Nicaragua’s Public Employees are “Suffocated”

by the dictatorship’s pressure and surveillance

Public workers are forced to serve as propagandists for the dictatorship.

State workers denounce the surveillance of their social networks, the government’s use of spyware and the obligation to publicize the achievements of “our good government”

By 100% Noticias

HAVANA TIMES – After 15 years at the service in a public institution, Rolando – who has a doctorate, a Master’s degree and a specialty – is fed up with his work. Although he admits he receives a good salary, his only desire is to leave the country, because the pressure he’s under is unbearable.

“I come from a Sandinista family, and I feel that I entered this job on my own merits. I’ve always been faithful to my ideology, but I’m tired. I feel persecuted and like a prisoner. I can’t even take another job, because if you work for the State, it’s like you’re marked as a leper. Companies don’t recruit you because they see you as a toady, regardless of your academic qualifications”, he states.

In the offices, “there are people who watch us, the computers have spyware, our social networks are monitored. They don’t tell you that openly, but it’s obvious that it happens. A colleague was fired because she shared a meme of “la Chayo” [popular designation for Rosario Murillo]. They’re measuring every inch of us, as we say.”

Rolando has searched out programs for immigrants in Europe. He’s seen many who called themselves Sandinistas leave the country, then, from outside, expose what goes on in the State institutions.

“Many left here, when they were allowed to leave. After going around with the paramilitary, they made themselves out to be victims and are now in the United States and in Europe, ranting against the dictatorship they defended. I don’t blame them. Now we can’t even leave, if we even try to get a passport, we’re already objects of suspicion,” Rolando laments. Because of these restrictions, he was unable to attend the funeral of his brother in El Salvador.

“My great desire is to leave the country. I was able to send my son to Europe, and I want to reunite with him, because I feel that things are getting more difficult. If they’re pressuring us now, and they fire us for a mistake, later these people are capable of killing us,” he concludes.


Loyalty and allegiance are the two things they demand of the public workers, according to Renato, who works in one of the country’s city halls. He asserts that he’s no longer a Sandinista, and he’s sick of receiving threats disguised as trainings.

“They gather us together in a room for talks on information technology, but what they teach us is that we must share what I’d call propaganda – they say we must share the good news with all the people. I just laugh. The real issue is that if we don’t share, there’s someone who’s assigned to report us, and there are people who get fired for that,” he accuses.

Renato also affirms that they send party orientations through WhatsApp and posters for them to share.

“What people say – that they’re conditioning us – is true. They’ve taken several people to special training sessions; no one reveals what they’re told there, because the indication is not to let anything leak out. It hasn’t happened to me, but when my turn comes, I’ll go, since on the contrary, they fire us, and there’re no jobs here,” he points out.

This worker keeps his eyes fixed on the ground as he speaks, maybe due to the exhaustion brought on by his situation. However, he says with energy: “If I could leave the country, I’d do so gladly, because what we called revolution here and the ideals of a government for everyone doesn’t exist. Every day they demand more loyalty. We’ve reached the point where they even review your family members’ social media posts, and that’s not living in freedom. I closed my Facebook account, and I don’t have an account on any other site, to avoid problems. They demand we be on WhatsApp, though.”

“I’ve lost communication with my family”

Guadalupe is a 40-year-old woman who has worked in a hospital for the last 10 years. However, she assures that if she could leave her current job, she would, because they’re working under pressure and work with almost nothing.

“I’m a nurse. I’m already head of area, but this job is no longer rewarding. The hospitals lack the basics, and the mistreatment gets under your skin.  At least now, we no longer have to participate in those famous marches, like the ones they organized after the 2018 mess We had to go to those marches by force, so as not to be branded as coup plotters. But there are other types of pressures,” she points out.

Among those pressures, she affirms, is a psychological one, because there’s a policy that you have to please the patient, but they don’t provide the necessary means.

“If a patient complains, you can even be fired. In my case, a month ago a patient who had just undergone surgery asked me for some bandages to heal the wound at home.  I told her that I couldn’t give her any, because everything is in inventory and is limited.  That was enough for her to complain, and I almost got fired. But if I had given her that material, I assure you they’d have fired me for overstepping,” she declares.

Guadelupe also stated that she had a cousin who was an active participant in the opposition marches and roadblocks at that time (2018). When [her superiors] found out, they called Guadelupe in, and told her to delete her cousin on Facebook.

“At that time, I had a month-old baby and I couldn’t lose my job, so I deleted my cousin from Facebook. That caused me problems with my family, which are still going on today.  They don’t speak to me. But no one understands that I had a months-old daughter that I couldn’t leave without a bite of food,” she recalls sadly.

Guadelupe also complained that they’re constantly being called in to meetings on topics that are purely party matters.

“What they tell us is that our good government guarantees all our people salaries and health, that they’re investing in infrastructure, and that we must be loyal. And, well, I’m not one to drink the milk and curse the cow, but, really there are anomalies here. They keep us under watch; we can’t even say that everything is expensive, because right away they say we should be aware of the value of our jobs, and that’s a threat. There aren’t any unions to complain to either, but they do demand absolute loyalty from us,” she insists.

 Violations to the Constitution

Pablo Cuevas, from the Nicaraguan Human Rights Defender’s Office, points out that the State employees are paid from taxpayers’ money, but the State treats them as if they worked for the Sandinista party.

“For many years now, the person who wishes to enter a State job must first present an element they call the party endorsement in order to be considered a candidate for a public position. We’re talking about a political secretary having to give the job candidate a letter of recommendation. Unfortunately, workers faced with the need to obtain a job have had to submit to these requirements, but in a certain sense it’s equivalent to selling your soul to the devil,” he comments.

Cuevas believes that the fact of entering with political endorsement translates into state workers who are expected to carry out tasks involving partisan political propaganda. During the election campaigns, they must go house to house “extolling the benefits of the Sandinista government through lies. People have to try to convince the neighborhood residents to cast their vote for the Sandinista party. Otherwise, they lose their job.”

“Many workers have to become propagandists on social networks and comment favorably about government activities. Many other workers have to spy on their colleagues. They have to provide party leaders with their Facebook and WhatsApp accounts so that, through certain programs, the party authorities can follow their activities,” Cuevas details.

He assures that the dictatorship takes advantage of the fact that there are few jobs, in order to blackmail the population in this way.

“I’ve interviewed a lot of State workers – I’m talking about university faculty who work with the National Council of Universities, and others in the mayors’ offices. A few days ago, a worker from a mayor’s office sent me videos: they brought them all together in a forested place in the mountains, to give them military training, supposedly to defend the revolution from attacks. But that’s a broken record. It happened in the first Sandinista government, where they kept people locked in constant political agitation and activities of that nature to maintain the fear that the Gringos were coming to invade us,” reveals Cuevas.

Pablo Cuevas notes that the Constitution says that every Nicaraguan has a right to work. He recalled the fact that there’s a special law, the Civil service law, which has to do with the jobs of the public service workers. They “aren’t obligated to fulfill anything more than their labor requirements. Each one has their defined work, and their tasks, and they aren’t obligated to do anything more than to fulfill the tasks they were contracted to do. In addition, it says that all citizens have the right to hold the political beliefs they choose, without being coerced. This is all violated in Nicaragua.”

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