Nicaragua’s Main Opposition Groups Must Work it Out

The crisis of the National Coalition, is it time to turn off the lights and pick-up the bats?

By Enrique Saenz (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – To defeat the Ortega regime a political alliance is required that brings together the forces in Nicaragua effectively committed to democratic change. That is something we all know. To promote a process of democratic transformations, with justice, respect for the law, the rights and freedoms of citizens, and promote measures to overcome the socioeconomic crisis.

But which are the forces actually committed to democracy?

When the will to create the National Coalition was announced on February 25, a document was signed that stated the following.

“In this coalition we have a purpose, a shared vision of the country, with principles and ethical values that commit its members to depose personal interests and work for a Nicaragua with freedom, justice, security, prosperity and democracy. A National Coalition that practices a new way of doing politics…”

Since then, almost six months have passed and one can ask and answer at the same time. Ethical values? Shared vision of the country? Did the members of the Coalition keep their promise to lay down personal interests? No, they did exactly the opposite.

What went wrong?

One can ask, and answer at the same time, have they practiced a new way of doing politics? No. They have repeated exactly the same flawed ways of doing politics.

The February declaration closed with a hopeful phrase. The signatories proclaimed: “This is the moment for putting Nicaragua first, here and now.”

After six months the result is that they did not even place Nicaragua above their group interests. And the here, and the now, they changed to “who knows when.” In plain terms, they didn’t keep their word.

After six months they have not even agreed on how they are going to agree. Thus, it is easy to imagine what would happen when the time comes to discuss candidacies, select a ticket and campaign fund management. Likewise, the red lines that separate democratic elections from an electoral farse, the decision to participate, or not, in a circus orchestrated by Ortega. This is just to mention some issues that lie ahead.

If past performance is any indication, common sense leads to the conclusion that the National Coalition, in its current configuration, is simply not the alliance that expresses the interests of the majority of Nicaraguans, nor the political force with the capacity to dispute and seize power from Ortega.

Mixing apples and oranges

To acknowledge these facts does not mean being against anyone in particular. Least of all, to be against the unity of the democratic forces. To the contrary. At this stage of the game, to continue with half measures, hiding realities, is to fall into the nets of complicity.

There is a well-known saying that advises not to confuse apples and oranges. At the end it is neither one.

This is what happens when you mix political parties and personalities characterized for making politics a competition of deception with social or neophyte organizations that are new to the political process.

In this way we have entered into some sort of political schizophrenia. Those who are, don’t want to be; and, those who are not, strive to impose that they are.

Thus, while the Civic Alliance and the Blue and White Unity do not consider themselves as power options, the traditional political parties, including Ortega’s partners, who lack all legitimacy, came out of the garbage can directly to sit in the living room, with their smugness and bragging.

If the consequences of these games and tricks only affected the members of these organizations it wouldn’t matter. The problem is that there are millions of Nicaraguans who suffer every day the ravages of the social and economic crisis now aggravated by the pandemic. There are also tens of thousands of exiles, persecuted and imprisoned.

By repeating the same evils of the past, they crush the hopes of building a better future.

What’s Next?

The next question to ask ourselves is whether there is a solution.

The answer is yes. We are still in time. I have talked these past weeks with many people and heard many voices. In general, there is a basic agreement.

The Civic Alliance and the Blue and White National Unity made a capital mistake by abruptly mixing with traditional political parties. Rectifying this error is a matter of life and death, literally.

And rectifying means leaving behind the traditional political parties and the hollow National Coalition, while becoming the basic nucleus for the social and political forces effectively committed to democratic change.

The international community? Let’s be clear: governments are driven primarily by interests, by realities, not by sympathies or antipathies. If a coherent force can be articulated, with respectable and capable leadership, willing to challenge the regime for power, and backed by the majority of the population, that force will receive the determined support of governments and international organizations.

For now, the Civic Alliance and the Blue and White National Unity remain the depositories of the legacy of the April rebellion. They can and must, as soon as possible, reach agreement on the following points:

  • The electoral conditions necessary for democratic elections.
  • A strategy to pressure Ortega, nationally and internationally, in order for these conditions to materialize.
  • A pragmatic platform that summarizes the basic consensus on the economic, political and social transformations that are essential to set the country on the path of democracy and prosperity.
  • An action plan that articulates the current burdens of the population in economic and social matters, with the aspiration for political change.
  • Democratic mechanisms for decision making.

If they are not able to make and apply those decisions, the only way forward is to turn off the lights, pick up the bats and try to assemble another team.