Category Archives: Nicaragua Unrest

Famous Nicaraguan Exiles return to the country to “fight” against Daniel Ortega

In recent weeks the public has been surprised by the return of well known opposition figures: Félix Maradiaga, whose NGO IEEPP was shut down and  accused by the government of directing a terrorist network; Aníbal Toruño, whose Radio Darío was burned down in León , received death threats to the extent that the OAS recommended the government  provide him protective measures; Jaime Arellano, a talk show host who left the country last December when the government shut down the TV station 100% Noticias where he frequently appeared; and now Lester Alemán, the student who directly challenged Ortega at the beginning of the 1st dialogue.  Even Ortega´s stepdaughter, Zoilamérica is returning. This is surprising because the human rights situation has not improved, yet these public figures are returning at great personal risk to themselves. This article, written by an editor of La Prensa in an on-line magazine Infobae, provides the reasoning.

Famous Nicaraguan Exiles return to the country to “fight” against Daniel Ortega

By Fabián Medina Sánchez in Infobae, October 13, 2019

[original Spanish]

Zoilamérica Ortega Murillo, the stepdaughter who accused the President of rape, and well-known journalists whose media were confiscated by the government, are beginning to “pave the way” for a larger group who are returning as a sign of resistance and a “political act”.

Jaime Arellano and Aníbal Toruño returned to Nicaragua at noon this past August 29th through the Managua airport. A battery of journalists and sympathizers were waiting for them. Both had gone into exile nine months earlier to save themselves from the repression that the regime of Daniel Ortega unleashed against his opponents. Arellano was accused of “inciting hate” through the television program that he led, and Toruño was pursued by paramilitaries who on April 20, 2018 burned down the radio station that he owned.

Both were the first figures from exile who decided to return to Nicaragua. Others have arrived after them. Félix Maradiaga, an opposition figure who many see as an “electable presidential candidate”, and who the regime involved in multiple accusations, returned in mid-September. This past Monday Lester Alemán himself returned, the young man who during the first session of the dialogue confronted Daniel Ortega and then fled the country, stating that the regime had placed a price on his head.

These are, nevertheless, the figures best known in the media. Silently and anonymously at least between 200 and 250 Nicaraguans are returning each month, according to information from Costa Rican Migration. This figure is deduced from the Nicaraguans who “suspend the request for refugee status because they are returning to Nicaragua, “said Allan Rodríguez Vargas, leader of the Refugee Unit of the General Office of Migration and Immigration of Costa Rica, to the website of Nicaraguan journalists in exile, Despacho 505.

It is a timorous return. A trial return. According to the IACHR, some 70,000 Nicaraguans went into exile, forced by the violence and the crisis that is experienced in Nicaragua. Some 55,000 sought refuge in the neighboring country of Costa Rica.

Ortega´s government, on its part, announced this past April, in the heat of the negotiations with the opposing Civic Alliance, a “Voluntary, Assisted and Safe Return Program” with which it intended that thousands of exiles would return to the country, who had left during a year as a consequence of the repression and violence. The Civic Alliance described it as a “deceitful and sterile” program, because it invited those being persecuted to return to a country where human rights continued to be violated.

“Here is another sign of the commitment of the Government for National Unity and Reconciliation to promote the encounter of families and move forward with hope, with faith, with trust in God, to advance toward the restoration of everything good that we are,” said the Vice President, Rosario Murillo, during the announcement of the program. So far, the government has not reported any results.

On the contrary, the Permanent Commission on Human Rights (CPDH) said it was receiving “some five denouncements a day” from exiles who return and are harassed in their homes and in other cases, arrested again under the accusation of common crimes.

This is the case of Ulises Rivas Pérez. He returned to accompany his father who suffers from terminal cancer, and was arrested this past September 1st accused of theft of a hat and minor injuries to three people. Diómedes Reyes, another exile who returned after the announcement of the governmental program, was arrested on May 27th accused of illegal possession of weapons.

For the sociologist, Oscar René Vargas, also an expatriate, the exiles are not returning to Nicaragua because of the guarantees that the regime has announced, but because they are not doing well outside the country. “The great majority of the exiles in Costa Rica are from humble origins and low economic resources, and the government of Costa Rica does not have the capacity to respond to all of them”, he says.

The lack of attention, he says, “creates a lot of pressure so that some exiles on their own initiative have made the decision to return to Nicaragua. They prefer to return, in spite of the repression, to living in conditions of extreme poverty or destitution.”

Paving the way

“We are functioning as guinea pigs”, says the talk show host Jaime Arellano, who stated that he came to “continue the fight from within” and likened his return to “paving the way” for others who are thinking about their return.

“When the amnesty was given (June 2019), the accusations against me were shelved. A large group (of exiles) of us talked about returning, but many hesitated, so with Aníbal Toruño we decided to come first, to pave the way”, he says. “Two days after being in Nicaragua we escaped being killed in León. Two motorcycles followed me the entire time. They did not harass me, nor have they stopped me, nor did they do anything, but they are there.”

From his experience he recommends that each exile assess their own return. “Here nothing is normal. I recommend that if the exile has some job there, it is better to stay, because here not only is there insecurity but few jobs.”

Nevertheless, there is movement in the Nicaraguan exiles, and there is talk even of massive returns in light of an electoral end to the crisis.

The journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro announced to Infobae his decision to return soon to Nicaragua, in spite of the fact that the installation where he did his television program and the magazine Confidencial continue to be confiscated.

Zoilamérica: “Coexist with my aggressors”

Another person who announced her return is Zoilamérica Ortega Murillo, the stepdaughter of Daniel Ortega, who accused him of sexual abuse and rape in 1998. Zoilamérica has been living in Costa Rica since 2013 where she went fleeing the repression that she suffered on the part of the government and her family as a consequence of her denouncement.

“I am part of a large group of Nicaraguans who are preparing to return”, says Zoilamérica. We are many people preparing concrete actions to come back even stronger. Our return is already beginning,” she states.

“The seriousness of the situation in Nicaragua has made me reflect on new forms of struggle. I was one of those people who thought that we were going to return one day, and this government would not be there. But the current context is even more complicated. I will be returning to Nicaragua to coexist with my aggressors. To a country where not only is there a dictatorship, but in addition paramilitaries have been established and armed institutions who use organized crime to stop the civic resistance,” she explained.

She says that her return depends “on the majority decision of groups and organizations that will accompany us in the process. Together we are thinking of establishing some conditions of security and participation,” and the possibility of her “involvement as a professional in an educational institution.”

“Returning under the conditions of a repressive State is part of the risk that we all are taking to contribute to Nicaragua in this decisive stage,” she says. “Returning is a political act and is a reflective and coordinated action.”

The sociologist Oscar René Vargas also is thinking about his own return. “Before the end of 2019 in am thinking about my return. I cannot accept that the regime would block me from fully living in my country”, he says.

In his criteria, “the return of media figures aims at giving support to the electoral strategy, without taking in account the repression”, in contrast he thinks that the return of what he calls “non media figures, of humble origins”, does not have any strategy.

“The return of two or four people does not have any decisive influence for the reactivation of the social movement, I am inclined to think that their return is part of the strategy of an ongoing negotiation for the elections of November 2021. It would be a different situation if some two to five thousand exiles would come looking for how to enter through the Peñas Blancas border. That act would be with the strategy of looking to reactivate the social movement”, he says.

“Obviously the return will imply risks of all types, but you have to accept them”, Vargas points out. “The strength of the Ortega-Murillo regime is rooted in the fear of many people. The way to conquer the fear is presenting to the population a strategy for fighting: The population is willing to fight, a leadership is needed that they would want to accompany. This is the challenge in the coming months.”

Medardo Mairena: “They Cut Peasants Piece by Piece Until They Brought Them Down”

As a member of the first National Dialogue, representing the Peasant Movement Against the Canal, this peasant leader was abducted and eventually sentenced to 216 years in jail, and was released eventually as part of the second negotiations. This interview is important because it shows the perspective of the peasant movement on the government repression and killing, their solution to the crisis, and the Civic Alliance

Medardo Mairena: “They Cut Peasants Piece by Piece Until They Brought Them Down”

            By Julian Navarette in La Prensa, October 5, 2019

[original Spanish]

The peasant leader talks about the persecution of their movement, but also about the relationship they have with representatives of big business leaders in  Nicaragua in the Civic Alliance.

