Carlos Fonseca Terán
Translated by Internationalist 360°
Almost a month has passed since the great victory won by the Sandinistas against the coup plot of the right-wing. During this time some issues have arisen that I consider necessary to address, and these are: the use of terms such as paramilitarism and coup d’état; justice, reconciliation and certain policies to be followed in this regard; the national dialogue; 6% for universities; and finally, a subject that has not been well analyzed and that is practically unknown, but whose analysis is important to take up again, and that is the reform of social security, which was used by the right as a pretext to begin its coup plans; reforms that due to the misinformation that still exists about them, some Sandinistas think they were wrong or at least, that they were a necessary evil, but here I will prove that it is not so and that, on the contrary, they were beneficial for the Nicaraguan people.
The “paramilitaries” and the coup d’état.
The coup and terrorist right accuses us of having used “paramilitary” forces against the civilian population that was demonstrating peacefully. The term “paramilitary” is used for irregular military forces related to the government and, therefore, parallel to the legally constituted armed and police forces, that is, they do not act subordinated to these institutional forces for military defense, order and security, since that if they did, they would not be parallel forces, but auxiliaries of the armed and police forces, as was the case of the Reserve Infantry Battalions in the eighties, made up of volunteer fighters, and who sustained the weight of the war until 1984, when the Patriotic Military Service began, implemented by troops of combatants recruited in the same way that the armed forces are recruited in many countries where military service exists, and that as well as the reservists, they were not military professionals, but people of the people who were organized and armed by the State for the military defense of the country in the framework of a war of aggression imposed by American imperialism.
The combatants who accompanied the police forces in the offensive of the caravan of freedom for the liberation of the cities held hostage by the coup and fascist terrorism of the extreme right, are therefore an auxiliary force of the National Police, subordinated to it and therefore, organic part of this institution. That auxiliary force, legitimate and organic, is what was known in the eighties as the Volunteer Police, to which – like the Reserve Battalions – I had the honor of belonging. However, the military forces organized by the right in this attempt to overthrow our government can be considered as paramilitary, since unlike what happens with armed anti-government movements in other circumstances, these forces were led by former Sandinista military, traitors to the revolutionary cause like many former Sandinista political leaders in the eighties and like them, are part of that kind of ideological brotherhood that began as social democratic reformism and ended up as the extreme right, called the Sandinista Renovation Movement.
I say that in this case it is valid to refer to paramilitary forces, because although they are forces opposed to the government, the idea of recruiting their members, their organization, training and direction has been in charge of a personnel whose military training comes from the armed forces and police officers constituted as such, which is why it is also legitimate to call this attempt to overthrow the Sandinista government a coup d’etat, since a coup d’état is understood as the overthrow of a government using a part of the institutional forces of the State to which that government belongs, whether military (armed forces, police, through active or retired members, in this case were some in retirement) or policies (legislative power, judicial power).
It is worth clarifying here that although this group of former military betrayed the Sandinistas organizing these paramilitary forces against our revolutionary government, the armed and police forces of Nicaragua have demonstrated their commitment to legality and a very high level of patriotic, popular and revolutionary consciousness, in correspondence with its origin and with the character of the revolutionary power as power of the people.
Justice and Reconciliation.
It is ironic that those who pretend to present themselves as civic forces protesting peacefully, have “commanders” in their ranks, as it is cynical that the coup and terrorist right complains and condemns us for arrest warrants against their self-appointed “commanders” – self-appointed, because … how are you going to want to be “commander” of a failed attempt to overthrow a government and then wait for them not to imprison you, if you also assume that you are facing a “dictatorship”? It is the same as what happens with the alleged “political prisoners”, as they now call the violators of human rights, torturers and aggressors of the civilian population in the stage of the coup plot, who are currently being detained and being legally prosecuted for the crimes committed, and whose danger to society makes their release is inadmissible.
