Nicaragua’s oldest newspaper, now shuttered by the Ortega regime, spoke with two committed Sandinistas, who have voted for the party in past elections. They explain their motives for doing it again.
La Prensa editor’s note: The regime of Daniel Ortega committed crimes against humanity during the 2018 anti-government demonstrations. That was the conclusion of an investigation by the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts, a branch of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission. Daniel Ortega classified the protests as an attempt to stage a coup d’etat, and the resulting repression left more than 320 people dead, according to national and international organizations.
Since last May, 39 opposition leaders have been imprisoned by the regime. Another 130 political prisoners, some jailed years earlier, remain locked up. These numbers have been validated by international organizations like the OAS, the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch, among others. In addition, numerous national and international organizations have declared that the November 7th voting process lacks the minimum standards for a fair and transparent election.
Despite the above, there are people who proclaim their intention to vote for Ortega, even as Nicaragua continues to be the second poorest country in the Americas. Here, we reproduce the testimonies of two committed Sandinistas and the reasons they offer.
“We’re an inclusive project – the people’s presidency”
Alvaro Martinez Quiñonez, 39 years old
I’ve voted four times for the Sandinista National Liberation Front, and this November 7 will mark the fifth time I vote for them. My vote for the FSLN and Comandante Daniel Ortega is to assure the continuity of all the social and economic projects that have been successfully developing during these last 14 years of Sandinista government.
I’ll vote because this is the only government that has given us back our dignity, our power and the rights of all the Nicaraguan people to honorable work and free education and health care.
Personally, the free health care and education have been extremely important to me. Likewise, I’ve been benefited by the project Houses for the People. I’ve also had access to technical courses, which have helped me grow personally and vocationally.
As a Sandinista, one of our principles is not to think only about personal advancement, but also to see progress among our fellow Nicaraguans: our friends, neighbors and family members. It’s seeing change and progress for all, and that all the projects and benefits reach all the population, regardless of their political beliefs, their social status, their religion or their race. We’re an inclusive project, the people’s presidency.
I was born in the 80s, in a humble, hard-working, honest revolutionary family. My mother, aunts, uncles and grandparents all imbued me with the Sandinista values, from the time I was little. I was especially influenced by my grandfather, a very wise and hard-working man. He was my first teacher, in all senses of the word. From the time I was very small, he taught me and explained to me what the objectives of the Sandinista Front were, and he taught me to be a good Sandinista and human being.
I was a witness to all the injustices we Nicaraguans suffered during the 16 years (1990 – 2007) of neoliberal governments. No one’s going to tell me tales, I felt this in my own flesh – all the outrages the corrupt governments of the 90s and part of the 2000s inflicted on us. Hunger, extreme poverty, no decent health system, shaky educational programs and decaying infrastructure, without any programs to support those most in need. All the wealth of our people was in the hands of a few, and the supposed champions of democracy perpetrated many atrocities.
All these experiences confirmed my belief that the only option for the people was and is the FSLN, in the hands of Comandante Daniel Ortega. Moreover – Do we know what the governing plan of the other presidential candidates is? Truly, we don’t.
For that reason, the FSLN and Comandante Daniel Ortega are, and continue to be, the best option Nicaragua has. The objective is the continuity of all the projects and programs, which will help this people emerge from poverty and improve the quality of life for all. Likewise, it’s the only government that has historically defended our country’s sovereignty and independence. So, I believe that there’s no confusion: on November 7, we should all mark our ballots [for the FSLN’s space] in box Number 2.
Regarding the “political prisoners”, I think that question has nothing to do with the electoral topic. I can only say that any citizen that violates or breaks the law should be punished.
The fact that Daniel Ortega has been in power for 15 consecutive years, to me represents stability in Nicaraguan politics. The fact is that the Nicaraguan people have found the FSLN and its Comandante to be a leader and ruler who consistently follows through on his words and on their plan of government, despite all the economic and social limitations we suffer as a poor country.
In this 2021 election, the Comandante’s victory means continuing to advance and to restore the rights that had been stripped from this people.
“Daniel Ortega isn’t only the best, but also the only option”
Jennifer Alonzo Obando, 26 years old
The first time I voted for Daniel Ortega was in 2011, when I was 16. The second time was in 2016, at 21. This year will be the third time.
I’m going to vote for Daniel Ortega because I like his model of government. I want them to continue working and carrying out all their programs for the population. They should continue executing the projects that they’ve been developing all through these years. I believe that if they continue that way, we’ll succeed in progressing.
Daniel Ortega is perseverant; I like his model of government. I see that the work he’s doing has gotten results, so I’ll continue supporting him.
I’ve witnessed a lot of improvements. It’s hard to miss what we see every day. To mention one thing, in recreation, where we have some spectacular parks that I couldn’t enjoy in my early childhood because there was nothing like that, at least not open to the public. The Salvador Allende port is a marvel, I never thought they’d succeed in building something like that, out of the old and ugly boardwalk that existed previously. I never heard of other governments taking the initiative to improve it.
Improving the infrastructure for our roadways, of course, has been a great project, and we now have better access to a lot of places all across our country. Even for moving around in our day-to-day lives, you can feel the difference. The Houses for the People projects are fabulous. Thanks to them, at my young age I was able to obtain my own home, and that’s an enormous personal achievement. Also, vocationally, I’ve had a lot of opportunities for growth and learning, both personal and professional, and I’m very grateful for that, among other things.
I come from a Sandinista family, and from the time I was little they’d sing me the Sandinista songs and tell about the epochs when the Sandinista Front was formed – all the years of struggle. Not only that, how beginning hundreds of years before, we’ve been fighting for our sovereignty. That’s the foundation of the Sandinista struggle, which personally in my adult years has continued motivating me to be a Sandinista.
Daniel Ortega is a figure that without a doubt will go down in history for his tireless struggle. Since he was young, he devoted himself completely to the cause, and has earned the place he has right now.
He’s been a persevering, capable, resilient, strong and battle-hardened man. I see this in his works. Though his intelligence and capability, he’s proven himself an excellent strategist, who has managed to keep the country on its feet, even after the failed attempt at a Coup d’etat. I believe this is the final, irrefutable proof that Daniel is Nicaragua’s best option.
[I saw] the way that a group of opponents felt they had the nerve to confront him and want to defeat him, clamoring for “early elections” and the whole circus and theater they set up – not to mention the death, destruction and chaos – which is what they really brought about.
In the end, we arrived right at this date, and they didn’t even manage to get organized: they didn’t do so in the three years they were given – three years to do things well, organize themselves, put together a plan for governing. But nothing came of it, and with that it was clear that we can’t put the country in the hands of anyone else. There’s no one more capable, no one. From the other candidates, we don’t even know of any projects or trajectories greater than that of Daniel Ortega. He’s not only the best option, he’s the only option.
I want to add that I don’t consider what we have in Nicaragua as “political prisoners”. They committed a crime against the law and the country. You can’t play around with sovereignty. The homeland must be respected, and if they committed that crime then they should pay.
Five years isn’t enough time to move a country forward, after all the bad governments we’ve had in the years before him. I believe that the 15 years he has exercised power validates him, because they’re reflections of his work. I support his model of government and want us to continue with the good rhythm we have. We need more time.