In a matter of months, Medardo Mairena went from being under an isolation regime in jail cell 300, maximum security in the Penitentiary System of Nicaragua, to meeting in the United States with members of the Security Council of Donald Trump. In one photo he is seen in a Big League baseball stadium, and in another, pretty serious, alongside the secretary of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro.

As head of the Peasant Movement, a week ago Mairena got a hearing with the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to present a detailed report on executions of peasants by the regime of Daniel Ortega during 12 years in power. According to the document there are 55 executed leaders, and that is from April 2018 to September 25, 2019.

“They are not looking for us peasants in order to put us in jail, but to kill us”, says Mairena, who was in jail nearly a year, most of the time in maximum security cells. “During the 80s the Sandinista regime killed the peasants because some of them were commanders of the Contras; now their family members are being persecuted and murdered”, he added by phone from Boston in the United States.

Mairena used the example of his father, who was jailed for refusing to join Patriotic Military Service in the decade of the 80s. “And now (last year) it was my turn (to go to jail)”, he says. That is why he is clear that Nicaragua needs “true democratization,” and believes that it will be achieved through a negotiation in which Ortega first must show political will, freeing political prisoners, providing democratic freedoms and stopping selective assassinations of peasants.

Since when have you been opposed to the regime of Daniel Ortega?

Ideologically I have never been in agreement with him, because in the decade of the 80s my Dad was kidnapped by the same Orteguistas for thinking differently, because they wanted to force him to do Patriotic Military Service. What the peasantry and the Miskitos in those years experienced was brutal repression, in addition to the fact that they tried to impose an ideology to follow Ortega with a completely erroneous government. My Dad had his land and was dispossessed. He lost everything on being evacuated because of the war. Since then we thought that the way Ortega governed has been a failure. In the 80s he destroyed the economy and once again in power he is destroying the economy again.

Why do you think that the Sandinista regime has always gone against the peasantry?

Most of the people who took up arms in the Contras were peasants. At that time, because they confiscated land, they did not respect private property. They did the “piñata”. They wanted power and money. That showed during that mandate as well: the ambition for political and economic power. Wanting to exploit natural resources: the mafias in the Indio Maíz and Bosawas reserves. The Miskitos have defended the natural resources, and he has killed them as well. The ambition to stay in power had led him to commit crimes against humanity. Since then it has been hate against the peasants. I think that if there were greater connectivity to the internet in the countryside, there would be much more evidence about how the hate against the peasants is shown. Like how the Army, that says that it has not participated in the massacre, has murdered peasants. There have been cases where they have tortured peasants and have cut them up piece by piece until bringing them down. And it is a way of showing their hate for them, just for raising their voices and thinking differently.

You have said that Daniel Ortega used the two dialogues to buy time. What makes you think that he would do it in good faith a third time?

 First of all, if he wants to negotiate, he has to free the political prisoners, allow us to demonstrate in the streets, stop the killing and persecution of peasants. These are the signs to enter into negotiations. Because we cannot go to the [negotiating] table when we know there are brothers who are being slowly killed off. We cannot sit down at a table if they are out persecuting us. It is not possible what happened to me, being in the dialogue, they took me to jail.

Do you think the dialogue is the only solution, or can there be another?

We believe that it is the best solution, because it is the way that we can avoid bloodshed, because we know that the persecution could end in a wave of violence, which would be difficult. We know that Ortega has the weapons, and already killed disarmed people. That is why it is important that there be national and international pressure so that we can find a solution through a negotiation where the people are taken into account.

The perception that exists is that while you were in jail you earned the sympathy of the opposition in the country. Do you feel a special responsibility?

Of course I do. Because I am at the head of a humble people with whom I identify. Now, other movements have supported us, because we are honest people, and do not have skeletons in our closets. Because we have always been there in the bad times, but at the front of the victims to support them. That is why we have asked the international community for the freedom of the prisoners, and advocated for the Nicaraguans who are in the detention centers, even in the United States.

How were you involved in the rebellion of last year?

We began marches and protests, and we told the people of Nicaragua that we supported the students who started the struggle. Later came the dialogue, and we know what happened: he jailed us and invented crimes. We saw the irresponsibility of the judges and prosecutors that allowed themselves to be led by their drive for their political ideology.

It is said that you still belong to the Liberal Constitutional Party (PLC). How true is this?

I was a regional council person elected by the peasants in the PLC. I was not a designated candidate, rather I participated in primary elections to be the representative to the regional government. I had the support of the peasants. At that time emerged the fight for our lands over the Interoceanic Canal. That is why they tried to minimize me, and did not allow me to pass development projects in the community. I was elected for the PLC, but at this time I am not actively engaged in any party, and I am not interested in any party banner. I know that this crisis is going to end in an electoral issue, and for me that will be the decision of the people. I understand that some people, out of envy and political jealousy, are trying to discredit us, because they know that the Peasant Movement is pure.

Have you had offers for public offices?

I never got organized to obtain an office and make money. It is known that before 2018 they made me an offer on the part of the regime and other opposition parties. They offered me candidacies to be a deputy and for the municipal government. I am clear that I have had the leadership to win it, but I did not join an organization for that purpose. I did it for the peasants, and that is why I continue to be their soldier, and for those who feel represented by me. I did not accept the candidacies because they have never interested me, but that does not mean that I ignore them, because I am clear that this crisis will end in elections. That is why the people of Nicaragua have to be alert: they cannot allow people to be elected who are guilty of the grief.

Would you like to take on some public office?

I think that one does not look for public office, rather they look for you. Within the responsibility that I have, and my desire is, that it be the people who make the decision. I am not interested in obtaining those spaces; but I am interested in the fact that those spaces stay in the hands of honest people and that they respond to the people.

Have you ever been a fan of the Sandinista Front?

Never. And even less now that it has become a terrorist organization.

There are many criticisms of the Civic Alliance, which you are part of, because it is coopted by Nicaraguan big capital. Why are you supporting it?

I am with it since its founding. And for us it has been the vehicle for representation in the negotiations. The Peasant Movement has its autonomy like the other movements. So we see it as a space in light of a dialogue where the Peasant Movement will take its demands in the context of negotiations, as well as the other movements will take their own. What we are trying to do is unite our efforts, in spite of the differences that we might have. Because the love we have for Nicaragua, and the need to find solutions, have to be greater. Now it is important to point out that we have to be responsible with the unity, because we cannot allow the [practice of] divvying up of offices to come back. What we need is for the people to be the overseers, witnesses, that they propose and elect their next authorities. But at this moment, our priority is the freedom of the political prisoners and providing for those children who have their parents abducted or who were left orphaned. This struggle is not the struggle of a group, but of all Nicaraguans.

Have you not seen signs that the business sector has wanted to make arrangements behind the scenes with the regime?

 In what I have been involved, I have never seen that there was an internal arrangement. Last week we were together in Washington and agreed that it is the moment that there must be more pressure. That is why we agreed that we need to seek the application of the Democratic Charter, because it is not funny that we are in the OAS, when the regime did not even permit the entry of the Commission [IACHR], and this regime cannot be democratic when it continues killing.

What accomplishment in the negotiation would satisfy you?

The democratization of Nicaragua. That I can return to my home, with my family: that I can live as we have lived; on my farm, as any peasant. That there be no persecution. There have to be changes in all the branches of the State, so that they be completely independent and that they be ruled by the Constitution. That the peasants can return peacefully to their lands.

That children t receive a good education, and that the taxes that we pay be invested in development projects in the community. That would be the most important. We know that we are not going to achieve everything, because those who lost their loved ones we are not going to get them back, unfortunately. For us they are going to live forever because they offered their lives to bring peace back to the country.

In the first months of the rebellion it was thought that the regime was in checkmate. What failed at that moment?

