Nicaragua: Arturo McFields: “I’m not a hero, I’m afraid, but I feel like I’ve removed an anvil from my soul” | International

Arturo Mcfields Yescas, at an event in Wasghington in November 2019.
Arturo Mcfields Yescas, at an event in Wasghington in November 2019.Juan Manuel Herrera (OAS)

The obedience of Arturo McFields towards the regime of Daniel Ortega became this Tuesday a bomb that exploded with force over Nicaraguan diplomacy. Until today, Managua’s ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS) gave a sledgehammer that put the Government on alert and dislodged, which began, according to Foreign Ministry sources, a paranoid witch hunt to determine how what they already consider a “betrayal” by McFields was possible. The ambassador denounced the excesses of what he has classified as a dictatorship that violates human rights and advocated the release of more than 170 political prisoners. A relief whose consequences remain to be seen, but which returns the crisis in Nicaragua to the international discussion. “I have no courage, I am afraid, but I think it is important to overcome fear. I feel like I took a yoke off my soul,” says a relieved McFields in a telephone interview with EL PAÍS.

The ambassador —his position remains active until his dismissal is officially published in the Nicaraguan state newspaper— narrates to this newspaper how he made the decision that has turned the Ortega government upside down. “It is a decision that does not come overnight. It is a decision that has been torturing me for a long time. But what fills me with hope is knowing that I am not the only one in this internal struggle to do something, to demonstrate, to help political prisoners. This is thousands of officials at high levels, at intermediate levels and at low levels”, he affirms.

McFields affirms that he had expressed his dissatisfaction with the situation in which the political prisoners of the regime are imprisoned and that he even proposed that the elderly and the sick be released, but that nobody listened to his proposal. On the contrary, he received threats for expressing it. “Having political prisoners who are being treated so badly, ignoring any international principle on dignified treatment transcends any political ideology. However, as I said, in the Government nobody listens. But what is sadder, nobody speaks. We were coming from a moral beating at the OAS, so they called an emergency meeting. I thought that this meeting was to analyze where we were, to evaluate our successes, mistakes and make worthy changes to decompress the socio-political situation. Changes with a certain level of legitimacy; to make a small concession for the welfare of the prisoners. But it was a meeting to get out of the OAS. I advocated releasing elderly prisoners, but they didn’t listen to me… It’s because having prisoners in subhuman conditions morally weakens the (Sandinista) bases,” he says.

His decision to break into the meeting of the OAS Permanent Council to denounce what he considers a “dictatorship” has been described as brave both within that organization and from the Nicaraguan opposition in exile. In recent years, experience has shown that raising your voice against the government or criticizing it can be paid for with life, jail or exile in the Nicaragua of Daniel Ortega. A fear that continues to run down the diplomat’s spine. “I’m not a superhero, but you can’t let his fears outweigh his convictions. However, I am not going to lie to you, I was very scared when I spoke in the session. As a person of flesh and blood, who is afraid for his family. Fear for my physical integrity and that of my family.”

Shortly after McFields’ statements were made public, the Nicaraguan government issued a statement saying it did not recognize him as its diplomatic representative. This situation leaves the journalist in a “legal limbo” in the United States, as he himself acknowledges. “I can’t work, I can’t do anything, I’m unemployed. Technically, these days, I am still an ambassador, but an ambassador in limbo,” he says from Washington.

Some of McFields’s biggest criticisms are directed against Vice President Rosario Murillo, whom he claims directs the country’s foreign policy without having the slightest idea of ​​diplomacy, with a strategy based on absolute obedience on the part of diplomats and officials. “According to the structure of the Government, the diplomatic portfolio is managed by one person: the first lady. A diplomacy without soul or brain, ”she notes.

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Despite his uncertain future, the ambassador affirms that he does not regret what he did this Wednesday, when he wrote lines in the history of OAS diplomacy, always so bland. He hopes that his decision will sink deep into state officials, who accept the humiliation of continuing to work for a regime that manipulates them. “I have hopes in public officials, civilians and military, because I have heard them speak. They speak quietly. Even officials of the highest political, civil and military level speak, but when it comes to official statements they remain silent. They are silent because they are afraid. In recent months, several public officials have been leaving, but they are quietly leaving because of the same fear. Now my future is uncertain, but I feel free. I feel like an anvil has been removed from my soul.”

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