Nicaraguans are fed up: 70% consider that the country is headed in the “wrong direction” | International

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Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, on June 14.JAIRO CAJINA (AFP)

Nicaraguans are increasingly fed up with the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. The most recent poll by the Costa Rican firm CID Gallup reveals that 61% of Nicaraguans disapprove of the shared presidency between the two. At the same time, 70% of citizens consider "that the country is headed in the wrong direction," according to the survey, commissioned by Confidencial, one of the media outlets hardest hit by Sandinista repression: its newsroom was confiscated and its director, the prestigious journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro, was stripped of his nationality last February. Regarding political sympathies, the results also do not favor the official party, the Sandinista National Liberation Front: only 13% of those surveyed consider themselves Sandinistas. This is – the newspaper points out – the lowest historical level in the last two decades.

The numbers produced by this survey, based on a sample of 823 people nationwide, describe a country plunged into a state of "pessimism and hopelessness" due to the sociopolitical crisis that has persisted since 2018, when social protests were brutally repressed. by police and paramilitaries under the orders of the Ortega-Murillos. In Nicaragua, a totalitarian regime has taken hold in which every dissident voice is persecuted, imprisoned, or forced into exile. 70% of citizens say that the country is heading in the wrong direction and only 20% believe that it is heading in the right direction, while 42% affirm that their family will be worse off in the next 12 months. And, even worse, "they do not see any prospect of exit or improvement."

According to the survey, carried out among Nicaraguans with a cell phone connection and with a margin of error of 2.93% and a confidence level of 95%, half of Nicaraguans want to migrate to the United States. Even a third does not rule out moving to Costa Rica, a country already saturated with exiles and migrants who left in search of opportunities. The reason is fundamentally economic: 33% say that they do not have enough to buy food.

The study indicates that 31% of those consulted identify unemployment and the lack of sources of work as the main concern in the country, while 25% see corruption in the Government as the reason for many of their ills. In addition, 16% put the cost of living and the increase in poverty first; 9% pointed to the political crisis, and 6% of them listed citizen insecurity, robberies or assaults, as their source of greatest concern. And 4% pointed out the poor service of public hospitals and Social Security.

Ortega and Murillo lead the unpopular

When consulted by political figures, the presidential couple leads the ranking of the most unpopular. Ortega and Murillo appear in the ranking with -54% and -49%, respectively. Against the grain, and despite the smear campaign in the midst of religious persecution, the Catholic Church and its pastoral leaders emerge as the most reliable institution in Nicaragua with 48%.

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On the opposition level, four exiled political prisoners enjoy the greatest popularity: former presidential candidates Félix Maradiaga (48%), Cristiana Chamorro (43%), Miguel Mora (39%) and the imprisoned politician Violeta Granera (40%).

“In the eyes of the population, the unpopularity and illegitimacy of Daniel Ortega is unquestionable, including the small minority that sympathizes with his discredited party, which is now around less than 15% of the population. What's more, an important part of that same Sandinista base does not believe in Daniel Ortega, nor does it want him as a leader”, says the Nicaraguan political scientist Manuel Orozco, who is director of the Migration, Remittances and Development program of the Inter-American Dialogue.

Orozco points out that 15% of citizens who say they sympathize with Sandinismo "are not totally on the side of the dictator." “There is no cohesion within that party base, but rather clear signs of dissent and discontent (...) According to the survey, 35% of the Sandinistas themselves disapprove of the Ortega government, which means that one in ten Nicaraguans (10% of the population) is an Ortega supporter, and there is 5.5% of the Sandinistas who are no longer an Ortega supporter”, he explains.

“Silent dissidents”

This trend, the political scientist continues, shows that there is a critical mass within the regime made up of “silent dissidents”, “people who want to get out of the system and want change”.

“This confirms a weakness within the circle of power, and is an important sign of the conditions that are needed to press for a political transition,” says Orozco, who was also stripped of his nationality. "The dissidence within Ortega has already reached its critical point and is generating signs of change: they don't want Ortega, because they don't believe there is a way out with Ortega."

The phenomenon of internal dissidence worries the regime in such a way that last week it ordered reforms to the Political Constitution and the organic law of the National Police to punish deserting officers. They also maintain tight control over public employees and many are prohibited from leaving Nicaragua. EL PAÍS has known dozens of cases of medium- and high-level officials who have had their passports taken away so they cannot travel abroad.

"First, it's not only that there are already 35% of Sandinistas who disapprove of Ortega, but also that they don't want him as a leader," Orozco analyzes. “The survey revealed that 93% of the Sandinistas who disapprove of Ortega's management believe that the way he performs his work is very bad (72%) or bad (21%). The poll also showed that 65% have an unfavorable opinion of Ortega as a person. Unlike other social sectors, these people believe that corruption is the country's main problem and 95% of the Sandinistas who disapprove of Ortega believe that the country is on the wrong path.

To conclude his analysis, the political scientist maintained that the differences in attitude are manifested in strong tendencies: Sandinistas who disapprove of Ortega and Murillo do not want to stay in Nicaragua either: 55% of those who do not want to, prefer to leave Nicaragua.

“Faced with these trends, it is not accidental to see the tweets 'announcing' to the dissidents that they are going to the United States, to the 'empire', even protected by the humanitarian parole. Also, 56% of them are people who do not favor at all the sentence against Monsignor Rolando Álvarez or having suspended relations with the Vatican”, remarks the analyst.

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