Someone Writes to Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega

Students demanding an end to the repression at the initial session of the now suspended National Dialogue on May 16th. Photo: Jorge Torres / EFE


A negotiation or political dialogue between excluding positions is never a process leading to agreement.


By Fernando Barcenas (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – Can anyone imagine a letter to open a dialogue with Somoza after his clean-up operations? No. Because the people were perfectly clear, since 1978, that Somoza should be removed from power, and that his exit, even if negotiated, was not going to be the result of logical reasoning or good wishes, but of struggle, correlation of forces, and strategy.

The struggle for freedom does not seek agreements with tyranny

Whoever had appealed to Somoza´s good feelings to find a sensible way out, would have to capitulate politically because he would make the masses believe that a solution was possible without struggle, without any mobilization against the dictatorial regime. Such a person would induce a step back from the most advanced politically conscious masses, who had already awakened to their direct participation in different forms of mobilization for their political rights.

The opportunity for change, now, is as important and unique that we have to be critically rigorous in order not to lose it.

The Civic Alliance, in spite of the respect that its naïve patriotic intention provokes, has written a politically deplorable letter to Ortega, to seek —says the letter— agreements with the regime. Democracy and dictatorship cannot be in agreement. A negotiation or political dialogue between excluding positions is never a process to reach agreements. In an alliance you seek to be in agreement, in a political negotiation you do not. A negotiation defines the limits of the reciprocal interests confronted, in a contradictory and changing reality that, invariably, will later displace the objective basis of such agreed limits. Furthermore, between criminals and victims there cannot be agreements, although there could be a negotiation, depending on the circumstances.

The objective of a progressive political negotiation is to snatch from the counterpart mobilization spaces for its own growth

Much to his regret, Ortega is forced to readjust his regime to the evolution of the crisis. The objective of the negotiation is to regulate the political spaces that Ortega, because of the growing crisis, must yield to the mobilizing citizenship. The quality of these spaces depends on the conquest, on the part of citizens, of new political rights, which belong to them because they had been arbitrarily usurped. Each conquered space is a strategic platform for new gains.

A dictatorship is not a violent environment, but an expression of an oppressive policy

We are concerned, says the letter to Ortega, that the atmosphere of violence continues indefinitely. There is no atmosphere of violence. What exists is a violent policy by the dictatorship. Now it is no longer believed that Ortega will only last, as Yeats would say, just as long as it takes a handkerchief to fall. What worries me, then, is the Ortega dictatorship and its murderous policy against society.

The differences should not be resolved, what must be resolved is the oppression

The route of the National Dialogue, says the letter to Ortega, is the most convenient for Nicaraguans to resolve their differences. But our differences won’t resolved through negotiation. The differences with Ortega may possibly remain or, probably, will deepen as the people gain more political rights.

With the route of dialogue, says the letter to Ortega, we will find a path that unite us in giving answers to the aspirations that we all long for. However, the people do not want to join with Ortega. Neither can the National Dialogue provide answers to the aspirations of the citizens in unity with the dictatorship.

Ortega is not an agent of change; he is an obstacle to the consolidation of the nation

The letter asks Ortega to commit himself to provide peace and security for the entire Nicaraguan family. But peace and security of Nicaraguans does not depend on Ortega, to the contrary, his leaving power does. It would seem that with the dialogue, as if it were a potion, Ortega will go through an inverse transformation: from the evil Mr. Hyde to the good Dr. Jekyll. At least, the letter makes us believe that such a transformation of Ortega could be possible through the dialogue.

Finally, the letter asks Ortega to reinstate the national dialogue to stop violence; call for early elections; free political prisoners; establish an environment conducive for work, peace, social harmony and adherence to the law; end the criminalization of the protests and the land-takeovers; and the dissolution of paramilitary groups.

The Alliance does not know what a negotiation is. It asks the adversary to come back to the negotiating table, as if in his own interest he should spontaneously grant everything that his opponent wishes to achieve.

