Category Archives: Nicaragua Unrest

Pastoral Letter from Bishops Conference of Nicaragua, July 14, 2018

The Catholic Bishops conference issued this pastoral letter yesterday, after pro-governmental groups attacked the barricade students had held at the UNAN, and the Catholic Church nearby where the students ran seeking refuge. Two students were killed and the heavily armed pro-governmental groups would not allow the students to receive medical treatment or be evacuated from the church, fired on the group inside the church that included a Catholic priest and a US journalist. Representatives of the IACHR denounced the attacks and there were many photos of ambulances prevented from entering the area as the National Police cordoned off the area. There were also reports of sanctuaries in Catholic Churches being ransacked and consecrated hosts strewn about the floor.

PASTORAL LETTER

“The Truth will set you free” (Jn 8:31)

“No one can serve two masters” (Mt 6:24)

  1. We Bishops accepted in good faith being mediators and witnesses to the National Dialogue, placing as guarantors the Nicaraguan people and the international community that is in solidarity with our pain. Our mission is not reduced to being mediators and witnesses to the dialogue roundtable, but given the prophetic dimension of our ministry, we have seen ourselves faced with the urgency of going to places of conflict to defend the lives of the defenseless, bringing comfort to the victims and mediating in order to achieve a peaceful outcome to the situation. We declare that in order to carry out this work of charity the Nicaraguan church will continue making all the means within its reach available. Our mission of pastors and prophets does not contradict our roles as mediators and witnesses, given that what we are seeking is peace and justice as Nicaraguans.
  2. In recent days the repression and violence on the part of the pro-governmental paramilitaries has worsened against the people who are protesting civically. We profoundly lament so much death, pain and suffering of our people. Wounded, unjustly tried, threatened, intimidated and outrages committed against those who remain in places of peaceful protests. In addition we denounce the kidnapping and arbitrary detentions targeting the civilian population. Today as never before Human Rights are being violated in Nicaragua. In addition, members of the National Dialogue, human rights defenders and independent media have been the object of stigmatization campaigns on the part of the government.
  3. It is our duty to inform the Nation that during these months we have been witnesses to the lack of political will on the part of the government to sincerely dialogue and seek real processes that would put us on the path toward a true democracy, repeatedly refusing to address the central topics of the agenda of democratization and not implementing the recommendations of the IACHR, especially the urgent dismantling of the pro-governmental armed elements. The State representatives have distorted the principal objective that was the reason for the installation of the National Dialogue roundtable.
  4. The attacks perpetrated by the National Police, by pro-governmental paramilitary groups and mobs incited to attack and sow terror among the people who are civically demonstrating are legally and morally reprehensible. Equally reprehensible is every act of sacriligious profanation against the Church, be it now in its consecrated places or in its churches. Also reprehensible are the aggressions against national and international journalists, defenders of Human Rights, and members of civil society.
  5. We remember that it is the duty of the government to protect and respect the lives of Nicaraguans, including those who civically protest.:

“ All people have the right: 1) to their private life and that of their family. 2) the inviolability of their home, their correspondence and communications of any type. 3) to the respect of their honor and reputation. 4) to know all information that the state authorities have registered about them, as well as the right to know why and for what purpose it has that information”. (Constitution of Nicaragua, Art. 26)

  1. St Paul reminds us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the Principalities and Powers, against the Dominators of this sinister world, against the Spirit of Evil that are in the heights.” (Ephesians 6:12). Therefore we urge the Catholic faithful and men and women of good will to unite with us in:
  2. A day of fasting (Friday, July 20) in act of reparation for the profanations carried out in recent months against God. During that day the prayer of exorcism will be prayed to St. Michael the Archangel.

That day will be a call to all Nicaraguans, especially the police, military and the rest of the public employees and those whose conscience is telling them to not continue supporting directly or indirectly all these situations from the government or party of the government, so that they might seriously reflect on the grave and urgent historical situation that we are experiencing, make the decisions that their conscience dictates, and commit to defend life, truth and justice. We remind them that at the level of one´s conscience no one is obliged to fulfill an order that goes against the ten commandments of the law of God, particularly “thou shalt not kill.”

  1. A month of intercession (from July 15 to August 15):
  2. Thursdays (July 19, 26; August 2, 9): Days of Eucharistic adoration.
  3. Fridays (July 20, 27; August 3, 10): days of fasting.

iii. Saturdays (July 21, 28; August 4, 11): days of consagration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

  1. Sundays (July 15, 22, 29; August 5, 12): renovation of baptismal promises.
  2. These moments of reparation and intercession are a call to conversion for everyone, a time of reconciliation with God,  ourselves and  our fellow human beings. For this purpose we ask Catholic Christians to live these moments with intensity, frequenting the sacrament of Reconciliation.
  3. We recall that “peace is a prized but precarious asset that we all need to take care of, educate and promote in our country. As we know, peace is not reduced to the absence of war, but the generation of a “culture of peace”…(Document of Aparecida, 542).
  4. We make a call to men and women of good faith to not respond with violence to the different provocations to which they are subjected. Evil has strength when we allow it. Likewise Christ confronted the temptation of evil in the desert with that unbreakable faith in his God the Father (Mk 1:12-13; Mt 4:1-11; Lk 4:1-13), likewise we, as his followers that we are, are called to confront the power of evil with the same faith because only in this way will we be able to overcome it and live in a society of justice and peace. Let us not be accomplices to evil.
  5. May Mary in her glorious Assumption and through her maternal intercession obtain for us from her Divine Son the gift of justice and peace for the Church that walks in pilgrimmage in Nicaragua and for all Nicaraguans.

