It’s difficult – nearly impossible – not to fear the regime of the Comandante and his Compañera. Slowly but surely over all these years, they’ve assembled the perfect game. With changes to the Constitution and laws tailored to match their intentions, they’ve left those of us who disagree with their actions absolutely defenseless.
The public employees, their party militants, the police or soldiers of any rank can be fired, left in abject poverty, accused of treason, imprisoned or forced into exile, even for something as trivial as refusing to attend their rallies. Their long-time accomplices, those who were once Sandinistas, now at seventy-something years of age, have no other option but silence and submission, if they want to continue living their comfortable lives. If that’s true for them, it’s even worse for those of us who have no services to offer them.
But the Comandante and the Compañera aren’t in control of the whole show. They’ve had to pay a high price in international prestige for their imprisonment of figures who could possibly inspire a massive vote, making it difficult to pull off a fraud. Figures who could possibly win an election. The final straw was their jailing of Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, for his discreet response in a CNN interview that – for lack of anyone better – he might consider being a candidate for the Civic Alliance.
The most conclusive proof of their fear, though, is that they cancelled “El Repliegue” this year. [The annual reenactment of the 1979 tactical Sandinista retreat from Managua to Masaya.] That march and ceremony has been held year by year, not so much as a historic commemoration, but as a carnival.
What could have happened? They must have thought, if the Repliegue, with so many people in the streets, could be the moment the population seizes on to protest their abuses? Nothing strikes them with more fear than the thought of facing another situation like that of April 2018. Those massive protests, which they insist on calling a “Coup”, left them traumatized.
We Nicaraguans must be clear that this regime has us living under so much repression because they’re possessed by the fear of their own people. The imprisonment of Unamos leaders Dora Maria Tellez, Victor Hugo Tinoco, Hugo Torres, Tamara Davila, Ana Margarita Vijil, and Suyen Barahona, is nothing other than a recognition of their prestige and grassroots leadership.
The regime’s fear of Unamos is so great that Kitty Monterrey of the CxL party doesn’t dare include them in her Alliance, for fear [the regime] will strip her party of its legal status. In my opinion, it’s not really a matter of left and right. Doña Kitty is under sentence: if she lets them participate in the elections, her party will lose its legal status. She’s as much a victim of fear as the rest. It’s a shame she won’t put her cards on the table and admit it, instead of offering ideological excuses [to reject the “left”] that don’t jibe, in the face of a merciless regime like this one.
The same reasoning explains why they detained Jose Adan Aguerri, Luis Rivas and Jose Pallais. Each one of them represents a warning to the sectors they represent.
But, in addition, they’ve thrown honorable workers into the sack, such as Walter Gomez, Marcos Fletes and Pedro Vasquez, Cristiana Chamorro’s driver. It’s a Stalinist tactic to force them to “confess” to crimes they haven’t committed in exchange for their freedom; or in exchange for an end to violent interrogation sessions where they’re not allowed to sleep, they’re subjected to cold, they’re hung by their arms for hours, they’re suffocated to the point of death, and who knows what other barbarities we know about from the terrible testimonies of other prisoners.
No one will find it strange if they “confess”, sign documents, or whatever. In the Gulags of history, even the bravest have given in, since there’s a limit to the pain and misery a human being can bear.
It’s true that we’re paralyzed. The fear is as real for them as it is for us. Fear is an inevitable human reaction when life is endangered, especially since we’ve already seen what they’re willing to do. No recent protest in any country has had the death toll per capita that Nicaragua suffered in 2018. For this reason, it’s healthy, not cowardly, to fear them. To realize that their fear and rage is such that they are willing to be isolated by most of the world, and to carry out any injustice and misdeed they consider necessary to remain in power.
The issue, though, is that if they get their way, we’ll face a country ruled by a couple who’ve already given us broad samples of their personal recklessness and cruelty. A couple who’ve made a public display of their deplorable insults and speeches.
A family member of Rosario Murillo once said: “From the time she was a child, things were that way. What couldn’t be hers, couldn’t be anybody’s.” Daniel, in a meeting where we artists complained about Rosario’s maneuverings, responded: “Why do you think these ideas are hers and not mine?” Just like that. Things being so, we must then consider that if Daniel goes, Rosario is waiting for us; and if she goes, her eight children are there – a never ending dynasty that will submerge Nicaragua for any number of generations.
In other words, we must weigh carefully today’s fear, in relation to our perspectives. There are ways to confront it. We’re an immensely creative people. The street isn’t the be-all and end-all of the rebellion. Even balloons shake them to the core.