The “Profound Fear” of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo

Cancellation of 317 citizens nationality reveals the level of their paranoia

Left to right: Gioconda Belli, Ernesto Medina and Francisca Ramirez. File photos

The Ortega-Murillo dictatorship fears the leadership of the released prisoners, agree Francisca Ramirez, Gioconda Belli and Ernesto Medina

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – It’s now been eight days since the Nicaraguan dictatorship illegally annulled the nationality of 317 Nicaraguans critical of their government and ordered the confiscation of the wealth and property of 94 of them. More than just a show of power, this move has exposed the “political weakness” of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, and the existence of a government guided by “profound fear” of the the protests of an “organized population.” That’s the conclusion of three of the people who were declared “stateless” and stripped of their citizens’ rights for perpetuity.

Poet and novelist Gioconda Belli, university professor Ernesto Medina, and rural leader Francisca Ramirez conversed with journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro, director of the Confidencial news site, on Sunday, February 19, during a segment of the online television news program Esta Semana. The program is transmitted via the Confidencial Nica channel on You Tube.

All four of these Nicaraguans are in exile. On February 15, the Nicaraguan government arbitrarily rescinded their right to hold Nicaraguan nationality, together with another 90 Nicaraguans. In addition, the dictatorship ordered the confiscation of their assets and property, and declared them “fugitives from justice.”

“None of us consider ourselves denationalized. We hold the Nicaraguan identity inside us, and no one can take it away from us. But then they harmed us with the matter of our property, which is very cruel and inhumane. They intended to leave us without a country on the one hand, and with no home on the other,” stated writer Gioconda Belli, who lives in exile in Madrid, Spain.

Belli added: “It’s like removing the ties that bind you to the earth. They’re not going to succeed in doing that, but the gesture displays a superlative cruelty.”

Francisca Ramirez led the Farm Movement against the Interoceanic Canal that Daniel Ortega dreamed of building, and against the related laws awarding limitless land concession for the project – laws that are still on the books. She was forced to flee to Costa Rica, but continues firm in her belief that the “only traitor to the homeland is Daniel Ortega, who handed over the national sovereignty to Wang Jing [Chinese magnate who pledged to construct the canal] in 2013.”

“I challenge Ortega to face me in a tribunal, if he believes I’m guilty of something, and prove to me that we – the ones he stripped of our nationality – are criminals,” Ramirez stressed.

“We’re people who firmly believe in the Nicaraguan Constitution, which [establishes] that any person who is unhappy can demonstrate, and that’s what we’ve done. Thank God, we opted for the civic struggle,” the rural leader underlined. “Chica” Ramirez led the protests in Nicaragua’s Nueva Guinea department to stop the land expropriation the government planned to carry out along the planned canal route there.

Ortega and Murillo’s nightmare

Academic leader Ernesto Medina, former dean of the UNAN (Nicaraguan National Autonomous University) campus in Leon, and the Americana University (UAM) in Managua respectively, is now exiled in Germany. To him, the latest actions of the Ortega-Murillo regime display their “political weakness.” “Since April 2018, neither Daniel Ortega nor Rosario Murillo can sleep peacefully. When they close their eyes, they see the enormous demonstrations of April and May of that year – those streets full of blue and white flags, the people yelling, feeling that they’re free.”

“That’s Ortega’s nightmare that won’t go away. Despite everything he’s done, he can’t erase that image. They know the people are out there, even though right now they’re fearful and powerless to express themselves. They know that if the regime makes one misstep, the people will once again go out onto the streets, once again begin shouting, and once again demand that they leave so we can build the Nicaragua that we dream of,” commented Medina.

The academic leader calls the release and banishment of the 222 political prisoners and the posterior declaration that they no longer hold Nicaraguan nationality, “a boomerang” that “exploded in the face” of Ortega and Murillo, along with the refusal of Monsignor Rolando Jose Alvarez, bishop of Matagalpa, to board the airplane to take him into exile in the United States.

The first group of Nicaraguans to have their nationality supposedly cancelled were the 222 political prisoners who were banished to the United States on February 9. The next day, Ortega added Monsignor Alvarez to the list, the Catholic leader who had been bishop of the Matagalpa Diocese and Apostolic Administrator of the diocese of Esteli. Following his refusal to leave, Alvarez was summarily convicted and sentenced to over 26 years in prison by the Nicaraguan dictatorship.

