Nicaragua & Dialogue: Beware of the Dagger Hidden Amid the Flowers

Convoking a dialogue is nothing more than a game of smoke and mirrors. Up until now it’s the government that’s deciding the conditions with the demands left pending.

Protestors in Managua demanding the resignation of Daniel Ortega. Photo: Carlos Herrera / Confidencial


By Gioconda Belli  (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – It’s crucial these days to keep our eyes wide open as regards the government maneuverings to delegitimize the popular rebellion.

In the first place, the government plans to put an end to the protest which – once he found himself with his back against the wall – forced Daniel Ortega to call for a dialogue which the Catholic Church has agreed to mediate. Rosario Murillo speaks of the generosity of her comandante, “in favor of love and peace for the Nicaraguan families.” Functionaries express their regrets and their proposals to make amends; at last an interview is granted to an international media outlet. In short: the sheep’s clothing comes out on parade in order to cover up the wolf we’ve all just seen.

But convoking a dialogue is nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Up until now, it’s the government that has set the conditions, while the demands are still pending. There are still many disappeared and cadavers in several places. There can’t be a dialogue while these dead remain in drawers in the morgues. The Red Cross must have access. The families must be informed, the bodies need to be given over to their relatives without conditions, they must be buried. That’s the first thing.

Next, while the Catholic Church has accepted the role of mediators, those in the dialogue are others. It falls to society, to those who are still mobilized, to delegate their representatives and let the government know who they are. They must determine and agree on the rules and mechanisms of a dialogue, as well as the topics that will be covered. The Church, though it can well mediate, isn’t in a position to be the guarantor. That could only be an international organization with the capacity to impose measures in case the accords are violated. Thus, a commission from the United Nations must be invited and it’s the government who should issue this invitation.

Considering the importance of organizing these and other requirements for a true and serious negotiation, it’s obvious that time is needed. You can’t arbitrarily begin.   

Representatives of the 19th of April movement, at a press conference in Managua. Carlos Herrera / Confidencial.

A concerted and true effort can’t mean a stage setting of red-and-black Sandinista flags interspersed with the Nicaraguan blue and white ones with floral decorations, colored tablecloths and baskets of rosquillas our traditional biscuits. None of that show. Also, even if they’re not going to offer a live transmission, the sessions must be taped and the population must be kept informed about every session.

None of this is actually happening, rather, while the case for dialogue is being made, pay attention to the maneuvers being perpetrated in the Polytechnic University (UPOLI) which the students are still occupying in protest. Behind the initial surprise and confusion of their “Sandinista youth”, the machinery of deceit and lies to distort the student movement has already resumed. The cannons have been lined up against the image of the UPOLI as a center of resistance and an example of valor.

They’re already cobbled back together the UNEN, a student organization allied with the government and sent the members out to divide and seed confusion and distrust. These members have come out to say that the movement in the UPOLI wasn’t headed by students but by members of an opposing political party, the Sandinista Renovation Movement or MRS, whom they also accuse of being armed with 9 mm pistols and being responsible for various deaths. The act of involving the MRS uncovers the clumsiness of their maneuver. They refuse to believe that the enormous wave of repudiation has been self-convoked and they return to false accusations. The UNEN is the scorpion that they want to introduce under the shirt of this beautiful movement of self-convoked rebellious and conscientious youth.

The situation, now that all the threads of deceit, discord and manipulation have been set in motion, is very delicate. This government have given ample demonstration of their skill in setting up spider webs to trap the unwary. So – be on the alert, everyone. You don’t have to fall for those subterfuges. This power is full of tricks. Be clear that a dialogue with them won’t restore our democracy to us, nor bring back to us the country they kidnapped.

Maybe, as before a divorce, the step of a mediation is necessary. Monsignor Baez, will surely give it his best effort. But if you can predict the day from the weather the previous evening, I doubt that clear air will emerge.