I think that we accepted to participate in the dialogue believing that Ortega was going to quit killing the students. Also it was necessary that all the expressions unite together to apply pressure. I think that the private sector left much to be desired at that time. We know that the people of Nicaragua asked for an indefinite strike. Unfortunately that did not happen. But we do not want to stay in the past, and in what could have been done, but in what we are going to do from now on.

But do you think there is the will on the part of the business sector now?

In these times, even though we do need to apply pressure, it is not the same as the opportunity we had at that time. But we do need there to be pressure. Now, I understand that the private sector is concerned that the economy is falling, but we are concerned because they are killing our fellow demonstrators. But today a strike would not have the same impact, but we believe that it is necessary.

Up to April 2018 the business sector maintained a type of economic pact with the Ortega government.  How has it been to be seated now with these representatives that ignored your complaints?

It has been difficult for us, because at that time, not only were they not saying anything, but part of them were the authorities of the Interoceanic Canal project. In other words, they were against us. We, the peasants, if we are in that place, it is to find a solution as quickly as possible. We are making great efforts to control our emotions. And we believe that the only solution is bringing all the expressions [of the opposition] together. In such a way that we hope that all those who have placed themselves on this side of the table, that their conscience does not punish them from this day forward.

Medardo Mairena, Peasant leader.

Personal Plane

Medardo Mairena was born on November 30, 1978 in the community of Nueva Guinea in the Southern Caribbean region of Nicaragua. In the last 19 years he has lived in Punta Gorda, in a community that is called Polo de Desarrollo Daniel Guido Sánchez with his wife Yaritza Báez, 40 years of age, and three children that they have together. The youngest, a three-year old girl, is named Kathia. According to a report from Domingo in June of this year, he has a 255 acre farm where he is raising 40 head of cattle. He also uses the land to plant. During the national dialogue of 2018 Mairena said to Ortega: “The people demand that you go. We do not want more deaths, and you are the ones responsible.” Mairena got as far as the first year of secondary school, because to go to school he had to travel 30 kilometers. He started his studies at the age of 16 on his own. He participated in five certificate programs on management and leadership.

The Ghost of the 1990 Defeat

This opinion piece by a well known essayist paints a picture of the increasing isolation of the Ortega government, and  highlights the fact that the regime´s analysis of the current situation harkens back to the 80s.  It is true that high ranking members have left the party and the country since the April 2018 uprising, including a Magistrate of the Supreme Court. Another issue is whether the current reality – now almost 40 years later – can be completely captured by an analysis from the 80s. This is also the reference point for some in the opposition, those who Rocha calls the “lifelong anti-Sandinistas”. One possible extrapolated  conclusion to be taken from the article is that for the post-crisis situation to be successful and stable it will have to respond to a reality that is inclusive of the 40 years of events since the 1980s.

The ghost of the 1990 Defeat

By José Luis Rocha, September 24, 2019 in Confidencial

[original Spanish version]

In the El Carmen[1] bunker they are enduring once again the 80s show, an inexistent contra; the opposition union, and the loss of international allies.

There is panic in El Carmen, and it expands from there to the entire territory of Nicaragua. The Citizen Power Councils carry it to the popular neighborhoods and work places, the police to the streets and malls, the paramilitaries to the residential neighborhoods, and the soldiers to the furthest corners of Rio San Juan, Wiwilí, El Cuá and Wamblán. The ghosts of the 80s roam the country from coast to coast. The exhausting vigilance of the dictators is becoming a nightmare for the citizens.

There is uncertainty in El Carmen. How long to hold on? Who to trust? From who will come the stab in the back or the firm hand, the letal potion or the devious tip-off? From the drivers subjected to ongoing scrutiny? Or the body guards with an ideological lineage going back four generations? From some obsequious deputy who jumps from one party to the next? Or from a spineless person who maybe already began to dance to another tune? Maybe from a decades-long talkative cook, or from a new fearful housekeeper? Who is peering in the curtain? Who will raise the latch? Who is lying and who is trustworthy? Is it the Cuban Politburo that advises them to hold on, but would gladly negotiate a bilateral agreement with Trump? Is it his infiltrators in blue and white spaces who now feel comfortable there? Is it the Sandinista capital that already flirts with other clubs of millionaires and seeks less risky locations for their capital? Is it those who advise more repression, but have not gotten their hands dirty, or, if they already have, will be able to say later that they were only obeying orders?

How is the information filtering out? Does the decades long militant journalist circulate it, who during the day spits out vitriol about the opposition, but at night prepares his new life? The official who today does favors for the opposition in order to save his skin tomorrow? The ambassador to the OAS who reads with scholarly passion the cabled speech about sovereignty but obtains – just in case, for what is seen now and what appears on the horizon – US nationality? The high officials who bruise their hands applauding the Orteguista system every July 19th, but have their children living in western democracies? The friends for hire, the partners for hire, the pay for view allies? The colonels, majors and captains that have not accumulated much yet, and bite the bullet when they see their pensions at risk of evaporating on account of a submissive general who, securing himself into his position, has truncated hundreds of possible promotions? Who is passing information to Roberto Samcam and José Cubillo? Who saw those who fled go by and did not stop them? Who is passing weak intelligence against the exiles? How can conscientious saboteurs be distinguished from a sea of inept professionals?

Who? Whom? How many? How? The threats are ubiquitous and buzz crazily when night falls. They dull minds and cloud sight. Without being able to fall asleep, the dictators turn their gaze backward, toward the path that they always want to take again, the only one that their feet feel firm on. The 80s show is projected in their imagination and its timeworn script guides their decisions the following day. Only in the heart of this script do some actions make sense that seem fully aimed at precipitating their end: the ongoing harassment of all those who show symptoms of dissent, the unexpected and abrupt resurrection of the repudiated interoceanic canal project, the ridiculous compulsive obsession of persecuting blue and white flags, the resistance to the entry of supranational regulation organizations, the extrajudicial executions of peasants and the refusal to return the assets and/or legal status of communications media and NGOs, among other measures destined to ward off the ghosts of the 80s.

The first spectre is that of “the contras”. The presidential couple act as if there already existed an armed counterrevolution similar to the one that existed in the 80s. They know that the contras started with small bands, and they want to pull up the shoots by the roots. Hence the murders in rural areas: 14 executions from January to July of 2019. Better if they are “retail” deaths, because when they are done in bulk – like the massacres of 2018 – they become international news. Dispersed and in trickles the deaths pass by unnoticed by most of the media. The siege and assault on the municipality of Mulukukú, to the point of causing their mayor to go into exile, forms part of this strategy of neutralizing embryos of these new contras, that only exist is the nightmares of El Carmen. In this re-edition of the 80s show, an army composed mostly of officers who joined the ranks of the army in the 90s cannot accompany them. But they can always count on the sadism that some soldiers add from their own harvest, that which does not depend on orders from a commander, but on brutal machismo and the yearning to be someone, and to exercise their small quota of power.

The new contras are worse than the ones of the 80s because they are everywhere. When the police ban a march that was going to be massive, the crowd shatters and flickers in the form of hundreds of picketers. Blue and white balloons emerge from any rural outcropping, patron-saint procession, public school or mall. That is why the presidential couple redoubled the police and military presence, and rushed to graduate new cadetes and police dogs, as badly trained the latter as the former. Six hundred promotions in the police – most lower ranking, not leadership positions – they want to buy loyalty in a legion that has become the principal support for the dictatorship. The same thing happened in the army, in whose 40th anniversary their highest general saw himself invited? Obliged? to read a speech that sealed his unconditional fidelity. The simultaneous exhibition of heavy weapons was just the intimidating background for the tragic comedy. What is the next step? Maybe a pair or series of (self) attacks to justify the deployment of soldiers in allegedly strategic objectives. The organization of retired soldiers was only an appetizer that has more hermeneutic use than military effectiveness.