In this regard, it is important to reiterate the call to dialogue and reconciliation within the people, among relatives, friends, neighbors, co-workers who were on opposite sides during the crisis, since the vast majority of those who were on the side opposed to Sandinismo were people manipulated by the psychological warfare that forms part of the design of these plans to overthrow governments that are not serving the interests of US imperialism and, therefore, are victims of the coup right; but knowing how to distinguish between manipulators and simple participants in peaceful activities against the government and those who committed crimes, since reconciliation can not be synonymous with impunity, because the freedom of these criminals, apart from being a danger to society it would be a disastrous precedent in the necessary application of the laws to those who transgress them, in addition to those who committed crimes in the coup attempt, there are also criminals who were already part of organized crime, for which they also have another series of serious crimes in their career as criminals.
In the case of State officials, it is absolutely legitimate that those who have participated in violent actions against the government or have demonstrated against what they consider a dictatorship, are excluded from the institutions of this government and the State in general, since if this is not done, the government and the State would be accepting in their institutions officials whose actions go against their policies, as well as being evidently potential boycottors in the performance of public institutions, which mainly harms the people.
In the case of the dismissed doctors, for example, this was not due to the fact that they healed wounded in the marches, as they and their defenders alledge, but that they were the doctors of the counterrevolutionary troops of coup-plotting terrorism, organizing medical posts that were part of the military structure of violent actions against the State and the Nicaraguan people, of which there is graphic evidence in abundance. It would be wrong, however, to exclude officials from public institutions for the mere fact of not being Sandinistas, as long as they are good workers, since bad workers should be corrected or, in extreme cases, excluded from the institutions, but regardless of whether they are Sandinistas or not, because there are cases in which Sandinista comrades do their work badly due to a lack of revolutionary mystique, love for the people, a sense of duty and the incorrect idea that because they are Sandinistas they are untouchable.
The Sandinistas are not a political guild lurking in power to distribute it to them in a personal capacity, but a revolutionary movement that fights for power and its preservation in the hands of the people, as a means for the revolutionary transformation of society and with it, to reach the material and spiritual well-being of all human beings.
Finally, we must be alert to the possibility that there are certain opportunists and bad leaders who want to take advantage of the current situation to exclude Sandinista comrades – or even non-Sandinista state workers – motivated by reasons of a personal nature , so that there are no people who point them out for their bad acts. In this sense, and also in general to ensure the use of adequate criteria in all decisions, and for conduct consistent with revolutionary principles, the proper functioning of the basic organizational structures of the FSLN, which should not be just for activism, but to ensure the good performance of institutions in the case of structures organized in this area, and to promote popular participation in government management, in the case of structures organized at the territorial level, to which is essential to practice criticism and self-criticism, which requires criteria whose existence and implementation is only possible with ideological training and political study, which must be another of the fundamental work contents of our structures at all levels.
The same right that boycotted the dialogue, using it as a tribunal of its political discourse radicalized by the ambitions of power of its self-appointed spokesmen , or suspended its biased mediators whenever they wanted, now calls for dialogue, and it is fine, because it is the civilized way to resolve differences of any kind, and that is why the Sandinistas have been its main drivers. But there are two problems. One of them is the suitability of the mediators and another, the representativeness of the interlocutors or counterpart of the government. As everyone knows, bishops as mediators – except for honorable exceptions – have been explicitly and actively in favor of the plan to overthrow the government. For their part, the representatives of the coup in the dialogue have been self-appointed leaders:
- The owners of the ideological caramanchels called NGOs, run by the same people since its foundation – in some cases for almost thirty years, such as CENIDH, which no one has chosen in many cases even inside those organizations, not even as representatives of Nicaraguans who disagree with Sandinismo, even if they present themselves as representatives of “civil society”.
- The “student representatives” not elected by the students and whom almost nobody knew or in the universities before this crisis;
- The representatives of the private company that only represent a part of the large individual owners, but whose weight in the economy, even if they represent them all, is about 30% of the Gross Domestic Product, since the rest is distributed among small and medium entrepreneurs and foreign investors.
