Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega: ‘The Coup Was Defeated’

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teleSUR, July 24, 2018
English Transcript Provided by Tortilla con Sal

Interview with President – Comandante Daniel Ortega with the Journalist Patricia Villegas on teleSUR

Journalist Patricia Villegas

We extend at this time, greetings from the City of Managua, Capital of Nicaragua, to the President of this Central American Country, Comandante Daniel Ortega. Comandante, thank you very much for making time for TELESUR, both in English and in Spanish.

Comandante Daniel Ortega

Thanks, Patricia.

Patricia Villegas

How does a situation like the one that has been unfolding during the last three months reach Nicaragua? How did this happen to the Sandinista Revolution?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

Actually, this is nothing more than an accumulation of violence, which did not disappear from our Country. That is to say, we had achieved peace, then later, in the period from 1990 to 2007, when we had other governments; that is, we turned over the Government in 1990 after the elections, and the governments that came to power after that represented the Somocismo which had been overthrown; therefore, they came with all the intention of cutting off the head of the Sandinista Party, they sought to extinguish Sandinismo.

That made that each Election that we had to go to, during those 17 years we went to three Elections, all the big economic groups would unite, the Representatives of the North American Government would come to tell the People that they shouldn’t vote for the FSLN because that meant the return of war with the United States. Planting fear in the population.

Meanwhile, extremist groups that had been part of the Contras, which did not understand peace, did not understand Reconciliation, mobilized in the rural areas, assassinating Sandinistas; many Sandinistas were murdered during that period, although the Army was playing its role, trying to control these armed groups, that also killed peasant families, simply because they did not lend them the support they wanted.

And these groups, that we refer to as criminals, fell into the hands of drug trafficking organizations, which operate in the boarder regions, and yes, presenting themselves as “Freedom Fighters”, looking for ways to disappear Sandinismo. That is to say, it was not enough for them to have the government, but they wanted to extinguish Sandinismo.

And when we were able to gain back the Government in 2007, these groups became more relevant, to the extent that the right wing press began to call them “freedom fighters”, and they also started to project them on social media, through the Media, from Miami, from Costa Rica, they were based in Costa Rica, in Miami, and the right wing media here in Nicaragua highlighted them, positioning them as if they were combatants that were fighting against a Sandinismo that had returned to bring war to Nicaragua, when rather a period of Peace, Stability, Understanding and Reconciliation had began.

But in spite of that, the bases of that which was Somocismo kept alive, of what was the Contra; one part of the Contra was reconciled, and even became our allies, but another part was never reconciled, and it is that part which continues in this attitude.

Patricia Villegas

And it is the one that has been expressing during the last three months.

Comandante Daniel Ortega

They express themselves in Liberalism, in the Liberal Party, which is Somoza´s Party, it is Somocismo! In other words, here we are combating Somocismo once again.

Patricia Villegas

Is it a repetition of the war of the 80´s?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

That is so, in a new circumstance where they began to organize these groups, they started assassinating in the rural areas, not only Sandinistas, but also attacked the Police; they would take over small Police Units in the rural areas, killing the Police, assassinating them. Then, when the police acted and managed to fight them off, and they fell in combat, then they were called “martyrs”, then came the Human Rights Organizations from all over to advocate for the “martyrs”, and the right-wing media, here also, and right wing organizations portrayed these criminals as victims. It is a permanent campaign! Therefore, as I say, here we have been accumulating forces of violence, of revenge, of hatred, which failed to disappear in these years, in which we achieved 11 years of stability, security and peace with that persistence.

Patricia Villegas

What broke the balance in this case, exactly what the international media was saying, Your proposal, your governments proposal, to approve a provisional reform. Is that what breaks the balance or that latency let us say, but with a predominance, of course, of Sandinismo in the exercise of power in your mind?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

Actually, that was an element. The rupture begins to present itself from what was the Understanding, the Alliance in the Economic Sphere, which we had with the Nicaraguan businesspersons. Businesspersons who were not Sandinistas, logically, businesspersons who did not forget the period of the Triumph of the Revolution, when most of them left for Miami, which most of them supported the Counterrevolution, not all, but most of them did.

