Demand full justice, put greater pressure on the regime, and commit ourselves to doing our part in the organized mobilization and resistance.
By Yaritzha Mairena (Confidencial)
The importance of honoring memory
HAVANA TIMES – A year ago, 50 political prisoners were released from jail to house arrest, a unilateral decision of a Government that found it convenient – because of international pressure – to create an image of political will. We were utilized by the regime to send a clear message from Ortega: “I am in control”.
In commemoration of this date that I’ll never forget, today I write. It serves as a catharsis for my reality, and a symbolic recognition of the struggle of my sister political prisoners: Nelly, Solange, Maria, Amaya, Patricia, Jamileth, Johana and Karla. All of them were with me on a hunger strike in Cell #4 a year ago.
The hunger strike began as a desperate measure to raise our voices and be heard from prison. In a phrase from one of the letters that we put out: “The only thing we’re sorry for is not having done enough.”
I constantly ask myself, “How can the others live with the blame? How can those who were left at the negotiating table live, knowing that they only served to give the dictatorship oxygen?” And yet these groups continue being the best accomplices of the effort to dismantle the civic resistance, opposing the calls for mobilization with the excuse of security.”
I experienced the tensions at the negotiating table with great difficulty a year ago. How quickly time passes. Around that table, they tried by all means to evade the calls to protest in the streets. At times I ask myself if they were conscious that their negation took hope away from many people.
I live constantly in the past so as not to forget. I remember the words, the gestures, the caresses and the blood. It’s incredible how many of us are called on to live by remembering. I recall March 15th of last year when I left prison, very distracted, confused and with a lot of grief. When they spoke to me, I only felt pain. The things that happened while I was a prisoner are lost images of a reality that touched me and changed me.
I’m was a prisoner, I’m not guilty. I was a prisoner, I didn’t find out, no one told me and no one consulted me. Not only the regime used us as pawns, we were released under the terms of a supposedly signed accord that in the end only benefitted the regime, even though from jail what we hoped for was justice for those killed.
Failed negotiation was all smoke and mirrors
What the negotiation achieved was to give Ortega and Murillo time and space to reconfigure their strategy of consolidating power, reinforce their discourse of hatred disguised as peace, and spread confusion with their supposed shows of willingness. It was smoke and mirrors, we said, but no one listened.
What purpose does this serve now? Well, I’m living in a reality I wasn’t part of for many months. It fell to me to accept that, at the second round of dialogue, people who hadn’t lived through what I lived through, nor asked me what I thought, signed agreements which imposed on me a way out.
Representation, imposition or resigned pragmatism?
I want to recall our communique of February 27, 2019, when together with other political prisoners, I began a hunger strike in the cell. Part of what we wrote was: “and under the complacent eye of the Civic Alliance, they have not been transparent, neither before nor during the dialogue, excluding sectors of importance and national impact.” We got the letter out with such difficulty that it was nearly lost, and all the same we were ignored. In the end, we had to live with what the others decided. We gave the Civic Alliance the “power of representation”, and there’s not much more to add.
One year after all this, the political prisoners continue suffering tortures and miseries without being heard. In the opposition’s bubble the only thing that fits is resigned pragmatism, imposing silence on all the organizations, and using secrecy and collusion to mold the decisions to their will. Every time someone tries to raise the topic of mobilizing to protest, they allege that it’s lunacy, and call all of us who think differently radicals.
I live with my guilt. Day by day, I question what I did. From May, when I joined the occupation at the UNAN, when I accepted being part of the Political Council of the National Blue and White Unity, when I decided to go to a meeting and not to drink coffee, I live constantly between the silence of my own thoughts and the noise of the chats. But I also live with the consciousness that my posture and my path have been clear since April: Ortega won’t go on his own, therefore we must get him out!
Reflections on the path
My path is justice, truth, reparations for the victims and a guarantee of No Repetition, because in Nicaragua we are suffering cycles of violence that can never be overcome without exterminating once and for all the culture of silence, of forgetting and of resignation.
My path is justice, because there can be no peace by burying the past alive. Nor can there be peace if we continue thinking that the decisions that take the least effort are the best.
