The Citizens Alliance, integrated by the Citizens for Liberty party (CxL) and the Civic Alliance, announced the reopening of the registration of presidential aspiring candidates in the context of the growing repression of the regime against the opposition, but on Sunday, May 30, Kitty Monterrey, president of CxL, said that they must request their participation in a formal way before June 3 and not through social networks.
In an extensive interview on the Esta Semana program, Monterrey said that although she “did not necessarily agree with reopening the process”, this was decided by the majority in the Alliance’s Liaison Committee.
The president of CxL indicated that through surveys, debates, and evaluation of trajectories, the internal competition mechanism agreed on the four aspiring candidates already registered —Juan Sebastián Chamorro, Arturo Cruz, Noel Vidaurre, and Américo Treminio— which “is not subject to revision”.
The opening for other aspiring candidates who were registered in the National Coalition, such as Félix Maradiaga, Medardo Mairena and Luis Fley, and independent candidates such as Cristiana Chamorro, does not imply an alliance with political movements, because there are no longer parties in the Coalition, said Monterrey. She called on the civic movements to join the Citizens’ Alliance through the Civic Alliance. “How do they integrate? That is something they should discuss among themselves,” she said.
Monterrey revealed that the selection of candidates for deputies will be made through a “primary type” internal competition, using a closed list of the CxL party, in which the party’s allies will be able to run, and vote through a technological platform that they are designing.
Regarding the risk of an eventual cancellation of CxL’s legal status by becoming the only opposition party and as a retaliation of the regime for its policy of openness, Monterrey said: “I cannot tell you what is on Daniel Ortega’s mind, but we are not going to stop doing what we have to do for fear of Ortega”.
In the last two weeks, the country has experienced a hardening of the police siege; the PRD was stripped of its legal status, which would be the ballot box of the Coalition; then came the assault against CONFIDENCIAL; the process of alleged money laundering against aspiring candidate Cristiana Chamorro; and now there are dozens of journalists under investigation. How does the Citizens’ Alliance assess the consequences of this repressive escalation?
I believe that this is one more blow from the dictatorship for all Nicaraguans, the escalation of repression has been on the rise and puts us all in an extremely complex situation, facing an electoral process where there are no guarantees.
In the Alianza Ciudadana we are extremely worried because if this continues, the question is, will there really be elections? We ourselves are constantly under siege, me personally, the members of the party; the headquarters in Managua are under surveillance, surrounded by police; ID cards are required even to enter, they take pictures of you; in other words, we cannot hold meetings; our aspiring candidates cannot even leave Managua.
We are living through an extremely complex situation, which is going to lead us to have to make serious decisions at some point, and when I say serious is, well, will there really be a process in which we should participate or not? That is a reality that we are going to have to face….
Can the Civic Alliance alone defeat Ortega under these conditions, with this repressive escalation? Can it open to the participation of other political forces that are already excluded from the electoral process, because they eliminated the PRD box?
The Civic Alliance is always our counterpart, as representative of civil society. We as a political party have a legal alliance, duly registered in the Council, with Pamuc; then, those forces that are not political parties, because there are no more that could be part of this opposition, then they would have to turn to the Civic Alliance, which is where this representation is really agglutinated. How are they integrated? That is something that should be discussed among them.
I know that the ideological issue is thorny for many people, but we are a party that is strongly composed of rural affiliates, peasants, and above all, ex-contras. Any rapprochement with a movement that is publicly known to be of the left wing, would subtract an enormous force from all that corridor of the contras, who have a very recent history of victims, of their relatives, of their dead. So, it is not that we want to exclude, these are realities in which the country lives; and if you refer, even, to the organizations that make up the UNAB, I see that they had a vote for the purpose of electing their aspiring candidates, and what percentage does 300 people represent of an electoral roll that may be four million? And if that is going to subtract from us, that is, form a sector, which is the majority, then I believe that the decision is more than obvious.