In our office, Managua, Nicaragua on the 14 day of the month of July of 2018.

The Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua

WE CONDEMN THE NEW REPRESSIVE ESCALATION AND WE CALL FOR RESISTANCE

Video today showed pro government groups who verbally and physically attacked Nicaraguan bishops who had travelled to Carazo to defend the population there where 14 people earlier were killed. The church was then vandalized by hooded and unhooded government supporters. This statement by the Coordination of Social Movements and Civil Society Organizations of Nicaragua refers to those events.

 WE CONDEMN THE NEW REPRESSIVE EXCALATION AND WE CALL FOR RESISTANCE

Another new massacre has been unleashed with special cruelty in Nicaragua. This weekend, once again, the already announced and carried out “Clean up operation” invaded territories with murderous “death caravans”.

Armed para-partisan groups threatened the disarmed citizenry so that they would stay in their homes, and shot weapons of war, killed and kept them from gathering the cadavers, they kidnapped, invaded homes, took people away to clandestine places where they were submitted to interrogation through torture.

The paramilitaries have not respected neither individuals nor institutions. They have invaded churches, threatening religious and pastors, in addition to having killed the faithful. Today, July 9, in the municipality of Diriamba they attacked priests and bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua, who are witnesses and mediators in the National Dialogue, which puts at risk the possibility of a peaceful way out of the crisis, that the people of Nicaragua has defined as their principal strategy, and that the Coordination of Social Movements is promoting.

We demand the immediate end to all forms of repression and the dismantling of the armed groups that operate in coordination with the police forces and with weapons used only by the armed forces.

We show our solidarity with the families of the victims and we extend our message to all the people who are detained, disappeared and those who try to support them.

We demand that the international institutions that are working in Nicaragua adopt all the protective measures and existing denouncements, and take into account that the defense of Human Rights is higher than all other mandates. The current situation deserves the declaration of an Extraordinary Human Rights Emergency.

We demand that the international community (UN, OAS and European Union) act with commitment so that Human Rights can be recognized under conditions of safety and respect for the lives and integrity of the Nicaraguans.

Likewise, we call on the population to maintain the civic and peaceful struggle, redouble territorial organization, improve security to protect life and continue participating in the mobilization and resistance. We reiterate that the barricades are a peaceful demonstration of the citizens rights to their security.

We call on organizations and social, political and economic actors to redouble and intensify efforts to obtain the unity that would allow us to put an end to the repression and achieve the immediate departure of the Ortega-Murillo regime.

Managua, Nicaragua July 9, 2018

Treasury Sanctions Three Nicaraguan Individuals for Serious Human Rights Abuse and Corrupt Acts

This was issued by the US Treasury Department, July 5, 2018. A number of news articles appeared in the Nicaraguan press today about this designation.

Treasury Sanctions Three Nicaraguan Individuals for Serious Human Rights Abuse and Corrupt Acts

22363

July 5, 2018

Designations Represent a Response to the Violence and Corruption in Nicaragua

 

Washington – The United States is deeply concerned about the ongoing crisis in Nicaragua.  We condemn the violence perpetrated by security forces and others that have resulted in the death of at least 220 demonstrators, and nearly 1,500 injured.  Since protests began on April 18, the Nicaraguan government’s violent response has included beatings of journalists, attacks against local TV and radio stations, and assaults on mothers mourning the deaths of their children.  Accordingly, today the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned Nicaraguan National Police Commissioner Francisco Javier Diaz Madriz (Diaz) and Secretary of the Mayor’s Office of Managua Fidel Antonio Moreno Briones (Moreno) for being responsible for, or the leaders of entities involved in, serious human rights abuse in Nicaragua. These actions were taken pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13818, “Blocking the Property of Persons Involved in Serious Human Rights Abuse or Corruption,” which targets perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption.

Additionally, OFAC designated Jose Francisco Lopez Centeno (Lopez), the Vice President of ALBA de Nicaragua (ALBANISA) and President of Petronic, for engaging in corrupt activities, also pursuant to E.O. 13818. Today’s designations are just the latest in an ongoing series of actions to target human rights abusers and corrupt actors around the world under the Global Magnitsky sanctions program.