The culture of silence and forgetting only benefit the de facto powers that have maintained the political and economic hegemony. They only benefit an elitist minority that has become comfortable living by exploitation and by the perpetual poverty of Nicaraguans.
Their resistance to change is clear. These people won’t ally themselves with the dictatorship because it’s unsustainable. They await the elections and the new government to continue imposing the traditional, exclusive and adultist politics that they’ve always promoted and defended.
The path of justice shouldn’t be cast to one side in the opposition agenda. We shouldn’t be willing to give a pass to the double standards of those who scorn the victims who speak out and generate pressure, but are sidelined because they question their absolutism.
The road to justice won’t be generated by itself after Ortega leaves. It can come only by guaranteeing that there is NO impunity for those responsible for the human rights violations and crimes against humanity.
The organized opposition should guarantee that the route of justice is fulfilled. If this doesn’t happen, it will be because they’ve entered into a pact to give impunity or legitimacy to the regime; that means they’re not opposition, as was the case with all the opportunistic parties that were accomplices.
Achieving justice isn’t easy, as it wasn’t in April. It falls on us to struggle without a rest, not to allow decisions to be made for us as in the past. We have a voice and every word has value. We’re not a people incapable of struggle, but our dispersion doesn’t let us see the road to follow. We must turn our eyes back on the past in order not to forget and recall our slogans, like an echo of the immovable emotion of wanting justice to arrive at a sustainable peace and close the cycles.
The critical route to dismantling the regime should be decided upon internally by the National Unity and the Civic Alliance with a view towards the great coalition. In passing, they should shake off the image of electoral politics that everyone sees. The correlation of forces can’t be changed by sitting down to wait for the regime’s good will, nor in discussions that don’t correlate with the devasting reality of a people who are suffering.
It’s a fact that ground-level organization and cohesion strengthens the opposition, but – What weakens the regime? What’s the plan to achieve the conditions that have been so talked about, and go towards elections?
A few weeks ago, the regime’s spokesperson stated to the Human Rights Council that there’ll be transparent and observed elections in 2021. Could it be that the regime already promised another truce, and the Alliance believes in that? Will the opposition permit Ortega and his following to realize more smoke and mirror tricks to dazzle them and shape circumstances in their favor?
It’s not so difficult to pressure for organized mobilization and civil disobedience that would allow the creation of sufficient internal pressure. But this shouldn’t just be left on paper nothing more, because it’s already been written. The actions and the committed leadership to confront the regime are lacking. In this, it’s the National Unity that has offered the proposals, but their lack of belligerence and inability to separate their strategies from the direction the Civic Alliance is taking has put the brakes on a countless number of attempts to give impetus to these actions.
We need to fight to have the necessary measures be applied at an international level. This means not only the sanctions, but also the application of the Democratic Charter’s articles on “democratic institutionality”. To date, none of these has been approved. The result of this would be a greater external pressure against the regime. Having the OAS oversee an electoral process in Nicaragua, be it by the unilateral petition of the regime or by a joint request from the regime and the opposition can’t be allowed for any reason unless adequate proceedings having been applied.
We should ask ourselves if we will allow the opposition to continue on its course of legitimizing, the Ortega state system through the elections, and also the criminal organization that is the Sandinista National Liberation Front. The criminal groups that the Nicaraguan State legitimized for operation clean-up came from the FSLN, and this organization can’t be considered a political party, but rather a terrorist organization, guilty of crimes against humanity and of a criminal nature, including genocide.
The path is to demand a guarantee of full and integral justice for the country, to demand greater pressure on the regime, to commit ourselves to fulfill our part in the organized mobilization and resistance. In the neighborhoods, the communities, the organizations and the virtual spaces we’ll continue the line of greater pressure for greater results.
The importance of honoring memory lies in not repeating the errors of the past. If there isn’t memory and justice then the precept of No Repetition can’t be guaranteed. We should be clear that the path to justice is something we all construct with the political decisions we make, and that before signing any accord, our representatives should be clear that they’re honoring the life and the blood of those who couldn’t raise their voice. As such they must do their part to repair the damage that this bloody dictatorship has done to those who survived.
Dismantling the regime and its rotten system won’t be easy, but when we look back at the past, the blame and the disillusion won’t be present.
*The author is a former political prisoner.