Are the doors open for the participation of aspiring candidates who were registered in the National Coalition, and others who were not registered in either of the two opposition blocs?
That is correct. That is what we have said, but that they request it in an orderly and formal manner, and not through messages and social networks. We, of course, are going to welcome those who request it.
Now, I clarify, it is not the mechanism that is open, it is the process of receiving those (candidates), it is not that we excluded them, we opened the process for 45 days and nobody arrived, other than the four that obviously trusted in a process, there is a consensus among them, and they have to be part of this step that we are taking, to see who will be integrated.
This week we will be publishing the calendar
This procedure of surveys, debates and evaluation of trajectories, which was agreed upon with the four candidates that are already registered, is written in stone or can it be improved with the contributions of other aspiring presidential cantidades?
The approval of this mechanism took a long time, and we consulted many people, all of them had contributions, some in favor, others against, others improving, changing, and we have made them. There is already a consensus of the four aspiring presidential cantidades and of the Alianza Ciudadana, both of the Alianza Cívica and the party, and this mechanism is no longer subject to changes, there is no more time, this is not going to be a consultation meeting to see what we change. In other words, we are welcome to talk, but the mechanism is the one already approved. We are not in time to do everything that is needed to start reviewing a mechanism again, there is no way.
The participation of candidates in public debates is an essential element for the electorate to be able to value their leadership capacities, and above all, their vision of change in the country. But how is the score going to be decided in relation to the outcome of those debates, which people will watch on television or through social networks, and will have opinions?
The judges who are going to issue their ratings on the debate are selected by consensus by the aspiring presidential candidates who are going to participate. We have made sure that neither the party nor the Alianza Cívica have anything to do with this procedure. Everything will be subject to third parties, which have to have the consensus of those aspiring presidential candidates.
But in relation to the impact that debates have on the electorate, normally there are people who give their opinion in a television panel, or write their opinions in the newspapers. But at the end of the day, it is not those five or seven qualified opinion makers or judges who decide who won a debate, but the electorate. Is there any way that the opinion of the population can be gathered through other types of surveys on the impact of these debates?
Of course. The survey has a component of questions, of if they saw the debate, and who in their opinion won the debate, which is precisely the way to include the citizenry, and we are doing this very carefully.
We insist on the debate because it is impossible to massively mobilize the people so that they can get to know these candidates or pre-candidates. The debate is a fundamental part, we have to give the opportunity to each one to show who he/she is, because what we want is to elect someone who has the capacity to be president of this country, and that is what we are doing.
The extension of the deadline for the registration of aspiring candidates includes even those who were previously registered in the National Coalition, independents, or aspiring candidates against which there is already a political and legal machinery aimed at hindering them. Does it represent a risk for the legal status of CxL, to open itself to the incorporation of other forces, as a single box of the opposition?
I cannot tell you what is on Daniel Ortega’s mind, but we are not going to stop doing what we have to do for fear of Ortega. We have always known that they have the capacity to do whatever they want, so the risks, whether we incorporate possible aspiring candidates or not, is not what will determine whether we keep the box or not. The moment they see us as a united opposition around this platform, which is the Citizens’ Alliance, they will be able to look for any pretext to get us out of the game. So we cannot live every day, working or fearing what the regime is going to do. We have to go ahead and do the right thing, and if at this moment the right thing to do is to receive these people and talk to them, whatever happens, and whatever the Front (Sandinista National Liberation Front) decides, we have to go ahead.
When will Citizens for Liberty make the decision whether or not to participate in this electoral process? How are you going to make that decision?
I assure you that we are not going to make it alone. This is a decision that concerns everyone and in the event that we can have the elections that we all want, at the time of making that decision we will have to count on the opinion and the decision of all the sectors.
We are not going to make that decision alone, it is not up to us. The fact that we are in this situation at this moment, as the only viable, credible platform, for whatever reason we have reached this point, does not mean that we are the owners of the future of Nicaragua, and our obligation is to consult, ask and talk to all sectors and make that decision together, at the moment it has to be made.