Many of these businesspersons, welcomed our openness to build an alliance between workers, private sector and the government, which could allow Nicaragua with a very fragile economy; you know that it is the second most fragile economy, after Haiti, could grow in a sustainable way, growing the Nicaraguan economy, improving the conditions of the Country, sharing benefits; the businessmen won, and I would say they were happy, they were satisfied.

Patricia Villegas

And why, if they did well, did the relationship fracture?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

Why does the fracture happen? Because in the United States there has always been a group of congressmen seated in Florida, enemies of everything that is Revolution, enemies of Cuba, enemies of Venezuela, and therefore, also enemies of Nicaragua. They are the ones that welcomed the counterrevolutionaries in the 80´s, those North American congressmen, who promoted the financing of the war by the United States against Nicaragua in the 1980s.

Now, they could not understand, nor could they assimilate that the FSLN had returned to Government, they could not! After they had fought so much for us to never return to power by way of elections, they could not understand that in the end we would have returned through the electoral route, they could not accept it. And then came an entire campaign, for what? To go taking away what the Americans call cooperation from Nicaragua, which we rather see it simply as an investment, because Nicaragua provides services to the United States fighting Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime; in addition, the number of migrants going from Nicaragua to the United States is very low. That is, it provides an invaluable contribution in relation to what the United States gives Nicaragua, but they started making cuts.

And later, what came to shake this alliance the most was the initiative known as the Nica-Act, a Law aimed at blocking Nicaragua’s access to funds from multilateral organizations. That split the Private Sector: Some businessmen in favor of the Nica-Act and making arrangements for the Nica-Act to be approved; Other businessmen did not agree with the Nica-Act, because they understood that it would do a devastating damage to the whole Country, it was not about damaging the Government, it was damaging the entire National Economy.

Therefore that is where the fracture started, the fracture that already divided the business sector with respect to the understanding that they had with the Government, which was an understanding strictly in the Economic-Commercial Order, it was not Political; they, logically, ideologically, did not fit, and whenever they could they came out against the Government. They always forwarded their criticism to the Nicaraguan Government in the Political Institutional aspects.

Patricia Villegas

Now, those Businessmen have also declared in the last hours, you have done so in the Public Square, that one of the losers in these three months of violence is the Country´s Economy, growth projections are quite less than what was presented at the beginning of the year.

Have you dialogued with them again? Would you sit down here again? Would you again make an agreement with that Business Group, for the Prosperity of the Country, as it did at that time; or has that opportunity already passed, since you clearly identify that the problem is not even the provisional reform, but rather the aspirations of this business sector?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

Let’s say, the poison is placed by the Nica-Act, that is, American interventionism in Nicaragua. This is the root of the problem. If the United States respects Nicaragua, and respects what we Nicaraguans say, regardless of ideology, and respects an Agreement between businessmen, workers and government, a country that is advancing, that has security, stability, and is growing, then, the business sector would be working with Nicaragua. And the reforms would have been approved, because everyone was clear that they were necessary, the International Organizations had already been here, they had met with them, with the business sector, and it was clear that the reforms had to be approved, and that they had to put their part as Businessmen, just like the Government and the Workers, in order to get the reforms approved.

Patricia Villegas

Would you put the reforms back on the table?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

But working it some more, we need to work on them some more, because they are indispensable, the reforms are essential; that is to say, the Social Security cannot be sustained, more so with the blow that the Economy has recently suffered, the blow is severe, the possibility of collecting revenue to sustain the Pension System has been seriously affected.

Therefore, today it is more urgent than ever to approve this reform, and we have to look for ways to get it approved. We need to achieve consensus, especially with the Social Security Affiliates. Why? Because the other problem is that, when the Businessman is taxed with a few more points, then there is discmfort. They did not like the 3.5 increase that would be applied to them in that reform, which would be applied gradually, 2 points for this year, 1 point for the year 2019, and 0.5 for the following year. It was a gradual reform.

Then they reacted, even though they knew that the reforms were necessary, they had already spoken with the Agencies, they themselves had said that the reforms were necessary; but when the reforms were approved, then they attacked them, and that was, shall we say, the signal to reactivate a plan that had already been underway, and that was gaining strength weeks before with the Indio Maíz forest fire. That’s when the full-fledged plan began, already with all the resources that were being provided to them by the United States, Organizations from the United States, preparing people, preparing cadres.

