The Case of Nicaragua
HAVANA TIMES – When this whole debacle began, we thought that the Nicaraguan case would serve as a warning for other countries, to avoid reaching the point we arrived at. Beware of those reelections in the name of “let the people be the ones to decide.” Be careful with allowing the government and the large business owners to become comfortable bedfellows. Stamp a red flag on those laws supposedly aimed at defending sovereignty. Open your eyes when they begin to criminalize journalism and human rights. But – none of the above! Instead of a warning, Nicaragua has served as an example to follow. We see other countries following the same road we went down with the ingenuous pretense that, in their cases, they’ll get somewhere different.
In the case of Venezuela, I’ve seen some very serious analyses speculating that Maduro won’t dare to disqualify one opposition candidate after another from running – outlawing them as they appear – because “the cost he’d pay would be too high.” That’s what we said in Nicaragua! And there sits Daniel Ortega in power, because he “won” an election in which he not only disqualified his opponents, but imprisoned them so as to compete alone, and with no one to protest that move. What consequences? The little it’s cost him can’t be compared with what he won.
Daniel Ortega’s electoral model is now an export product. The Nicaragua Model, they unfortunately call it. It’s a completely brutal model, built on the premise that whoever has the power should be willing to do whatever they have to and pay whatever price they have to pay to remain, convinced that the worst thing that could happen to them is to lose power. Controlling the electoral apparatus isn’t enough for this model. Outlawing parties, throwing the opposing candidates in jail, forbidding electoral observation, and even prohibiting electoral campaigns and publicity. Choose from among your own the “opponents” who will serve as your sparring partners. It’s not even an election with loaded dice, like the traditional frauds, it’s a set of dice with the same number on all six sides; hence, no matter what happens the winning number will always be yours.
Citizens from the rest of the countries failed to recognize that the crisis in Nicaragua isn’t just a Nicaraguan problem, but a cancer that’s already metastasizing. They didn’t see it as a problem of their own. They watched their neighbors’ whiskers burn and didn’t wet down their own. Those who did pay attention, though, were the mafias in power. Much of what’s happening in Guatemala, El Salvador and Venezuela is taken right from Ortega’s playbook.
In contrast, we Nicaraguans are convinced that the deterioration of democracy in other countries is also a problem for us. It affects us. In the first place, because as the neighboring houses catch fire, the carbonized remains of ours unjustly ceases being of any interest to the rest. And, secondly, because the heads of government stop condemning Ortega when they find themselves using his methods to establish similar governments. Remember when Nayib Bukele called Ortega a dictator? Well, that’s not happening anymore.
What we must understand at this stage is that the problem of one is the problem of all It’s not a matter of giving or receiving solidarity, sympathizing with, or encouraging one another, but of defending ourselves by defending the others. God willing, the Venezuelan opposition will be better poised to get past the “Ortega manual” they want to use on them. I hope the popular will prevails in Guatemala, over those who seek to impose themselves through legalistic lies. Let’s hope the others see themselves in our mirror, and that electoral fraud and reelection doesn’t remain unquestioned. It’s just one rung on a ladder that leads to dictatorship. Sadly, we Nicaraguans know that.