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The end of the perpetual trance is approaching. This was the 44/19 of the Revolution in Nicaragua

The Barbie-like dress and the red jacket were overshadowed by the overwhelming boredom of the Sandinista militancy. The cult of the couple is aging, while the disillusioned youth and remaining followers have no option to dissent. The absence of international leaders continues to mark the decline of the FSLN's power, although, undoubtedly, the future of Nicaragua points to the end of a perpetual trance.

By Juan Daniel Treminio | @DaniTreminio

Politics and Non-verbal language of the Ortega-Murillo

Managua, Nicaragua
Illustration by Coyuntura
Illustration by Coyuntura

On the eve of the 44th anniversary of that July 19th, 1979, the co-president of Nicaragua, Rosario Murillo, rummaged through her wardrobe in search of the perfect outfit for the occasion. Although she is a devoted fan of the color pink, this time her choice was evidently influenced by the global trend generated by the movie Barbie, written and directed by the fabulous Greta Gerwig. She wanted to be part of the phenomenon. However, upon arriving this Wednesday at the central event at the monument to Augusto César Sandino, in front of the old Stanley Cayasso Guerrero National Stadium, where she placed her altar just a few steps from home, she was overshadowed by the silent exhaustion that spread among her followers.

This 44/19 makes evident that the curtain of wear and tear is gradually descending in Managua, governed by Daniel Ortega and his wife, Murillo. The spaces for the cult of the couple are becoming increasingly reduced, as are their followers. Only the efforts of those who would rather not be there continue to grow, but power obliges them to remain, whether they like it or not, whether they want to or not. No one has the option or the right to desert or dissent. Gradually, the Sandinista Youth, police officers, officials, and fanatics realize that even the rituals are no longer effective.

The event of the 44th anniversary of the 1979 Revolution, a date that ceased to be a national commemoration to become a cult of the marriage of El Carmen, this time was not a pompous celebration. Instead, it was somber, modest, and lacking the usual esotericism that characterizes Murillo, and the forbidden steps that Ortega has taken. It is impossible to ignore the signs of exhaustion of a perpetual dance that, for the first time since the crisis that began in 2018, foresees its end.

In the square of the dispute

When the propaganda media confirmed that this year the celebration of the Citizen Revolution anniversary would be in front of the old National Baseball Stadium, it was hard to believe that they chose the same place where, on the past New Year's Eve, the comrade staged an image blow against her husband and commander, leaving him standing, as never before seen.

When it was almost six o'clock in the evening of this Wednesday, July 19, 2023, a drone aerial shot began the national and "international" broadcast, according to the commander. Fireworks and rockets were launched from the mound of the sports colossus. The presidential convoy withdrew from the area, but at least six armored army vehicles and several police patrols were stationed on one side of the perimeter, covering the area. And when the time was right, the commander got off with his wife and two daughters. The family walked along an improvised catwalk in front of a group of policemen to greet the not-so-well-known guests. He, with his unmistakable red jacket, and she, with her Barbie-like dress, her waist wrapped in a black sash that prevented her from taking flight.

The Barbie-comrade interrupted the praise concert four times to preach her tirades like darts. Her first intervention began with a prayer. "Here, Christ reigns." She continued in her second attempt: "Chorus of snakes, treacherous vipers. Makers of lies. Foolish people. Mercenaries." Referring to those who "don't like her style." Meanwhile, the commander forgot his usual initial greeting in the sermons. "Nicaraguan families..." disappeared. On this occasion, to celebrate the heroic deed that "he" and eight other commanders led, he went straight to the point. And he left without enthusiasm when the clock was about to strike eleven at night.

Sandinistas commemorate the 44 years of the Citizen Revolution of 1979 on July 19, 2023, at the Sandino monument in front of the old National Baseball Stadium | Photo by El 19 Digital, taken by Jairo Cajina
Sandinistas commemorate the 44 years of the Citizen Revolution of 1979 on July 19, 2023, at the Sandino monument in front of the old National Baseball Stadium | Photo by El 19 Digital, taken by Jairo Cajina

What it was not and those who were not

It was not an event - let alone a commemoration of something that was - because there was not even a folk dance. It was not a cult because there were no priests or pastors. Only a religious dance filled with fatigue. Nor was it a vigil, even though it lasted four hours and 35 minutes. The enthusiasm fades away. The rituals no longer enchant. The term "weariness" barely describes what it is like to sing the same songs, shout the same slogans, exalt the same omnipresent figures with religious devotion, morning, afternoon, and night.