The second spectre is as fearful as the previous one: the union of all the opposing segments in one anti-FSLN force, like the one that was capable of defeating them in the 1990 elections. Maduro and the Cuban Politburo probably insist on the fact that no way would they let power be taken away from them through votes if they can retain it with bullets. With swollen bags under their eyeballs, the dictatorial couple does not know what to do. Before the April rebellion, Almagro was willing to play their game of an interminable electoral reform. That farce can no longer be continued without revealing itself. A group of kids ruined that play and its monstrous development. The only margin for action that the dictators have they invested in buying time and dividing. Buying time to see what happens: to see if a stroke of luck would benefit them, if more presumed leftist governments would come to power, if a generous sponsor would emerge, if Trump is replaced by a less aggressive president…But in general buying time is losing time: the deterioration of the government progresses, Venezuela closed its wallet and increasingly has less chance of opening it up again, and a change in the president of the United States does not guarantee a change in policy toward Orteguism, which in fact has benefitted from the fact that Trump is a dog who barks louder than he bites.

The work of division the opposition itself is doing, which is cut through by several fault lines: lifelong anti-Sandinistas versus anti-Orteguistas with Sandinista roots, ferociously anti-business sectors versus those who look for more leadership from big capital, those in favor of a soft landing versus the partisans of making a clean sweep of the current system. Until they reach an agreement on the urgent objective, they will be pawns in a strategy that benefits Ortega.

The third spectre is the loss of the sponsors of the revolution. There is no doubt that the fall of the socialist block at the end of the 80s, that contained a big pocket of solidarity toward the Sandinista revolution, was decisive for the FSLN to make the decision to make important concessions in the negotiations with the anti-Sandinista resistance. Ortega and Murillo are afraid of being left without rich friends outside the country. In the face of the important decline in Venezuelan aid, they are courting Iran, Russia, Taiwan. Hence the trips of Laureano Ortega, Denis Moncada and Paul Oquist, white collar, or red and black collar, beggars. There are desperate measures: they shook the dust off the canal project, to see if someone would bite.

There are more ghosts dwelling in El Carmen, where That 80s Show runs daily, which in its current version consists of a family, a gang of followers and two legal but discredited coercive forces who attempt to subdue a people. A sector of the opposition also conjures these ghosts. But that is another kettle of fish and the topic of another article.

[1] El Carmen is the name of the neighborhood where Ortega´s home and presidential offices are located.

President Daniel Ortega and Compañera Rosario Murillo preside over the event in Honor of General Benjamín Zeledón

This article published by the official government media, summarizes and extensively quotes a speech by Daniel Ortega on the anniversary of the birth and death of Benjamín Zeledón. In this speech he applies the context of Zeledón´s time- US invasion – to the current situation, and claims that now, as then, “they talk about dialogue…sign agreements, and in the end do not recognize them.” In these times, however, the OAS and human rights organizations have been critical of the government for not fulfilling their promises from the previous two dialogues.

President Daniel Ortega and Compañera Rosario Murillo preside over the event in Honor of General Benjamín Zeledón

Friday, October 4, 2019 en El 19 Digital

[original Spanish version]

The president of the Republic, Commandante Daniel Ortega Saavedra and Vice President, Compañera Rosario Murillo, presided this evening October 4th over the central event in homage of the national hero, Benjamín Zeledón, on the 140th anniversary of his birth and the 107th anniversary of his journey to immortality.

Officers of the Nicaraguan Army, the National Police and the National Assembly of Nicaragua accompanied the president in the event.

They inaugurated the Benjamín Zeledón museum building in La Concordia, Jinotega

On beginning his intervention, President Daniel Ortega stated that the Nicaraguan youth are the present and the future of Zeledón. Then he provided details about the life of the national hero who confronted the traitors and the Yankee troops in a crucial moment in the history of Nicaragua.

“And Zeledón rose up against what was the Yankee intervention which happened when the US government through its representative, the Secretary of State Philander Knox, sent the famous Knox note to Zelaya. And Zeledón did not accept that, he could not accept it. He said it very clearly, he expressed it with complete clarity, and rebelled against that abuse of the sovereignty of Nicaragua, and pointed out the traitors, the sell-outs who had promoted and encouraged the coup against Zelaya, and that was when Zeledón rose up in defense of Nicaragua and was defeating the army of the traitors and sell-outs. So, to avoid defeat, the sell-outs called in the Yankee troops. And the Yankee troops began to disembark in Corinto, and Zeledón knew that he was confronting then in those moments an unequal fight, because the Yankee troops, who were a decisive and strategic force, came together there to confront the patriots led by Zeledón, they joined forces with the troops of the sell-outs. And he knew that there was no other alternative than the fight under completely unequal conditions. So convinced was he of his fate that he wrote that to his family, his wife, his children and he made it known to our people. We cannot forget that Nicaraguans fought there with Zeledón who did not surrender, did not sell out and gave their lives”, he recounted.

“History repeats itself later with Sandino. And Sandino, at that time a child, remembers Zeledón. And Sandino becomes aware, a boy, when they [the Marines] went through the streets with the corpse of Zeledón, showing him off like a trophy. And Sandino remembers him and expresses his rejection, his condemnation of the sell-outs and the Yankee troops that had invaded our territory”, he added.

The history of betrayal of the sell-outs is repeated

Commandante Daniel Ortega reflected that the betrayal in which the sell-outs murdered Zeledón and Sandino is repeated in these times.

“And now history repeats itself, because the hands of Nicaraguan sell-outs, who were at the service of the Yankee troops, killed Zeledón. After the battles in Coyotepe, now wounded Zeledón, those who killed him were the evil sons of Nicaragua. And [in the case of] Sandino, after expelling the Yankee troops, who carries out the order of murdering Sandino? A Nicaraguan bastard also, Somoza, who ambushed him after Sandino had been at a dinner invited by the President, now with a signed peace accord. Peace had been signed, but the thing is that these people do not respect any agreement, they talk about dialogue, it has always been this way, they talk about dialogue, they sign agreements and in the end they do not recognize the agreements. Why? Because the empire and the sell-outs are sons of the devil, they are the sons of Cain. You cannot believe anything they say”, he said.

“And history is being repeated again. We see the parade of sell-outs. As the flights and financing increase so that they can traveling constantly to ask that the Nicaraguan people be attacked, and they do it calmly, and they take their pictures there with the representatives of the US government, and they strive to show the photo here, to brag about the fact that they are the chosen ones by the Yankees to be the future rulers of Nicaragua, or to be the future rulers of Nicaragua. And the financing comes from the taxes of the US people. I do not know who they will be acountable to, those who from the United States are organizing these campaigns to give the image of a country where there is no peace nor stability. That is the image that they are out selling”, expressed President Daniel Ortega.

If here a crime is committed, immediately they attribute it to the Government, the authorities, being Nicaragua the safest country and the one with the lowest homicide rate in the region. But the manipulation is crass, and laden with viciousness, laden with evil”, stated Commandante Daniel.

The 19th of July of 1979 the people were filled with awareness and love for the Country

In spite of the fact that history is repeating itself, President Daniel Ortega said that now there is a difference from the past.

“The difference now, after July 19, 1979, passing through the 17 years when we Sandinistas were outside the government, July 19, 1979, a new awareness was acquired here in the hearts of most Nicaraguans, most peasants, workers, youth, and professionals. Finally Nicaragua from 1979 had a people full of awareness and love for the country,” he stated.

“Of course, the sell-outs did not disappear, but in addition the empire is always nourishing them. It sends them resources through the programs that they say are programs to promote culture, to promote education. They are programs to promote hate, but in addition a good part of these programs that move through some NGOs, [are] tremendous businesses, why? Because what they receive, which supposedly is food for the people, they go to sell in the markets,  they sell them there,” he commented.

“Non governmental organizations of every political and religious tendency end up in the markets, and they want exonerations for everything, and that has to be very closely reviewed, it has to be very closely reviewed. If food is going to come in here for people who need food, like the packages that the youth go out to deliver, well, if that is certified, it has to be certified, because so far they have been working, they simply disclose: “it is food”. Or suddenly vehicles, or suddenly appliances and other articles, or medicines, or medical equipment that end up also in the market,” he denounced.

The president pointed out that many times these resources are diverted by these organizations to “try to destabilize, sow confusion, poison the hearts of the youth and the people.”

