Sticking Points Remain in the Nicaraguan Opposition’s Search for Unity

By Leonor Alvarez (La Prensa)

March in Managua in 2018. File photo:

HAVANA TIMES – After April 18, 2018, the Nicaraguan opposition stopped focusing their efforts on organization and unity. At the same time, there’s been no dearth of attacks among the different political figures, disparaging the other’s processes. There’ve also been those who call for a unity centered around themselves or their parties, and those who play Ortega’s classic game of “divide and conquer”.

The caudillo figures

Political analyst Eliseo Nunez Morales defines the caudillo tradition as the concentration of power in a single person who then becomes the one central figure.  This factor, according to Nunez is always a cause of division and generates a vicious cycle.

“As you divide, you lose the possibilities for victory; and as you lose possibilities for victory, you also lose the incentives for remaining united. When he (the caudillo) joins others but doesn’t win a victory, the effort only leads to a lesser quota of power. So, they prefer to go it alone, not to share their quota of power and this has been the vicious cycle of the last years,” Nunez explained.

Sociologist and political analyst Oscar Rene Vargas is convinced that the existing political parties all revolve around caudillo figures, because “they never accept that they don’t have the social base to continue moving forward, and they don’t accept unity unless they’re the protagonists.”

The role of the “mosquito” opposition

In Nicaragua, they use the term “mosquitos” to describe those politicians that are outside the official party but who are bought or convinced to collaborate with it.  As an example of “paid mosquitos” Oscar Rene Vargas mentioned those who have taken over the legal status of a party or an opposition figure, with the clear objective of knocking emerging political organizations out of the running.  He also mentions those who participate as presidential candidates despite knowing that they don’t have the faintest chance of winning.

Vargas further asserted that the Ortega machine pays people to declare themselves opponents; these people then participate as presidential candidates representing essentially hollow parties, and disparage the organizational and unifying attempts of other opposition figures.

Attacks on the MRS and the businessmen who were formerly Ortega’s allies

Sociologist Vargas says that the attacks on the Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS), an organization made up of dissidents from the governing Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional, are aimed particularly at discrediting the National Blue and White Unity so that it not be seen as something independent from the interests of specific political parties.

In his view, that Ortega’s party takes advantage of these attacks, since they play into the fears that some people have of leftist ideas. According to Nunez, the FSLN encourages these attacks through their media platforms.

The analyst noted three groups that are vulnerable to falling into these attacks aimed at discrediting the Sandinista dissidents. First, some older people who still maintain a lot of resentment against the Sandinista party of the 80s.  There are also those on the right who believe that the MRS, and the left in general, threaten the market economy.  Finally, there are groups that hold very conservative religious views on topics such as feminism, equal rights in marriage, and abortion.

Different criteria for the struggle

To hold flash protests, call an indefinite general strike, have elections, demand sanctions, organize just with the youth, unite with the traditional parties, wait for another civil war. These and other ideas are the different forms of struggle being proposed separately by the diverse universe of Nicaraguan opposition groups and individuals.

Eliseo Nunez states that these different demands lead the opposition to appear divided.

“To me, there are three well-defined groups: 1) those who believe in quick solutions, call it a social explosion, a violent conflict or an indefinite strike; 2) those who believe that people should organize, but without the traditional parties; and 3) those of us who believe that organization should be carried out with emphasis on the emerging leaderships, but that no one should be excluded a priori,” explained the political analyst.

Election of candidates and electoral reforms

Nunez feels that the procedures for selecting the presidential candidates and the electoral reforms will be a divisive factor for the opposition.

Regarding the electoral reforms, Nunez noted that the opposition is depending a great deal on Daniel Ortega’s giving in to an extensive electoral reform.

“How profound that reform is or is not, will determine who opts to enter the election process and who wants to wait until there are deeper reforms.  That’s going to be an extremely dangerous factor for division that’s just around the corner,” Nunez predicted.

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