Act One: Nicaragua in January 2017

By Gioconda Belli  (Confidencial)

After the investiture.  Rosario and Daniel have reached a level of self-deification, which is very serious for all of us. Photo: The Presidency

HAVANA TIMES – This year has begun with gusts of wind and storm clouds, as if nature were echoing the political events that we’re witnessing. The new National Assembly session is being inaugurated for a Congress designed and anointed by Daniel Ortega with Gustavo Porras as president – a president as inadequate as he is unexpected – and the winds cause a blackout across the country.

The new government, elected by a minority of citizens amid the indifference or repudiation of the majority, is being installed, and not even the profusion of flowers can cover up the world’s condemnation, expressed in the very sparse presence of foreign heads of state.

Only in the series “House of Cards”, where an unscrupulous couple comes to occupy the Presidency and Vice Presidency of the United States through a political career full of abuse, dirty tricks and even assassination, have we seen a couple dare to propose themselves as President and Vice President of a country and get their way.  During the public nomination ceremony, it was truly surrealistic to watch the Ortega-Murillo couple proclaim themselves as sovereign rulers of a nation darkened by thousands of deaths of patriots who fought against a family dynasty.

It caused nothing less than the shivers to see husband and wife celebrating “the victory” of an electoral exercise whose results were assured from the beginning when they twisted the rules of the game to guarantee a win, not only of the executive power but also of an absolutely submissive Legislative Assembly.

“Thank God” proclaim the signs that have been celebrating the “Times of Victories” since months before the election. Triumphant billboards which demonstrated even back then the state of affairs that has been imposed on us: Señora Murillo as a protagonist alongside her husband, both posed as if they had been anointed from above to govern as a couple.

Out of respect for what God represents for so many, I can’t help but be shocked at this “Thank God” plastered on the billboards.  The gratitude can be read in two ways.  It insinuates that the couple’s power stems from a divine act, when it’s well known that nothing at all was left to God’s will in this process.  In the same way, during the inauguration, I was shocked by the lack of respect for our poor, much maligned Constitution implied by the Vice President’s gratuitous amendment to the oath that it mandates for the President and Vice President.

This couple values so little the written contents of our Carta Magna that – with an arrogance really without precedent – they wrote an oath exclusively for themselves. Our now brand-new Vice President, like a medieval queen, dared to change the simple phrase “yes, I swear” which it behooved her to pronounce into “I swear with the power of God, entrusting myself to God and the Nicaraguan people who accompany us.”

What was that about, Señora? Swearing “with the power of God”?  I’ve already written once that the Ortega-Murillo clan holds a monarchical vision of their power. This couldn’t be a greater confirmation. Only royalty thinks that their power derives from above and resides directly in their family.

That’s why the line of family succession exists.  Rosario and Daniel have now arrived at that same level of self-deification, something that is very serious for all of us.  As a political party, the FSLN has stopped looking towards their executive organs to make collective decisions and limit the leaders’ attributions.  In their vision “with the power of God”, the couple resembles Luis XIV: they are the State, they are the Party, they are Nicaragua and its people, and what they think is the Truth.

The cynicism with which the President, designated by his fellows, spoke that night really seemed to come from an anthology of literature. In the first place, he tried to be magnanimous and feminist, stating that women “no longer have adhesive tape over their mouths” (no sir, it’s been a while since we’ve had that).  Then, like a good patriarch, in the very next phrase he “ordered” his wife to speak, without considering that as an organized woman she might not have wanted to find herself at that instant obliged to improvise.  She had no recourse to fall back on, except to return to the language of her noonday radio broadcasts, full of admonitions and the affected religious sweetness which is so exaggerated that it would pass as artificial even in a character from Latin American magical realism.

But this was nothing compared to the scatter and lack of substance in her husband’s speech. He went to the podium armed with folders and papers, but as often happens he didn’t make use of any of the materials that surely had been prepared for him with a great deal of work and dedication. He should have offered a summary of his past policies and spoken about the great achievements that he hopes to attain, achievements so important that he has considered it pertinent and necessary for the good of the country to prescribe another five years for himself.  Instead, he returned to the past, as is now his usual custom, perhaps because it was the epoch when he still felt like a revolutionary. Clearly his heart doesn’t totally deceive him.

That’s how the year has begun in Nicaragua.  Let’s hope that the little worms aren’t telling Pedro Joaquin Chamorro about what happened on the day that his death was commemorated, the death that formed the spark that ended the dynastic power of a family.


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