True Nicaraguans are against the sanctions

President commandante Daniel also stated that those who truly feel and act as Nicaraguans are those who love Nicaragua and are against any outrage of the fact that they call sanctions that they apply against the economy of our people.”

When there are self-respecting people, then the aggressions come, or the so-called sanctions or poorly named sanctions that do nothing more than affect first of all the poor. They do nothing more than affect employment,” he pointed out.

“Where were thousands of workers fired from last year? They were fired from the big businesses that called for the coup, and that ordered their workers under the threat of firing if they did not attend the marches. And their workers went there to march under the threat. When they were not successful (nor will they be), then what did they do? Because they did enormous damage to the economy, they committed a crime, a crime, a crime causing the death of brother Nicaraguans, a crime causing enormous damage to the Nicaraguan economy”, he recalled.

TO FAITHFUL CHRISTIAN CATHOLICS, MEN AND WOMEN OF GOOD WILL WHO LISTEN TO OUR VOICES

In the midst of the independence days celebrations in Nicaragua, the denouncement by the IACHR of continued repression by the government and lack of civil liberties, the rejection by the government of a high level OAS delegation to find a peaceful resolution to the crisis, the Catholic Bishops Conference issued this pastoral letter. It is a  hopeful  and faith filled response to the current bleak situation, encouraging non violent change for a more inclusive and tolerant society. 

MESSAGE SEPTEMBER 15, 2019

EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE OF NICARAGUA

[Original Spanish document]

TO FAITHFUL CHRISTIAN CATHOLICS, MEN AND WOMEN OF GOOD WILL WHO LISTEN TO OUR VOICES

Truth and forgiveness are the basis and path to peace

We write to you, while commemorating these days of patriotism, with a look to the present and the future, as was done on Independence day whose new anniversary we celebrate. And since there is no future without memory, the present offers the opportunity to feel pain from our disputes, past and recent. After nearly a year and a half of suffering and pain where we have experienced in our flesh the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. This encourages us to pronounce the Word of life and hope that comforts wounded hearts and illuminates uncertainty in the face of the evil that stalks us.

The firm basis for a new construction

We can ask ourselves. How can we contribute to the solution of the acute social, political problems and respond to the great challenge of poverty and exclusion? How can we do this in a country which finds itself in a profound political, social and economic crisis, where the beginning of a new stage seems to be appearing, with its corresponding challenges for our democratic coexistence? There are signs that our institutional attire is too tight, and the citizenry expression is emerging asking for profound changes and reforms. The economic inequality, unemployment and opportunities seem an endemic evil difficult to correct, condemning several social collectives to unfair exclusion and invisibility, like migrants, women, youth, people with different capacities, ethnic groups, among others. Is it possible to love the person who closes the doors of their heart to Our Lord Jesus Christ and thereby, to the opportunity to promote a culture of true peace and democracy? Is it possible to maintain hope, when everything seems to indicate that there is no power capable of resolving our crisis? What can be done, if the word of civil society does not count? Is it possible today in Nicaragua to be Catholic and work for an Institution that does not respect conscience, and toys with the hunger of the people? How can so much cruelty to which we have been subjected be pardoned? Is it possible to heal these wounds?

As brothers along the path, the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua makes these questions its own, and responds animated by faith: Pope Benedict XVI, on inaugurating the Ecclesial Conference of Aparecida, offers us in this respect a brilliant contribution:

“The problems of Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as the world today, are multiple and complex, and cannot be confronted with general programs […]. In this context it is indispensable to talk about the problem of structures, above all, those that create injustice. In reality, just structures are a condition without which a just order in society is not possible. But how do they start? How do they work? Capitalism as well as Marxism promised finding the path for the creation of just structures, and stated that they, once established, would function on their own; they stated that not only would there not be a need for a prior individual morality, but that they would promote common morality. And it has been demonstrated that this ideological promise is false. The facts make it clear”[…] Just structures are an indispensable condition for a just society, but they do not begin nor function without a moral consensus of society about fundamental values, and about the need to live these values with the necessary renunciations, including against one´s personal interests […].

LET US LOVE THE COUNTRY. We also invite you to Love the Country.

The love for country that should prevail above individual goods, if it is as such, Pope Benedict already said it, has to be united with the pillars that provide sustenance to all coexistence: truth, justice, liberty, fraternity, solidarity. And it also requires more subjective virtues, like empathy, the commitment to know and appreciate others, the desire to save the proposition of the neighbor. Otherwise, the very objective pillars of Love for country are weakened and deteriorate with the reiteration of suspicions and disqualifications. And one small pebble is enough to bring down what an enormous effort had been able to raise up. Is this not one of the causes of the unrest, that, in spite of the evident progress, afflicts national coexistence?

Crisis of Trust

One of the reasons that are at the root of the unrest is due to a crisis of trust, which has been transformed in our Nicaragua into an omnipresent virus that infects all the relationships of our lives, and this is reprehensible! Authority is distrusted, institutions are distrusted, good intentions are distrusted and even the viability of projects themselves. This very distrust puts stress on family life, distances us from our neighbors, and creates barriers between groups and sectors. For this reason, the dialogue that we need to solve our problems is seen to be interrupted, curtailed, darkened. And we even distrust its feasibility and effectiveness for achieving the agreements needed […] It is impossible to believe in distrust! It is impossible to educate in distrust! It is impossible to love with distrust! Distrust cuts the fabric of human tissue and makes the beam that holds up the temple, the nation, the home collapse.

For this reason the cultivation of trust has to be enriched with the “culture of encounter”, which implies the more active attitude of taking responsibility for the other, of committing myself to their care, to their growth, to their freedom, because in the diversity that God has given us as gift is also our wealth. It is not just a matter of “tolerating” the one who is different – a minimalistic attitude – but of “celebrating” with magnanimity our differences, expressing them with freedom, with care and respect, to grow the wealth of our ideas and values. Let us think about Nicaragua and love our country, that is the greatest good of life in society. To work for the good of Nicaragua is to care for, on one hand, and to use, on the other hand, this series of institutions that legally, civilly, politically and culturally structure social life, which is configured in this way as a nation. Our neighbor is loved more effectively the more one works for the good of the country that responds also to their real needs, having the wisdom of integrating and including their wounds and disagreements, certainly in this way we will be capable of inaugurating a more demanding and qualitatively more robust democracy. As pastors, we are fully certain that we can do this in Nicaragua. In this sense, we encourage the youth to continue making their contributions to the nation, with their study and training, with their energy and yearnings for justice and liberty, with all the non violent means within their reach. We do it with the words of Pope Francis, in the World Youth Campaign celebrated in Rio de Janeiro: “do not put yourself at the tail end of history. Be active members! Go on the offensive! Play down the field, build a better world, a world of brothers and sisters, a world of justice, of love, of peace, of fraternity, of solidarity. “ (Pope Francis, Speech to Youth, July 27, 2013).

Encouraged by faith we also believe that:

  1. A new culture laden with hope is possible. As long as there are men and women lovers of Truth and love, who hope and believe in a better future, their dreams will not be snatched away from them. “The God that made himself a lamb tells us that the world is saved by the crucified one and not by the crucifiers. The world is redeemed by the patience of God, and destroyed by the impatience of human beings” (Benedict XVI). The flame that we have received of family values needs to be kept alive: our being eucharistic, marian, believers, hardworking, jovial, sacrificial, etc.

 

  1. “You have heard that it was said: you will love your neighbor and you will hate your enemy. Well I say to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you might be the children of our heavenly Father…(Mt 5:43-45). These words of Jesus are not easy to live. Since logically they assume swimming against the current. Even for the disciples themselves it was difficult for them to understand and take on that language. Justifiably they said among themselves this language is difficult, who will be able to understand it? (Jn 9:60). Nevertheless, with his deeds and words, Jesus was establishing a new culture: the culture of love (Jn 15:12). Systems of power and oppression are smashed there. Throughout history we have seen men and women who have assumed this mandate of loving without limits: let us recall Saint Oscar Arnulfo Romero, prophet and martyr in the midst of a context marked by hate and death; the Servant of God, Fr. Odorico D´Andrea, who exercised the apostolate of mercy, reconciliation and offered his life for the peace of this country, marked as well by hate and death. They did not renounce Truth and Love, and that is why they did so much good for their peoples. Today our country more than ever yearns to resort to this capacity for loving as a response to the system of hate and death installed in Nicaragua, which attempts to hide the action of God.

