Rosario Murillo handles the diplomatic management of the Nicaraguan dictatorship with an iron fist and in her own way. (Photo Jorge López/EFE)
In the last six months, Nicaragua has had four ambassadors in Cuba. One of them remained in office for only 12 days. The same thing happened in the Organization of American States (OAS) and something similar in Honduras and Venezuela. Almost every week La Gaceta, the official newspaper, announces changes in embassies. And those who are announced today in new positions, a couple of weeks later are dismissed.
A Nicaraguan journalist jokingly advises the new ambassadors “not to unpack or settle into the post” because they will soon have to travel back.
“NEW RECORD! In six months Nicaragua has had four ambassadors in Cuba: Wilfredo Jarquín, Reynaldo Lacayo, Sidhartha Marín (12 days in office), Luis Cabrera (12 years). It has been a historical relationship and today it is hysterical. It seems that even Havana has asked for moderation in human rights from the regime”, exposed on Twitter, the former Nicaraguan ambassador to the OAS Arturo McFields.
Behind this high turnover of Nicaraguan ambassadors in the world is, in the opinion of many, the hand of Rosario Murillo, considered “the de facto chancellor” of Nicaragua since 2018, above the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Denis Moncada, who has been relegated to formal activities.
Rosario Murillo is vice president of the Republic for the second term, spokeswoman for the regime, wife of Daniel Ortega, and four years ago she assumed the direction of Nicaragua’s international relations without a formal appointment.
But Murillo’s seal goes beyond the appointments and dismissals of foreign personnel, but is also manifested through a new diplomatic language full of insults, the expulsion or prohibition of entry of the ambassadors of Spain, the Vatican, Colombia and Taiwan in Nicaragua and the seizure of the diplomatic headquarters of Taiwan and the OAS, among other gestures attributed to him.
“As of 2018 there was a change in the way international relations were handled,” says McFields, who served as Nicaragua’s plenipotentiary ambassador to the OAS until March 23, when he denounced it as “a dictatorship.” to the Ortega government. “There is an absolute ignorance of diplomacy.”
“When you do not adapt to changes, you can sometimes be fired or ‘bypassed’ (ignored), or continue in office, but you have no role other than receiving credentials,” he adds to explain the high turnover in the service Nicaraguan Foreign Affairs and the Role of Foreign Minister Moncada. “For example, a healthy foreign ministry, every two or three years, rotates its ambassadors, but not in a week or a month.”
The analysis of Arturo McFields, former Nicaraguan ambassador to the OAS
The seal of the first lady is even more visible in the Nicaraguan diplomatic language that incorporates into the Foreign Ministry notes her usual virulence, words typical of Murillo’s jargon and her peculiar way of accentuating some words and using the at sign to allude to two genres in his writings.
“Refrain, Mr. Sullivan, from continuing to violate our National Harmony, and renounce wanting to impose your vulgar, creeping, aberrant, insolent, ignoble, abominable and decadent Yankee Policy, which we declare, once again, unpleasant for Nicaraguans”, exposed (sic) a note from the Foreign Ministry after the United States ambassador to Nicaragua, Kevin Sullivan, congratulated in a tweet the 25 years of the independent magazine Confidencial, on October 11 of last year.
Three months earlier, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arancha González Laya, received a letter from the Nicaraguan Foreign Ministry with a similar tone. “Showing a daring ignorance, and a ferocity inappropriate for diplomacy, Mrs. González addresses the president of a free and sovereign people, with the voice of a bailiff, without realizing in her delirious rant of an outdated boss that we have been without Spanish rule for centuries, in addition of never having recognized any kindness in those furious Hispanic crimes, crimes against humanity”, the letter to the Spanish official stated.
The letters from the Foreign Ministry, says an expert in semiotics, have the same furious tone that Mrs. Murillo uses in her midday interventions. “If you check the written text, you will see her mark everywhere. Rosario Murillo is the only person in the world who accentuates the “és”, which she calls Latin America “Nuestramérica” and uses the “@” symbol to represent masculine and feminine at the same time. The same is seen in her poems, in her writings, it is seen in the texts and sometimes even in the speeches of the Foreign Ministry, ”says the source.
According to someone who worked closely with Murillo and who asks that her identity be protected, she “reacts on impulse” to the information she receives. “She doesn’t write, she has a scribe. If she is bothered by something, she dictates to him. She starts to blurt out insults at her. She approves and tells him to send it now. She immediately calls the Foreign Ministry (to say) that she is sending a statement, she orders that it be sent to all the embassies, that the embassies distribute it and that they send verification that they sent it because some ambassadors feel ashamed to send those texts”.
Denis Moncada, Foreign Minister of Nicaragua, Rosario Murillo and Daniel Ortega. (AP Photo)
According to this source, the isolation experienced by the regime exacerbates Murillo’s state of mind. “Those who work with her know that you can’t tell her the truth if it’s bad news. You have to dilute her information. Being honest with her comes at a price: getting fired from her. Some have said that they are trustworthy and can tell you the truth. No way! Fired! Nothing is certain with her, except honesty”.
McFields agrees that trust is a key factor in the selection of foreign service officers. “As of the 2018 protests, nobody is good enough to exercise diplomacy,” he notes.
He says that there are five embassies in which special attention is paid because they are considered “the jewel in the crown”: the United States, the first, Venezuela, Russia, now China —before it was Taiwan— and Cuba. “They are kept and guarded with an iron fist by the Executive, because they are very delicate portfolios in which no one is trusted. Ambassadors are not trusted and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or the minister, is not trusted.” In some cases, he adds, the ambassadors do not know what is going on, the relationships are held at a higher level than the ambassador and the foreign minister.
“There are essential concepts of diplomacy that really disappeared, were beheaded, as of 2018. Things as simple as reciprocity in diplomacy. Someone issues a statement A and you respond with a statement B. That’s over, someone issues a statement A and you come out with a disproportionate response and insulting language,” says McFields.
He says that another lost “diplomatic principle”, “which is taught on the first day of classes, is the inviolability of diplomatic headquarters”.
The Nicaraguan regime confiscated the diplomatic headquarters of Taiwan, in December 2021, and of the OAS, on April 24, actions that, although they reflect the deterioration of diplomatic management, could hardly be attributed to Murillo.
Nicaraguan diplomacy, he adds, also lacks an international presence because Daniel Ortega rarely leaves Nicaragua. “Head of State who does not make diplomatic relations at the highest level, is not working. The heads of state must travel through Latin America or through their strategic areas of diplomatic relations. When you don’t make a presence and you don’t travel, you lose that personal contact and there comes a time when you only know the presidents of the 80s, officials of the old era. No one wants the regime or no one knows it. People like Manuel López Obrador (Mexico) do not feel anything for Ortega because they have never seen him, they have never talked to him, they have never hugged.
“They have paid a high price for that absence,” concludes McFields.
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