We Denounce the Recent Attack by Daniel Ortega’s Government Against the Priest and Poet Ernesto Cardenal.

Father Cardenal had been accused of slander in 2005 due to a letter he published in self-defense, and he received a sentence absolving him of those charges and declaring him innocent, as the accusation was so absurd.

Now a judge who is obedient to Ortega has revoked that sentence and declared him guilty. This action is completely illegal. The Nicaraguan legislation considers that a sentence can only be appealed within six months, otherwise the matter is considered settled and cannot be changed. But the judicial system answers to the political will of Daniel Ortega.

All of this appears to be a clear reprisal for Father Cardenal’s permanent critical position against the abuses of Ortega’s government. Coincidentally, this sentence was announced upon his return from the inauguration of president Lugo in Paraguay, at which he was a guest of honor and which Daniel Ortega was unable to attend due to the protests of feminist organizations against his presence, given the accusations of sexual abuse that have been made against him by his stepdaughter Zoilamérica Narváez. In Paraguay, as in other places, Cardenal said what thinks of Ortega.

Cardenal’s integrity and his credentials as someone who has dedicated his life to the cause of justice, confer an enormous authority to his criticisms, both in and out of Nicaragua. This ends up being intolerable for Daniel Ortega and it is the reason why Ernesto Cardenal has been condemned by an unjust and vengeful, and therefore scandalous, court order.

Ernesto Cardenal is the most recent victim of the systematic harassment orchestrated against all those who have lifted their voices to denounce the lack of transparency, the authoritarian style and the unscrupulous behavior and lack of ethics of Daniel Ortega in his return to power.

We make a call to writers and friends of Nicaragua throughout the world to denounce this political persecution, to demand the end of these illegal and unfounded accusations and to express your solidarity with Ernesto Cardenal and the right of the Nicaraguan people to live without fear and repression.


The first precaution will consist of never confusing the law with justice. The law has not served Ernesto Cardenal because it is administered by a justice that allowed itself to be corrupted by power’s resentment and envy. Ernesto Cardenal, one of the most extraordinary men warmed by the sun, has been the victim of the bad conscience of a Daniel Ortega who is unworthy of his own past, and who is now unable to recognize the greatness of someone whom even a Pope, in vain, tried to humiliate. I ask Daniel Ortega to look at himself in the mirror and tell me what he might find there. If he feels shame, then he should at least have the courage to ask forgiveness. If he does not ask for it, if he does not lift his voice to speak out against Ernesto Cardenal’s sentence, we will know that his human and political merits have fallen to zero. Once again, a revolution has been betrayed from within.
– José Saramago

All my solidarity for Ernesto Cardenal, a great poet, splendid person and brother of my soul, against this vile sentence by a vile judge at the service of a vile government. These infamies praise you, Ernesto.

I embrace you, from afar, from nearby.
– Eduardo Galeano

Héctor Abad Faciolince (Colombia)
Hugo Achúgar (Uruguay)
Luis Fernando Afanador (Colombia)
Héctor Aguilar Camín (Mexico)
Sergio Aguayo (Mexico)
Sealtiel Alatriste (Mexico)
Eliseo Alberto (Cuba)
Felipe Aljure (Colombia)
Nuria Amat (Spain)
Jotamario Arbeláez (Colombia)
Edda Armas (President of Pen Club of Venezuela)
Ricardo Bada (Spain)
Mario Benedetti (Spain)
Jorge Boccanera (Argentina)
Juan Carlos Botero (Colombia)
Javier Bozalongo (Spain)
Marco Antonio Campos (Mexico)
Horacio Castellanos Moya (El Salvador)
Victoria de Stefano (Venezuela)
Luis Antonio de Villena (Spain)
Joaquín Estefanía (Spain)
Poetry Festival of Granada (Spain)
Julio Figueroa (Mexico)
Eduardo Galeano (Uruguay)
Francisco Goldman (United States/Guatemala)
Gloria Guardia (Panama)
Jorge F. Hernández (Mexico)
Miguel Huezo Mixco (El Salvador)
Bianca Jagger (England)
Darío Jaramillo (Colombia)
Noe Jitrik (Argentina)
Ana Istarú (Costa Rica)
Patricia Lara (Colombia)
Luce López-Baralt (Puerto Rico)
Ángeles Mastretta (Mexico)
Oscar Marcano (Venezuela)
Mario Mendoza (Colombia)
Seymour Menton (United States)
Tulio Mora (President of Pen Club of Peru)
Eric Nepomuceno (Brazil)
Julio Ortega (Peru)
José Miguel Oviedo (Peru)
Cristina Pacheco (Mexico)
José Emilio Pacheco (Mexico)
José María Pérez Gay (Mexico)
Nélida Piñón (Brazil)
Vicente Quirarte (Mexico)
Josúe Ramírez Velásquez (Mexico)
Abelardo Rodríguez Macías (Mexico)
Daniel Rodríguez Moya (Spain)
Margaret Randall (United States)
Rosa Regás (Spain)
Laura Restrepo (Colombia)
Juan Manuel Roca (Colombia)
Miguel Rojas Mix (Chile)
Carmen Ruiz-Barrionuevo (Spain)
José Carlos Rosales (Spain)
Alejandro Sánchez-Aizcorbe (Peru)
Julio Eutiquio Saravia (Mexico)
Stacy Alba Scar (United States)
Federico Schopf (Chile)
Ricardo Silva Romero (Colombia)
Saúl Sosnowski (Argentina)
David Unger (United States)
Marcela Valencia Tsuchiya (Peru)
Fernando Valverde (Spain)
Minerva Margarita Villarreal (Mexico)
José Javier Villarreal (Mexico)
Juan Villoro (Mexico)
José Félix Zavala (Mexico)
Teodoro Petkoff (Venezuela)

[Translator’s note: Original Spanish version can be read at Poetas Contra la Dictadura]

{ Tal Cual, 1 September 2008 }

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