 

  1. It is difficult to be a Catholic Christian in these conditions, but, we exhort you to not quit struggling for our faith. As long as we are faithful to our values, we know that “nothing is lost as long is there is hope to find it” (St. Augustine). Fundamental for each one of us Nicaraguans is “looking at He who sees us” (St. Theresa of Avila), and that we do not give up. He knew that he was going to be crucified. He knew everything that he was going to suffer. Nevertheless, he made the decision to go up to Jerusalem, to the place of his martyrdom. This conviction for his mission, salvific one, made him overcome the obstacles of the enemies as well of those closest to him (Mt 27:1-2; Mk 10: 32.45; Lk 20:20-26). This has to be our conviction in the mission that we have of building together a country with true peace and democracy. In spite of the fact that a brother Nicaraguan might feel misunderstood where he works. In spite of the fact that he might feel judged or rejected by those who are around him, even by his family for thinking differently (Mt 10: 34-36; Lk 12: 51-53), as long as his life revolves around love, in the end everything will make sense. That is why it is necessary to cultivate prayer. God always has the last word. Let us remain with him, like Mary at the foot of the cross (Jn 19:25). Let us hope with faith. Let us do it for God, for our children, for our youth, for our elderly, being faithful to our Church.

 

  1. To carry out this mission it is important to forgive, as Jesus tells us: “if someone hits you on the cheek, offer him the other. If someone forces you to give him your mantle, give him also your tunic” (Mt 5:39-40). When Jesus asks you to do this, he is not inviting you to act like a fool, but he is inviting you to break with the cycle of violence. This is being wise. Because violence engenders violence, and as our grandmothers say: “fire is not extinguished with fire”. Let us not wait for the enemies of good to take this step, it is us, first of all, who have to take it on, because forgiveness brings with it that peace that we are called to cultivate. If we want social peace, let us first seek peace in our hearts. We need to break the cycle of violence. There are many peoples who have triumphed with peaceful revolution, with the force of values, faith, hope and charity, in a word, with the power of God.

The illuminating Word of the Gospel

In the face of this great challenge, in the Christian tradition, the wisdom of the Sermon of the Mount emerges with beauty and cogency, especially the Beatitudes. The protagonists in them are not the powerful, nor the rich, the erudite, nor those who determine the immediate future of populations. The protagonists are the poor, the afflicted, dispossessed, those who hunger and thirst for justice, the merciful, the clean of heart, those who work for peace.

The Beatitudes invite us to build our coexistence not on iron poorly mixed with clay, but on the rock of the Word of God. And this firmness is expressed, necessarily, in care for those most disadvantaged of our society, who hope that justice might be for them a mother that shelters them, honors them and invites them to the table of all. Not just for pity, which would already be a human sentiment, but so that they might have available that which is owed them in justice.

In the words of Pope Francis, “the future demands today the task of rehabilitating politics, which is one of the highest forms of charity. The future demands of us also a humanistic vision of the economy, and a politics that achieves evermore and better participation of people, avoids elitism and eradicates poverty”. And to achieve this urgent mission he had invited us with great clarity to “travel in pilgrimage to the existential fringes of society.”

Conclusion: Invited to dream

Authorities, friends, brothers and sisters: The Sermon of the Mount (Mt 5-7) is a monument to fraternity. It is based on our common descendancy from God the Father, who does not admit discrimination based on race, sex, creed or lack of belief. A fraternity that, when it is forgotten, leads us to act like Cain, losing good sense and abandoning more human means. It is the madness that leads to preparing rockets and putting trust in weapons of death. This has never been the path. Never! In contrast, when real space is given to fraternity and it is believed in, we can confront one another with the truth, expressed with respect, love, frankness and with affection, and with an untiring dialogue, keeping the doors open to reunion and coexistence in peace.

Invited to dream

Let us recall the dream of Martin Luther King (June 28, 1963), let ourselves be allowed to dream from faith, as bishops of our country Nicaragua: let us dream of a country where we might rediscover graciousness in our personal and institutional relationships; let us dream of a country where people are exactly in the center of our concern and our work; let us dream of recognizing one another as brothers, as sisters, even more fraternal with the weakest, most vulnerable and with those with different capacities; let us dream that the greatest interest not be money but the growth of people and the happiness of their families; let us dream that Nicaragua might be, in truth, a table for all, also for those who migrate seeking in that home new horizons for their lives; let us dream of a country without discrimination of any type; let us dream of a country with its hand extended and face uncovered; let us dream of a just, fraternal and caring country.

Let us dream of a reconciled country! Let us dream of a hopeful country!

PRAY THE ROSARY

Mary is the beloved of Yahweh and Nicaragua belongs to Mary. We invite you to pray as a family the Holy Rosary so that our mother might take to Jesus the intention of being faithful to our mission of building a better Nicaragua for all. Let us cultivate this tradition around our grandparents and parents. It is in the family, “small domestic church” (St. Paul VI), where new leaders are formed with the vocation of service to the country. The solution to our conflicts as a nation start in the family. Let us make our homes into sanctuaries of love.

Issued in the offices of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua on the 15th day of September in the year 2019, on the feast of our Lady of Sorrows.

Seal of the Episcopal Conference, and signatures of:

Cardinal Leopoldo José Brenes Solórzano

Mons. Juan Abelardo Mata Guevara

Mons. David Zywiec Sidor, OFM Cap.

Mons. Sócrates René Sándigo Jirón

Mons. Pablo Schmitz OFM Cap

Mons. Rolando José Álvarez Lagos

Mons. Carlos Enrique Herrera Gutiérrez

Mons. Jorge Solórzano Pérez

20 Points that Unites Us for a New Nicaragua

The Blue and White National Unity released this plan for widespread discussion, within a context where the Nicaraguan government had denied the entry of a delegation of the OAS to help reactivate a dialogue that might bring about a non violent resolution to the ongoing crisis. The Blue and White National Unity has been criticized in the past for not having a plan for governance.

20 Points that Unites Us for a New Nicaragua

INTRODUCTION:

The common objective of the blue and white organizations and movements is the construction of a democratic society that assures us that dictatorships of any political sign never become enthroned again. The transition to democracy passes through the departure of the dictatorial regime and the constitution of a national unity government committed to justice, freedom and the defense of human rights.

This historic objective we will achieve through citizen mobilization for our rights, united in a large coalition that would bring together democratic forces without exclusions, and triumph in free and transparent elections. The basis for this coalition is a minimally common program that would establish the route for dismantling the dictatorship, the application of justice and democratic consolidation, to ensure the institutional framework that would open the way for economic and socially sustainable development.

For truly fair elections it is fundamental:

  1. a) the re-establishment of constitutional rights that include: the liberation of political prisoners, end to the repression, freedom of expression and mobilization, the safe return of exiles and human rights organizations.
  2. b) The profound reform of the electoral system that would ensure us clean and transparent elections.

The Blue and White National Unity proposes to all organizations, movements and democratic forces in general the following Minimum Common Program prepared with the contributions of the organization members of the Blue and White National Unity for the search for a broad national consensus.

JUSTICE AND NO IMPUNITY

  1. Establish with the leadership of all the victims and the counsel of international human rights organizations the institutional frameworks for applying transitional justice which means truth, reparations, justice and guarantee of no repetition.
  2. Investigate the crimes, all the human rights violations, including those of gender based violence, to identify the guilty and bring them to justice. Establish for these effects a Special and Independent Prosecutor with international assistance to investigate and process those responsible with complete impartiality.
  3. Create a Truth Commission that would establish and disseminate the reality of the facts of violence and abuses committed during the dictatorship of Ortega.
  4. Sign international agreements concerning justice and the protection of human rights, with a priority on the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court.

