A house of cards is a structure created by stacking playing cards one on top of the other. It is also an expression that refers to an empty structure or institution, one that is inconsistent, shaky, and at constant risk of collapse. A house of cards is built on a shaky foundation and is so fragile it crumbles if you remove even one necessary element, or if it is blown by the wind.
In Nicaragua, the current government is built like a tower of corruption made out of red and black playing cards—hearts, clubs, diamonds, spades, and the inevitable jokers. The jokers are the puppets that blindly obey the orders of whoever pulls their strings. The diamonds and clubs of lesser value are the people, including the young, who hold up the higher-value cards at the top of the tower—the king of spades and queen of hearts. These two figures, in their uncontrollable delirium for power, have sweated so much corruption that they have undermined the foundation of their own structure and turned their house of cards into wet paper.
Officials who supposedly support the current government have few personal or professional capacities. They are motivated by fear, unconditional obedience, and dependence on their leaders. The rulers of the current administration are immoral and have no vision of nation; they are not interested in building functioning institutions. These concepts do not exist in their minds, but we hear them in their speeches, even though it means nothing in their practice of government.
For those perched at the top of the house of cards, politics is a permanent game of give-me-this-and-I’ll-give-you-that, like an exchange of cards or chips in a poker game. It’s a casino policy where the house always wins. In this political game, there are no values or scruples, only a sense of greed for money and lust for power, where they play all-in every move.
Illegitimacy is covered with huge billboards, eternal Christmas trees in the capital, and a family-owned media empire that magnifies their false grandeur while hiding their weaknesses. Of course, we cannot forget the royalties used to buy the consciences to the so-called foolish people who believe the propaganda hoax.
The necessary and inevitable element that has served to sustain this fragile house of cards is the oil money coming from Venezuela. But with the ace of spades gone, the house of cards has become increasingly wobbly. In short time, those remaining at the top will want to wipe out the banks and private companies that have been accomplices in the great casino game, like workers in a cathouse.
When the easy money is gone, they will strangle the people with taxes, increase the cost of living, and squeeze the national economy even tighter to compensate for the disappearing aid; this is already happening.
The corruption, ineptitude, and inefficiency of the government, along with its dependence on an external supply of money, suggests the house of cards is an increasingly fragile and unsustainable structure. We, the citizens, must be conscious of our civic responsibility and immense collective power we have. We must work to start building a new solid base of power so that we remain on our feet when the house of cards falls down around us.
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.