Standing with dictators is standing against humanity

October 18, 2018

Onofre Guevara López is a writer and member of the Nicaraguan Writers Center. He participated in the Nicaraguan Revolution as a member of the Sandinista National Liberation Front and was a representative in the Council of State and a deputy in the National Assembly. In this article first published at Confidencial and translated into English by Lance Selfa, he challenges the views of those on the international left who persist in supporting the dictatorial President Daniel Ortega.

EVEN AS the Nicaraguan people suffer repression, mourn their dead, condemn kidnappings and demand the release of political prisoners, they are maintaining a militant, yet peaceful, opposition without lowering their guard against the dictatorship.

They are grateful for — and expect more — international support. After more than four months of confrontations, they are well aware that their liberation depends on their own struggle.

The people know that there are political sectors inside Nicaragua that think and act in accordance with the interests of the dictatorship because the regime protects their own interests. The people know that there are those who appear to defend the Ortega-Murillo regime, like public employees — but who only do so because they must maintain their families’ livelihood.

And the people know that some who are considered left-wing revolutionaries outside of Nicaragua rally in favor of the dictatorship.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega

But they also know that there are left-wing forces that do not think or act according to the obsolete notion that socialism is irreconcilable with the exercise of freedom. As a result, they express their solidarity with our people and condemn the atrocities of the Daniel Ortega-Rosario Murillo dictatorship.

We must point out that those on the international left who support the Ortega regime are falling for the dictator’s’ demagogic discourse, to which they add their dogmatic ideological schema. Worse still, they do so without understanding, let alone studying, our current reality.

With the exception of bureaucrats in several governments who support this dictatorship for cold and opportunistic “reasons of state,” these international leftists support Ortega even though they are fully aware his regime is detrimental to our people’s lives. On the other hand, many foreigners who condemn Orteguismo have lived in Nicaragua for many years as aid workers in our fields, towns and cities.

SO WHAT is the “left-wing” pro-Ortega argument?

One, that there is a “revolution” in Nicaragua; two, that it is guided by “socialist” principles; three, that Daniel Ortega was “democratically” elected; and four, that the government defends and protects social conquests threatened by agitation from right-wing terrorists associated with and financed by U.S. imperialism.

There is no truth to any of this. In Nicaragua, despite the 1979 revolution, “socialism” was only a frustrated aspiration. Ortega transformed it into a mafia capitalism and leads a new oppressive class. Ortega has been in power for close to 40 years — and for 11 of these years only because of electoral fraud. Government corruption is scandalous. Ortega’s illicit enrichment is so obvious that it hits you in the face.

The Ortega-Murillo regime has dismantled institutional life, and it directs police repression just as the pre-1979 Somoza dictatorship directed its National Guard. Crimes — including torture — are carried out every day by a legion of hooded henchmen. Meanwhile, the government condemns the innocent via its judicial arm, the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ).

Despite all this, Ortega’s sympathizers abroad seem convinced by his testimonial to the Spanish news agency EFE that the people’s tragedy is not his doing — even if that has already been verified by the UN Security Council. Rather all these crimes are merely tall tales told by the Cervantes Prize-winning novelist Sergio Ramirez!

Are these supposedly left-wing interpretations of Nicaragua’s situation the only ones in play internationally? Not at all. There are also some that emanate from the right, expressed in mechanical comparisons of situations to countries with different political experiences, causes and historical motives.

Haven’t we heard, in official U.S. government statements, that Ortega-Murillo want to impose “another Cuba” and “another Venezuela” on our country? This from the same people who gave Nicaraguan President José María Moncada arms to fight against Augusto Sandino and his anti-imperialist forces in the early years of the 20th century!

Even while the UN Security Council debated the crisis in Nicaragua in September, we refuse to forget that the United States imposed the Somoza dynasty on us, just as it imposed Pinochet-type dictatorships in Latin America and elsewhere.

POLITICAL OPPORTUNISM comes from both sides because they both take current events out of their historical context, according to their own geopolitical interests. This sort of logic undermines our people’s just struggle, because both of these political currents appear ignorant of the origins of our problems or the factors and actors that provoke them.

Reality tells us that it is not possible to keep our struggle within our national borders while the dictatorship kills us, nor to disconnect our fight from the rest of the world, let alone reject international solidarity simply because it comes from the U.S. and other capitalist countries. That would be an absurd suicidal decision. That would be a stupid political and ideological litmus test, which would only favor our executioners.

It is a political truth, and it should not be forgotten, that ulterior motives can always be found in any human activity, including solidarity. But no people can fear this potential when they are aware of that reality and they are fighting with their eyes open. And if the Nicaraguan people dream of anything, it is to be free.

Nor can we accept uncritically mechanical comparisons that are, in fact, a perverse homogenization of the political, ideological and cultural phenomena of one country with another. The history, culture and political systems of each country may look alike in many respects, but they can never be the same.

To accept any of these sectarian positions, or all of them simultaneously, would constitute an insult to the dignity of our people. It would denigrate their intelligence and self-activity in the struggle for their political freedoms and social justice.

It would also be like describing our people as puppets, who act without an awareness of our own worth. It implies that we are at the mercy of anyone who wants to control us under any pretext.

I say this not out of patriotic self-indulgence, but because mechanical comparisons are not only unfair to our people, but offensive to other peoples.

I also reject — as I think every good Nicaraguan rejects — the slander by the dictators Ortega-Murillo that the people who have been marching in the streets for almost five months, putting their lives and freedoms on the line against the government’s weapons, are only doing this under orders from the “right wing” and from CIA agents.

We are Sandino’s heirs, the heroes and martyrs of the popular revolution of 1979. We are the same people who were betrayed by Ortega’s regime. The Nicaraguan people have maintained their unarmed resistance and their civic confrontation with Orteguismo’s criminal agents, in spite of the terror used against them.

Resistance is a necessary response to and last resort against the abuses committed over many years by a government that only shows it has become unhinged when it claims that the people have stood up and fought because foreigners are manipulating them.

Those outside Nicaragua who express such views — because inside the country only the dictators and their lackeys do so — only show that they haven’t learned anything. They are so afraid of imperialism that they think it can will anything in the world to happen.

They belittle the dignity and intelligence of the Nicaraguan people. Or they are more interested in keeping their dictatorial friend in power than they are in respecting the lives of Nicaraguans?

Whatever motivation inspires their support for the Ortega-Murillo regime simply exposes their lack of solidarity. Support for a regime isn’t humanist if it doesn’t stand with the oppressed. Therefore, solidarity with the dictatorship stands against the lives of the people.

First published at Confidencial and translated by Lance Selfa.

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