Some twenty Nicaraguan opposition organizations in exile have declared the “Ortega-Murillo dictatorship” an “illegitimate regime”. Their declarations come on the eve of the ruling couple’s inauguration celebration on Monday, January 10, marking their new term in office. The opposition also rejected any “false dialogue”, and demanded that the regime free the political prisoners and comply with the accords reached during the second original attempt at dialogue, in March 2019.
“The Ortega-Murillo dictatorship has destroyed the state institutions; the government powers arising from the November 7th electoral farce are illegitimate. In consequence, there’s no Rule of Law in Nicaragua,” indicated the organizations. The declaration was read in a press conference, held in Costa Rica and presided over by representatives of the National Blue and White Unity, the Rural Movement, and the Released Political Prisoners’ Reflection Group. Representatives of the former three organizations were physically present, while other organizations, such as the Civic Alliance, joined via Zoom.
The declaration cites the resolution passed by the Organization of American States (OAS) on November 12, 2021. At that time, twenty-five countries in the OAS voted to declare the Nicaraguan election on November 7th “without legitimacy”. In that election, Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo guaranteed themselves a fourth consecutive term in power by eliminating all political competition. The voting process failed to comply with minimal conditions of transparency, and was held with the principal opposition leaders and formerly aspiring presidential candidates in prison. Another forty countries have also refused to recognize the elections.
Ortega and Murillo have ignored the questioning of the international community; their response to the OAS vote was to request Nicaragua’s withdrawal from the regional body.
Meanwhile, in her first daily discourse of 2022, first lady and vice president Rosario Murillo declared that the inauguration ceremony would take place in Managua’s Plaza of the Revolution. “We’ll all take the oath, the oath of the people’s presidency,” she expounded.
During this January 3rd speech, Murillo described her highly questioned electoral victory as a triumph over “evil, hate. We’ve defeated strife, conflict, separation. We’ve defeated the devil, and we all know how the devil manifested himself during those ill-fated days,” referring to the 2018 civic protests.
No dialogue unless conditions are met
In their last resolution regarding Nicaragua, passed on December 8, 2021, the OAS urged the realization of new elections in Nicaragua and demanded a dialogue with diverse participation, including the opposition. Nonetheless, diplomatic actions undertaken by OAS Secretary GeneralLuis Almagro to persuade the regime to accept a visit from a high-level OAS commission have met with no progress.
The opposition organizations affirm that before there can be any possibility of conversation, the regime must immediately and unconditionally free the 170 political prisoners. These prisoners of conscience have all been victims of inhumane and degrading treatment, including extreme isolation and torture. In addition to their release, the opposition also demands that all charges levied against them be annulled.
They further demand the repeal of the “combo” of repressive laws passed at the end of 2020, and that the regime comply with the obligations assumed in the “Agreement to Strengthen Citizen Rights and Guarantees, signed on March 29, 2019 by representatives of the dictatorship and the Nicaraguan democratic opposition.”
The groups insist that the police state must end, and the government must disarm its paramilitary forces; they must also assure the safe return of those who are in exile, with full guarantees for their personal safety and that of their families. Further, all the Nicaraguans’ civic and political guarantees must be restored, and their unrestricted right to free expression guaranteed.
These demands, as well as those established in the December 8th OAS resolution, are “non-negotiable and indispensable conditions for initiating a peaceful and civic transition to democracy. Any [dialogue] effort must be carried out with effective participation from representatives of the democratic opposition,” indicated the opposition organizations in their January 6th declaration.
“An illegitimate and illegal regime”
Alexa Zamora, a member of the Blue and White Unity’s political council, assured that the declaration from these opposition organizations is the first step towards continuing their international efforts around the refusal to recognize the Ortega-Murillo regime.
“We’re going to ask the international community and the OAS to also take steps to deny recognition to the Ortega-Murillo regime, and to recognize it for what it is: an illegitimate and illegal regime that – as such – doesn’t represent the Nicaraguan people,” she stated.
Nemesio Mejia from the Rural Movement, noted: “dictatorships can’t be removed overnight, or anything like that, in the plan we’re carrying out, which is a civic plan.” He recalled the fact that the opposition leadership has been weakened, beginning with the [ongoing] imprisonment of the seven former presidential hopefuls. However, he said they will continue resisting.
Worldwide protests against the “illegitimate” regime
Anther seven Nicaraguan organizations in different countries are promoting a worldwide protest to proclaim: “Nicaragua has no government and no legitimate government powers”. This is planned as a repudiation of the inauguration ceremony in Nicaragua, marking a new term in office for Ortega and Murillo – a mandate many consider “illegitimate”.
Karen Bermudez, a member of one of the participating organizations, called on all Nicaraguans, irrespective of where in the world they currently are, to protest on Sunday, November 9. She suggested they do so via a demonstration, a video or a message expressing their rejection of Ortega’s usurpation of power, seen as “draping himself in the presidential banner”.
She added that another of the objectives of this joint initiative is to “lift our voices before the international organizations and the international community, and to emphasize, once again, that in Nicaragua there’s neither a government nor legitimate state powers.”
The Nicaraguan diaspora and those in exile are expected to demonstrate on January 9 and 10. In Costa Rica, where more than a hundred thousand Nicaraguans have taken refuge, a vigil will be held on Sunday, beginning at five pm in the Plaza of Democracy. Marlon Medina, a member of Unidos por Nicaragua [United for Nicaragua], stated they’d be carrying lighted candles, “in honor of all our political prisoners. We’re going to read out the name of each one, and yell for their freedom.” Medina made these remarks during Thursday morning’s press conference.
In addition, the organizations called on Nicaraguans to stay home on January 10, under the slogan, “I’m staying home: you wouldn’t let me vote, I’m not letting you govern.”
Similarly, they hope that people will participate in actions to “economically weaken the regime… for example, refraining from purchasing liquors, cigarettes and luxury items from businesses linked to the regime, as well as cutting back as much as possible on gas and electrical use, and minimizing banking transactions.”