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Cristiana Chamorro is not, for now, a candidate for anything. Not even a candidate, but This week she has been one of the most mentioned names as a possible candidate of the Nicaraguan opposition to face Daniel Ortega in the general elections next November.
Her recent resignation as director of the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation was interpreted as the prelude to her eventual candidacy. “I have not launched myself, it is not time for candidacies, but if my contribution is necessary for the change, here I am”, dice.
The Daniel Ortega regime acknowledged receipt of the proposal, and this Tuesday the current vice president, Rosario Murillo, referred to Chamorro, without mentioning her, in derogatory terms towards her and her family. “In these times our supreme right cannot be violated by anyone. Not even the anointed! Because a lot of anointed ones are out there. Anointed by whom? Not even their life trajectory defends them or makes them stand up, or see themselves standing, because they are crouched, and they are peddlers. And practically it is not just the character or character, but a family story that has nothing of heroic heritage, “said Murillo in his traditional noon address.
Cristiana Chamorro Barrios, 64, is the daughter of former President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro (91), the woman who 31 years ago led an opposition coalition that defeated Daniel Ortega at the polls and ended the Sandinista revolution that ruled Nicaragua during the years 80. She is also the daughter of the journalist and national hero Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, a staunch opponent of the Somoza dictatorship, assassinated 43 years ago.
In this interview with Infobae, Chamorro Barrios insists on the unity of the opposition and on returning to the Nicaraguan the power they have through their vote. Although she claims not to be a candidate and does not have a proposal from any group or party, she says she is willing, “if necessary” to face the same man at the polls that her mother defeated 31 years ago.
-How is Dona Violeta’s health?
-Delicate. She had a stroke two years ago and was completely in bed. The important thing is that he is not suffering and is very at peace. These things are up to God willing. She is well taken care of, she has a good countenance, but obviously absent.
-Are you disconnected from the Nicaraguan situation?
-Yes, totally disconnected. He is in great peace, and I think he deserves it after so much suffering and work.
-Many people compare 2021 with 1990, the year the opposition went to elections with their mother at the helm. Do you find the resemblance?
-This is the third opportunity that Nicaragua has to get out of a dictatorship. In the past, in the (years) 70 we all united to defeat the dictatorship of Somocismo. Unfortunately, we could not install the democracy for which all of Nicaragua rose at that time. Likewise, in the 90s, we lived through an iron dictatorship and complete national unity had to be achieved with the decision to achieve democracy. And now we are in the same, with the differences of the case. Unity remains compelling and this time we have the lessons learned from the past. Democracy was installed in 1990, but then we elected authoritarian autocrats in free elections and this was aborted.
-What would you say are the main lessons we have from that election in which Dona Violeta defeated Daniel Ortega?
-The main one is that the changes have to be through free elections, observed, where the people can choose their leaders. That was the first peaceful transition we had from a dictatorship to a democracy. And in that transition, make accepted reforms. An accepted reform is a reform forever, but an imposed reform is a reform that exploits you in your face. The other lesson is to always be looking for dialogue, convergence, agreement. And perhaps the other lesson is the importance of us all knowing that building a transition requires a lot of sacrifice and we must all join in on it.
-But first, how do you defeat a dictatorship that is maintained through arms?
-The first objective was to give the Nicaraguan confidence in the popular, free and independent vote. My mother began to travel the country and came to different places, we were at a time similar to now, but now the repression is greater. Yes, we were encountering mobs, with police forces standing there and so on, but what we did was get off the platforms and walk in those towns and call out to the people who looked at the doors in fear, because they didn’t know, and from soon we made them like this (gestures with their hands) to get together and they got together. The first thing is to trust the popular vote, trust in the strength of the Nicaraguan and in that libertarian conscience that he had hidden, that they wanted to leave, but were afraid. Connect with those people who want change and give them the confidence to do so.
-You recently resigned from the direction of the Violeta Barrios Foundation. What is the reason for that resignation?
-For a long time we have been talking about how to modernize the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation. Until now it had been like a family address, mainly. We decided to make a change, expand its assembly, change the board of directors and make it as an organization not merely family but as civil society organizations are. This process coincides with the entire situation that we are experiencing in Nicaragua. On the other hand, it raised many questions from journalists and I told them, if my contribution is needed to achieve this unity, electoral reforms that allow the Nicaraguan to trust that vote, I say yes to Nicaragua. We have a life commitment with democracy, with freedom, with development, and in these circumstances that we are in right now, where this dictatorship has taken us, I think it is urgent to give Nicaraguans their country back.
-On other occasions you have been nominated …
-No. Eduardo Montealegre offered me in 2006 to be vice president. After much thought, because I knew what that is and it is not a bargain. It is a huge sacrifice. For one’s private life it is the most difficult to be in such a position. But later that party made its internal changes and it remained like that, and since I am not a person who is looking for it nor do I have anguish about it, then, well, calm down. But after I have not received any formal proposal.
-Have you currently received any proposals from a party or political group?
– I have not had any proposal, I simply have the conviction from my side that we all have to contribute to uniting Nicaragua to get out of the dictatorship. Some people have said to me: Christian, what are you going to do? We would like you to participate and get one out in the polls. You cannot disappoint people who believe in you, in whatever it is, in what you are going to need. Right now the main objective is to achieve unity and get us to go to truly free elections. Let the government not be afraid. This is the best way out for them, for the public sector, and for the entire social, political and private sector of Nicaragua.
– Wouldn’t it be a historical irony that 31 years later he is competing against the same man that his mother defeated?
-Nicaragua is interesting. Ortega fought to overthrow Somoza and later Ortega became a Somoza. Then my mother came, competed against Ortega and beat him… it could be. We must not anticipate the times, but I do not see any surprise because this daughter, as you say, or this citizen, has been since those times in the life of Nicaragua and like other women like me, we feel that Nicaragua needs that change, and if you have to do it, you do it. I’m here.
-Are there conditions for elections in Nicaragua?
-There are two sides of the coin. One is that all Nicaraguans want those elections. For me that condition is very valid, that the libertarian conscience of the Nicaraguan since the 70s, 80s remains firm that he wants a democracy. The period of Violeta Chamorro is spoken of because it is a reference to what was a period of freedom, the rule of law, the law, a respected constitution, and progress. That is what we all want. Now, and I said this is not the time to think about nominations. I have not thrown myself. Nor have I said that if they asked me, as one journalist said. I say yes to Nicaragua and I am here to serve you and I will continue to do so from the work I do every day. And right now what must be achieved is unity and some minimal reforms to go to elections.
-What would those minimal reforms be?
-There is a group of reforms that has presented a change proposal that must be made to the Supreme Electoral Council, to the electoral law. When the time comes, you have to evaluate if the conditions are there, because in Nicaragua we live by the day, we cannot anticipate the times, because they change too fast.
-When Dona Violeta was a candidate, she was exposed to many insults and disqualifications. Is Cristiana Chamorro prepared for that offensive scenario?
-I learned from my mother that she was immune to criticism, because she was calm with her conscience. They are things that have to be endured.
-By the way, recently Dona Rosario Murillo referred to you without naming you, disqualifying you. How did you take that?
-I believe that instead of bothering to be disqualifying people, they should worry about inviting a high-level electoral campaign without violence, without political prisoners, in full freedom, so that the people can decide who is what they said she. She said that we were “sellout”. I don’t understand why they are so afraid of the popular will.
-Do you see an electoral solution this year for the crisis in Nicaragua?
-I can’t get ahead of the times, but we have to work for her. We have to achieve it. As long as we don’t see it, we have to be on the line to achieve it.
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