Sunday is election day and due to the circumstances of my life, I am outside of Nicaragua and won’t be able to vote. However, even if I were at home, I wouldn’t vote. As Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, martyr of free expression, said during the times of Somoza: “There is no one to vote for.” History is repeating itself again in Nicaragua.
I still remember the previous election. I was one of the Sandinistas who thought that things would be different once the FSLN came back into power, despite the “pacto” and the party’s support for the penalization of therapeutic abortion. I trusted the FSLN and believed that Sandinismo was only developing different strategies to get back into power. Once in office, I believed they would govern differently, with a leftist view and with a vision of equality and social justice.
I was born in 1983, during the Sandinista Revolution and “the most difficult moments of the war,” according to my mother. The decades of the ‘80s and ‘90s were fundamental to the development of my way of thinking, my principles and my convictions.
I come from a Sandinista family. My maternal grandparents, who were hugely influential in my life, were great Sandinistas. They where honorable, dedicated and involved in social projects in the community, working with health and education brigades. My parents, too, supported these efforts and Sandinista values. And it was in this environment that I, along with my sisters, was born and raised.
In my house I learned about the importance of making commitments to others, about equality and justice above all. I learned to respect the rights of others, especially the autonomy of women. I learned about liberation theology and learned to recognize our indigenous and afro-descendent roots. I learned to respect diversity. To me, this was being a revolutionary, a leftist, a Sandinista.
Now I have to make a distinction and say: “I am a Sandinista, not a Danielista.” I distance myself from the party because I no longer identify with the FSLN of today, nor its leadership.
I have friends who have decided to vote against the FSLN, others in favor of the candidate they consider the lesser of two evils, and others who think Daniel Ortega is the ideal candidate. Others say they are going to vote for the PLI/MRS alliance because they are Sandinistas, but as Frei Beto said, “It makes my skin crawl to see someone who says they’re from the left but an ally of the right.” For me, this is especially true considering the fundamentalist positions of the PLI/MRS presidential candidate.
Today, I don’t see any difference between the alleged left and the traditional right in Nicaragua. The parties have no social agenda, they only use populist posturing to win votes. None of the parties defend the rights of women. All of them have allied with the Catholic Church and evangelical fundamentalists. All of them are worried about their international images and the importance of maintaining macroeconomic stability and good relations with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
While economic stability and growth are a good thing after the economic collapse of the 80s, the Sandinistas’ obsession with macroeconomic indicators have made them no different than the neoliberal parties they used to criticize for doing the same thing. And worse yet, they appear to be abandoning their revolutionary convictions and adopting the right’s social positions and prejudices as well.
This has left me without options in this corrupted electoral process and makes me think there is no reason to vote.
The institutionalism of our country has been dragged through the mud; there is no confidence in our government institutions. We have resigned ourselves to having de facto magistrates and judges, and a president who is running for reelection unconstitutionally. We have a country where rapists go free and women are re-victimized. The list goes on.
Given the situation, I am glad I won’t be in Nicaragua tomorrow. I don’t want to participate in an illegitimate election and have to feel guilty for voting for a candidate who is corrupt and fundamentalist.
Cecilia Espinoza is a Nicaraguan and a feminist social worker with postgraduate studies in gender, development and evaluation of public policy.