DSA Statement of Support for the Struggle for Democracy and Justice in Nicaragua

The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) supports the working people and the society at large in Nicaragua in the struggle to restore democracy and to establish justice in that country. Since April 2018 when peaceful protests over a reform of the social security system began, the Nicaraguan government has engaged in an increasingly violent repression of the opposition movement that has led to the virtual abolition of all political and democratic rights. Hundreds have been killed, thousands have been jailed or imprisoned, and while in custody many have been tortured, while tens of thousands have been driven into exile. The repression has particularly affected students, farmers, workers, indigenous peoples, and the middle classes, but also the wealthy.

We Hold the Ortega Government Responsible for Violence

Nicaraguan human rights groups — before they were suppressed — and international organizations that have investigated the situation have placed responsibility for the violence on the government of Daniel Ortega. They have also strongly condemned the Ortega regime for its violations of human rights and its suppression of the democratic rights of assembly and peaceful protest, its closing down of the free press, radio and television, and its arrest of the leaders of non-governmental organizations, the seizure of their computers together with data about their activities and membership. Many of those who have been arrested have suffered beating and torture. Many longtime members of the Sandinista Front for National Liberation, the ruling party, have also placed responsibility on Ortega, as have many others on the left.

We Oppose U.S. Intervention

We recognize that the United States as the dominant imperial power in Latin America for decades has often worked directly or indirectly, through outright imposition of governments or through the subterfuge of support for phony revolutions. The most reliable international investigations, as well as the testimony of former Sandinista leaders, find no evidence of the United States having caused, directed, or controlled the popular uprising that began in April 2018. Since the uprising, President Donald Trump, the Republican Party and Democratic Party leadership, the U.S. State Department, and no doubt the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. government agencies have attempted to intervene in and direct political developments. Their involvement does not in any way discredit the legitimacy of the initial popular protest or of continuing protests and demands for democracy and justice, though it leads us to oppose all U.S. government intervention in Nicaragua. We oppose U.S. military or diplomatic intervention as well as the imposition of economic sanctions that will affect the Nicaraguan population as a whole.

We Support the Popular Movement

We believe that the Nicaraguan people have the right to make their own decisions about their future, free from interference from the U.S. or any other foreign power. We support the call of many in the country for the immediate resignation of Ortega and Murillo and for the democratic election of a new government. We also support calls for dialogue and for a peaceful transition to a new government.

We believe that the popular movement for democracy and justice in Nicaragua finds its expression today in the Articulación de Movimientos Sociales y OSC Nicaragua (Platform of Social Movements and Organizations of Civil Society) that today gives expression to the popular movement for reform. The group defines itself this way: “We are a coming together of different social organizations to promote a profound political and social change in Nicaragua. We have organized through diverse and inclusive horizontal processes around two objectives: justice and democracy.” The group includes students, farmer, feminists, environmentalists, and many other sorts of popular organizations.

We recognize the existence of a broader organization, the Blue and White Unity (Unidad Azul y Blanco), but we withhold our endorsement from this organization because of its inclusion of the Superior Council for Business Enterprise (COSEP) and other business organizations many of whose members collaborated for decades first with the Somoza family’s dynastic dictatorship and then with the Ortega government. While COSEP leaders have criticized the Ortega regime and have called for early elections, they have also restrained the opposition movement by opposing calls for a national strike against the government. While COSEP calls for political democracy and for basic political and human rights, it does not and cannot share the Articulación’s program to improve the lives of working people, which would conflict with the interests of businesses in profits and wealth accumulation.

As socialists, we believe that the working class and progressive forces found in the Articulación should play the leading role the democratic movement in Nicaragua. We recognize that, since Ortega and the FSLN have controlled the labor unions of the Central Sandinista de Trabajadores, the Nicaraguans will have to build a new, independent labor movement. And we know that because the FSLN’s claim to be a “socialist party,” socialism has been largely discredited, so that the left so that today there left in Nicaragua is extremely weak. Nevertheless, we stand with the popular movement believing that it is from that movement that a new left and labor movement and labor movement will arise.

We Propose to Take Action

DSA urges its chapters, working groups and other affiliates to educate our members about these issues, to work to show international solidarity with the Nicaraguan popular movement, to support Nicaraguan exiles and migrants as they seek refuge and asylum in the United States or other countries. We also urge our chapter and members to support the Nicaraguans already living in the United States with Temporary Protective Status (TPS), which the Trump government has said it will revoke. We oppose the revocation of TPS status since it will lead to Nicaraguan being returned to a country in conflict, with an authoritarian and violently repressive government, and to possible reprisals against Nicaraguans living in the United States who have supported the popular movement for democracy back in their homeland. We urge our members to protest President Trump’s deportation to Nicaragua of opponents of the Ortega regime.