The anniversary of the Sandinista revolution shows Nicaragua's disenchantment with the Ortega and Murillo regime | International

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Daniel Ortega during the celebration of the 44th anniversary of the Sandinista revolution, in Managua.Jairo Cajina (Presidency of Nicaragua)

Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo celebrated the 44th anniversary of the Sandinista revolution on Wednesday night a kilometer and a half away from their home, which also serves as an office, in a small square where stands a statue of Augusto Sandino –a founding figure of Sandinismo– riding a mule. The site is symbolic because until 1979, when it was demolished, the equestrian effigy of Anastasio Somoza García, the founder of the previous Nicaraguan dictatorship, was erected. However, what drew the most attention was not the fact that this space was chosen for the first time to carry out the culminating act of the government party, but that its reduced capacity demonstrated the inability of the presidential couple to mobilize masses since 2018.

The latest poll by the Costa Rican firm CID Gallup, contracted by the Confidencial media outlet, revealed that only 13% of Nicaraguans sympathize with the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). It is the lowest degree of support recorded in its entire history and this July 19 the disappointment was clear: the anniversary of the revolution has historically been the date on which the Sandinistas display their political muscle. However, in 2023 the regime that the Ortega-Murillos have cemented is not generating popularity.

Starting in 2018, the year of social protests repressed with blood and fire by the police and paramilitaries, the presidential couple has not been able to show their “political muscle” with a large mobilization on the revolutionary anniversary. The covid-19 pandemic served the regime to qualify the involution of the usual massive calls. They went from carrying out the act of July 19 in the gigantic Plaza de La Fe to the Plaza de la Revolución, the original site where in 1979 the Sandinista guerrillas entered Managua triumphantly after overthrowing Somocismo. All activities linked to the red and black anniversary ceased to have a national character and were reduced to localities. The central act, presided over by the ruling couple, was readjusted in closed circuits broadcast on the national chain.

However, this year they moved from the plazas to an even smaller square, called the Monument to General Sandino, located next to the old national baseball stadium. They were summoned to the staging by members of the Sandinista Youth, a musical band, the highest ranking government officials and the heads of the armed forces.

There was no head of state accompanying the Ortega-Murillos in their act, not even the inevitable guests at previous appointments: the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, or the president of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel. The only special guest who shone was Apollinaire Joachimson Kyélem De Tambèla, Prime Minister of Burkina Faso, a country unknown to the average Nicaraguan. It was an image that also confirms the deep international isolation and the loss of prestige that the regime suffers due to its brutal repression.

“We thank the delegations that accompany us from Angola, Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Nigeria; from Eurasia: Belarus, Russia, South Ossetia... Islamic Republic of Iran, North Korea, Palestinian people, brothers from Cuba, Honduras", listed the "co-president" Murillo, in an attempt to demonstrate international support.

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For his part, to hide the meager national call, Ortega said in his speech that the act was followed throughout Nicaragua electronically. "In all the municipalities of the country, in each neighborhood, in each region, there are families, young people gathered in front of the television, following up on this act that we are broadcasting on national and international channels," he justified.

The Ortega-Murillos arrived at the square accompanied by their closest entourage, their sons and daughters-in-law. It was a very short trip from his house to the venue of the event. In fact, to go to the Sandino monument, the presidential couple barely left the security perimeter surrounding El Carmen, the neighborhood where the FSLN General Secretariat, the presidential house, and the home of the leaders work in the same complex. From the last presidential security ring to the set chosen for the act on July 19, it is separated by about 350 meters.

Praise Putin and against "treacherous snakes"

Ortega, who in his last public appearances has given brief speeches, lasted for more than an hour and a half on the night of this July 19. He referred to the summit that was just held in Brussels between the European Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac).

“Most of the CELAC countries could not sit there [en la reunión] to the Nazi president, to the Ukrainian fascist [Volodímir Zelenski]. then later they [los europeos] They insisted on trying to introduce a few paragraphs where they blamed the Russian Federation for everything that was happening in Ukraine. So we couldn't accept this. There was no point in putting those issues on the agenda,” said Ortega, who sees Moscow as one of his few international allies.

The Sandinista leader also attacked the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the United States, but did not refer to the sanctions that Washington imposed that same day, hours before the act, on 13 Sandinista operators, who were added to the list of Corrupt and Anti-democratic Actors, known as the Engel List. The officials are responsible for the denationalization, exile and confiscation of more than 300 opponents, including 222 former political prisoners.

Then, he referred to the recent ruling in The Hague that benefited Colombia in the Caribbean Sea. The ruling maintains that Managua cannot extend its continental shelf beyond the 200 nautical miles that delimit its maritime border. Ortega said that he will abide by that ruling and asked his Colombian counterpart, Gustavo Pedro, to comply with the ruling in favor of Nicaragua issued in 2012. In other words, he is willing to talk.

The one who did take advantage of the act of July 19 to rant against opponents was the "co-president" Murillo. “How can we understand that absurd chorus of snakes, of treacherous vipers, of fabricators of lies, of paid demeanors, of fools and forgers. How to understand the professionals of servility? Hitmen and mercenaries who crawl to serve their masters? How to understand those who, with shameless and diabolical pestilences, close themselves off from the cosmos, from the coexistence of all the energies, colors and vigor that make up strength and splendor?”, the first lady lashed out.

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