“The violence perpetrated by the government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega against the Nicaraguan people and the efforts of those close to the Ortega regime to illicitly enrich themselves is deeply disturbing and completely unacceptable,” said Sigal Mandelker, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. “President Ortega and his inner circle continue to violate basic freedoms of innocent civilians while ignoring the Nicaraguan people’s calls for the democratic reforms they demand, including free, fair, and transparent elections.  These sanctions are part of our ongoing campaign under the Global Magnitsky program to hold individuals who engage in human rights abuses and corruption to account.”

As a result of today’s actions, any property, or interest in property, of those designated by OFAC within U.S. jurisdiction is blocked. Additionally, U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with blocked persons, including entities 50 percent or more owned by designated persons.

GLOBAL MAGNITSKY

Building upon the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, on December 20, 2017, the President signed E.O. 13818, in which the President found that the prevalence of human rights abuse and corruption which have their source, in whole or in part, outside the United States, had reached such scope and gravity that it threatens the stability of international and political systems. Human rights abuse and corruption undermine the values that form an essential foundation of stable, secure, and functioning societies; have devastating impacts on individuals; weaken democratic institutions; degrade the rule of law; perpetuate violent conflicts; facilitate the activities of dangerous persons; and undermine economic markets. The United States seeks to impose tangible and significant consequences on those who commit serious human rights abuse or engage in corruption, as well as to protect the financial system of the United States from abuse by these same persons. To date, 76 individuals and entities have been designated under E.O. 13818.

FRANCISCO JAVIER DIAZ MADRIZ

Diaz is a Commissioner of Nicaragua’s National Police (NNP) who has been referred to as the de facto head of, and has directed the day-to-day business of, the NNP.  Under Diaz’s command the NNP has engaged in serious human rights abuse against the people of Nicaragua, including extrajudicial killings. In June, masked gunmen accompanied by individuals identified by witnesses as Nicaraguan police reportedly set fire to a family home in Managua, killing six, including two young children. When neighbors attempted to help, the police allegedly shot at them, preventing the would-be rescuers from reaching the family. The Nicaraguan police have approached gang leaders in Nicaragua for support in attacking anti-government protesters and have been accused of indiscriminately firing on, and killing, peaceful protestors.

FIDEL ANTONIO MORENO BRIONES

Moreno serves as the main link between municipal governments and the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) and has also acted as a leader of the Sandinista Youth, the FSLN’s youth organization. The Sandinista Youth has been implicated in numerous serious human rights abuses related to the ongoing protests against the Nicaraguan government, including in the beating of protesters in April 2018 and allegedly participating in the June attack that killed a family of six in Managua. Moreno has been personally implicated in ordering attacks on protesters as far back as 2013, when elderly and young people who were peacefully protesting reduced retirement pensions were violently dislodged from their encampment by members of the Sandinista Youth.  In 2013 Moreno also orchestrated the use of motorcyclists to violently attack individuals protesting the flawed rollout of a Nicaraguan government program, and in early 2017 recruited others to join a group of motorcyclists to take part in measures to counter anti-government marches.  Moreno has been accused of stealing large sums of money from Managua municipal projects, as well as using municipal funds to pay for FSLN party activities.

JOSE FRANCISCO LOPEZ CENTENO

Lopez is the Vice President of ALBANISA, the company that imports and sells Venezuelan petroleum products, and President of the Nicaraguan state-owned oil company Petronic.  Lopez has had access to large amounts of funds collected by the government in the form of taxes and fines that he could exploit, including for the personal use of Nicaraguan leaders.  When involved in infrastructure projects, Lopez would syphon funds by negotiating personal fees, has placed numerous individuals throughout the government who have helped him steal millions of dollars on an annual basis, and has used his position to his and his family’s benefit by using companies they own to win government contracts. ALBANISA is 49% owned by Petronic, and 51 % owned by Venezuela’s national oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA). Senior officials within the Nicaraguan government and the FSLN have used ALBANISA funds to purchase television and radio stations, hotels, cattle ranches, electricity generation plants, and pharmaceutical laboratories.

Identifying information on the individuals designated today.

Letter from Humberto Ortega to the National Dialogue

This is a letter that retired General Humberto Ortega, founder of the Sandinista Army and brother of Pres. Daniel Ortega, wrote on July 4 to the National Dialogue.

Humberto Ortega calls on his brother to break up the paramilitary groups and call for early elections

Letter to the National Dialogue

On June 16th, thirty days that the Church gave as the term to finish the dialogue, the Bishops wisely have extended the prudential time so that the parties might sign fair and viable agreements, indispensible for overcoming the serious crisis of governance that threatens to generalize the bloody chaos, collapse the economy, causing suffering particularly for the poorest and youth of our society.

In March 1988 when we sat down full of hate to negotiate in Sapoá at the end of the war with dozens of thousands of dead, it was fundamental to meet one another and see one another as human beings. We learned that the art of negotiating is the art of knowing to cede and putting Nicaragua above all else. We signed the peace agreement, a process in the negotiation with the political opposition in 1989 that required articulating a symmetry that demanded the President Daniel Ortega to move up the presidential elections, and the Nicaraguan Resistance – the Contras- to finish their disarmament after those elections. A fair political formula for making viable the first free elections in Nicaragua and the demobilization of the Contras, an event that established peace. These elections were won by Doña Violeta Chamorro Barrios in February of 1990, facilitating national reconciliation.

