Different social sectors that oppose Daniel Ortega’s dictatorship, including the Civic Alliance and the Articulation of Social Movements, have decided to join forces and create a “common front” called “Blue and White National Unity”, putting aside their differences about how to tackle the current socio-political crisis that has taken over the country.
“Blue and White National Unity” was presented Thursday in Managua. As well as the Civic Alliance and the Articulation of Social Movements (which bring together students and rural population, as well as social, feminist, indigenous movements and business owners), it also includes political groups such as the Broad Front for Democracy (FAD) and Civil Society organizations, such as the University Coordinator for Democracy and Justice (CUDJ), the April 19th Student Movement from different departments, among others.
The opposition groups had weeks of talks to consolidate this “Blue and White National Unity”, after five months of socio-political crisis that has left over 325 people dead with the government selectively persecuting civil society leaders.
“Organizations, movements and groups who are against abuses of power have found synergy in their struggle for democracy and justice in Nicaragua,” said Michael Healy, head of the larger farmers association, UPANIC and a Civic Alliance member.
Carlos Tunnermann Bernheim, a Civic Alliance spokesperson, told Confidencial that in order to build “national unity, we have reached a series of basic agreements to try and set aside our differences.”
Monica Lopez Baltodano, from the Articulation of Social Movements said that their differences can be overcome as long as they unite around “the desire of the population that Ortega and Murillo need to leave, in one way or another.”
“We all back the national dialogue process and the Episcopal Conference [as the moderators]. We all want justice, democracy and freedom. Whoever negotiates and takes a lead isn’t important in the Articulation’s eyes. The content of the negotiation is the most important thing and that negotiators reflect popular sentiment: that the dictators leave power as soon as possible,” Lopez Baltodano reiterated.
The Articulation of Social Movements also has its “own ideas” about how the path towards elections needs to be organized and a basic Government program. “They are collected in the Articulation’s own documents such as the National Agreement and the Path to Democracy proposals. However, these are proposals which we are putting on the discussion table for every opposition group to debate as a whole,” Lopez Baltodano explained.
The agreement, which was made public on Thursday, contains several details which parties involved have yet to disclose.
Are they being backed by business associations?
In the face of a new landscape of government repression, complaints against the Government have become more political and greater actions need to be taken. However, to what extent do private business owners agree with the new movement? Will they pull back from decisions adopted by the “Blue and White National Unity”?
In the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, they claim they won’t. “In my opinion, business owners aren’t pulling back, and they are very determined to continue on as active members of the Alliance,” Tunnermann said.
According to the Civic Alliance’s new spokesperson, business associations play an important role, as well as the student movement, and they are critical when deciding to call for a general strike.
“The Civic Alliance was born when members of the National Dialogue process realized that we agreed on the heart of the matter and that it was better to take unified action in the dialogue. So they set the foundations of the current Alliance which continues to endure and they have gained strength both nationally and internationally. Nevertheless, the National Dialogue process has been suspended for the time being,” Tunnermann explained.
Lopez Baltodano said that with regard to private enterprise, for now “they are no longer talking about the business sector’s previous history.”
“We are concentrating on building agreements and strength so as to dismantle the dictatorship. The role the business sector plays is key to tipping the scales in favor of national interests. Their role is also decisive in being able to tackle the country’s economic problems,” Lopez Baltodano stressed. “Business associations played an important role in phases leading up to the struggle and if they want to, they can play an important role in this phase, we need the entire country to stand together.”
Contact with public employees
It isn’t clear how much contact members of the emerging “Blue and White National Unity” have with public government workers and whether they have a strategy to attract those who are unhappy with the Government.
“Up until now, we haven’t had any ties with government employees or historic FSLN members. With regard to the latter, the exception are those historic Sandinistas who belong to one of the organizations that make up the Articulation,” Tunnermann said.
According to Lopez Baltodano, there are some public employees who silently collaborate with them. “We are also closely working with unions who have suffered arbitrary lay-offs, such as doctors and teachers,” she said.