By Carlos F. Chamorro
Managua – On the basis of the serious events that occurred in Ecuador last week, President Daniel Ortega has denounced a consipracy to stage a coup d’état against his government.
His claim provoked an immediate denial from the United States embassy in Managua and from spokesmen for the Episcopal Conference, but it would be fitting for Ortega to offer evidence to substantiate his denunciation. Only thus can we know if there is any truth to it or if it is yet another campaign to fabricate artificial enemies and keep his bases mobilized.
To date the only documented coup, for which there is abundant evidence, is the one the president of the republic himself has promoted against our country’s democratic institutions. It is clearly not a military coup like the one that took place in Honduras but is a coup orchestrated from above and is equally grave in its consequences.
Does it not undermine democracy to perpetrate an electoral fraud and to corrupt the rules of political competence?
Is it not a pro-coup act to remove elected mayors from office illegaly and to keep in place magistrates whose terms have expired?
Is it not the equivalent of a coup to alter the constitution by de facto means solely to facilitate Ortega’s candidacy for re-election to the presidency?
When the president claims alleged threats of a coup without offering evidence precisely at the time that he is carrying out a calculated coup against the constitution, that means that all limits to shame have been breached and there is nothing left of official discourse but pure, hard political cynicism.
This may not seem so serious to the OAS because there are no deaths or soldiers in the streets but we Nicaraguans should not get used to tolerating acts of force that, although in gradual form, have been demolishing what was left of the rule of law.
The apathy with which an important sector of the citizenry has reacted to an offense of this magnitude is troubling. Some hold that Ortega’s golpismo does not affect their daily lives or their ability to do business and they even profit handsomely, with the government’s protection. Others justify their inaction and resignation by alluding to the disrepute of the opposition and to the deep crisis of credibility the opposition leadership is living through. And the great majority are preoccupied with seeing to their daily economic survival and they struggle between poverty, unemployment and the painful alternative of emigrating abroad. For them, protest does not represent an option.
But if those who have solved their basic socio-economic needs do not react now, tomorrow we will all pay the cost. And the greatest losers will be, logically, those who have the most to lose: merchants, professionals, producers and entrepeneurs, because in the misdst of political instability authoritarianism does not guarantee a sustainable business climate,.
Nor will it resolve the scourge of poverty, because it lacks the capacity to offer lasting solutions. And when the ship of populism begins to sink in the midst of the crisis in political legitimacy – with or without the re-election of Ortega – the army and the police will also end up submitting to the authoritarian plan of the president. The worst outcome is the restriction of public liberties, which will affect indiscriminately all the youth, the youth in opposition and those who are followers of the FSLN.
On the fringes of the staunch support for Ortega, among his partisans there is a sector that supports this government because they consider it to be an alternative for social change, in the face of the vaccum left by previous governments. But a leftist project can take root only if it is genuinely democratic. Orteguismo, on the other hand, is neither leftist nor democratic and it has sown the seeds of its own self-destruction when it submitted to the messianic caudillismo of Daniel Ortega and his family. The height of cynicism is that in order to justify the re-election of the president it is smugly asserted that “the constitution is unconstitutional” because it supposedly violates Ortega’s human rights.
When re-election is imposed through the violation of all the constitutional norms governing this question, we are faced with recognition of the failure of a political model. It is the last warning for those who choose to listen, because what comes later will be a national outcome much more costly and painful, in economic, social and human terms. No one clinging to power by force will ever agree to surrender it willingly. Comparison with the phenomenon of somocismo is not mere coincidence. It would seem that we live blinded, refusing to learn from the mistakes and the previous lessons of our society. Then why wait for the final outcome of this crisis foretold if we can begin now?