Patricia Villegas

Did you see it coming, Comandante? Did you see the situation that you are facing come?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

Of course! With Indio Maiz we were seriously worried, because the movement started, they started to mobilize public opinion through the networks, this is a very sensitive issue, logically, Nature, the Environment, and blaming the Government for the fire! They turned it immediately, since this conspiracy has international networks and they already have international brands, then the brand appears immediately at a Global Level, and then the protest emerged condemning the Government of Nicaragua for allowing the Indio Maiz Reserve to burn.

Actually, American experts sent by the same Government of the United States came, experts in forest fires, they have large fires, right now they have a large fire and, when they learned about the situation here, they told us that this was going to last long, that this was going to last for months. Then, I said: This got complicated for us, it got complicated for us because the conditions were there for this Plan to develop, where they had already collected more weapons than what they already had and with which they had been carrying out crimes in the rural areas and towns.

It turns out that, in the area where the Indio Maiz Reserve is located it rains intensely, however it hadn’t rain for some time. When it did rain, suddenly it started to pour by the “bucket” as we say, and the fire subsided. Then the Indio Maíz plan fell for them.

Patricia Villegas

But in your reading, was that, say, the first great impulse of the conspiracy?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

That’s right, and it left them, let’s say, already in motion, and a bit frustrated because the fire went out. Then we put forth the reforms, and then they jumped on it.

Patricia Villegas

You have told me about the background to the events that generated violence since April in your country; you have also spoken to me about one of the key players from your perspective President Daniel Words Ortega, the business sector; but there is also another important question that I am going to ask you once we return from this first break, and it is the Church, the role of the Church in a country as Catholic as Nicaragua, and in the difference between the Local Church and the vision of Pope Francisco.

Comandante, in the first segment of this interview, I was asking you about the actors of this conflict in recent months in your country. In a very detailed manner you described the role of the business sector with whom the Sandinista Government, had made an alliance for the development of Nicaragua, and the role it has played in generating violence.

But I asked a question and it remains unanswered, and I want to clarify this. Would you invite them back to work together with you, in a room just like the one we are in right now?… Would you sit down again with the business sector, which has been most active in this stage of violence?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

Yes, we started with the principle that dialogue, understanding and consensus is necessary; we maintain that principle, regardless of the situation we are currently experiencing.

Patricia Villegas

Are there any signs of them wanting to sit down again?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

Not. That is, the business leaders have not given us any signals, but the businessmen that are not represented in this association, who are participating in meetings called by the government to address specific issues that have to do with the different Sectors of the National Economy are participating. That is a positive signal.

But still the leadership, which logically has great influence, is still undecided, let’s say, they are still under the influence of the forces that have shocked our country. We are open to dialogue and agreements, taking into consideration the new conditions, starting from the new reality we face; because history cannot be repeated either, that is, that moment that we enjoyed with sufficient balance, with enough harmony, will not be repeated.

Patricia Villegas

What would these new conditions be?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

I believe that the new conditions would have to be based strictly on the role of the private sector, in terms of contributing to the development of the Country’s Economy and, not as much as we had incorporated them into the Alliance, because it was an Alliance, where we started from the fact that they could participate, comment on different topics, including Laws. We did not approve any Law if it was not in consensus with the private sector.

We maintain the willingness to do so regarding laws, approve them in consensus with the private sector; but other fields where, I would say, the scope was exceeded by giving them participation, I don’t think they themselves want it, because it would make them appear as if they are again folding to the Government, because, the extreme right, that is mobilized in this coup, in this conspiracy, would accuse them, blame them for being accomplices of the Government, for having made an alliance with the Government.

Patricia Villegas

Would the new conditions also be for the Church? And there I return to the question that was left in the air when we closed our first segment of the conversation, because that alliance also included the Nicaraguan Church, in a highly religious country.

