Sergio Ramirez on Nicaragua and Dictatorships

“We can’t accept a Nicaragua that repeatedly goes from one dictatorship to another”

Nicaraguan writer Sergio Ramirez. Photo: EFE / Confidencial

Change must come through “peaceful resistance” with an outcome that doesn’t involve “enthroning a new strongman figure.”

By EFE / Confidencial 

HAVANA TIMES – Latin American history is “seeded through with caudillos (strongmen)”. This relic of the past should no longer exist, but in fact it has persisted right into the XXI century. That’s the view of writer Sergio Ramirez, who also affirms that in the case of Nicaragua “we can’t accept that the country is condemned to go repeatedly from one dictatorship to another.”

Ramirez, holder of the 2017 Cervantes prize, shared these reflections on Monday July 4, in a forum held at the site of the Parliament offices in the Aragon region of Spain. The forum was entitled: “The writer and freedom of expression.”

During his presentation, Ramirez assured that imagination is necessarily linked to the reality that lies before each of our eyes. His own reality, he stated, is “conflictive” and “dramatic”, and at times “magical”, for the “spark that allows literature to spotlight the contradictions between past and present.

“I’d prefer a reality like that of Denmark, or Iceland, where political events are so normal as to pass unnoticed,” stated Ramirez, who was born in the small city of Masatepe in 1942. “In those countries, elections are called and people vote; they watch the results on television, and everyone wakes up calmly the next day and goes to work.

However, in Latin America, “they’re true uproars,” where at times it’s not certain that the results will be respected.

Still, he confessed that he can’t imagine being a Swedish or Danish writer, because his own literature is that of a country where democracy has been the exception. He was born under the “reign” of Anastasio Somoza Garcia, former Nicaraguan “president”, who founded the dynasty Ramirez participated in overthrowing in 1979. “And today, I remain in exile, due to another dictatorship spawned by that revolution,” he added.

Ramirez noted that the idea of independence in the countries of Latin America rose up as a “great dream”, reflected in exemplary constitutions with public liberties, separation of powers, and guarantees of citizen freedom: all of which is contradicted by the everyday reality. That contradiction between what the law says and the reality on the ground was the hallmark of the 19th century in Latin America, then passed on to the 20th century, and still persists today.

In the case of Nicaragua, the constitution hasn’t been abolished. “It continues speaking of liberties, of citizen rights and the separation of powers, at a time when the jails are full of political prisoners condemned for exaggerated crimes,” such as treason, conspiracy to commit crimes or money laundering, merely because they aspired to a democratic change.

Nonetheless, Ramirez aspires to seeing a change in Nicaragua. “We can’t accept that the country is condemned to go from one dictatorship after another.”

The key to change in Nicaragua, he indicated, must be “peaceful resistance” with an outcome that doesn’t involve “the enthroning of a new caudillo figure by force of arms. The change must signify the casting aside of all authoritarianism, and the birth of a government that presents a democratic alternative in which the popular vote will determine who holds power in the country.”

“I have not only the hope, but the certainty that the situation in Nicaragua is going to be resolved within my lifetime, and that’s already saying a lot,” he concluded.

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times