DEMOCRACY AND DISMANTLING THE DICTATORSHIP

  1. Create a new, truly national, non-partisan Police force where there will be no place for elements involved in the repression.
  2. Disarm and dissolve the para-state groups for which there should be international assistance.
  3. Depoliticize the national army so that it might fulfill its constitutional duty as a body subordinated to civilian power.
  4. Reorganize the judicial system, purging it of judges and prosecutors committed to the repression, and strengthen it as an independent, professional and impartial body.
  5. Reform the electoral and political party system. Have effective guarantees for holding clean, participatory, transparent elections. In the case of the Caribbean Coast, the elections must respect the cultures and customs of indigenous and Afro-descendent peoples. Ensure the right of the citizenry to organize political parties and other forms of political participation, including the vote of Nicaraguans outside of the country.
  6. Strengthen and apply the Law of Citizen Participation, and repeal the laws that contradict it, to endure the involvement of the citizenry in the management of public policies and frame the political direction of the country.
  7. De-politicize public institutions and ensure the stability of public employees. Investigate the cases of layoffs in the state sector for political reasons for the reinstatement of those public employees. The confiscated or occupied land and properties of legal entities and people will be returned to their legitimate owners.
  8. Strengthen municipal autonomy and promote an authentic implementation of the autonomy regime in the Caribbean Coast, and respect for their forms of government and means of consultation for the use of their natural resources within their territories, as well as ensure the implementation of territorial remediation.
  9. Establish the absolute prohibition of presidential re-election. A person who was president once, will not be able to be president again under any circumstance. The Constitution and pertinent laws will be reformed for a more balanced distribution of power, ensuring the independence of the branches of government.

 

ECONOMIC GROWTH WITH SOCIAL EQUITY

  1. Promote economic, social and environmentally sustainable growth, that would incentivize the return of capital, private investment, and job creation, and that would transform, innovate and diversify the productive matrix. For an inclusive economic reactivation emphasis will be placed on the demographic and female dividend, within a market economy with social justice.
  2. Carry out programs for the promotion of jobs, agricultural production with value added, innovation, entrepreneurship and the establishment of small and medium enterprises. Likewise promote de-politicized social programs focused on the most vulnerable sectors.
  3. Do a holistic reform of the Social Security regime within the framework of a broad national debate that would ensure the protection of the most vulnerable. And ensure that the tax laws, exonerations, and exemptions are based on principles of equity, in a way that would contribute to promoting sustainable and inclusive human development.

SUSTAINABLE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

  1. Prioritize holistic and quality education, with a human rights approach. Promote civic values and a critical awareness in all academic levels, in addition to innovative technologies and tools that would allow for human development connected to the social reality and productive capacity. Strengthen the Autonomous Regional Educational System and ensure University Autonomy.
  2. Raise the quality and increase the coverage of health services offered within the framework of a new public health model without exclusion. Implement programs of decent housing, potable water and sewage, as well as basic quality infrastructure for all, with the view to promote a healthy environment.
  3. Investigate and recover resources illegally appropriated, especially those derived from Venezuelan aid, and commit to a frontal struggle against corruption in all its forms, in order to invest those resources in human development and the recovery of our environment.
  4. Repeal Law 840: Special Law for the Development of Nicaraguan Infrastructure and Transportation Relevant to the Canal, Free Trade Zones and Associated Infrastructure. This with the spirit of recovering and protecting the environment.

In light of the memory of all the victims and the demand of our population for a free country with justice and democracy, the organizations and movements of the Blue and White National Unity commit ourselves to publicizing and discussing this proposal to achieve a national consensus that would allow us to found the democratic republic that we Nicaraguans deserve and have so long desired.

Nicaragua, September 12, 2019.

 

PRESS RELEASE- IACHR Denounces the Persistence of Repression in Nicaragua

This is a significant statement by the IACHR that confirms the continued violation of rights and freedoms  on the part of the government, rights  that the government agreed to re-establish in the 2nd dialogue last March.  An undeclared state of exception continues in Nicaragua. This same perspective is reflected in the statements by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations in their meetings in Geneva this week.

PRESS RELEASE

IACHR denounces the persistence of the repression and expresses its concern over the increase of harassment of human rights defenders and those released from jail in Nicaragua

[ see original Spanish at https://www.oas.org/es/cidh/prensa/comunicados/2019/220.asp ]

September 6, 2019

Washington, DC. The Interamerican Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) denounces the persistence of repression in Nicaragua. In addition, it expresses its concern over the increase of harassment of human rights defenders, lawyers of people released from prison and/or who continue jailed for acts related to the protests begun on April 18, 2018.

Through their conventional and regulatory mechanisms, the IACHR continues receiving information about the persistence of the repression in Nicaragua. In this regard, on August 21st, the Special Rapporteur for Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights (REDESCA) of the IACHR denounced the pattern of discrimination and threats of reprisals on the part of the State authorities against state workers critical of the Government. Likewise, on August 26th, human rights experts of the United Nations and the Special Rapporteur for the freedom of expression of the IACHR denounced systematic repression against the communications media and independent journalists in the country.

Within the framework of the closure of civic and democratic spaces, through the Special Mechanism for Followup for Nicaragua (MESENI), the IACHR also received troubling information about the intensification of harassment of human rights defenders and other collectives of lawyers in Nicaragua. On August 6th Leyla Prado, a lawyer for the Permanent Human Rights Commission (CPDH) denounced death threats received through social networks from people aligned with the government. Those threats and the harassment have increased in the context of her conduct as the defense counsel for María Oviedo, a lawyer of the CPDH, criminalized since July 26th and declared guilty in a trial on August 29th for the crime of “obstruction of functions”. Later on August 9 IACHR was informed about the police surveillance of the installations of Acción Penal, a collective of ex prosecutors who are dedicated to the defense of “political prisoners”. On August 19th five defense attorneys were detained for several hours when they were putting up protest posters in Managua. On that same August 19th the lawyer Aura Alarcón – from the Unity of Legal Defense [Unidad de Defensa Jurídica] – had been assaulted and stripped of her belongings on the part of “Sandinista mobs”. According to information received, even though the events occurred in the presence of police agents, they did not stop the aggression; in addition, when she filed charges, Aura Alarcón was pointed out as a “coup lawyer” on the part of the police.

In this regard, the Commissioner Francisco Eguiguren, the Rapporteur for Defenders of Human Rights, pointed out that “the adverse context in which human rights defenders, as well as lawyers, carry out their work is symptomatic of the continuation of the crisis and the police state in the country.”

In the month of August MESENI also received testimony about the human rights situation of people released from prison, and the persistence of acts of harassment, threats, and aggressions against them. According to the testimony received, they are victims of ongoing surveillance by police agents and motorized civilians through constant questioning of their families members and neighbors, and remain in the immediate vicinity of their homes until early hours of the morning. Likewise, people released from jail are victims of threats and campaigns of stigmatization in social networks while being pointed out as “coup supporters”. As a consequence, some of them have to continually relocate to safe houses, or have decided to leave the country. In addition the IACHR warns about the continuation and normalization of a pattern of arbitrary detentions, for short periods of time, of these people. Some of these detentions have occurred at border posts or in the airport after the participation of some of these people in international events, according to the information received, for the purpose of intimidating them for their leadership within the context of the protests begun on April 18, 2018. On August 27th, civil society organizations reported that at least 30 people released from prison have been detained under this pattern.

The Commission reiterates once again that many of the people released from prison are kept in uncertainty due to the lack of information about their legal situation. In some cases, the criminal cases continue open, and their criminal records have not been expunged, or rather, when the Amnesty Law is applied, the cases are shelved without ordering their acquittal, which would have, among other effects, blocked the end of precautionary measures imposed and the return of assets seized. On August 26 the IACHR was informed of irregularities presented in the computer system of the Central Judicial Complex of Managua which prevented the lawyers access to information about the cases of the “political prisoners”. In the same context, the IACHR notes that the holding of public hearings continues to be restricted for independent communications media in the country for more than a year.