Will the hierarchy of the Church sit back down here after it has been known, its public, notorious, videos are known, widely distributed by Social Networks, of Churches as places where there have even been snipers, where weapons have been stored? The priests of the Nicaraguan High Hierarchy have been very active in these acts of violence; have denounced your government as an oppressive regime. What happens with that Church? Would it sit down again? What reading do you have of that Church, of your relationship, for such a religious People, as this one?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

I would echo the words of Cardinal Brenes, this Sunday, when he said to the parishioners who were there in the Temple, he told them, that we have to fight for Peace, that Peace is most important, and that we all have a demon inside, and that the Priests have two demons inside, he said. That is to say, and I believe that it is a reality that we all have these internal elements, Love and Hate are in there, suddenly Love prevails, Hate suddenly imposes itself in all fields.

And I believe in the words of the Cardinal when he said he is for Peace, and I know that not all the Episcopal Conference acted in this attempt … No! It was the case of some Priest, where either their Bishops didn’t know, or they were tolerated by their Bishops, but the fact is that some priests allowed their temples to become barracks, where people who were captured in the roadblocks were even tortured there, and outrageously, even in the presence of a Priest. Of course, we are Humans, in the end we are Humans.

Patricia Villegas

Would you forgive then, I am interpreting your words, and would you sit here again and Dialogue?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

Yes, yes, of course! We are willing to converse, not only with them, but with everyone.

Patricia Villegas

Are the conditions there Mr. President?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

I would say that it is necessary to create them, because even now the messages that have come out do not help to create those conditions, but rather tend to move away from the conditions. But, the Message that Cardinal Brenes gave on Sunday, is a message that would be like giving a signal, a starting point to begin working toward the necessary conditions.

Patricia Villegas

And do you also read Pope Francis’ message with that perspective?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

Yes, he is always for Peace, unquestionably; He is very firm in that, in defending the Struggle for Peace.

Patricia Villegas

Dictator, murderer, director of paramilitary groups, these are terms, words, expressions that have appeared widely in the World’s Media. I want to ask you directly, President Ortega: Has the Government of Nicaragua sponsored paramilitary groups to persecute the population, what is the battle of the news that floods the media?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

Here what is known as paramilitary groups, we already know what the concept of a paramilitary group means, to what it is linked; but in our reality, when we speak of paramilitary groups, we have to talk about these groups that I have mentioned to you, that have been organized for years now, and that took more strength from 2007, killing peasants, assassinating soldiers, assassinating police officers; many of them also falling in combat with the police or the army, where the Right Wing is presenting these criminals as “patriots”.

That is to say, these are the groups that I could call paramilitary in Nicaragua, because they are organized by the Right, armed by the Right, sponsored by Intelligence Organizations, which come, logically, from the United States, and which are the ones that began armed attacks on April 19; because on April 18, when the law was enacted, the law was announced, then there were some protests, with minor incidents

Patricia Villegas

But were there many discontented people, honestly dissatisfied with the Law?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

Those who appeared were not the retirees, they were not the ones receiving pensions, they were not the insured, they did not protest, they were in accordance with the Law. Those who came out to protest were the political groups of the right that have ignored the Government; those who called for abstention in each election, those were Non-Governmental Organizations and Parties of the Right.

They appeared to protest, there were some incidents with some young people from the Sandinista Youth, and the most that happened there was a stone, which hit the head of one of these NGO leaders. And that was all that happened, because the police quickly arrived to avoid violence, the police were careful, without hitting anyone, until the situation subsided, the groups withdrew, and the night was quiet.

The following night, in an unexpected way, armed groups appeared attacking police headquarters, attacking Municipal Buildings, throughout the country, attacking the Offices of the FSLN and the homes of Sandinistas throughout the country. That is, attacking… and they were armed, they were armed! They were not unarmed, they were armed! Then the fighting started, there were battles, confrontations.

Patricia Villegas

Who against whom?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

The Coupe Right, in its military expression, let’s say, attacking the authorities, like the Police, and attacked the local authorities, where the FSLN is governing. Logically they were not going to attack a Local Government where the Right is governing, but attacking the Municipal Buildings where the FSLN governs, to look for ways to take them over; but as the attacks were foreseen, Comrades from these Local Government Buildings begun entrenching, fighting back, defending themselves; they were being attacked with AK rifles, Buildings were being attacked.

