Nicaragua: The failure of the revolution?
It is difficult to combine economic stability together with profound social reforms and that is what the regimes have failed to understand
On June 18, three months were completed from the start of the demonstrations in Nicaragua. Around 212 people have died during the multiple confrontations that have occurred since April, as reported by the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh) when the government presented a series of reforms to the social security system. Just a month after the start of the confrontations, the opposition to the government of Daniel Ortega, along with business sectors and the Church, sought a negotiated solution.
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Among the proposals of the negotiation, the president was asked to advance the elections, scheduled for 2021, to 2019. However, in the last hours, Ortega rejected the proposal alleging that it goes against the constitutional order. What does this mean for the Central American country?
The failure of the revolution?
Ortega is affiliated to the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), a movement charged with removing the Somoza dynasty and dictatorship from power in 1979. A revolutionary government was then established. Although there were several positive social policies for the most vulnerable population, the State was also complicit in numerous crimes against humanity.
According to "The Black Book of Communism," the Sandinista regime attacked indigenous minorities, imprisoned their leaders, murdered several of their members and even displaced 10,000 people from their lands, under the pretext of protecting them against a Somoza invasion. During these crimes, Daniel Ortega headed the so-called National Reconstruction Board until 1985, when he won the presidential elections.
This body was the repository of power during the transition period between the dictatorship and democracy, and was composed of members from various sectors of the political spectrum. However, the plurality of the Junta faded away and only the supporters of the FSLN remained in it.
Although since 1981, a conflict was created within an already devastated Nicaragua. The United States, headed by the government of Ronald Reagan, financed armed groups that fought against the FSLN, the Contras. Part of the debacle and political instability in the following years were adjudicated by the Ortega government to the interference of the Contras. Towards the end of the 1980s, the Central American country saw the worst stage of violence and economic drowning in its recent history, which led to a change of government.
In 1990, Ortega lost the elections against Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, a former FSLN militant supported by the United States. This scenario presented a better structured opposition than in previous years and allowed a more flexible democratic integration. Only in 2006, the Sandinistas regained power with an Ortega less identified with Marxist principles and turned towards Christianity as an ideological banner.
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Since 2007, more social reforms were applied, but again the government sought to break the democratic order, and constantly reformed the constitution to allow an unlimited number of re-elections for the office of president. Thus, Ortega can present himself to the presidential elections indefinitely.
Understanding this context, together with the recent statements by the president of Nicaragua, puts any observer in the following position: the political conditions in the Central American country are very similar to those that had preceded the crisis of the late 1980s. There is opposition very fragile, an FSLN strengthened in parliament and a lot of social discontent.
The pension reforms that were the trigger of the current crisis are not the typical social character that favored for so long the image of Ortega. Suggested by the International Monetary Fund, they sought to keep the National Institute of Social Security afloat. If things continue as they are, the INSS could not cover the demand for pensions for the coming year. Thus, employers and workers should increase their contribution to the system to reach a balance in the coming years. However, its implementation did not materialize since the Ortega government repealed it.
That did not stop the social unrest. It is difficult to combine economic stability along with profound social reforms and that is what the regimes have failed to understand. This is not a call to discredit the struggles that the leftist governments of Latin America have tried to represent. Rather it is time to rethink the way in which you can reach that balance that allows you to have the resources to sponsor the necessary social reforms within capitalist society.
Added to this, it is also necessary to rethink the relationship between these movements, such as the FSLN, with power. It is probable that the fragility of the political projects of the Latin American left is due to their attachment to power and their constitutional reform power to guarantee the continuity of the project. They are also fragile because they face the conservative and business establishment, which hold a power capable of perpetuating social inequality.
In Nicaragua the revolution will not end yet, but the country will continue to face an unprecedented crisis that will not be solved by isolated sectors of that society. It is likely that a new national project must be born to face the difficult days that lie ahead.
LatinAmerican Post | Iván Parada Hernández
Translated from "Nicaragua: ¿El fracaso de la revolución?"