The workers of Nicaragua believed that the authoritarian regime, led by President Daniel Ortega and his wife Vice President Rosario Murillo since 2007, would never touch the INSS (National Institute of Social Security). They were wrong. When the government decreed an increase in payments and a decrease in benefits, the stage was set for the eventual elimination of this important working-class achievement. But a massive rebellion of workers and students exploded on April 19 to defend the INSS after the announcement of the hated measures.
Youth decided to join their parents and grandparents in the first wave of protests, because they too suffer the effects of the economic and social policies imposed by the gang of bureaucrats at the helm of the Ortega regime. This government’s main priority has been to safeguard the profits of the Nicaraguan bourgeoisie and large-scale foreign investors at the expense of the vast majority of the people.
Nicaragua is a poor country with a very youthful population. Seventy percent of the citizenry is under the age of 30. The unemployment rate among youth stands at 60 percent, and 14 percent of people have no schooling at all. Young people continue to migrate in great numbers from the countryside into the nation’s cities while thousands emigrate, mostly to Costa Rica and the United States.
In proposing the cuts to the INSS, the Ortega regime was caving in to the International Monetary Fund’s demand that the government find a new source of income to pay down the debts owed to international banks and improve the foreign investment environment. This demand was strongly supported by the Nicaraguan business alliance, COSEP. After lobbying for even stiffer cuts, this alliance supported the April announcement of the INSS reforms and denounced the first wave of demonstrations. Business feared that protests would disrupt economic activity and adversely affect the country’s tourism sector. Simultaneously, Vice President Rosario Murillo took to the air waves to attack the protestors as “agitators” in service of a weak and discredited anti-Sandinista political opposition, while the hierarchy of the different churches in Nicaragua —both Protestant and Roman Catholic — maintained a deadly silence.
As anti-government mobilizations of angry students swelled on university campuses and protests grew in public schools and poor communities and neighborhoods around the country, and as the capacity of these forces to maintain organized resistance to repression blossomed, the Ortega regime unleashed a criminal wave of police, military and paramilitary repression. This resulted in the assassination of dozens of protesters and the disappearance, jailing and terrorizing of countless others. At the same time, a generalized repudiation of the Sandinista government developed. This situation forced the bourgeoisie, the churches, and a conservative group of the intelligentsia to intervene to bring the crisis under control.
Under pressure, President Ortega rescinded the cuts in the INSS and called for a “dialog” led by the Catholic Church hierarchy and made up of business and government representatives, but without the participation of students. These “peace negotiations” were openly supported by the Organization of American States and the imperialist presidency of Donald Trump in Washington, D.C.
Many grassroots activists and important sectors of students and community protesters refused to support the “dialog” trap. They called for the resignation of President Ortega, declaring that there was no way to justify what President Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo, and their band of state bureaucrats and henchmen, had done in the name of the “Sandinista Revolution.”
As CRIR, we support the protests and join the youth and workers of Nicaragua in calling for the prosecution of all those responsible for the assassinations of protesters, including the president and his supporters.
We oppose the “peace negotiations” and the call for dialog under the auspices of the Catholic Church because this is a political trap whose only purpose is to dismantle the protests and stabilize the authoritarian Ortega regime.
We also demand the following:
–A halt to all forms of persecution, the appearance of all missing persons, and the opening of all jails and dungeons currently holding protesters.
–Prosecution of all military, police and elected officials who ordered the shooting of protesters.
–The prosecution and jailing of all those responsible for the embezzlement of INSS funds and the return of these funds.
–Compensation for the families of protesters murdered by the police and military.
–No second wave of state repression or the round-up of innocent citizens who exercised their right to protest and speak out against the government during the protests.
Committee for Revolutionary International Regroupment (CRIR)
Comité de Enlace, Convergencia Socialista-La Verdad y Reagrupamiento hacia el PST (Argentina)
Freedom Socialist Party (United States and Australia)
Partido Obrero Socialista (México)