Patricia Villegas

If I understand you well, your government has not financed or sponsored paramilitary groups. That would be your response to that number of headlines that today is in the different media around the world?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

It´s that, if we are going to talk about paramilitaries, the only paramilitary groups are the ones on the Right; they are groups, I would say, the way I see it…right? We have Armed Forces, Army, Police, which are Constitutional Forces; and at the same time, clandestine armed forces, which are what have become the instrument of death of the right wing coup.

Patricia Villegas

There are many young people in some of those violent mobilizations, I have seen photographs, videos, of boys with artisanal weapons. Have you identified this before these months of violence? Could you anticipate that there was youth training? Has this surprised you? And I ask you at once Comandante, are these images in many cases very similar to those experienced during the times of “Guarimbas” in Venezuela?

There are also similar symbols: There is a boy who plays the violin in Managua, like a boy who plays the violin in Caracas; and there is a girl who shouts, in the midst of supposed attacks by Nicaraguan Authorities, saying: “I am fighting for my Country, for the Democracy of my Country”, as a girl in Maidan, Ukraine shouted, as a girl in Altamira shouted, in a Venezuelan Plaza. Are there any similarities to this? And I ask this for the youth element of this attempted coup.

Comandante Daniel Ortega

Yes, there are similarities, and not only similarities that are spontaneous, there has simply been a preparation here, there has been funding for that preparation, for what? To transfer the experience of those other countries where this type of coup has taken place, transfer them to Nicaragua.

Even, here they have come from Venezuela, Venezuelans have come, from those who have participated in the “Guarimbas”, of those who are experts in the management of Social Networks, to transfer that experience here. And they have also traveled; young people financed by agencies of the United States, have traveled to Venezuela, as they have traveled to the United States, to assimilate a greater experience.

Now, as to what these younger boys are, there are some who are unquestionably students, but others who are not students at all, these are the gangs of impoverished people, who have been here in Nicaragua and we have been working with them, so they can begin leaving the violence and are incorporated back into their families, the workforce, schools. All that we had been working with these gangs.

In other words, gangs have been in Nicaragua all this time, during these 11 years, work was been done with gangs. I remember even, in an event with the Police, we had just won the Government, the Police had been doing a job with the gangs, so that the gangs delivered their artisanal weapons, and in return they were given Sports Equipment, they were given materials for school that is, they were given elements so that they could change their attitudes.

Artisanal weapons were already a reality in Nicaragua, without the gangs getting to the levels of the Mara. It was a gang that in the presence of the police, well, there it stood. Suddenly they clashed with the police, but then, the Police endured and, communication was achieved within the neighborhoods, with family members, with the families of the neighborhood that have children who are not gang members and who feared the gangs.

Patricia Villegas

And all this emerged in the middle of this situation?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

Then, these gangs were incorporated as a shock force as well; that is, they incorporated them, they paid them.

Journalist Patricia Villegas

With payment?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

With payment. In all the Municipalities of the Country they were paid to incorporate them.

Patricia Villegas

Commander, how does a Country recover from this? It is said that there are even more than 200 victims of these acts of violence. Are you already thinking, let’s say, in the nearest Future, how can you heal these wounds?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

The hardest thing is always to heal the wounds that cause death. The Economy, of course it is a hard blow for the Country, but well, the material can be recovered, but Life cannot be recovered, and when we have so many dead, so many dead! Today, three Sandinista Brothers killed by these groups that I call paramilitaries, in Rural Areas, in the Department of Matagalpa … Policemen killed! They are entire families that are hurt and want justice.

Patricia Villegas

Will there be Justice?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

We are on that, we are in that fight, so that Justice is done.

Patricia Villegas

Even though you have said in this Interview with TELESUR that you are willing to Dialogue, to sit down again with the Private Sector, with the Catholic Church. Do you also guarantee the search for Justice in the midst of all these facts?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

Of course! Of course! There must be Justice, so that at least, if Life cannot be recovered, there is Justice; This is a signal that helps the Family of the victims feel…

Patricia Villegas

And if it were found that there was an excess of Public Officials involved in some acts of violence, do you guarantee that same Justice?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

It’s even, Justice is even, of course, Justice for all!