Today we Nicaraguans are suffering the unpunished actions of illegally armed, hooded parapolice civilians who are shooting wantonly and exercising controls only permitted by law of the Police or Military authorities, a situation aggravated by common crime, taking advantage of the fact that the police are quartered in their stations. Recourse has been made of criminal gangmembers for activities in support of or against the government, and even terrorist attempts have appeared to plan attacks on public figures. This is information that the US government turned over to the Police and the Army in May, where it was mentioned as objectives Ms. Laura Dogu, the US Ambassador, Mons. Silvio Báez, and myself. All this situation has imposed a terrifying unofficial state of siege in the country.

In order to urgently achieve peace the historic opportunity is presented of a new political symmetry, that the President Daniel Ortega immediately order to use all the power of the order of the State and Government to disactivate the parapolice forces and any other illegal force, and in correspondence with the Bishops and the Civic Alliance, exhort the protestors that they lift all the barricades no matter how just their motives may be, beause they are illegal and hurt the human rights of their fellow citizens and foreigners by blocking their free movement. This pacification responds to the national and international clamour that demands it and the national dialogue is promoting.

All we Nicaraguans want a peaceful solution to the tragic crisis that we are suffering, and President Daniel Ortega by constitutionally advancing the Presidential elections for the coming year says yes to peace. Thus our country wil be encouraged and surprising the world will quickly recover, boosting small, medium and large economy, foreign investment and tourism. Doing an assessment of everything done since 1990 within the framework of a national agreement is a pressing need, and it will be the government that the people elect in these elections who must call for the national agreement to reach a consensus on a humanistic plan for the nation that strengthens values, democratic education and culture, social and solidarity economics, institutional ethics, the strategic democratic direction that gives dignity to our people and saves our privileged nature.

Let us honor those fallen yesterday and today, let us be in solidarity with their suffering families, with our people and their young students who demand peace with full liberty with the same fervor of the young Sandinista student Camilo Ortega Saavadra who gave his life defending the heroic people of Masaya and Monimbó.

On Tuesday June 26th the Papal Nuncio Mons. Stanislaw Waldemar received me and I gave him a letter that I wrote to Pope Francis, saying that in these painful times maybe it might be necessary for him to come to Nicaragua and help us to implement his profound words: “Dialogue-Pardon-Reconciliation” to give peace and happiness to all his Nicaraguan children.

Signature

General Humberto Ortega Saavadra          Managua, July 4, 2018

Transition Junta to Save the Nation

This pronouncement came out on July 2, 2018 published by the FAD (Frente Amplio por la Democracia), a coalition formed in Sept 2016 to reject what they called “the political farce of elections” scheduled for Nov 2016. It was originally composed of opposition political parties, movements, unions, youth and other sectors opposed to the government)

BROAD FRONT FOR DEMOCRACY

This pronouncement we have written with a series of self convened groups who participate in different organized spaces and in barricades in different parts of the country.

PRONOUNCEMENT

Transition Junta to Save the Nation!

We, self convened citizens, in representation of millions of Nicaraguans in the marches, barricades, medical posts, logistical support and participants in the massive and different civic demonstrations that stoke and maintain this large Civic Resistance: we cry out to the world our indignation over the large amount of deaths and wounded at the hands of a fanatical and deceitful government that is shooting weapons of war at disarmed citizens, State Terrorism, where the government murders children and citizens with paramilitaries and police. Enough already of the Repression!

  1. We demand the immediate departure of the Ortega Murillo regime FOR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY and we cry out for in situ protection of international organizations to preserve the lives of the protesting citizens. The OAS and the UN must demand their resignation as was done with Somoza (resolution 40/79). Each day with these genocidal people in power means more death and suffering for the people of Nicaragua.
  2. We propose the formation of a Transition Junta, composed of between five and seven members, upright, firm and representative of the different sectors united in this Great Civic Insurrection. Their principal functions will be restoring the institutions and the Constitution, as well as ensuring conditions for the new General Elections. The members of this transition junta will not be able to be candidates for popularly elected posts.
  3. We demand from the leadership of the Army a definition about the possession of weapons of war in the hands of paramilitary groups and criminal bands who are murdering our people. And we ask for international advice for the IMMEDIATE DISARMING OF ALL PARAMILITARIES and the formation of a specialized Team to get to the roots and end the impunity in our country.
  4. We call on the Civic Alliance and all the Citizen and sector Movements to form Large White and Blue National Unity that could achieve the immediate departure of the dictatorship.
  5. We invite the Catholic Church and ethical people to continue as mediators in this entire transition process. We request International Organizations support and respect THE SOVEREIGN WILL OF THE NICARAGUAN PEOPLE, that CRIES OUT LOUDLY FOR THEIR LIVES: GET OUT NOW!

