The lefts in the face of Dora Maria Téllez

Dora María Téllez, political prisoner in Nicaragua.

By: Raúl Zibechi

Some time ago, Mónica Baltodano commented that the repression of the Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo dictatorship is even worse than that of Anastasio Somoza, against whom the Sandinistas took up arms. I confess that Monica’s statement left me frozen and I thought it was exaggerated. When we followed the case of Dora María Téllez, the pieces of the regime were put together.

Last weekend her brother, Oscar Téllez Argüello, reported that Dora María would receive the title honoris causa from Sorbonne University, in Paris, France, “in recognition of a life of dedication to the defense of social justice and democracy.” From prison, she sent the message that the title, which journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro received in her name, is dedicated to political prisoners committed to freedom in their country.

“My sister expresses to you, in addition to her gratitude, her firm determination to continue the struggle despite the torture and inhuman prison conditions to which political prisoners are subjected. She hopes that this recognition will serve to highlight and create more and more awareness about the importance of denouncing every day more and more forcefully the atrocities of the Ortega-Murillo regime, which has subjected an entire people to a regime of absolute silence and terror,” says her brother Oscar.

Dora María is a prisoner in El Chipote since June 2021, accused of “treason against the country.” “There is no light even to distinguish the toothpaste on the brush,” Chamorro explained about the cell where Tellez, 67,, survives. Accepting the title on behalf of the prisoner, Chamorro called on leftist movements and governments in Latin America to raise their voices against the Nicaraguan regime and said, “You cannot justify a dictatorship in the name of the left. “

Therein lies the crux of the problem. If we are now not witnessing a broad campaign for her freedom and a denunciation of the Ortega-Murillo regime, it is precisely because the left and progressivism are not interested. Because they only look at power; they bet everything on power, and for the sake of power they sacrifice ethics and dignity. It has its logic: if power is everything, the rest has little importance, since it is subordinated to the greater objective.

Posters outside the legislative assembly in Costa Rica calling for action to help Nicaraguan political prisoners. Photo: Carlos Herrera | El País

Dora Maria makes them uncomfortable. Because of her dignity. Because of her perseverance. Because she did not give up, sell out, or give in. The left, however, is not bothered by the regime because it does not want to look in that mirror, in any mirror that will restore its obsession with power. That left that cackles “coup” every time it’s dealt a political setback, that accuses the right of its own limitations, prefers to look the other way when it comes to Nicaragua and the political prisoners tortured in the name of a “revolution,” which only exists in its imagination.

The lefts of the world owe an enormous theoretical and political debt because they never looked Stalinism in the face, as if that regime had not emerged from the very bowels of the Russian revolution. Understanding how this ferocious and criminal regime headed by Stalin was arrived at, obviously requires looking in the mirror, drawing serious conclusions that cannot consist of placing all the blame on the enemy, as is always done from that sector.

Today’s progressivism does not usually accept criticism, since it accuses the person who formulates it of being the right. For the same reason, it cannot make self-criticisms either. Without this collective exercise, it is impossible to promote change. I do not know of any Latin American progressive president who has said where he went wrong, what the mistakes or deviations were, but they always accuse others (whether the right, the empire or the movements that supported them) for the resounding failures they harvest.

Some presidents in the region are calling for the freedom of Dora María Téllez. I think it’s necessary to do so. But it’s not enough. We must condemn and isolate the Ortega-Murillo regime for repression and crimes, because although the regime says otherwise, it has a deep alliance with the United States and the Nicaraguan right. To not so is to be complicit.

In a recent article, Baltodano denounced the closure of all the spaces and freedoms, that thousands of persecuted Nicaraguans have had to go into exile and that almost 3,000 organizations were closed, which “demonstrates in a reliable way, the will of the regime to stay in power with guns and bullets” ( That’s why in the November municipal elections the FSLN had no real opponents and declared itself the winner in the country’s 153 municipalities, despite an abstention of more than 80 percent.

Obsession with power, clinging to state control, repression of dissent and lack of self-criticism, link this left that calls itself democratic, with its Stalinist past. We already know that the right is worse, perhaps much worse. But always, more dangerous than the wolf, is the one who disguises himself with the skin of the lamb.

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Friday, December 2, 2022,   and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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