Patricia Villegas

We are going to ask you about an element that seems structural in these months of crisis, and it is the Geopolitical Vision, who is causing it, but also how to get out of it?

Commander, let’s talk about the Geopolitics of what you have called an ongoing coup d’état, a coup d’état in progress. You have explained to us in the first part of this Interview, that it began even before April 18th or 19th; You have explained to us the role of Local Businessmen, the role of the Church, also of the so-called paramilitary groups, financed, as You have indicated it was during the War of the 1980´s, by internal and external factors. But who are these external factors? You have said American imperialism, but let us talk concretely about whom, naming them, where does the money come from? Have you identified them? What are you going to do? What is the plan?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

The Political Base is in Florida, it is in Miami, the Political Base is there; that is, there are Congressmen, there are Senators, who feel like it is their duty to put an end to the Sandinista. And since they could not put an end to the Sandinistas during the war of the 80s, and the Sandinistas survived, although leaving the Government, they continued fighting, and retook the Government, so they are the ones who have taken the task, a a task that obsesses them, and we see clearly how these Congressmen, these Senators, clearly mark Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
They are the 3 Countries that they mark the most.

Patricia Villegas

They are the three “jewels of the crown” at this time, so to speak.

Comandante Daniel Ortega

They are marking them. They are marking them. Then, from there stems Initiatives of all sorts, from what is to seek financing for these groups, raising funds, via the Government of the United States.

Patricia Villegas

There are 31 million dollars from USAID, at least what is declared, for Nicaragua.

Comandante Daniel Ortega

That is so. Then they look for funding to be approved by the United States Government and, at the same time, they move funds though other ways, so that these people can develop their conspiratorial plans.

Patricia Villegas

You and your People managed to defeat the Americans in the war … Are you going to do it now too?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

I am sure that we will consolidate Peace. I would say, we have been ablt to defeat the Coup.

Patricia Villegas

Do you already feel that you defeated it?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

I feel so; I feel that the Coup, as it was already being implemented… Of course, they are going to insist, because they going to stay with their arms crossed, and even more so when we are seeing initiatives in the United States, even the Congress of the United States, to take more actions against Nicaragua.

Patricia Villegas

Is a Direct Dialogue with President Donald Trump possible? Do you think that this could, at a certain moment, stop or modify the United States Strategy towards Nicaragua?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

I think it would be ideal, but the policies toward our Countries are being managed by these extreme right wing groups, who even negotiate with US Government to introduce legislation against our Countries, in exchange for approving Laws that are of interest of the Government, internally in the United States. Meaning, they have that power, because they have a few votes that help them negotiate over there.

Patricia Villegas

And they have votes in the Organization of American States as well.

Comandante Daniel Ortega

That is so.

Patricia Villegas

Did you expect that reaction from the Organization of American States against your Government, against your person? There was, in addition, good relations with the Secretary General, at least that is what was seen in the Media. Tell us if it was like that.

Comandante Daniel Ortega

Well, we have had a respectful relation; a Process to strengthen and improve the Electoral Mechanism in Nicaragua was worked out and has been worked with the OAS. A job is there, toward 2021.

Patricia Villegas

Some see that as a concession to the Organization of American States.

Comandante Daniel Ortega

It is possible that they see it that way, but we must take into account that in Nicaragua it was essential, it was necessary to move this type of initiative, either with the OAS or with any other Organization that would accompany Nicaragua; the relationship with the OAS was established.

Logically, what is happening now comes to put a cloud over this effort, why? Because what we are seeing in the OAS is how a group of countries that have rallied against Venezuela, now join in against Nicaragua; That is to say, Countries that are governed, it is not the fault of the Peoples logically, the Peoples I am sure do not share these Policies of those Governments, but, Countries that are governed by those who have a revengeful mentality.

That is, they do not understand that reaching to the Government does not mean imposing policies on other countries with which there do not have ideological and political affinity. Different is the maturity, the seriousness of the Left Forces, which have been and are in Government in Latin America, we have been respectful of that Principle. That is, when CELAC was installed, the Left, which was a majority, did not try to impose anything on the Political Forces of the Right Governments.

