Throughout the history of our country, almost every person who has reached the Presidency of the Republic has been considered “the chosen one”—a sanctified individual who is the only person capable of leading the country.
Commonly, these individuals demonstrate a sickening will to perpetuate in power to the point where it becomes a type of dementia and obsessive vice. Once in power, they forget about the people who helped them get to the top.
Many of those who have reached power, either through elections or coups d‘etat, suffer from the delusion of feeling indispensable to the nation; without them, the country will sink between the two oceans. They believe that power belongs only to them—by right of inheritance or by their own intellect—and that this power endows them with the right to impose their will upon others, without the least concept of service, responsibility, or obligation to the people.
Unfortunately, the origins of dictatorship lie not only in the will of the dictator, but also in the complacency of those whom he claims to represent. These “subjects” are asphyxiated with lies, blackmail, overt and subtle threats, and the lack of opportunities for those who contradict his wishes.
Though often disguised as democracy, dictatorship is characterized by the triumph of arbitrary rule and personal whim over respect for rule of law, before which we should all be equal without any type of consideration. We must understand that XXI century dictatorship is no longer the violent threat of execution by firing squad or prison, such as the threats that existed during the somocista dynasty. Instead, dictatorship now means the gradual reduction of individual liberties through the exclusion of jobs, police and fiscal terrorism, and a judicial system in which there is no minimum guarantee of equity or shared values of democracy and justice.
Those who want to impose a dictatorship dedicate themselves to destroying opposition parties with a methodical and deliberate approach. Using threats, blackmail or praise, the ruling power transforms the opposition into obedient, submissive, and corruptible politicians who serve the interests of power.
A modern dictatorship is disguised with self-censorship of the press and with the massive presence of an official media that depicts a powerless and scandalized opposition. In some cases, international organizations that need to justify their existence in the country are also willing to ally themselves with the powers that be, and in turn publish fake facts that hide a sad reality. These organizations present the nation as a country in development, where poverty is being reduced where the government is magically resolving all the inner problems of the country. But these organizations are only putting their own credibility at risk by not considering the consequences to the democratic system in the country in which they are operating.
How many times have Nicaraguans witnessed this process under presidents from the left and the right? How many times have Nicaraguans suffered under presidents that intended to remain in power forever at the expense of a humiliated, impoverished and uneducated people?
In these last few years, have we as a nation started to wake up? What conclusions should we draw from our situation? Will we be able to find promising new leadership with honesty and talent, or will the division among the opposition foster a divided, confused and fearful people who only worry about finding solutions to their daily problems?
If the people are the ones who choose their leaders, they must also remember that they are the ones who can change them.
Cristiana Guevara-Mena is a lawyer and young blogger living in Managua. A version of this article ran on the author’s blog, Ensayos Politicos, a bilingual blog on national politics and youth issues.