IN ORDER TO PREPARE THE ELECTIONS: TRANSITION JUNTA NOW! GET OUT NOW!

Managua, Nicaragua, July 2, 2018

 

Interview: Francisca Ramírez, Leader of the Peasants Movement Against the Canal

This interview was done of Francisca Ramírez, the most recognized leader of the Anti Canal Movement, officially known as the National Council in Defense of Our Land, Lake and Sovereignty-Peasant Movement. They are participants in the National Dialogue

Francisca Ramírez: “We need to rise up with more force”

“The barricades have become the national power to force him to resign”

by Maynor Salazar published in Confidencial on June 27, 2018

The technical team of international experts of the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the office of the United Nations High Commissioner will be “witnesses to the repression and death” that the Government of Daniel Ortega (his police and paramilitaries) has installed in the country since last April 18th, said the peasant leader Francisca Ramírez in the television program Esta Noche.

Ramírez said that the members of the IACHR and the High Commissioner will also be fundamental actors in the search for justice for the murders, in order to accuse those responsible for the more than 200 deaths that the repression of the Ortega Murillo government has left.

“What is left us Nicaraguans is to be intelligent. We know that he is gong to try to change things. We are clear that we are winning and the presence of the IACHR should push us to go out in the streets. Daniel has wanted the people to respond to his violence, but he has not gotten that because no one wants war, and that is why we have decided to fight together, we know that it is not going to be easy, and that is why we are going to continue fighting, that is why we are organized,” stated Ramírez.

Last weekend [June 26] civil society and the self convened had planned to hold the “March of the Flowers”, nevertheless, they decided to cancel it due to the strong presence of paramilitaries in the capital. The peasant leaders highlighted the fact that even though the activity was suspended to save the lives of the population, now this type of demonstrations should be promoted in unity and with strength, not just from the municipalities, but in the neighborhoods and villages of the country.

“Daniel has wanted to sow terror in the neighborhoods, and it is not for anything that the people are terrorized, but I think that today for those more than 200 deaths, we should rise up with more force and we need to be united, that is why we now have an articulation of movements to demonstrate civically and peacefully,” said Ramírez. [Note: a large demonstration was held one week later on Saturday July 31].

What is the status of the barricades in Nicaragua? In the last weeks the Government has launched a strategy of terror in the country with paramilitary groups?

The population have made the barricades to protect themselves and to demonstrate peacefully. And they have become a symbol for publicly indicting Daniel because he is a criminal and torturer and murderer of his own people. They have become a national power to force him to resign.

The discouragement of the population has been seen in the Pacific at the moment of demonstrating and maintaining the barricades because of the attacks of the paramilitaries. What is the status of the mood in the interior of the country?

The people have been encouraged in Masaya, Carazo, León, they have demonstrated that they love Nicaragua and want freedom. In spite of so much aggression and murders, they have maintained and continue the struggle. We only have rocks and morters, and even though the Government shows up with AK47s, sharpshooters and hooded people to make them back down, they continue forward. We were waiting for the IACHR team because we know that they are judges and they are going to show that here rights are violated, and that it is the Government who is violating our rights. The Government has wanted to say that it is a lie, but no one believes them. We have international backing that knows that Ortega is a person who should not continue in power.

What is the message of encouragement and strength that you send to the population?

Demonstrating is a right, what Daniel has wanted to do is take this right away from us. Today we have a great commitment, and there are now 285 people murdered and Ortega has wanted that, to shut us up, and so that we do not continue demanding justice, because he knows that we are demanding that he should be jailed because it is the Government who has been killing us. We need him to resign and to have a transitional government come in, because he is not capable of continuing, and we do not want him in power.

What do you think about the proposal that the Bishops gave the President about early elections?

We do not accept that Ortega be there until March. Elections should be organized, but if he stays in power until March, he would end up finishing (killing) off all us Nicaraguans.

Is there another type of pressure that can be applied to get the Government to make a decision at that level?

Now we have the international organizations, who are going to come to verify, but we should use this moment to demonstrate more forcefully until achieving the objective, and that is that Ortega resign and be tried. This should motivate us to achieve justice and make our demand and leave fear behind. We have 285 murders, but if we shut up it is going to get worse. Now is the moment to take advantage and go out and demonstrate. Daniel cannot continue killing, there should be a stop, if he continues it will go badly for him, because there is international pressure.

As peasants you have experienced fear since 2011 promoted by the authorities and the National Army. They have said that they ensure security in the countryside. Up to now they have not intervened to stop the paramilitaries, in spite of the fact that in the past they would act against the “criminal groups”, who were raised up in arms against the Government. Why do you think they have not executed any plan so far?

The National Army became a partisan army, because really all the murders were of people who were against the Government, but as always the Government has had the weapons and the people the desire to live in peace, only press releases would came out saying they were criminals. That was in the mountains, today it is in the capital that tons of pickups are running around, and they [the Amry] are only silent, and if we demand that they act, surely they are going to persecute the people. At times I do not want to believe that they have killed so many of us. You look at them closely and they have the physique of the Army, we have no doubt.

