How Unity Became a “Dirty Word” in Nicaragua

In Fine Print

By Fabian Medina (La Prensa)


All of a sudden nobody was talking about unity. Remember three years ago when everybody, or almost everybody, was clear that for any change to happen in Nicaragua, unity, among everybody or almost everybody who wanted change, was indispensable. Those on the right, those in the center, and those on the left knew it. Above all, Daniel Ortega and his people knew it. Then came the differences, which, they say, is normal in a democratic setting. Next came the insults. And that’s when things got ugly. Unity became a dirty word for some, until it finally got to a point where it seemed that the main goal of the opposition was to destroy any possibility of unity even when it meant its death. A suicide difficult to explain.

Own Goal

I’m not denying that Daniel Ortega played his part. Destroying unity was very important to the Ortega regime, similar to the vehemence with which some individuals and opposition groups fought against it. From Ortega’s vantage point, animosity towards a unified opposition is totally understandable. But from the opposition’s vantage point, at least for me, it was incomprehensible. It was like a soccer team being more interested in getting more goals in its own goal than in that of its rival.


Obviously, there were, and are, many agents of the regime infiltrated as government opponents. That’s no surprise. But there were also, and still are, government opponents who believe, in good faith, that they should be selective. Perhaps because of the very same premise with which I began this paragraph. Many believed that the group left standing would round up all the discontent that exists against the Ortega regime. So, what’s the point of sharing the victory with the others when they could take it all, and with their own kind create the kind of country that they want? Fairy tales.

The Road

I return to this subject at the risk of being repetitive, because I believe that unity isn’t just about the elections. Unity is essential to resolving the crisis we are living in Nicaragua. It is a matter of acknowledging our legitimate differences and finding our commonality in order to establish channels of communication that will allow us to build a road to the Nicaragua we desire. With all of these differences. Unity is not the solution to problems. It is the road, the means, to finding solutions.


A well-informed friend told me that Daniel Ortega’s unanticipated offensive against the opposition [since the end of May] was largely because the most important opposition groups were, at the last minute, willing to get off their high horses, put away their rocks, and make it to the elections with a position, if not unified, at least coordinated: under the only remaining ballot option, that of the Citizens for Liberty (CxL), with a single candidate backed by all, or, together they would all boycott the election. There were conversations. This, according to my friend, terrified Ortega and forced him to pull out all the stops and resort to an earlier plan he had for an extreme situation: eliminate the opposition parties and throw the candidates running against him in jail, in order to wind up holding an election with him as the only option.


The latter, however, does not settle the opposition’s debt. Unity of opposition groups was necessary for establishing a balance of power that would prevent, or at least contain, Ortega and everything he has done. If Nicaragua is the way it is now, it is mainly because the regime is willing to do anything to stay in power, But also because there was no unified opposition to challenge him. And this, rather than ideological disagreements, was determined by inflamed egos and personal ambitions,


One would hope that by now the lesson would have been learned. That the price paid for miscalculations is too great to continue along the same lines. Look no further than how many leaders with different ideas, supposedly irreconcilable, wound up together in El Chipote. Unity is still indispensable for building a different Nicaragua. And it must be said over and over again. Even at the risk of being repetitive, and even at the risk of upsetting the “anti-unity” folks. It still bothers the regime. We have to talk about unity again. It has to stop being a “dirty word.” Because if it bothers the regime, it is highly probable it is for a reason.

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times.