A Blue and White Provisional Government

How has the political situation change? That is, what new political subjects have appeared on the scene, and which ones have been exhausted in the current circumstances? What limitation did the preceding dialogue (in May and June) have and why did it fail? How has the correlation of forces changed? Where has the political initiative shifted in the current confrontation? Which are the new slogans and new forms of struggle?

The slogan of a Provisional Government, made up by delegates from the combatants of a broad Blue and White Movement (including, among others, Medardo Mairena in one of Ortega’s prisons), is not a revolutionary postulate that should be presented simply to show a progressive ideological stance. That is not the way slogans function. That’s to say, no slogan is revolutionary by itself. That is a childish vision. At present, there is a power vacuum that keeps expanding as Ortega loses legitimacy at the international level. What makes a slogan necessary as an alternative power, is that it contributes to consolidate a political stance of mass struggle.

The political situation has changed in two ways. First, it has changed negatively because Ortega took away from the masses the power spaces that they have gained in the first stage. And, because for now, he has managed to disorganize the resistance, by way of the massacre of its leaders in the barricades, and by the implacable persecution to drive them out of the country or by throwing them in prison, causing the masses to adopt a defensive tactic.

After that, the political situation changed positively, because Ortega with the repression isolated himself at the international level. This aggravated the objective conditions of an irreversible economic crisis, which acquires a political expression unfavorable to Ortega due to his confrontation with international law.

The pressure against Ortega has shifted to the international level

In this new political situation, the weight of the pressure against Ortega has shifted away from the national level, the roadblocks and barricades; to the international level, where Ortega made a lot of major strategic mistakes. Ortega is advancing towards his international rejection as a legitimate government.

However, the power of the masses, which was reflected in the barricades and that has been overcome militarily, must now take advantage of the international sphere, where the constitutional legality of the Ortega Government has been weakened. A relative vacuum of power is created, which must immediately be filled by the mass movement as an alternative of a democratic transition. What is revolutionary is not the content of the transition, constitutional or not, but the independent mobilization of the masses to conquer freedom with their own hands.

A Political Alternative to Power

International pressure against the Ortega government cannot continue if at the national level there is no alternative that prevents anarchy, and that organically encloses the embryo of a new and progressive legal order.

As Ortega sinks into isolation, the people in struggle must build an alternative to power that could be recognized internationally as an organized belligerent force. The negotiation, then, inevitably must be between the decadent regime and the national organization that breaks through as a belligerent force.

Any agreements with the dictatorship, even if reached behind closed doors, must be submitted immediately to a national referendum by the provisional government for its approval or rejection by the people.

The Political Struggle is a Conflict of Opposing Interests

The letter to Ortega, where the Alliance requests the resumption of the dialogue, not responding to any pressure, but based simply on Ortega’s good will, completely ignores the absolutist, antidemocratic and criminal characteristics of Ortega’s regime, and reveals their own limitations and weaknesses in the analysis of the reality of the political struggle.

Nothing in politics depends on the goodwill of any of the parties; but on the analysis of interests and the possibilities of asserting yourself in concrete circumstances to the opposing interests. Consequently, any negotiation is the product of your ability to fight and the perspectives and possibilities of each position, at different times.

The crisis, which extends to the productive process in an invalidating way, as a degenerative paralysis of the nervous system, will force Ortega to move up the elections.

The provisional government could agree with the international community credible regulations of an early electoral process, which should be imposed on Ortega at the negotiating table. For which, it is an essential precondition to impose on Ortega both the immediate release of political prisoners and the immediate dissolution of paramilitary groups.

Simultaneous with the negotiation, the provisional government must centrally organize the immediate electoral campaign against Ortega, to create a new legitimately elected government to undertake democratization and the libertarian reconstruction of the country. However, that is not the subject of this article.

*The author is an electrical engineer.