The official discourse says that the barricades affect the national economy and the cities are being left without supplies. What is the situation in the countryside? Can the peasants get the production out?

It is a sacrifice that we have decided to make. We have decided to not think about money, and think about justice, I know that big business and the Government are getting uncomfortable because they live off of selling what they exploit the people for. 200 trucks each week leave Nueva Guinea, and this is an enormous amount of spending on diesel, and it affects them. We have decided to make the sacrifice because we want a change and we will not rest until Ortega resigns. The peasant struggle has transpired.

What is the call to the business leaders?

They have the commitment to the people to be in the Dialogue, and if nothing is achieved, because those people from the Government come to play, then they have the commitment along with the people to apply pressure on the Government and a 48 hour strike can be done, or whatever they consider necessary.

You have been involved for years in the struggle to repeal the Canal Law. What is your expectation about that other struggle?

We know that it was Ortega and his Assembly that did that law, and as long as he is in power we cannot repeal that Law. We have to demand that he not continue because of all the damage that he has done to the population. Five years ago he turned over National Sovereignty to a Chinese person. God gave us the strength to resist, because we already had the Chinese in Punta Gorda. It was only the force of the peasantry that got the Chinese to return to their country.

Is there a call to maintain the fight in the barricades?

We have two months [there]. When we first took to the streets it was thought that this would not last long, But every day that passes you get more committed to not feeling the night, the rain that we put up with or the hunger, or the fact that we do not have money. We feel indignant and strengthened to continue struggling because we do not want neither war nor more deaths. There is persecution of the leaders of the barricades, those youth are fleeing, .These people who are allied with the Government are spying on us. But each day you feel the commitment. This struggle should be done more forcefully. The barricades are maintained, they are not going to remove them, where they have removed them the people are going to put them back up again.

Letter from Nicaragua

Periodically, I have written letters from Nicaragua to the U.S. through two made-up pen pals.  The correspondence is intended to reflect the views that a Nicaraguan might have about his/her own country, as well as the U.S..  What follows is the latest of these.

Mi Amigo:

Greetings from Nicaragua!  I hope that this letter finds you in good health and happiness; may God bless you with His enduring love.  I have not seen you now for many months so I will be pleased to receive any word you might send in response to this letter.  My family is in good health and our farm is producing well, though the heavy rains and recent violence have given us worry.

Of greatest worry is the state of our country.  You may be reading about the protests and demonstrations which have happened, and the government’s reaction.  The violence which has happened seems to be every night and reports of more deaths reach us in the countryside each day.  These are happening mostly in the cities, but we have had some troubles here with young people in cars yelling bad things.  We don’t know if the violence will spread but it makes us worry.

It is hard to know what is happening for real.  Some outside people have come here and said that our president has told lies.  Many people within Nicaragua have said so, too.  But the president and his people say that it is the protesters who have lied and that the violence comes from them.  Sometimes it is very confusing, these different statements that are made.  My son gave to me a report from a group called Amnesty International; maybe you have heard of them.  They were not supportive of our president.  They said that he has told lies.  But he is our president and it is hard to believe that a leader would openly do that.

I think in your country you have had some problems like this with your president, no?  We read here about some of the untrue things he says (like when he was elected and said that the number of people to watch him was the biggest ever) and I wonder how you react to them.  Is it OK for North Americans speak out about these?  Is it your duty?  I am very uncertain here.

What I do know is that there are families that have been torn apart by the government’s policies.  In some cases there have been arrests and even kidnappings and no answers about what has happened to the  people taken.  There have been more than 200 killed so far, mostly young people from the universities.  There are many mothers and fathers who are deep in grief.  I don’t know if I believe that university students have shot and killed one another, as the government claims.  But if they did not, then who did?

My brotherAlfredo has a nearby farm.  He says that what is happening in Managua and other large cities is nothing to do with us, that it is the university students and Daniel, and that we should not get involved.  He says this will all go away in time and things will go back to normal.  He does not want to get involved because maybe the party would do something to get even.  He thinks there is not much happening in our part of the country.  But twice we have had a hard time to get our harvests into the city to sell, with the roads being barricaded.  I have a small loan through the cooperative and I must be able to pay it back in order to receive a new one.  So these events are creating some problems.

The protestors are saying that the government has violated their rights and that is why they continue to protest.  I would like to ask you about human rights in your country.  I have read that the U.S. stopped being a member of a human rights organization that is world-wide.  Is that true?  Does this mean that the U.S. is no longer interested in what other countries do?  And does it no longer care what other countries think about its eagerness to support things like what are happening here?  I think this must be disappointing to the people here who have taken to the streets.

My hope is that there will not be another war.  Our country still feels the wounds of the revolution and the Contra War.  Maybe we are still a very poor country but at least we have been at peace.  But maybe there has been a price for that which now is being paid.  I know that you have planned to travel here once again and I would be happy with your visit.  But I know that this might be difficult at this time.  Do not forget that Nicaragua is not just the ones in authority, but mostly made up of good, peaceful people.

