The assassination of journalist and politician Pedro Joaquín Chamorro by the Somoza dictatorship in 1978 may have been the dictatorship’s last mistake, the one that precipitated its downfall. Today, the proscription and prosecution of his daughter Cristiana and three other candidates opposed to the Ortega regime may not only be another awkward step by Danielismo, but a prelude to its end. The situation in Nicaragua, however, is much more complex and cannot be simplified under the polarizing discourse that divides the country in two.
Since the return to power of Daniel Ortega in 2007, the values of the historic Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) have deteriorated to the point of making the government an authoritarian regime. Much of this trend is due to the attitude and decision of First Lady Rosario Murillo, who, taking advantage of her husband’s illness, put it aside with the old paintings by Daniel Ortega.
According to a former Sandinista, a personal friend of Daniel Ortega for decades, who asks for anonymity, there is no middle ground when it comes to the situation in Nicaragua. “Some people just repeat what the opposition says, others what the government supports. Few stop to reflect and analyze what is going on with an honest and true eye … because we know that politicians and other public figures will not do that.
While part of the left, the more orthodox, remains loyal to the regime and does not recognize the mistakes of the Ortega-Murillo government, as the authoritarian regime consolidates, a large sector of the right-wing opposition, in part represented by Cristiana Chamorro, “will continue to ignore their own history of abuse … They do not make explicit the real interests they defend, that is to say those of the local upper bourgeoisie”.
Another former Sandinista, journalist and broadcaster, now working for an international humanitarian NGO, who also asks that his name not be disclosed, claims that Danieism, with its opportunism, has supplanted the principles of historic Sandinista to work for personal, family and collective benefits. But he did not neglect his base, which he has always supported.
Rosario Murillo, known as “la Chayito”, also enjoys a broad base of support given his intense work for years in popular sectors of society. The Vice-President has endeavored to align the Sandinista youth with their personal goals, to which she has added her great influence on women’s organizations and those which bring together peasants. This is how an internal movement within the FSLN was formed.
OPPOSITION TO THE PLAN
On the other hand, Cristiana Chamorro, the influential journalist who has announced that she will run for the next presidential elections in November, belongs to a family with a long political and economic past – on condition of five Presidents of the Republic – and historically possesses the media, once almost monopolistic. And in this context, he defends the objectives of the class to which he belongs, that is to say the Nicaraguan upper bourgeoisie.
But what we are witnessing is not just a confrontation between the government and the Chamorro family. So far, three other opposition presidential candidates have been arrested. Arturo Cruz, accused of attacking Nicaraguan society, Juan Sebastián Chamorro — Cristiana’s cousin — and Félix Maradiaga, as well as several other opposition leaders.
The critical voices of the Ortega and Murillo government, however, are not limited to opposition candidates and the Nicaraguan upper middle class. Influential Sandinista personalities such as the former vice-president of Ortega in his first government (1985-1990), the writer Sergio Ramírez or the former member of the Sandinista revolutionary Junta, the poet and theologian Ernesto Cardenal (died in March 2020) or former Sandinista Commander Hugo Torres, as well as many other former allies, have denounced the regime’s growing authoritarianism in recent years.
In this context, while Daniel Ortega has distanced himself widely from historical leaders, Murillo, from his post of vice-president, undermined his power within the FSLN and the government, supplanting in his entourage the former executives close to Ortega .
According to some analysts, this support could be enough for the government to win the election, even without committing fraud. However, the insecurity and ambition of the regime itself led it to commit all kinds of abuses. Thus, the persecution of Cristiana Chamorro and other candidates and journalists is a response, not only authoritarian but also clumsy, that the government ends up applying to its competitors in a kind of law, a modality very widespread among Latin American governments. .
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