Nicaragua’s Political Challenge for 2021

Change the rules?  What’s wrong with them? 

Some brief observations of the economy, the political culture and the short-term tendencies.

By Cirilo Antonio Otero (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – Nicaragua is a country that’s very rich in natural resources. It’s a nation dedicated to agricultural export production, with little internal market development. The year 2021 is an exceptional period, since general elections are scheduled. In view of that, I offer here some brief observations of the country’s economic, social, political and cultural situation. I’d also like to examine some clear tendencies.

Challenges for 2021

1- Nicaragua is governed by a modern style dictatorship, characterized by the State’s takeover of the judicial and legal framework. [The regime] controls all the State institutions, which have become organizations in the service of the governing group. They aren’t institutions.

2- The dictatorship has demonstrated that it won’t give ground, won’t negotiate, and won’t abandon political power in any civic way. It’s prepared to defraud the voters of the election results and turn them to their favor. They’re prepared to do this using violence and other means. Their style is silence and indifference. They ignore the social demands and live on appearances.

3- The dictatorship doesn’t have a valid counterpart for negotiations. This has become a pressing political challenge, for the country in general and the dictatorship in particular.

4- The economy is bankrupt, there’s no growth, and the principal economic activities appear paralyzed. Examples of this include: tourism, the free trade zones, direct foreign investment and agroexport production. All these activities show downward trends.

5- Civil society organizations and the political parties are disorganized and lack practice with political struggle. They also lack strategy and – above all – communication and understanding with society at large. They’re unable to mobilize the population for their opposition actions. In addition, there is little communication between political and civil society.

Nicaragua’s political culture

Nicaraguans’ political culture demonstrates habits that are little or not at all modern. They’re mired in their long-established practices in terms of a path to democracy and the practice of inclusion. Only a few sectors have traditionally participated in political decision-making or in administrating a government. I can safely affirm that Nicaraguan society suffers from social and political policies of exclusion. A national identity or social bonds are hard to distinguish. Values have disappeared across almost all the social strata.

In general, what has flourished most in Nicaraguan political culture is disparagement of the newly arisen social and political leadership. Apparently, we need to dedicate a lot more time to political experience and work. The practice of negotiating and reaching understanding among opponents is missing in our society. The political culture is generally based on authoritarianism and centralization. Both practices are charged with lies and distrust.

A lot of short-term idealism can be noted in Nicaraguans’ political beliefs. Hope for a miraculous solution to the country’s political situation runs rampant through society.

Political elements and their characteristics

            Classification of Nicaragua’s political class

Element Characteristics Actual role in Society
Social leadership Lots of talk and little action. They tend to be more reactive than strategically dynamic. They wish for a change in political power but don’t work towards that end. Little or no capacity for any political influence. More given to lamentations and descriptions of political and economic events and/or suffering. Mainly complaints. Little capacity for political action.
Political leadership and parties The political parties belong to individuals. They’re named by and identified with their owner, who commonly considers him- or herself the proprietor. There’s no party life nor construction of a philosophy. Little or no capacity for political impact. They’re patronage systems allied with the political power of the day. They seek personal and group benefits. They always expect perks and placements, with more interest in their take than in political philosophies. Philosophically, they exist in the shelter of the Catholic Church. They’d like the hierarchy of that institution to assume the solution of the nation’s political problems. They’re seriously burdened by the colonial heritage. 
Leadership of intellectuals and prominent individuals They speak up a lot, offer their opinions and await opportunities to promote their election candidacies. They believe themselves to represent more than what they actually do. They offer opinions and political solutions that are barely realistic or completely unrealistic. They dream of a Nicaragua that’s far from reality – a developed socioeconomic environment.

Original chart, developed by the author based on the behavior of the principal political actors.

Short term tendencies

The opposition organizations are not tending towards cooperating or unifying. Separatism is the central tendency. Apparently, each one believes their organization is the best vehicle for political action. Their discussions have little or no strategic or political quality. They’re a disorganized group.

After 2018, international aid groups and world political opinion demonstrated great concern for the human rand civil rights situation in Nicaragua. That concern has cooled off greatly. They haven’t managed to find a representative or valid counterpart for negotiating with and supporting the country.

It seems that the dictatorship is prepared to dominate the electoral process. They have no will to make constitutional or electoral reforms. In the end, they’re prepared to steal the election results in order to continue in political power. May 2021 is the deadline for them to offer substantial changes. There are no indications that this is going to be their political path.

What can be done?

1- Organized society must demand more from those who claim to represent them, and from their political leadership. They must demand coherent and strategic behaviors, actions that can succeed in creating political change. This should be a daily shout.

2- Social organization must be promoted in the neighborhoods, towns, departments, communities and localities. There must be social pressure from the country’s interior, without fear and without fables. Social problems should be denounced, and government solutions demanded. The dictatorship should be encircled by demands from society.

3.- From May through November 7th, society should participate actively in defense of the vote. This should be done by investigating and joining in on political and electoral activities. Citizens should be prepared to denounce acts that corrupt the transparency of the electoral process. Society should be mentally prepared for a new electoral fraud.

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times.


One thought on “Nicaragua’s Political Challenge for 2021

  • This is a good article. I have experience in working with the Nicaraguan government for last twenty years and agree it is not good. Very bad and very corrupt. They tried to extort money from me.

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