Meanwhile, I will send to you wishes for your health and that of your family!

Un abrazo grande,

Roberto

 

What is happening in Nicaragua: Explanation from a critical leftist approach

This article appeared in an online publication based in Barcelona, but written by an Honduran writer on the left. It was written in the early days of the uprising, but it still very relevant and offers a common sense lens to analyze competing explanations for the uprising.  The original Spanish can be found here: http://kaosenlared.net/que-pasa-en-nicaragua-explicacion-desde-un-enfoque-critico-de-izquierda/ 

What is happening in Nicaragua: Explanation from a critical leftist approach

By Tomás Andino Mencia, Tegucigalpa., April 22, 2018 published in KAOSENLARED, online publications based in Barcelona.

These events require an explanation. And there are three explanations placed on the table: that of the right and the gringo empire, that of the Nicaraguan government, and the one that comes from the critical left.

The world has been surprised by an impressive popular mobilization in Nicaragua, principally of youth, that began rejecting the reforms to the social security system, but that has evolved to ask for the resignation of the government itself. Its cost is tragic: dozens of dead, wounded, and detained, schools and workplaces destroyed, economic activity semi-paralyzed.

This event requires an explanation. And there are three explanations placed on the table about this: that of the right and the gringo empire, that of the Nicaraguan government, and one that come from the critical left.

The explanation of the right and the empire is that it has to do with a “socialist” or “leftist” government that by its very nature is dictatorial and an enemy of democracy. But if that were what it is, property would be collective, state or solidarity owned, and that´s not how it is; capitalist private property is omnipresent and the country is as neoliberal as many other countries of Latin America, so that argument does not help to understand anything.

The explanation of the government has one see the movement of the Nicaraguan youth as a CIA conspiracy. In his speech on April 21, Daniel Ortega accused the youth of being “small grops of the ultraright” that want “to destroy the peace that Nicaragua enjoys”. So it is that his government would be the “victim” of a well orchestrated offensive, similar to the “guarimbas” of Venezuela [people who went out and blocked streets].

My explanation does not share anything with the previous ones.

In my opinion what we are seeing is the outbreak of very profound social discontent, accumulated over a decade, that has as its basis a series of contradictions between the government and the People, incubated within Nicaraguan capitalism, hand in hand with unpopular decisions, dictatorial and domineering attitudes of the Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo duo.

I am going to cite only ten of these contradictions between the government and the People:

First, the approval to build an interoceanic canal by a Chinese company at a very high economic and social cost (US$50 billion dollars) has generated strong dissatisfaction because it implies destroying many rural communities, obviously against their will, and cedes territorial sovereignty to that company for a century. Out of that emerged a broad oppositional peasant and citizen movement, which is repressed and villified by the government, but that continues even today.

Second, extractive activity, particularly mining, has nearly doubled the surface area ceded in this period (from 12% to 22%), generating strong conflict in the rural areas and among environmentalist movements, also repressed.

Third, the pressure over land that industrial monocroppers are having, like African Palm and sugar growers, as well as the large increase in cattle raising activity. They leave less land available for the peasants.

Fourth, the environmental neglect, whose most recent manifestation was the apathy of the government toward the fire in the Indio Maíz reserve, mobilized youth sectors to protest.

Fifth, the tax control against non governmental organizations, especially human rights and feminist ones, who do not forgive the government for its abritrary actions, repression and accusations of sexual abuse. This keeps the relationships of the government with the world of the so-called “civil society” very tense.

Sixth, the presidential re-election, prohibited by the Constitution, which was imposed using the same mechanisms that JOH [Juan Orlando Hernández, current President of Honduras] used: a Supreme Court ruling, made him to be seen as an authoritarian.

Seventh, the same effect that the accusations of electoral fraud in the last two presidential elections have had, where the Ortega formula was imposed.

Eighth, the Vice President, Rosario Murillo, Ortega´s wife, exercises an iron control over the media which is resented by the independent media, reaching the point of proposing control over social networks.

Ninth, the widespread corruption of public officials causes a lot of ill-will, who have become millionaires overnight, while the people are experiencing economic difficulties. Beginning with the presidential couple themselves, who are questioned for having accumulated resources from the “piñata” agreed upon with Arnoldo Alemán, and of administering around 4 billion dollars of resources from ALBA without accounting for its use; even cases like that of Orlando Castillo Guerrero, manager of airports, over a milion dollar embezzlement.

Tenth, after several years of good relations with the government, part of the Nicaraguan business sector (affiliated with powerful COSEP) began to question the helpfulness of continuing the marriage that they had maintained for a decade with the Ortega-Murillos, in which period they had benefitted all along the line, out of fear of losing the favors of the empire, after Donald Trump had the Nica Act Law approved, and began to apply sanctions on Nicaraguan officials. Since then they have begun to rethink this.