Efforts to erase the opposition political leadership

According to Medina, the regime is resorting –erroneously and fruitlessly – to actions that they feel “give strength” to the image of a “ruler who can do anything, who has power over Nicaraguans’ life and property.”

“They want to do everything they can to eliminate or try to erase what they believe is the leadership, those that could put themselves in front of a new mass movement, like that of 2018,” the former dean underlined.

Gioconda Belli said the dictatorship’s actions “give the idea of an immature government, guided by impulses and (dominated) by a profound fear of the people.”

“You can still see in them the terror that 2018 left them with. With this action, they’re trying to infuse people with one more fear, telling them: ‘not only could we throw you in prison, but we can take away your nationality, we can take everything you have.’ They’re trying to close off the wall of fear they have Nicaragua sunk into,” the poet stated.

Francisca Ramirez thinks Ortega and Murillo are trying to “distract the attention” of the opposition. “[They want] us to concentrate on resolving our personal problems and not continue watching out for our nation, not continue demanding the return of democracy.”

“They’re not going to succeed, because we’re very clear that Nicaragua must be free (…) The people in the countryside have been fighting for ten years, and [the denationalization] just justifies the struggle,” the farm leader noted.

Ortega is losing support among his party members

Medina also noted the loss of support the regime is experiencing among the Sandinista Front’s own party members and the public employees. “There’s a generalized rejection of the imprisonment of Monsignor Rolando Alvarez, which is an act of vengeance on the part of Daniel Ortega.”

“Little by little, that servility that characterizes the people surrounding Ortega and Murillo is reaching a breaking point that’s dangerous for them,” said Medina.

“The most serious thing for Ortega and Murillo,” he continued, “is that every day, they’re taking actions and making decisions that are more and more hare-brained, more unscrupulous. Obviously, the people who have a minimum of dignity, of principles, will reach a point at which they say: “Enough of this already. It can’t go on anymore.”

Francisca Ramirez said that the imprisonment of Alvarez “is something that the people won’t forgive him [Ortega] for (…) “Within his own followers are many Catholics, who in absolute secret say that things aren’t right.” She recalled that when the rural residents began to march, the Sandinista sympathizers criticized them: “You’re confused – the Comandante is a good person, he’s thinking about the good of the country.” However, these same ardent followers [of Ortega] now recognize: “You were right, we changed our minds. We regret that we didn’t listen to you at that time. Today, we’re totally defenseless.”

“This action of his is uniting us, not dividing us, because today it’s clear that [Ortega] is a person willing to do anything – including holding his own people hostage – to hold onto power,” Ramirez emphasized.

Impact of the confiscations

Last Friday, the Nicaraguan Attorney General’s office confiscated 16 apartments in the “Amazonia” residential complex, while the Police Special Operations Headquarters raided the home of journalist Sofia Montenegro and attorney Azahalea Solis, located in the same residential complex in the San Juan neighborhood of Managua. Both citizens are part of the group of 94 Nicaraguans who have been declared “stateless.”

Sources from the residential complex told Confidencial that the apartment owners were notified to appear at the Attorney General’s Office, where they were given the surprising news that they’d been stripped of their properties, which had been in their hands for over thirty years. The apartments were confiscated and declared state property, despite the fact that there was no legal process or previous complaint to justify their expropriation.

The Attorney General’s office told the residents of the “Amazonia” complex that they could either pay a monthly rent of $500 to continue in their apartments, or move out.

Regarding this, Gioconda Belli stated that, in general, “we thought that [Ortega and Murillo] had reached their limit, but then they always surprise us by doing something more, beyond what we thought could possibly happen.”

“Now, more than ever, the Nicaraguan opposition has the obligation to put aside their egos and personal projects and for us all to join together and point our efforts in one direction, which is an end to the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship, the only thing that will allow us to really free our country.”

“It seems to me,” she added, “that right now, there are important conditions for doing so: we already have a lot of leaders on the outside, and international opinion is on our side.”

In terms of the confiscations, Medina said that “investors are looking with great concern at Nicaragua.” As a result, “the types of investments that could be attracted to Nicaragua are those that end by destroying countries, like illegal capital from illicit businesses.”

“To such investors, Nicaragua is a paradise. All they have to do is find someone who’s safely in the shadow of power, who knows themselves to be beyond the law, and can do whatever they want. Obviously, that’s the ideal partner for this type of person,” the former dean explained.

“The danger for Nicaragua is an accelerated deterioration that could transform the country’s economy into a pariah. That’s where Ortega and Murillo are leading Nicaragua,” he accused.

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times.