Tax Resistance: The Lethal Weapon Not Yet Fired in Nicaragua

Activismo Digital Nicaragüense posted the following (translation mine):

Tax resistance: the most effective of all the nonviolent options

Of the different methods included in the Civil Disobedience that keeps the nonviolent insurrection against the Sandinista dictatorship going, tax resistance can be categorized as the variety with the most definite impact of all. Its solid and continued application can strike at the resources of misrule, so as to make it topple.

What is Tax Resistance?

Also known as Fiscal Disobedience, Tax Resistance basically consists of refusing to pay taxes, or some specific tax, with the goal of demonstrating to the State our repudiation of its conduct, the misuse of the taxes they are given, or simply to prevent them from continuing to swell the funds that are destined for acts of repression, corruption, or diversion of funds.

Has Tax Resistance been applied at other times?

The political history of different nations shows us clear examples of how Tax Resistance on the part of the sovereign (the people, the citizens) contributed to the overthrow of tyrants or, also, to accomplish the total independence of a nation. A great demonstration of its effectiveness was given in the U.S. in , in the middle of the revolutionary war the well-known “Tea Party” took place, which consisted of a group of American colonists throwing into the sea a shipment of tea from Britain as a form of protest against the increase of tariffs that would raise the prices of this oft-consumed product. The incident infuriated the British parliament so much that it closed Boston harbor; the citizens continued the heroic deeds, reducing their purchase and consumption of tea in America, which weakened the British finances, a factor that led to their defeat and to the independence of the U.S.

Another great and more recent example was the “crisis of 125” (named after executive order #125/2008), which happened in Kirchnerist Argentina in . When the government of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner decided to apply a mobile withholding system to the export of the principal Argentine agricultural commodities (soy, peanuts, corn), the various furious agricultural producers called a 129-day halt to production, as a form of protest, given that their income would be highly affected by the hikes in export taxes that they wanted to impose. From not selling their produce, to blockading the principal highways in productive zones, their acts bore fruit in the failure of the decree, the resignation of economic minister Guillermo Moreno, and the subsequent collapse of the Kirchnerist era.

And there are other examples in other countries, such as the Ukraine during the 93 days of rebellion against the regime of Viktor Yanukovych, which included non-payment of taxes and non-consumption of high-cost taxed goods — or in the independence of India when Mahatma Gandhi included this in its various forms of civic and peaceful protest.

All of these examples speak clearly to how overwhelming determined and sustained Tax Resistance is for weakening and even defeating a tyranny, but how can it be applied in Nicaragua? Let us see…

Tax Resistance in Nicaragua: the lethal weapon not yet fired

Many of us in the Blue & White insist that the Alianza Cívica and, more specifically, the private sector launch a general strike in order to twist the arm of the Sandinista dictatorship. But what if instead of screaming at the wall, we begin to destroy it piece by piece by ourselves? Have we stopped spending on unnecessary things, going to bars, discos, movies, restaurants, etc. for “destressing” or “mental health”? Have we even concerned ourselves with investigating which on products we pay Value Added Tax or Selective Sales tax in order to stop consuming them or substitute other items not so taxed?

Just as we avidly criticize “unproductive” forms of protests like wearing black, pico rojo, or tossing blue & white confetti, with the same energy we must commit ourselves to maintaining civic resistance, and all make up our minds to begin “starting yesterday” massive Tax Resistance, and in this way see how Ortega/Murillo and their entourage gradually crumble.

Nicaraguan Tax Resistance: Step by Step

Effectively applying Tax Resistance in Nicaragua is simple, but — as with any insurrection — requires from us self-motivated effort and tenacity.

Step 1, Austerity and Investigation: Whether alone, as a family, or with your group of troublemaker friends, agree to stop consuming specific products and to drastically diminish your trips to places of public consumption. To begin, you can download on the web the list of products that are targeted by value-added and sales taxes, and thereby know which to stop consuming or which ones to substitute (remember that all products that do not appear on the list are not covered by the specified tax).

Step 2, Budget: Once you have specified the products that you will stop consuming or will substitute, create your budget either for the week, biweekly, or monthly; make sure it is balanced, and prioritize savings over consumption. Remember to include everything, from food to transportation and going out (at most once a month).

Step 3, Persistence: Always remember that this is not a race of speed, but of endurance; whoever gets bored or gives up, loses. Maintaining Tax Resistance should become an unstoppable habit in your life; it is not something to apply for a couple of months and then take a “break” you must maintain it always, as in the saying “Tax Resistance never stalls, until the dictator falls.” Do not be discouraged; your motivation is to see your Nicaragua free.

Step 4, Feedback: Every month make a thorough study of your finances. Check how effective your budget was and look back at previous months to validate how much you have been saving and make any adjustments you need to make in order to make sure that the amounts remain sustainable.

Step 5, Education and Outreach: Your patriotic acts should be a dignified example for other Blue & Whites. Once you verify that Tax Resistance is productive in your day-to-day life, do not hesitate to share your experience with your loved ones, friends, or fellow-employees. Also, share the results you have obtained in your social media networks, in order to show that the effort is worth it and to motivate others to rouse themselves and to continue striking at all possible points against the dictatorship.

There are no more excuses. We must stop complaining and start assuming our role in this ongoing revolution. Our barricades are to refuse frivolous spending, and our blockades are to be in front of the bars and discos and deciding not to enter. Let’s not put our hope in others, but let’s construct our own.

God bless the steadfast fighters! God bless Nicaragua!