In spite of this, Nicaragua has a good reputation for its sources of employment and the absence of crime. It is why the maquilas have migrated a lot to that country, because the salaries of its workers are among the lowest in Central America, and under these conditions capitalist enterprises feel like they are in a paradise there. The absence of crime, that goes hand in hand with employment, is in effect its best competitive condition.

Therefore Nicaragua is a country that has had important capitalist growth, not equitable, in which big economic and social contradictions have accumulated, with a citizenry wanting to demonstrate about them, which it has not been able to do, is not taken seriously, or pays for it with discrimination or repression.

INSS, THE TRIGGER TO THE CONFLICT

Within this context the conflict was produced by the reform of INSS (Social Security), demanded by the International Monetary Fund. It was not the first time that a reform was done (in 2013 one was done that failed), just that on this occasion it happened when the dissatisfaction over the causes mentioned was at its highest, especially among the youth who were born after the Revolution of 1979. The protests began by those directly affected, retired people; they were followed by the young students; and then other sectors of the population. Finally the business sector got involved, who previously had broken the negotiations over this issue in the Tripartite Commission.

From what has been said, the current crisis does not fall like a lightening strike out of a clear sky, but rather has an important history that explains it. Structural and current problems difficult to solve in the hands of a closed, authoritarian, and repressive presidential couple.

THE IRRATIONALITY OF THE OFFICIAL ARGUMENTS

Therefore to come to say that the social demonstrations are a “conspiracy” to destabilize the government on the part of small “ultra right” groups is a typical statement of a dictatorial government, incapable of providing rational and needed responses to the problems proposed, and that insults the intelligence of the public.

Even the most disinformed observer would note that it is impossible for the CIA to have so many infiltrated and paid agents throughout the country, among retired people, workers and an army of youth registered as university students, in order to go out at the right moment to “destabilize” the government. But it is comprehensible that the government, accustomed to imposing itself all the time, never expected such a forceful social reaction, and has not been able to weave together a “better” explanation.

It is the classic strategy of a “progressive” government that feels corralled by its People: they manipulate the anti-imperialist sentiment of the people, that feels a profound respect for the Sandinista Revolution of 1979 (including the person who writes these lines), so that any other argument be believed, under the authority that they were told that by the “leader”, Daniel Ortega.

Arguments that get to be absurd; for example, that university students would destroy their own universities, that as sharpshooters they would shoot at their own classmates, that they would torture and disappear one another; they burn public buildings to attract social repudiation towards themselves, etc. A script typical of a suicide movement, that rather seems written by an advisor of JOH or the Honduran Military Police.

They do not say that the violence was initially unleashed by bands of motorcyclists from the clientele youth of the government, that are used as shock troops and cannon fodder against other youth. All within the sight and patience of the police authorities.

And when the youth defend themselves from these groups, or when their indignation is unleashed against symbols of the government, then the party-liners proclaim the “demonstration” of their accusations. Do they really think they are dealing with fools? Fortunately the diffusion of cell phone technology has allowed the filming of these shock troops when they have been protagonists of these deeds.

Some people tend to make simplistic comparisons. They say that it is a script similar to that used by the gringos in Venezuela. If the case were that of the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, the explanation of Ortega would make sense, because in Venezuela the “guarimbas” were organized by an ultra right wing party (“Voluntad Popular”, the party of Leopoldo López) to destabilize that government. But it is NOT the case of Nicaragua. In this country the movement was self convened by progressive sectors, of university youth as has been said. For analysis to be objective it has to be based on reality.

Seeing things from that perspective, allow me to explain several “weird” things of the Nicaraguan government:

Isn´t it strange that Ortega was the first government to recognize JOH and that he never questioned the criminal repression that he unleashed against the Honduran People? Isn´t it strange that the US government during the last eleven years did not “bother” Ortega with any serious attempt of “destabilization?” In comparison, the empire promoted coups in Venezuela, Honduras, Paraguay and Ecuador in that same period. In spite of the fact that Nicaragua is a much weaker country than they are, during that time it left him alone.

This is explained by the eleven year honeymoon that maintained benefits for national and international private enterprise, which nurtured juicy business deals, included the coup government of Pepe Lobo and JOH, and with the reactionary Nicaraguan Catholic Church (from which their slogan of “Christian and Solidarity Socialism).

Now those times are in the past. The Ortega-Murillo presidential couple now expects the hostility of the empire, that seeks to domesticate their government through economic boycott actions; it has the divorce with national private enterprise or an important sector of it; and it has the active repudiation of a good part of the People. The direction the country will take will depend, on one hand, on the response of the government to the protest movement launched by the youth and by other popular sectors, as well as the capacity of this group to win better democratic and social standards. The coin is in the air and it is still premature to say what will happen.

But where there is no doubt is that with the social mobilization in recent weeks, whether it continues forward or recedes, it begins a new era where a new historical subject has risen without fear of taking the floor and deciding their destiny.

Tegucigalpa, M.D.C. April 22, 2018