When in the dialogue they demanded the lifting of the blockades, these illegitimate and fraudulent representatives were opposed, but not only because it was not convenient for them to act, but because even if they had agreed or had the willingness to do so as a contribution to peace, they would not have been able to, because the people who were in the blockades – like the vast majority of people who in some way participated in the violent actions or in the protests against the government – did not want it. Yet there were and are abundant manifestations of rejection of this by the same people mobilized, convinced or manipulated by the right.
The acceptance of these interlocutors and the proposal to the Episcopal Conference to mediate was only a sign of goodwill on the part of the Sandinista government to overcome the crisis through dialogue, transporters, students, among others, including COSEP without claiming the representation of the entire private company.
Regarding mediation, and just to give an example that takes into account the importance of maintaining in it the presence of the Catholic Church – endangered by the main mediators of the Episcopal Conference – a possible good mediator could be the Vatican through the Nuncio, who has in his favor to have acted with the prudence that should be proper of the mediators in the recent crisis, although for the strengthening of this difficult work would be the best that was accompanied by other actors with legitimacy and sufficient prestige, but leaving out the already failed coup-making bishops, who have failed as mediators, also provoking a true and silent stampede of parishioners.
The university budget.
Undoubtedly, and especially at the beginning of the recent crisis, many university students were manipulated by the psychological war waged by the right as part of their coup plot. Now only a minority of university students persist in their rejection of the Sandinista government, but it is a sector that has always been opposed to us for ideological reasons, since. This is due, among other things, to the fact that only Sandinismo has made access to higher education for the popular sectors possible in Nicaragua , which is manifested in 6% of the General Budget of the Republic, allocated to universities at the initiative of the FSLN for many years now, and that was always denied to them when governed by that same right that intends to continue manipulating the students, which is why at a certain moment and in the most cynical way, it was said that 6% alocated to the UCA was being denied, as the corresponding authorities have made it clear that 6% is guaranteed for all the universities previously included, despite the great economic losses caused to the country by that same right that now wants to present itself as an advocate of student interests, and which was also supported by the authorities of private universities. That is, they destroy the UNAN-Managua and then claim 6% for the UCA – which will be given, as has been clear – a university that, like the other private universities, was not touched by the coup leaders, with the exception of UPOLI. This demagogic claim arose from the right’s interpretation of certain biased statements by the authorities of that university declared that they would not resume classes as a result of delays in government disbursements, fully understandable in view of the damage to the economy by the attempted coup. We have known that the UNAN-Managua will not be able to resume classes this year due to the high level of destruction caused in its facilities by the coup right, which on the other hand, had it come to power, would deny the universities 6%. This is the result of the action of some student groups, among which there are many who have already managed to understand what interests have moved behind the attempt to overthrow the Sandinista government.
In other words, only the right has harmed the university student body, while Sandinismo is the only political force that has guaranteed the university for the Nicaraguans of scarce resources, defending and putting into practice free education and ensuring delivery of 6% to public universities partially subsidized with this budget.
The reforms to social security.
The issue of social security reforms has been ignored in the analyzes due to its immediate repeal at the beginning of the crisis, but its necessary to resume the discussion because of its role as a pretext for the right to carry out the actions that started the frustrated process of overthrowing the government. One of the fundamental causes of the financial crisis of the INSS is that social security in Nicaragua, since the return of Sandinismo to power in 2007, covers a larger number of beneficiaries and benefits for the insured. Among the insured subjects that previously were not, are the victims of war and the beneficiaries of the reduced pension, which was created by the Sandinista government to benefit those who, having reached the age of retirement (60 years), had not completed the 750 weeks established to receive their retirement pension, with 250 weeks enough to receive this benefit, which has saved many Nicaraguans who, because they are Sandinistas, were dismissed from the governments of the same right that now intends to represent them.
Among the benefits that they did not receive before and now receive, the beneficiaries of social security are: tomography and magnetic resonance examinations, hemodialysis, chemotherapy, radiological examinations, care abroad, medicines not previously included, among other benefits.
But there is another factor in the financial crisis of the INSS, which is the fraud committed against this institution by the big private entrepreneurs, which consists in self-nominating or naming relatives and frontmen, in ghostly positions where they earn fictitious salaries, with the objective of benefit from social security. But the current system includes a salary ceiling of C $ 82,953.22, from which the insured should not pay more, but it does receive more benefits, which obviously benefits those who earn more.
