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Oscar Rene Vargas: “Upping the Ante for Ortega in the Civic Struggle”

Source: El Confidencial (12/07)

The brutal repression of Daniel Ortega’s government against the Nicaraguans demanding his exit from power after more than eleven years as president, now counts over 250 dead and has succeeded in dismantling the roadblocks and barricades in the majority of the country. Ortega’s objective, assures political analyst Oscar Rene Vargas, is to continue in power. However, he warns that his remaining will signify more economic instability, poverty and death that he terms “an extraordinary setback.”

Vargas maintains that the answer in order to put the brakes on Ortega’s pretenses is to “up the ante,” strengthening the social movement and holding demonstrations on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the different cities of the country with the goal of motivating the population and demonstrating to the government that they haven’t won this battle.

“The answer is to up the ante. Ortega’s logic is that of a war strategy. He already struck his blow and if he struck, it must be answered. Since we don’t have arms, the actions must come in a civic fashion. This strategy must be put into play, to show him that despite the repression, the population has enough social and civic muscle to go forward. Have the social movement grow stronger and force Ortega to resign,” the analyst explains.

On July 7, President Ortega rejected the idea of calling for early elections as a way to solve the serious crisis that Nicaragua is suffering, disparaging the proposal to move the 2021 elections up to March 2019 as the Nicaraguan Episcopal Conference, Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the OAS, and diverse countries and international groups have suggested.

“President Ortega isn’t going to just resign like that; he’s going to do it under heat. And when I say under heat, it means that the social movement is so strong that he must be made to step back. That is, if one roadblock is removed, another should be put back. Jinotega is the clearest example. The roadblocks are a problem for him because they put in evidence the mobilizing capacity of the people, and that’s his weak spot,” explained Vargas in an interview on the television program Esta Noche.

The example of the bankers

Vargas recalled the recent case of the bankers, who were asked by the government to turn over the list of their clients who had withdrawn more than $50,000 from their accounts since April 19, 2018, Days later, the government abandoned their illegal attempt to attain this information.

That’s the clearest example. The bankers said “no”, and the government had to step back. Ortega backpedals if you stand firm. If we don’t believe that we have the capability to shove them back, we’re lost, but if we believe, that would be the only solution. We have to have this will to move forward,” reiterated the political analyst.

Jose Pallais, lawyer and a member of the Broad Front for Democracy (FAD), added that the possibilities that have been proposed to President Daniel Ortega for his leaving power have been within the Constitution and that at no moment has it been thought to propose one that is outside the legal framework of the Magna Carta.

“All of the proposals have been within the legal framework, the resignation is Constitutional, the same as a Constitutional reform for early elections. This has already been done. A rupture with the constitution hasn’t been in the minds of any of the protagonists,” the lawyer insisted.

Pallais assured that the crisis the country is going through could be solved with just having President Ortega say that he was willing to put an end to his government in order to achieve peace and avoid further deterioration of the economy, in the same way he announced before the 1990 elections that were won by Violeta Barrios de Chamorro.

Army denies any participation in “operation clean-up”

The Nicaragua Army issued a communique that disputed the “slanderous campaign…and the staging of acts we’ve never been part of, the false information and altered images whose objective it to make people believe that army personnel and armaments are involved in activities of maintaining public order.”

In the document, the military body maintains that it has absolute control over its personnel, armaments and means of all kinds, and adds that “there is not one single event where personnel from our institution are involved.”

The tasks and missions that we are actually carrying out are those that have been made public knowledge in Communique #1 from May 12 2018.” The document finalized.

The official statement doesn’t say a word about the paramilitary groups that are acting in collusion with the National Police to dismantle barricades and shoot at the citizens from different cities in the country.

Lawyer Jose Pallais said that the Army hasn’t fulfilled its constitutional mandate to guarantee that only one armed body [besides the Police] can exist in the country, under the constitution, to defend the people. He believes that the role of the armed forces of “inertia or complicity” is going to have serious consequences in the future, since many sectors are going to question their lack of action in the face of the current situation.

Vargas said the Army’s inaction is going to break up as Nicaraguan society continues to maintain a firm and decisive attitude, since this would affect the foundations of the military body and it would begin to have fissures in its structure. This would be the only way for the Army to acquire a different attitude.

“In addition, the Army is already suffering the consequences of the crisis that the country is going through,” affirmed Pallais.

Pallais believes that Ortega is going to negotiate, but not with the Nicaraguans, since this hasn’t been nor will be his attitude. He explained that proof of this is that in his latest speech he didn’t attack the United States, despite it having recently approved sanctions against the “men close to him.” According to Pallais this is due to the fact that he wants to preserve a bridge that’s open and that he wants to continue exploring.

“He’s going to use his negotiation and his exit, and that’s a positive sign,’ but he’s going to use it with the international community, in direct negotiations with them, because you can’t construct governance on top of a mountain of cadavers. The social situation won’t permit Ortega to finish his term, even though he may have the will to do so,” Pallais concluded

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