Friday, August 3, 2018

Defeating Sandinista oppression in Nicaragua: A Call to Action and Solidarity

Neutralizing the Ortega regime's repression strategy.

Non-violent protesters are identified with the blue and white colors of the national flag.
The consolidation of Nicaragua's Ortega regime into a totalitarian regime continues. A new "anti-terrorism" law has been passed that targets students and demonstrators who take part in street protests. College students in Nicaragua are being treated like terrorists, complete with waterboarding.

Marco Noel Novo, a 26-year-old student and an active participant in Nicaragua’s protests who helped occupy a university, was captured by pro-government paramilitaries subjected to regular beatings, electric shocks, mock executions, waterboarding and being sodomized with a metal mortar tube over the course of seven days. The Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights reports that some 600 people have been captured by armed groups and disappeared. Hundreds have been killed.

Marco Noel Novo, age 26, torture victim
Nicaraguan democrats need to up their game in this deadly struggle for the future of their country. There has been a predominantly non-violent resistance to the Ortega regime that has been a spontaneous reaction to the violence of the regime.

Now is the time to double down, develop a non-violent strategy and plan the exit of the Sandinista regime from Nicaragua's political life. There are numerous resources out there but one that would be a useful starting point is A Guide to Effective Nonviolent Struggle by the Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS), an organization made up of members of the Serbian nonviolent student movement, who successfully overthrew Slobodan Milošević.

The level of repression and mass killings necessitates a strategic focus on how to counter repression and CANVAS has a publication, Making Repression Backfire, that is a good starting point for developing a plan to neutralize the Ortega regime's repression strategy.

Make no mistake the violence taking place in Nicaragua is a strategic effort to counter the mass mobilization of the population with terror to generate fear and bring an end to the mass protests that began on April 18, 2018.

The extreme violence does not only want to plant terror and fear but also hatred in order to get the resistance movement to abandon its nonviolent stand thus making it easier to crush.

University Academics Maria J. Stephan and Erica Chenoweth in their 2008 study "Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic on Nonviolent Conflict" compared the outcomes of 323 nonviolent and violent resistance campaigns from 1900 to 2006. They found that major nonviolent campaigns achieved success 53 percent of the time, compared with just under half that at 26 percent for violent resistance campaigns.

This is why it is important for activists to understand the nature of repression and the reaction sought by the regime. CANVAS compares repression in the midst of a struggle as the equivalent of rain. Something that maybe unavoidable in a struggle for political change but that can be prepared against.

CANVAS calls on activists to learn as much as they can about the regime's repression strategy and develop an opposition strategy with the goal of winning over oppression and capacitating your "troops" to confront repression. Victory is defined as oppression negatively impacting the oppressors and not the opposition movement.

This is accomplished by responding with speed, making accounts of repression public, surrounding the police station or detention center were activists are held, and backing activists during judicial proceedings.  The operative rule is that no one be left behind.

This necessitates constructing a message and a narrative. Reporting repression to the whole world, and identifying martyrs making their stories known everywhere. Finally, naming and shaming the oppressors.

There is much more in the guide and it necessitates group strategizing with a focus on the Nicaraguan context, but now is the time to do it.

It also necessitates friends of freedom around the world being in solidarity with free Nicaraguans and not their oppressors.

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