Patricia Villegas

But we are facing a CELAC and a UNASUR practically, let’s say, deactivated, or very beaten; a Group is set up, which is the Group of Lima, against Venezuela, it is the same Group that in the Organization of American States we saw operating against Nicaragua, is that kind of battle coming at the Geopolitical Level?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

The problem is that now we have a Latin America that is polarized by a Right that is acting with a revenge mentality, a revenge mentality that takes them to become interventionist; because what they have done with Venezuela, what they are doing with Nicaragua, is simply called interventionism.

Patricia Villegas

Are they charging Nicaragua, in any way, their firm position in the face of the attempts against Venezuela in the Organization of American States, in ALBA and in all Multilateral Organizations? Does that position have anything to do with what has happened?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

Yes, that is why there is revenge. Revengefulness, why? Because they do not understand that Nicaragua has Affinity and Solidarity with Venezuela, with Cuba, they cannot understand it! They would like Nicaragua to submit to their dictates, and their dictates are, at the same time, subject and subordinated to the dictates of whom?, of the North American Policy, and of the most closed, poisoned and though American policy, which is the one that is incubated there in Florida.

Patricia Villegas

How are you going to defeat those enemies, let’s say, of the Latin American and Caribbean Integration; who have driven this Coup d’etat against you?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

They will be defeated by their Peoples. Everything has its time. It is the Peoples who will defeat them. To the extent that their Peoples defeat them, then we will have Governments, regardless of their ideology, which will be more respectful Governments, more lovers of Latin American and Caribbean integration; that is, to think in a really constructive way, for the benefit of everyone.

Patricia Villegas

Is there Dialogue with those Governments, or is that Dialogue closed at this time?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

We have normal relations, but in this field we have only deep contradictions, logically, because we are clashing with them there in the OAS.

Patricia Villegas

There are some voices that were once Sandinistas or that claim to be Sandinistas, about which I would like to ask you, President-Commander, they are a reference to Nicaragua in the whole world and that now they have been very heard and are hypercritical toward you, toward your Government, even toward the Vice President of the Country; I speak, for example, about the Poet Ernesto Cardenal, of those who make up the Sandinista Renovation Movement.

What would you say to them if you had them in front of you, in front of what they say about your Government, your actions, not only in this crisis, but fundamentally in this crisis? They have a lot of space in the Media.

Comandante Daniel Ortega

What they are saying is not new, they have been repeating it for years … Since when? When they decided to separate from the Sandinista Front.

Patricia Villegas

Have they been key in this stage of the coup, or do you not give them that role?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

Let’s say, they provided them with a voice to campaign against Nicaragua; they help the coup, logically, by joining these campaigns; but, really they had separated from the FSLN after 1990. That is to say, while we were in the Government, none of them separated, they occupied their posts, and they did not separate, they were there. We left the government, then they separated and began to speak out against the Sandinista Government of the 80´s, they sought to wash their hands, to wash their hands… They were saying they had nothing to do with that, and became critical, when obviously they had been part of that process.

Then, that Movement was formed, that Movement that ended up turning to the Right, and allied with and supported candidates of the Right in the National Elections. That is the best proof we can have of who they really are; that is, they stopped being Sandinistas a long time ago.

Patricia Villegas

But it is these voices who some people listen to and that have generated statements such as those of Pablo Iglesias, of “Podemos”, in Spain; of former President Pepe Mujica, you have read them; of the Chilean Intellectual, Manuel Cabieses. Could you answer them through this Interview with TELESUR, those Leaders, say, of these Progressive Movements in the World, and who are clearly understanding the Nicaraguan situation in another way?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

Well, I have to respect them, I have to respect their points of view, their opinion, an opinion that I think is based on friendships, why? Because logically they are Intellectuals, they are Friends, they know each other, and then they echo what one another says, and immediately the other echoes. It’s as simple as I see it. So there, it is very difficult to understand, I could only say that if they knew a little more about what happened in Nicaragua, about the History of Nicaragua, what I am pointing out, that they left the FSLN after the loss of the election.

