Daniel Ortega used the 43rd anniversary of the victory of the Sandinista revolution in Managua to rule out dialogue with the United States. “A dialogue with them is impossible. It’s like putting the rope around your neck,” he remarked at a performance in Managua two and a half months later the New York Times will reveal that one of his sons, Laureano Ortega Murillo, was seeking a tacit rapprochement with Washington to “mitigate the sanctions” imposed on the “presidential family.”

By ruling out any rapprochement with the United States — Nicaragua’s key trading partner — Ortega further strains the already strained relations between the two countries and insists on radicalizing the regime, rhetorically at least giving in to Russia and China, with whose capital Beijing has caved in resumed diplomatic relations in December 2021.

According to the American newspaper, Laureano Ortega Murillo (the son most cited as a possible successor) approached Washington shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, the meeting between a “senior official” from the State Department and the Sandinista authorities never materialized because the latter were “cowardly” by the United States’ condition to negotiate: the release of all political prisoners suffering cruelly and inhumanely in Nicaragua’s prisons, so human rights organizations. After the disagreement, the Sandinista President increased his support for Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. “We wanted to have a good relationship with the United States, but that’s impossible,” added Ortega.

“If the Ortega family is willing to discuss the release of political prisoners, Washington will commit, otherwise the United States is preparing to put additional pressure on the regime with further sanctions,” a State Department official told reporters for the New York newspaper.

Diplomatic sources consulted by EL PAÍS confirmed such a rapprochement and, before Ortega’s remarks on July 19, assured them that there were in fact no signs of negotiations since the Ortega-Murillo family was not contemplating the release of the 190 political prisoners. Accordingly, last week, the angel list prepared by the State Department every year was tentatively leaked. The mechanism involves reprimands and visa cancellations for officials of authoritarian Central American governments, including the Sandinistas, who have engaged in corruption and anti-democracy actions.

In the Engel List, which has been endorsed by the US government and may be made official this week, 13 Sandinista judges and 10 prosecutors are responsible for prosecuting and sentencing political prisoners. This would be the second time the Engel List has been used against officials of the Sandinista regime, as it was initially only intended for the countries of Central America’s northern triangle: Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

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The first time the Engel List was used against the Sandinistas was in March this year when nine Nicaraguan officials were trapped. A mechanism that will be added to the most severe sanctions imposed by the Treasury Department on officials and institutions associated with the Ortega-Murillo.

A lonely July 19th

Ortega made these statements in the old Sandinista Revolution Square in Managua, in a public act that took place in a closed circuit without crowds, which also proved his international isolation due to his maintenance of power achieved at the point of repression opponents. Last January’s new period by Ortega and Murillo is considered illegitimate by a large number of countries, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe and others. On July 19, at the peak of Sandinistaism, no major head of state accompanied the President and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo. Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro or Cuba’s Miguel Díaz-Canel didn’t even come to Managua like they had on previous occasions.

The only head of state was the discreet Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, to whom Ortega dedicated the event. For the third year in a row, and despite the fact that the Sandinista regime has always played down the Covid-19 pandemic and now considers it almost over, the Sandinistas have not been able to fill a spot for July 19.

Political analysts consulted for this article, but who prefer anonymity, claim that this is a sign of the regime’s attrition for the population and its bases due to the ongoing repression and the prolongation of the socio-political crisis, the economic effects of which have been hit more widely.

“The fact that a party like the Sandinista Front, which lived on mobilizations, is not doing it now because the pandemic is no longer an excuse for this year shows how little popularity it has in its own ranks,” said one of the analysts. The most recent polls estimate support for Ortega and Murillo at less than 20%. To counteract the lack of popular mobilization, the government invented the slogan “Every house, one place”. Public servants have been forced to conduct walks in neighborhoods and communities, while the party’s political secretaries have ordered militant Sandinistas to flood social networks, notably TikTok. pick up the diverging mediumwith “revolutionary publications”.

The act marking the 43rd anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution lasted nearly four hours, partly because it was more of a concert than a political rally. The endless songs – many of them usurped by the Mejía Godoy brothers, authors of the Sandinista soundtrack and now in exile because of the persecution of the presidential couple – tried to fill the loneliness of Ortega and Murillo. The First Lady was also responsible for reminding that political prisoners and dissident voices have no place in the “totalitarian and one-party” model opponents say they are consolidating.

“We won here 43 years ago. We are not traitors, we are not made for treachery. We are made for freedom, dignity, sovereignty, liberty… We reject hatred forever. Our blue and white flag (of Nicaragua) was again saved by our red and black flag from the Yankee enemy of mankind and against his slaves and lackeys (…) They could not and will not!” Murillo published, notably the official slogan , which celebrates the police and paramilitary violence that crushed the 2018 civil protests with blood and fire.

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