Development and the Environment, and Axel Borchgrevink, International Studies professor at the OsloMet University. The three discussed the future of the Sandinista revolution, and the current sociopolitical crisis in the country.
Also present was singer-songwriter Katia Cardenal, currently exiled in Norway with her children due to political persecution from the Ortega-Murillo regime. Together with her daughter, guitarist Nina Cardenal, they interpreted the songs “Cancion del fuego” (Song of fire), “Contracorriente” (Against the Current), and “Alla” (There). “It’s super sad for my generation to see how the revolutionary dream of the young people of the eighties has been severed in this way,” the singer stated.
“Latin-Amerika gruppene i Norge (LAG)”: supporting the revolution but rejecting the Sandinista party
The NGO Norwegian Solidarity Group with Latin America (LAG) was formed during the 1973 coup d’etat in Chile that deposed then-president Salvador Allende. Later, it supported other leftist social movements on the continent.
“LAG is the umbrella group for us and other groups, inside and outside of Oslo. There are groups all over Norway, and together we form the group “Latin-Amerika”. Many young people have traveled to Nicaragua to work on brigades. An embassy was also established that functioned for many years, but has since been dismantled for obvious reasons,” indicated Evelyn Hoen, one of the coordinators of the Nicaragua group.
There are unofficial reports of internal tensions in LAG with respect to Nicaragua. Some consider that the situation merely reflects another of the United States’ many interventions in Latin America, while others recognize that Latin America’s second socialist revolution on the continent has been betrayed by the actions of the Ortega-Murillo regime. There’ve been discussion about whether or not to tackle the situation in Nicaragua from the perspective of the citizens, instead of sympathy with the Sandinista ideals.
Marcela Prado, a systems engineer and political refugee, gave a talk about the situation of Nicaraguan asylum seekers in Norway.
Regarding the latter perspective, Prado commented: “I discovered that they initially wanted [to see it that way], but there was some who thought the opposite. There were many discussions, and I think they didn’t continue. But then a small group was formed (“Nicaragua gruppa”) and I fell in with them.”
Marcela Prado explained that the Nicaraguans who form part of this group are: “ten refugees, plus two people who were denied asylum and are now appealing through the Norwegian Organization for Asylum Seekers. I understand there are two other people in the process of seeking asylum, but I don’t have their information.”
The Nicaraguan group established a public presence on social media beginning in October 2021. The Open Meeting was their first event. “Our group wants to call attention to what’s happening in Nicaragua – the human rights violations, and also all the people who have died, who are in jail. Obviously, there’s no more democracy in Nicaragua. We want to work to help reestablish democracy there,” Evelyn Hoen declared.
Difficult road for asylum seekers in Norway
Marcela Prado stated that a number of asylum requests made by Nicaraguans have been denied by Norway, despite the fact that there’ve been only a small number of them. “Under the previous [conservative] government, a lot of applications were denied. One of the justifications they offered is that we had to be public or high-profile figures to run a risk in Nicaragua,” Prado explained. Those contradictions have been publicly exposed in the independent Nicaraguan media, which has spotlighted the cases of Michelle Quezada and the engineer Silvia Herrera, who were being denied asylum in Norway because they weren’t “public figures”.
According to the annual reports of the Norwegian Immigration Agency, 40 Nicaraguans requested political asylum between 2018 and 2021. Norway denied 34 of those requests.
Actually, according to a report issued by Landinfo, a Norwegian organization charged with providing information on immigration in the country, “people who participate in the demonstrations [in Nicaragua] run a great risk. The authorities keep watch on those who participate in the protests and take measures against them.” This assertion appeared in the organization’s March 2019 report.
In a third report on Nicaragua, dated September 2019, Landinfo reaffirmed: “Even people with no particular social or political profile were detained in 2020 as a result of their participation in the 2018 demonstrations, according to Tiiano Breda (analyst with the International Crisis Group). Several of those arrested in 2019 and 2020 have been ordinary people.”
Although the Norwegian Labor Party (Arbeiderpartiet), which won the recent Norwegian elections, promised during their political campaign to speed up the asylum process, Prado classified the situation as “uncertain”.
*Originally published in Radio Latin-Amerika