Nicaragua: Loyalty to the Ortega Dynasty?

Ortega’s chosen running mate in this electoral farce is his eternally loyal wife Rosario Murillo (l).
Ortega’s chosen running mate in this electoral farce is his eternally loyal wife Rosario Murillo (l).  File photo from a July 19 anniversary celebration: Confidencial

By Fernando Barcenas  (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – The immediate reaction to the moral collapse evidenced by the Ortega government in Nicaragua is a growing political apathy among the population.  Nevertheless, although it may seem contradictory, this represents a delusive preface to a phase of fluctuation already latent in the struggles of the masses.

Some sectors of the population, faced with the pretentious demagoguery of this regime, have turned inwards, like the fingers of the hand when it instinctively closes into a fist before an imminent danger.  On the surface, the polls indicate that the population doesn’t want to know anything about politics.  And, effectively, a large sector of the population – some 45 percent, representing those with the most advanced awareness – have stopped believing in traditional politics. They no longer trust electoral parties, nor the Ortega government, and they’re disposed to fight directly for their immediate interests, even in a fragmented and disperse way. Especially now that an economic crisis is quietly showing its face.

Sailors call this deceptive calm “a brief lull” and know from terrible experience that it precedes the storm.  The sea is like a board in this prelude, and the wind seems to hold its breath around the embarking vessel.

In order to catch a glimpse of the country’s probable political future, we need to focus our eyes more closely on the signals of the sea, from which vantage point the divisions and political controversies have been pictured simplistically as boats in a shipwreck, or in a cruder image as rats jumping ship to save themselves.

The rise of struggle

To the powers that be, the apathy visible on the surface seems to mark the political success of their domination.  Ortega happily views that apathy as silent support for his conceited messianic pretentions: “You take care of it!”  “Do as you wish!” “We’ll attend to our immediate problems.”

As if Nicaraguan workers didn’t have to confront the government’s policies in order to solve their immediate problems in the face of a continually deteriorating critical juncture. Such direct intervention of the masses is the current tendency. Fearing this, Ortega restricts the parliament seats.  He doesn’t want anyone else inside the gates, except for the servile loyal opposition and obsequious sheep.  All despots on the defensive before predictable confrontations first eliminate what could be considered the fifth columns within their walls.

Electoral abstention, Ortega’s intentional objective

Political apathy has no party frontiers and by the law of entropy this cultural manifestation is sprinkled freely throughout the population.  Among the Ortega grassroots, hundreds of thousands of young people recruited to march in the carnival parade, dance in the public plazas, jump up and down, and appear en masse in the virtual stadiums to watch the soccer game, have no interest in the Ortega politics.  Moreover, they have no predisposition to actively trample the rule of law.  They’re not even interested – although they unthinkingly support Ortega – in voting for him in the elections.  These apathetic Ortega supporters have no reason to fight.

The hard core, those militants with the mystique of historic struggle who are actively unconditional in support of Ortega, constitute a consistent minority, but in the end they’re a minority of the population. They represent a substantial force for direct struggle, but are relatively unimportant in the balance sheet of a formal democracy.  Working from that perspective, Ortega prefers to handle the confrontations on the level of direct struggle, which he’s already prepared for.

The family as presidential formula in an unopposed electoral process

Now he faces the elections with fear, and with no resources to buy off consciences.  His preferred territory for the defense of power isn’t the electoral arena, which impedes the physical movement of his combat apparatus. As a result this electoral process is without opponents; these have been illegally eliminated under his orders. The process evolves in silence, so that his hard core can be amplified percentage-wise in the ballot boxes, in the face of the general passivity. Electoral abstention or the null vote of those who oppose him is his immediate and deliberate tactic to conclude the electoral farce with a high percentage of the vote.

The running mate that Ortega has chosen for this electoral farce is his eternally loyal wife. With this step, he believes that he is consolidating a dynastic monarchy, when, instead, it represents a return to the most anachronistic absolutism. That is, it appears to give more institutional credibility to the de facto family power, but in fact the electoral farce and such unparalleled nepotism impoverishes that credibility. In one blow, Ortega has reduced the legitimacy of his regime. A conjugal pair in the apex of political power in the style of Ceau?escu represents an ideologically unacceptable nepotism.

Ortega underestimates the role of ideology in the justification of his power as the nation’s representative.  Nepotism, instead of lawfully guaranteeing the family succession in a critical juncture, can abruptly radicalize the need to eliminate absolute power by the roots, by means of actions. The slogan of “Down with the dynasty!” could have an immediate mobilizing impact.  It could represent a unique opportunity to normalize the country.

In this case, Ortega would have fallen into his own trap.  He would be trusting the endurance of his regime to a political inheritance rooted in a delegitimized electoral process, a process that he himself has disaccredited through his predilection for direct confrontation. In this way he knows perfectly well that the dynastic succession will leave his family to inherit all hell.

The opposition calls for abstention – as Ortega wishes

The electoral opposition, obsessed with the elections, limit themselves to calling on their followers to abstain from voting.

The struggle, when it’s the work of the masses, flows easily from one form to the other if the contradictions sharpen and the nature of the confrontations go beyond the initial methods.  Practice teaches us that the right tools are the best way to carry out a task. Often, those tools have to be designed, or improvised to realize the practical work.  This lesson from the work world causes the workers to recoil with disdain from those who – in the name of civilization – want to confront the Ortega dictatorship exclusively through electoral activity.

Loyalty to Ortega?

In his July 19th speech, Ortega utilized a slanted concept of loyalty to condemn the position of his Sandinista adversaries, calling them rats.  Anyone could ask the question – loyalty to what? Loyalty to the Ortega family is the unstated idea, because he believes that his family is the embodiment of Sandino and the revolution. Right there we note the sign of a pathological distortion of reality.

For conscientious revolutionaries, the only loyalty is to the socialist principles that are methodologically expressed through the political orientations and the evolving context of each concrete political situation. Loyalty to principles can only be given to a political tactic formulated to be consequent with the theory of historic transformation. Hence, the debate among revolutionaries must center on the political program that the party advances within society, as the result of the methodological principles that determine the class nature of the party.  This unity between theory and practice is the revolutionary praxis.

In terms of the mass struggle, a unified workers movement must be developed to overturn the dictatorship.  In this territory of direct struggle, Ortega surpassed the Liberal party in the power struggle.  However, the strategic change this time puts him on the defensive, and the social deterioration stemming from the objective crisis is working against him.

*Electrical engineer