Monica Baltodano

Dora Longo Bahia, Revoluções (calendar project), 2016 Acrylic, water-based pen and watercolor on paper (12 pieces), 23 x 30.5 cm each
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By SANDRA BITENCOURT & LAURA BARRERAS*

The commander declares an undeniable subversive, revolutionary and political character of her trajectory and her denunciation

The voice is soft, the gestures are moved, but the word is firm. Commander Mónica Baltodano declares an undeniable subversive, revolutionary and political character of her trajectory and her denunciation. Born in 1954 in the city of León, Nicaragua, the third daughter of a family of 10 siblings, at 15 she began to join the military, at 18 she joined the Sandinista National Liberation Front, at 20 she went underground.

At 69, mother of four, revolutionary Mónica undertakes a journey to denounce human rights violations in Nicaragua under President Daniel Ortega's fourth consecutive term. Mónica is a victim of the appalling persecution of government opponents, which earlier this year deported 222 political prisoners and 94 people considered “traitors to the homeland”.

All lost their citizenships. Mónica lost everything: home, citizenship, her civil registration, her retirement, her rights, her ability to maintain and survive. She lives in Costa Rica, supported financially by her children. The scathing report took place during lunch in Porto Alegre, with the presence of several personalities from the legal, academic, student and cultural areas. One of the organizers was former governor Tarso Genro.

According to the former revolutionary and leader of the Sandinista National Liberation Front, the FSLN also suffers from a series of violations in its purpose and role: without congresses, without organization, not even an elected national leadership, it became a mere party apparatus that strengthened the figure personalista of Daniel Ortega and today serves him and his wife and deputy, Rosario Murillo.

For the militant, only the massive incorporation of the people into the FSLN led to the victory of the Revolution. Now, she asks the international community for help, especially the progressive camp, so that they understand how much the defense of the Daniel Ortega regime harms the left in her country.

Point by point, she explained the deterioration of the revolutionary spirit, Daniel Ortega's betrayal of the revolution and the fallacy about the supposed fight against North American imperialism as a justification for the radicalization of the regime. With the help of the Nicaraguan teacher, Ana Mercedes Icaza, we resumed the main points of the report.

Mônica Baltodano explained that the Sandinista revolution generated many hopes, that it aroused great international solidarity and that it had some characteristics that made it special: it united Marxism with liberation theology, with many priests who actively joined, such as Ernesto and Fernando Cardenal and many young people who started out doing work in the suburbs and then joined the organizational and armed struggle to overthrow the Somoza dictatorship. It also proclaimed non-alignment, reaffirming a project of national sovereignty and affirmed the mixed economy, with state ownership as an important, but not exclusive, axis of its development project. After the revolutionary triumph of 1979, more than 50.000 young people died fighting the counter-revolution, a good part of the country's productive structure was destroyed. The quest for peace came at a high cost.

For 16 years, three neoliberal governments followed each other in the country. During this period, a series of ruptures took place within the FSLN, which led the party itself to a process of moving away from the ideals of the Sandinista revolution. Internally, the FSLN split, with three main moments of rupture: in 1995, when the Sandinista Renewal Movement, the MRS, was created; then, in 1998, when the pact between the FSLN and the then right-wing president Arnoldo Alemán was signed, when Mónica Baltodano, along with other cadres, left the FSLN, and the last one in 2005, when a group was repressed that tried, internally, to , make room for another presidential candidate other than Daniel Ortega.

It is important to understand that the first moment of the destruction of the revolution took place with the elimination of the FSLN's collective decision-making bodies, which ceased to be a democratic organization and became dominated by a single person, Daniel Ortega, who controls and decides the from your personal and family circle.

Daniel Ortega returns to government in 2006, after winning the 2005 elections with just 38% of the vote. Since then, he has remained in power, being re-elected, through questionable mechanisms, in 2011 and 2016. This return to government is marked by the abandonment of the principles of Sandinismo, where what counts is the conquest and maintenance of power at any time. cost. And this cost is expressed in a series of shifts that structure his return to power: pact with the oligarchic extreme right, rapprochement with the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, alliance with big financial capital, implementation of various agreements with the United States.

Daniel Ortega's economic policy follows all neoliberal precepts; the government follows the guidelines of the IMF and the World Bank, which have consistently praised it over the years, including recently. It is a model that increases income concentration and keeps the country among the poorest in Latin America.

There is nothing of struggle or contestation, in the practice of relations, to the so-called American imperialism, triggered to justify the suffocation of dissident voices, says Mónica Baltodano.

In April 2018, a series of protests erupted against the social security reforms that were so burdensome for those who were already retired. They were demonstrations that expressed discontent that had been accumulating over the years. The protests were brutally repressed, causing the deaths of 355 people over a period of three months.

The repressive escalation became more acute from May 2021, with the proximity of elections in November of that year. The regime ordered the arrest of seven presidential candidates, canceled the registration of political parties that could oppose it, and arrested its main leaders, as well as leaders of civil society organizations, students, peasants, businessmen, journalists, and human rights defenders. Among them, historic ex-guerrillas of the 1979 revolution, such as Victor Hugo Tinoco and commanders Dora Maria Téllez and Hugo Torres Jiménez. The latter died in unexplained circumstances in prison in June 2022.

The 2021 elections took place in this context: without opposition political parties, without independent media, with the main leaders arrested or exiled, with the Electoral Power fully controlled. With an abstention of more than 70% (despite the use of a lot of pressure for the population to vote) Daniel Ortega was proclaimed winner and assumed his fourth consecutive term, again with his wife Rosario Murillo as vice president.

Since then, the police state has deepened in the country. In Nicaragua there is no right to association, there are no political freedoms, there is no rule of law. Some data corroborate the description made by Mónica Baltodano: more than 3.500 NGOs were closed in the last year; gatherings of any kind are prohibited; all independent media were shut down and their premises occupied; political persecution is systematic and permanent. There are currently more than 50 political prisoners, 20 of whom have been detained in recent weeks. 317 people had their nationality withdrawn. Other measures were also added: cancellation of their pensions, confiscation of their assets and even the erasure of their civil records.

Mónica Baltodano appeals: it is important for the left in Brazil to understand who Daniel Ortega is and how he betrayed the principles of the Sandinista revolution. It is necessary for the left to condemn the human rights violations that he has been perpetrating, not letting the right and the extreme right assume this flag in an opportunistic way.

Mónica's speech, already embargoed at the end of the report, has an impact on the group. The reaction came in the form of hugs. Unable to mute. The voice of progressive democrats, defenders of the utopia of social equality and a society based on freedom and justice must be raised in solidarity against a dictatorship that came into being with the defeat of the revolution.

* Sandra Bitencourt is a journalist, PhD in communication and information from UFRGS, executive director of Instituto Novos Paradigmas (INP).

*Laura Barreras is a business administration student at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) and a member of the Levante Popular da Juventude.


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