Most Nicaraguans Are Independents: What Can We Do?

A polling place during Nicaragua’s 2016 general elections. Photo: Confidencial / Archives

We should have unmasked that feigned opposition some time ago. They are only waiting for someone to toss them a bone. We need to be talking with ordinary Nicaraguans.

By Ligia Gomez (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – The mechanisms for perpetuating poverty are similar to those currently being employed to perpetuate the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. They both depend on a patronage system.

If we look at the communities, there are groups in each that don’t cooperate with each other; because they’re from different religions, for example, or occupy different social positions. Nonetheless, every group maintains some relationship with the local power sources. Each sector relates separately to this power, be it the local government, local businesses owners, religious leaders, or organizations that offer economic aid or access to services and resources.

Each one of them tries to stay on good terms with anyone in a better position than themselves. They do so in order to get favors: like a job, a lift in their vehicles if they’re sick, a loan for emergencies, and other things.

That lack of cooperation between equals is instilled like a curse among those who have little political or economic power. That mechanism is the basis of the Ortega-Murillo strategy for perpetuating themselves in power.

The Citizens for Liberty Party (CxL) never had the intention of negotiating with its peers. Its task is to negotiate with the boss for the main dish, the legislative seats. They’ve never been playing to defeat Ortega, only to end up in his good graces.

CxL doesn’t care if there are election observers or not, because their slice has already been negotiated. Their precandidates and allies are seeking a seat in the National Assembly or the Central American Parliament. Don’t think it’s for the salary – it’s for the position of power that sitting down to divide up the pie brings with it.

That is how the machinery of economic and political power works in Nicaragua. “Like a big farm, with groups of colonists squatting there.”  What’s left for the rest of us? Mere survival – that’s the general sense of ordinary Nicaraguans. And that’s where the strategy of not cooperating with each other creeps in.

What could change that machinery is to make the democratic rule of law function, plain and simple. But what can we do to have our vote respected? A vote that, of course, wouldn’t be going to that hierarchy which negotiated with Ortega through messages.

What can we do to really have free elections, without the fear of paramilitary attacking us? Or of the official vote counts being altered after they’ve been verified and signed at the polling places? What can we do to get real electoral observation?

If we stand with our arms crossed, we’ve already lost. Nicaragua sinks further into disaster and blood.

The answer begins with informing the population, so that they don’t support pacts to distribute favors. If they take a look, they’ll find out that the concerns of the CxL party and their allies is the same as the FSLN position. The only thing that matters for them now is for people to go and vote, to legitimize their under-the-table deal. However, that won’t guarantee any end to the dictatorship.

We should have unmasked that feigned opposition some time ago. They’re only waiting around to be tossed a bone, as we Nicas say. One thing this so-called opposition can’t do is talk with ordinary Nicaraguans, since no one believes them anymore. CxL won’t go to that level, because they won’t lower themselves to give their valuable time to those insignificant people.

That’s the first step. We must communicate clearly through media like the radio. The poor don’t have internet, and can’t buy newspapers. We should communicate through the community leaders, the parishes, the pastors and the local businesspeople, the small groceries and the schools. We’re 70% of the population [those who don’t identify with the Sandinistas] and we can’t let a handful of people rob us of our rights.

Instead of continuing to wear ourselves out seeking alliances with those who we already know aren’t interested, let’s dedicate ourselves to taking advantage of the few spaces left us. Let’s work on registering the candidates with the most popular support, and forget a false unity with those who consider themselves as already holding a piece of the pie.

We must guarantee electoral observation, by organizing ourselves in every polling place. Get each final vote count posted on social media, as soon as it’s finalized. Let’s get our people out to vote by going house to house. So we all go to vote at the same time, early and without fear. Let that day be a civic festival for Nicaragua, but let us also guarantee that we’re caring for the vote by bringing food to our poll-watchers and staying involved in the proceedings until the end.

Although 70% of our businesses are in the hands of ordinary Nicaraguans, the large business magnates think – like Ortega – that they own Nicaragua. However, they don’t own our votes. CxL represents that economic power, one that doesn’t care about the poor masses they underestimate and barely glance over their shoulders at.

The truth is that in November, power will return to the sovereign people. If we organize in the inner regions of the country, and those of us who are outside demand the accompaniment of the international community, we’ll succeed in having our decision to get out of the dictatorship respected.

If we manage to have our vote respected, no pact with Ortega can win the election. As you see, the mechanism for perpetuating the dictatorship employs the same mechanisms used to perpetuate poverty in the country.

We Nicas need to stop accepting being treated as colonists, without land and without rights. If we can nominate candidates who have popular support, let’s do so, and then, let’s have that vote and defend it inch by inch.

They want a repeat of the Venezuelan elections, where only the Ortega’s and their allies come out well. But remember, we must forge ties of cooperation here between everyday citizens. The monarch has the power, but in November, the people have that power in their hands. The population must have a real option to vote for.

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