Peace is Not Built on Lies

The president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega and his wife, Rosario Murillo, vice president of the country. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Onofre Guevara López, Managua, 25 April 2018 — In two television appearances, Daniel Ortega repeated insults against the dead and lies about the student demonstrations, calling them gang members and insisting that they themselves caused the deaths. Unprecedented cynicism in a ruler. The only ones who have arms are his supporters, and everyone here knows that they used them against unarmed students. And it is worth noting that the origin of the conflict is not the protests against the reforms, but the repression against the right to make them public.

Once again his cliche-discourse stuck in time, and revealing a huge ignorance of the reality of the country he is so determined to lead against the popular will. The bubble in which he lives and the other mobile bubble protected by dozens of police have caused him to lose contact with the national reality and become insensitive to human pain.

On Saturday he spoke of the rupture of a reconciliation and dialogue that never existed, but were rather arrangements between the elite of economic and political power. And on Sunday he suspended the decree regarding the reforms to the Social Security System (INSS), to satisfy the foreigners of the “swallow companies” (named for their migratory habits) of the free zones, but without ending the repression. He spoke of a consensus and a tripartite dialogue with business partners and union leaders who do not represent all the trade unions, much less all the workers.

He spoke of reforms to the Constitution, without saying for what personal purposes he made them; in short, he offended the intelligence of the students again, by accusing them of being the “bases” of the parties on the right. He concealed that this conflict is the result of his bad habit of illegality that characterizes all his government measures, from the reforms to the Political Constitution to guarantee his continuity in power, until the latest of Tuesday aimed at raising the values of the Social Security contributions.

Typical forms of action of this Government, very similar to that of the neoliberal governments of other countries: impositions without consultation and repression. In our country, both measures are practiced with the hypocrisy of pseudo revolutionaries, while the Police simultaneously acts with the shock forces of the so-called “Sandinista youth,” which has nothing to do with Sandinistas and much of lumpen, whose victims they blame on the students.

Ortega believes that we forget that the protests are not only because of the inconsistency of the decree, but also because of all the abuses accumulated over ten years. And against the factors and interests that cause corruption in the administration of the INSS, beginning with the privatization of medical services in favor of the so-called previsional private companies, actually initiated by the governments of the right, but followed by his government, together with other concessions to private capital. But now business is doing it the other way around, that is, they buy private hospitals that previously favored the privatization of medical services, without giving information about who operates them under the name of Sermesa, who buys them.

This business began with the purchase of the Cruz Azul hospital, from the late commander Tomas Borge, who acquired it with a loan from the INSS. On the base of Cruz Azul, they founded the Policlínica Bolonia and it was enlarged with the purchase of the private hospital Sédédico, and before that they had bought the Central Hospital Managua, also private.

With regards to the sale of Sumédico, an investigation by the journalist Ismael López, revealed that the real value of this hospital was 10 million dollars, but the INSS paid 15 million dollars, although an ex-officio lawyer of the hospital declared that it was worth 20 million dollars. The INSS business also revealed another fact: that in 2015 alone, Súmedico profited to the tune of 227.4 million córdobas ($7.2 million US) from the INSS for the care of the insured; on the other hand, its earnings for the care of private clients was only 16.2 million córdobas ($516,000 US).

Very recently, national media echoed the “suggestions” that the International Monetary Fund made to the Ortega-Murillo government to “save” Social Security from bankruptcy. Among these are increasing contributions, eliminating benefits to pensioners and raising the retirement age to 65 years, as well as increasing the number of contributions that must be made to be entitled to retire. Now that violence is hitting the country, these media have “forgotten” that the IMF is the intellectual author of the social crime that constitutes the reforms of the Ortega-Murillo government.

The citizenship’s unanimous rejection of the reforms — outside the political parties — has varied origins and reasons, as multiple interests are represented by each of the sectors affected. However, the government accuses “the right” (Somoza accused “Sandino-communism” for all just popular protest), which not only is a lie, but also gives credit to the right that it cannot earn for itself. We all know that none of the opposition parties — on the right or the left — is able to call the people to action in the way that is being manifested throughout the country.

We are looking at a political phenomenon that comes as a surprise to the government and to many Nicaraguans. For the government, because it trusted in its propaganda and in the popularity of Ortega-Murillo reported in surveys paid for by themselves; for the rest of adult citizens, because the majority of them believed that the passivity of their generation before the abuses of the power was shared by the youth. We were all wrong, in thinking that the process of struggle had stagnated, rather than paused.

Now we are not only lamenting the dozens of young victims of Ortega’s repression, after the initial spontaneity of the protests; we are also morally and patriotically obliged to support the students’ demands, since it would be criminal to leave them on their own after they paid with the sacrifice of their lives for the revocation of the decree against the interests of their grandparents and parents, and of themselves as future contributors to Social Security. Their just struggle defeated the decree, although it has not defeated the repression, and we expect the rulers, who have not legitimized themselves as such, to at least respect their right to life.

Ortega-Murillo called for dialogue with employers, but the students do not recognize them as representatives, and demand that their prisoners be freed and the culprits guilty of the murders of so many of their classmates be punished. In addition, as a matter of ethics and morality, they should not continue to offend the memory of the dead or slander the living.

On the other hand, if it is true that the Cosep (Superior Council of Private Enterprise) and Amcham (American Chamber of Commerce of  Nicaragua) reject the decree, saying that the increase in the employer’s contribution threatens investment, with negative consequence for the economic development of the country, we remember also that these bosses did not speak out against the suggestions of the IMF, which were accepted by Ortega-Murillo, with the exception of raising the retirement age to 65. For the rulers, however, this rescue was not final, because it  is only temporary while assessing social reactions, and it is certain that if they had not known the reactions, they would have ended up setting 65 as the retirement age.

So far, everything is sad and condemnable: dozens of deaths and students who have lost their eyes; countless wounded, imprisoned and kidnapped; beatings of older adults; beatings of journalists and thefts of their cameras and cellphones filming the demonstrators; shootings, throwing stones and destruction of university campuses; tear gas bombs affecting students, passers-by and residents; Ortega’s mobs “taking” public places to restrict the right to demonstrate; several television channels censored and Channel 63 (100% News) closed as of today; and the looting of shops. And, as a symbol of fascism, scholarship students were taken from a residence and forced to sleep in the open, and violent intrusions interfered with the funerals of the dead.

That and more, rained down from a government of those who still want to pass as revolutionaries, without ceasing to be usurpers of the power the Nicaraguan people conquered with their blood forty years ago, which later they betrayed.

Editor’s note: This text was initially published in the Confidencial newspaper. We reproduce it with the authorization of its author.


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