One of the reforms consisted precisely in eliminating this salary ceiling for contributions, so the big businessmen could no longer defraud the INSS, thus contributing to its financial crisis. The other reforms were increases in contributions to workers and, to a greater extent, to employers, in addition to the establishment of the quota for retirees.
The increase in employers’ contributions (from 19% to 22.5%, for an increase of 3.5%) was considerably higher than the increase in the contributions of workers (from 6.25% to 7%, for an increase of 0.75%) , but something that is not said in the reform and that its detractors conceal is that the increase in the contributions of the workers and the establishment of the contributions to the retirees (of 5%) were much lower than the additional benefits that both groups of beneficiaries (workers and retirees) receive from social security compared to those received before the return to power by the FSLN, and especially in the case of the elderly who receive the reduced pension , since this did not exist in the neoliberal era. That is, for workers and retirees the result was in their favor, since they continued to receive much more than before and at the same time, the INSS was saved from the current financial crisis, which guaranteed the continuity of said benefits; Not so in the case of employers and those who earn high wages, who would no longer be allowed to receive more and contribute less, a measure that ended the fraudulent business of entrepreneurs who loot social security.
This explains why it was the COSEP and not the unions that were demonstrating against the reforms, and this is what resolves the question that both inside and outside Nicaragua correctly saw, who did not swallow the story of the right, because they were aware of the impossibility for employers to defend the interests of workers and retirees.
The other option to save the INSS is the proposal of the IMF and the private company, which consists of increasing the retirement age, increasing the number of quoted weeks, eliminating the reduced pension and excluding the victims of war, and auctioning off maintaining the salary ceiling that big business owners fraudulently take advantage of. Due to the neoliberal characteristics of this other proposal, our government considered it unacceptable – especially with regard to eliminating the reduced pension and excluding the victims of war – opting to apply the already known reforms, and this explains why, if the reforms applied by the government were neoliberal – as many said – the United States – promoter of neoliberalism through the IMF and the World Bank – the United States would not have assumed a belligerent role in the campaign against our government, in addition to financing the coup leaders through the NGOs that live on the budget assigned by USAID and the NED.
But regardless of everything, it is still necessary – and now more than ever, due to the deterioration of the economic situation caused by the rightwing coup – to do something to save social security in our country, so at some point this issue must be considered in the framework of the search for consensus that has always characterized our government of reconciliation and national unity, or as part of an eventual re-launching of dialogue, uncertain at this point due to the authoritarianism of the right and the failure of its strategy.
On the right, it was easy for them to manipulate the reforms with the narrative that the workers and the elderly were taking money, when the opposite was true, as I have just demonstrated, but that manipulation was possible due to disinformation in the student body and people in general about how beneficial these reforms really were for both sectors of society (workers and retirees), and that misinformation is due to the weakening of both popular participation in government decisions and the political work of the organic structures of the FSLN, especially at the territorial level, which, however, is not due to failures of our structures as such, but to certain work styles and political conduction methods that must be corrected.
Consequently, the great challenge we have as Sandinistas is to strengthen our political model of popular protagonism in public management and improve the content of work of the political structures of the FSLN as a revolutionary vanguard of the Nicaraguan people, in addition to ensuring everything that strengthens that organizations avant-garde character, including our institutionality as a political organization, making management bodies such as the Congress and the National Sandinista Assembly work, taking up the importance of our Program and Statutes – which must be analyzed, reformed if necessary and applied – ensuring the collective character of the revolutionary leadership while strengthening the Sandinista leadership at all levels, in addition to strengthening political work and retaking ideological formation, political study, criticism and self-criticism as daily practices in our structures, which will ensure the good performance of public institutions and popular participation in the decision-making of the government and in the definition of public policies, in order to have, as Germán Pomares said,
“the planted field and the assured freedom they will allow us”, as Ricardo Morales Avilés said, “to change so many things … first the power, the property, us; after: fresh air and corn for everyone, air and flowers for everyone “