But, in the end, it was just another July 19th, one more or one less.

And it was impossible not to perceive the many elements that made this pagan celebration the precise evidence of a more palpable, predictable end for Sandinism, sooner rather than later.

The absence of guests also marked, once again, the "revolutionary" event. Not a single Head of State was present, and the international delegations came from far away - both geographically and in terms of the political context. Unknown to the citizens: Burkina Faso, Belarus, Abkhazia, Mozambique. If it weren't for the three Honduran deputies and an institutional secretary sent by their neighbor Xiomara Castro, anyone could dare to say that Commander Ortega has no close friends. He is a "forever alone." Even Nicolás Maduro was completely absent. He only had time for a tweet. "Uncle Ralph" Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, also did not return. Neither did Evo Morales, Luiz Lula da Silva, Rafael Correa, much less Juan Orlando Hernández.

Those who "remain"

In Sandinista Nicaragua, there is not a single public employee who does not blow up balloons or cut festoons for the altars of the dictatorial couple as the only option to keep their job. And we understand them. But some have had to stain their hands with blood. And others have to dance "El comandante se queda" to demonstrate how much red-and-black blood they still have in their veins and paraphernalia. They do it all day, every day if possible. As if their lives depended on it. Only on that.

Although the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) has always been more of the same, nothing is the same anymore. There is no longer a Revolution Square that can hold such a small crowd. There is no more "guaro," no more fairs, no more revolutionary charms. The Revolution is almost consumed in their hands, and although there still seems to be time, its end is predictable, palpable, and resounding.

Proof of this is that many militants have one foot in the megaprison and the other foot in the humanitarian "parole" granted by the administration of Joseph Biden. Consuming so much "lead" has ultimately affected the mental health and hence the quality of life for the vast majority. Let them not forget that this suffering is the effect of this prolonged crisis, which has changed the lives of hundreds of thousands, who continue to flee repression, despair, and Sandinism to this day.

Those who cannot leave

On the other hand, it is true that many militants have no option to escape. The higher their position, the more their sovereignty weighs on them. So much so that they have had to give up their passports. But, by far, the worst part is taken by the officials of the National Police, who lost their nature and reason for being thanks to a recent constitutional reform ordered by Ortega. Now, the armed body has the right to proselytize. The price was losing their right to resign. They can be imprisoned just for thinking about it. They do not leave because they do not want to.

A Sandinista fanatic dances in front of Ortega and guests during the celebration of the 44/19 of the Citizen Revolution in Nicaragua, in Managua, on Wednesday, July 19, 2023 | Photo by El 19 Digital, taken by Jairo Cajina
A Sandinista fanatic dances in front of Ortega and guests during the celebration of the 44/19 of the Citizen Revolution in Nicaragua, in Managua, on Wednesday, July 19, 2023 | Photo by El 19 Digital, taken by Jairo Cajina

Others do not leave because they have taken loyalty as a devotional creed. This political belief is theirs. And although they are a ridiculous minority, they think their loyalty is unbreakable, but their bodies are tired, sunburned, and sore, so they only make the youngest dance, those who do not know about broken promises or profess the same fervor. They only dance to the rhythm they are given, with choreographies repeated to exhaustion.

Some shout slogans dryly. Noisily. Others applaud like seals. But we can say that, finally, their narratives dissipate. That constant and repetitive rhythm only tries to hide the fatigue and desperation of those who, by necessity or pleasure, continue to pay homage to the couple, just as Wendy Carolina Morales, the head of confiscations, recently sanctioned, continues to do so, who received a consoling hug and a couple of laughs from her commander on this 44/19.

In addition, this celebration also brought more laughter and hugs for another sanctioned individual. Sandinista deputy Loria Raquel Dixon, the first secretary of the ruling National Assembly, was also sanctioned through the U.S. "Engel List." She came to pay her respective tribute on this 44/19.

The trance

The power that the FSLN once wielded is fading away, and with each appearance of Carmen, what remains is lost. The Revolution is completely overshadowed and finally shows signs of death. The remaining loyalty is slowly breaking, amid disillusionment, weariness, or a "parole." Although it is the time of the dry season, even in politics, the uncertainty about the future of Nicaragua continues to rain, now with the result of 44/19 indicating the possible end of a perpetual trance.

This almost eternal choreography is fragile and on the verge of zigzagging its final steps, breaking the seemingly endless spell, making way for a new melody. It is palpable on the horizon that the next July 19ths will become just another working day on the Nicaraguan calendar.

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