They did not leave before! Ernesto was Minister of the Sandinista Government until April 25, 1990, which was when we handed over the Government. He did not leave before! Before, he was very radical, very supportive of the Sandinista Government. And leaving Ernesto, others left, even Vice President Sergio Ramirez, who was my Vice President! He also left. Well, they decided to take another path, they cannot be forced, they decided to take another path; the bad thing here, let’s say, the dishonest thing is, to take another road and washing your hands, as if to say: I had nothing to do with everything that was done in the 80s. Like they were not part of the Sandinista Government.

Patricia Villegas

Comandante, we are running out of time in this Dialogue with TELESUR, look, I was asking a lot of questions, they are still there in the pipeline; but before concluding I would like to ask you: An error and a success of yours, of your Government, of your Team in these months of violence? Let’s start with the error, what went wrong? What would you not do again?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

I think that mistakes are inevitable, they are inevitable! If we can call them mistakes, because we could say, it was a mistake that these ex-Sandinistas we are talking about, like Ernesto Cardenal, like Sergio Ramírez, that is, those who left the FSLN, that it was a mistake to have had them in the FSLN, for them to have been a part of the Leadership of the FSLN, to have Sergio as my Vice President of the Republic, that I had taken him as candidate to the Vice Presidency in the 1990’s Elections.

You could say that this was a mistake … But no, it was a stage, they are stages of the struggle where, well, we needed the Convergence, let’s say, a convergence that was not really solid in ideological terms, but it was a convergence required by the political juncture, it paid off as soon as it allowed progress in the Revolutionary Process in Nicaragua.

Therefore, what could be considered an error, the Alliance with the private sector, I do not consider it a mistake, why? Because it allowed Nicaragua to advance for 11 years, as it had never advanced before! And that remains in the memory of the people, it is in the memory of the people, it is very fresh in the memory of the people! And it is very fresh in the memory of the people how overnight, with the attempted coup, the whole country was blocked off, insecurity was created, the terror in the population, the paralyzed economy; then there is the contrast between Nicaragua until April 18th, and Nicaragua, under the terror of the coup plotters, after April 19th.

So, I think it’s hard to talk about mistakes when it comes to processes where forces are gathered; forces come together, individualities come together, they add up, help to advance; suddenly they are detached, suddenly they go to the other side, but hey, they played their role in the Stage.

And there are those who then say to you, yes: But how is it possible that you had this Vice President, if you knew that he was never from the left, that he came from Somoza’s Family? That’s what they say to me, and the Comrades asked since back then why was Sergio Vice President? They complained. But it had to be understood that it was part of an effort to add, to add wills, add different sectors, and be able to better resist the aggression that the Revolution was suffering after its triumph in 79.

Patricia Villegas

And the success? Something you say: We have done this fundamentally well, to have the Political Intelligence to understand what was happening, to know how to read the enemy. Many people have told me: The President won Peace, because he knew how to calculate the timing of this Coup. Do you consider it that way?

Comandante Daniel Ortega

So it is. They began to open up, they started to show their nails, as we say, they were taking them out, and we logically, avoiding, avoiding, avoiding falling into provocation, avoiding the appearance of an overreaction, which confused them, they began to believe that we were weak, they thought that the People had ceased to be Sandinistas. Some of them told us that the FSLN had no strength. So, what did do? We allowed them to carry out their strategy, and to say clearly, what they really wanted, which was to overthrow the Government.

Patricia Villegas

And early elections, then? You already said that there will be no Early Elections.

Comandante Daniel Ortega

That´s right. They are still trying to overthrow the government. They are still repeating the speech: the government must go!

Patricia Villegas

At the first session of the National Dialogue: “You have to go.”

Comandante Daniel Ortega

Yes, that’s what they said. Then they took out what was their strategy; we remained calm, patient, they began to think that we were weak, that we were defeated, that is what they gathered! We waited for the right moment to take the step, to restore Peace, to reestablish Peace in Nicaragua, to normalize the Country.

Patricia Villegas

And defeat the Coup, as you told us today in this Dialogue with teleSUR. Comandante, thank you very much for your time. And many thanks to you too, for having teleSUR on your screens at home. You know, there’s always more here!