On July 19th, Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo celebrated the 44th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution with a small group of government officials and sympathizers, that is, a “petit comité” that was summoned to a small square where a statue of a mule ridden by Agusto Sandino, the founding figure of Sandinismo stands. The location for the event was not only relevant for its symbolism (since the figure of Somoza on the same pedestal that occupies the current statue was standing until its demolition in 1979), but also because the monument is located just 1.3 kilometers away from the leaders’ house, who since 2018 have not been able to summon crowds to the celebration of Sandinismo.
It has been, according to critical former Sandinista militants consulted by DIVERGENTES, one of the “most rickety” celebrations in terms of attendance.
The Ortega-Murillo family presided over the 44th anniversary of the revolution with their regime consolidated as a totalitarian dictatorship, but lacking in popularity. According to the latest CID Gallup poll hired by newspaper Confidencial, barely 13% of Nicaraguans sympathize with their authoritarian political project. This is the lowest degree of sympathy in the entire history of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). From 2018, the year of social protests repressed by police and paramilitaries, the presidential couple has not been able to show its power with a large gathering.
The Covid-19 pandemic allowed the regime to disguise the involution of the usual massive convocations. They went from holding the July 19th ceremony in the gigantic Plaza La Fe to the Plaza de la Revolución, the original site where in 1979 the Sandinista guerrillas triumphantly entered Managua after overthrowing Somocismo. This year they moved to a small square, called Monumento al General Sandino, located next to the old national baseball stadium. It is a noticeably smaller space attended by members of the Sandinista Youth, a musical band, the highest-ranking government officials and the heads of the armed forces in a closed circuit.
Recibe nuestro boletín semanal
There were no heads of state accompanying the Ortega-Murillo family in their act, not even the infallible guests from previous events: Nicolás Maduro and Miguel Díaz Canel, presidents of Venezuela and Cuba respectively. This image confirms the regime’s deep international isolation and the discredit it faces due to its brutal repression. “We thank the delegations joining 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 the view of low attendance, the government ordered July 19th celebrations at a local level in neighborhoods and state institutions. “Since the beginning of this event, in every municipality of the country, in every neighborhood, in every district, there are families and young people gathered in front of the television, following this event that we are broadcasting on national and international television,” Ortega explained during his speech.
They barely leave their security perimeter
To move to the Sandino monument square, Ortega and Murillo barely left the security perimeter that encloses El Carmen, an area where the General Secretariat of the FSLN, the presidential house and the home of the presidents are located. There are about 350 meters from the last presidential security ring to the set chosen for the July 19th ceremony.
After almost two hours of a musical concert, Ortega took the stage and gave a long speech in which he recounted Nicaragua’s national heroes. He attacked the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the United States and Europe. He then referred to the recent Hague ruling that benefits Colombia in the Caribbean Sea. The ruling holds that Managua cannot extend its continental platform beyond the 200 nautical miles that delimit its maritime border. Ortega said he will abide by that ruling and asked his Colombian counterpart, Gustavo Petro, to comply with the ruling in favor of Nicaragua issued in 2012.
The Sandinista leader had not offered such a long speech in a while. This time it was more than an hour and a half. At the end, he referred to the European Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit in Brussels. He criticized the West for providing arms to Ukraine to defend itself from Russia’s invasion and for not giving money to Latin American countries, such as Nicaragua, questioned for their autocratic drift and violation of human rights.
Murillo, was the one to take advantage of the July 19th event to rant against the opposition. “How can we understand this absurd snake choir, of treacherous vipers, of manufacturers of lies, of paid denigrators, of fools and fakers? How can we understand the professionals of servility, the hired killers and mercenaries who crawl to serve their masters? How can we understand those who with shameless and diabolical pestilence close themselves to the cosmos, to the coexistence of all energies, colors and vigors that make up strength and splendor?”, said the first lady.
Neither Ortega nor Murillo addressed the sanctions imposed by the United States on Wednesday, July 19th to thirteen officials of the regime, who were added to the list of Corrupt and Undemocratic Actors, known as the Engel List. The Sandinista operators are responsible for the denationalization, banishment and confiscation of more than 300 opponents, including 222 political prisoners. The sanctions were announced as Ortega and Murillo celebrated the 44th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution.