Margen de error / Javier Conde

Margin of Error

One of my biggest political disappointments was the defeat of the Sandinistas in the 1990 elections. I followed them from Río Caribe, where I was vacationing for a few days. A telephone call confirmed what I hadn't even suspected.

I sincerely believed that a red and black victory would lead to the end of hostilities and would open up another panorama for the Nicaragua liberated from the Somoza family. The Nicaraguans, who suffered the illegal Contra war in their bodies, bones and souls, knew that the only way to attain peace was by voting out the Sandinistas. And that is what they did, quietly and undeniably.

I think Sergio Ramírez, with his analysis and his subsequent books, along with other stories, some of which I heard in Managua, helped give shape to the disillusion and helped place the merits and demerits of the Sandinistas in a fairer perspective. Thanks to them, Rubén Blades was able to sing "Nicaragua Without Somoza," which is no small feat.

The Sandinista theme, those elections and the ones in Chile regarding Pinochet and even the 1952 plebiscite here in these parts are all pieces of the menu of this process that concludes, at some level, this Sunday. To compare the current Venezuelan situation with those episodes at least contributes to giving the political debate another entity. It helps overcome the wild level of insults and disqualifications that have been the norm until very recently--even in the language of analysts. It uncovers the fact that we have to seek out new explanations for these equally new occasions, through which we move with more uncertainty than truth.

Amid the heat of these days of polls (the serious ones and the others) that favor the No vote and of massive government propaganda, the most curious theories emerge, perhaps defensively or as necessary explanations for what seems to be inexplicable. These theories will also have their definitive date on Sunday. The hidden vote and other ingenious concepts--for example, the absence of the on the streets is, paradoxically, the expression of its strength--are in the press and in conversations today in order to certify, ahead of time, an undeniable victory.

In 1990 all the polls (the serious ones and the others) predicted a Sandinista victory. The Nicaraguan people, wisely, concealed their true feelings and wishes until the last moment, until the moment that counts. Proving, perhaps, that certain scientific instruments can lose sight of reality when it has become sinuous and inexplicable.

{ Javier Conde, TalCual, 11 August 2004 }

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