In this regard, the Commissioner Joel Hernández, Rapporteur for the Rights of Prisoners, highlighted that “in the framework of the Rule of Law, the judicial system should function as the first line of defense of human rights. For that reason, the fulfillment of the guarantees of impartiality and independence established in international law prove to be imperative.” He added that “in the Nicaraguan case, what we have documented continuously have been patterns of repression from the very bodies responsible for the administration of justice.”

Within the framework of the repression against people identified as opponents of the regime, during the month of August the IACHR became aware of the exile to Costa Rica of the mayor of Mulukukú, Apolonio Fargas, for the alleged take over of the installations of the Municipal Government and his home by police agents. Previously Mr. Apolonio Fargas has been detained for his participation in the social protests, and later freed by virtue of the amnesty law. On the other hand, on August 23rd the IACHR ordered the adoption of cautionary measures for the protection of Violeta Mercedes Granera, a member of the Blue and White Unity, on finding herself in a situation of risk in the framework of the current situation which the State of Nicaragua is undergoing.

According to publicly known information, on August 27th in the municipality of Wiwilí, the province of Jinotega, Mr. Francisco Blandón Herrera was murdered by shots perpetrated by a civilian on a motorcycle. In this regard, human rights organizations have said that this case was framed in the context of the escalation of violence in the interior part of the country against peasants and people identified as opponents of the Government. The Commission exhorts the Nicaraguan State to investigate with due diligence the circumstances around this event and other acts of violence in order to identify and punish the people responsible, and thus combat the impunity and prevent the repetition of similar deeds. At the same time, in the current environment of polarization, repression and stigmatization that persists in Nicaragua, the IACHR calls on the State to ensure the integrity and safety of peasants and people identified as opponents or critics of the Government.

The Commissioner Antonia Urrejola, Rapporteur for Nicaragua, reiterated: “from the Interamerican Commission, we once again call on the State of Nicaragua to cease the repression, and in particular to implement an appropriate process of truth, justice and reparation for the victims in accordance with international standards on matters of human rights”. The President of the IACHR, Commissioner Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, added: “ the elimination of the situation of impunity in Nicaragua and the recovery of trust in state institutions constitute some of the biggest principal challenges for the reestablishment of the Rule of Law.”

The IACHR is a principal and autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose mandate emerges from the Charter of the OAS and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Interamerican Commission has the mandate to promote the observance and defense of human rights in the region, and acts as a consultative body of the OAS on this matter. The IACHR is composed of seven independent members who are elected by the General Assembly of the OAS on an individual basis, and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

 

 

Without Pressure there are no Negotiations

Yaser Morazán has an important presence in social media in Nicaragua, and had been critical of the business sector´s reluctance to get involved in acts of civil disobedience to show resistance to the government. The business sector´s gradual dominance of the Civic Alliance has also been a complaint of several sectors, and was highlighted in a tumultuous meeting of exiles in Costa Rica recently. The Civic Alliance recently restructured itself to make itself more inclusive of other sectors of society. In this interview Yaser goes into more depth about these issues.

Without Pressure there are no Negotiations

Interview of Yaser Morazán in Domingo, La Prensa, August 18, 2019

by Abixael Mogollón

[see original Spanish here ]

He is loved and hated in social networks. Yaser Morazán knows this. From exile he is working on a document to resist the dictatorship, and in this interview explains how small actions that go from releasing pieces of paper to more radical actions like building a barricade on the border with Costa Rica are going to end up forcing Ortega to return to the negotiating table. He has met with members of the international community, and members of the Civic Alliance, and he states that this is a key moment for the Alliance, since it is important to renovate it or it will be destined to disappear.

What forced to you to into exile?

In order to continue sharing the ideas about civil disobedience, focused boycotts and other campaigns, it was better to put myself in the safety of exile. I have more than 100 screenshots of death threats, or that reveal my address, so I thought that the only way to continue doing my work was by going into exile.

What are those other campaigns?

The national and international plan of civil disobedience I started to suggest while in Nicaragua in a meeting with the Civic Alliance. It is not an initiative that started from my exile. It is a proposal that intends to create a mechanism of economic, institutional, cultural and social pressure; to be able to weaken the pillars that sustain the dictatorship. They are civil resistance strategies without using the body as a human foxhole, and that ensure freedom and life for the people who participate.

What type of actions does this document have?

First, I start from recognizing the violent nature of this regime. To the extent that we understand that we are in a state of exception, our capacity to struggle has to adapt to that reality. Basing myself on this, we have to create a series of actions to stop participating in the social, cultural, political and economic dynamics of the country; like national, school stoppages, fiscal and tax strikes, paralyzing state institutional processes, not participating in events sponsored by the regime, like fairs, festivals, congresses. It is creating a social blockade where we demonstrate to the regime that it does not have a country to govern.

How would these measures be applied?

We have to prepare a document that would be presented to Nicaraguan public opinion, where activities, roles, resources and times would be established, in this plan goals or demands will be defined that we are going to ask the dictatorship to meet. For example, the return of the legal status of the NGOs that were confiscated, the return of the equipment stolen from journalists and communications media. For this to happen, we have to tell the regime that we have this work plan where we establish actions of low, medium and high impact. They will be implemented over time to the extent that the regime responds to our needs, otherwise we will increase the intensity.

We would begin with a simultaneous press conference in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and the United States where Nicaraguans, exiles and the diaspora would present this plan, even have this document read in the pulpits of churches. Then we would hold a virtual march. Then we would organize masses and religious ceremonies for peace throughout the entire national territory. Then we would continue with actions that have been effective and that people like, such as releasing blue and white balloons, small pieces of paper of those same colors, papers with messages, blue and white paint or writing on public buses, bathrooms, and currency with the slogan #SOSNICARAGUA. All in secret and anonymously, because we cannot continue doing it facing weapons and violence.

We are talking about fighting a dictatorship with pieces of paper and paint.

If they do not listen to our demands we would move to medium impact actions. That can be that the diaspora call for temporary stoppages of sending family remittances, the stoppage of sending packages to Nicaragua, stop buying airline tickets to and from Nicaragua, preparation of lists on the national level of businesses and companies connected to the Sandinista Front. That can begin with businesses of the Army, the National Police and the Ortega Murillo family.

It is important to promote media and political pressure against the embassies of Taiwan throughout the world for continuing to finance the dictatorship. We have to be confrontational with the Central American Bank for financing the dictatorship, this has to be an action plan among all the actors, those in exile, the diaspora, the Alliance and the National Unity. Finally, if after a year these actions do not work, I think that we have to be considering once again revisiting the idea of an indefinite national strike.

Do you think a national strike is viable? Taking into account the small and medium businesses which would mean closing and hoping that Ortega would leave power?

Personally I have not called for an indefinite national strike on social networks, first of all because I am not in Nicaragua, and secondly because I recognize the real fear of the business owners, and thirdly because I do not promote activities where I cannot participate. Nicaraguans have to understand that it is not viable either to live in a dictatorship, in fear and under repression. The situation is already radical for us, and we have to take radical actions to be able to survive. The other option that we have is not do anything and resign ourselves to live in a dictatorship like the people of Cuba did, or hope for what is eventually going to happen as in Venezuela.

You do not believe in the national dialogue to remove Daniel Ortega?

Negotiation is an end and not a means,. The dialogue will happen when the regime, pressured by our actions, now sits down to negotiate. In April it was the blockades, then it was the marches, but now we do not have anything to offer, and those who have nothing to offer have nothing to demand. I am convinced that without pressure there is no negotiation, and without destabilization there is no liberation of Nicaragua.

It has been said on social networks that among the strongest actions is doing a blockade on the border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

Done by the exiles themselves. In this way we paralyze regional commerce and we create a crisis in the region that will force the presidents of the isthmus to take clearer and more forceful positions.

Do you think that this really is possible in a foreign country?

We activists do not ask permission. If people had asked permission in Nicaragua, no blockades would have been built. I think that we are experiencing a crisis and drastic measures are required, at least in Costa Rica the most that they can do is put you in jail, but they are not going to kill you, as can happen in Nicaragua if you want to build a blockade.

A little while ago on social networks there was a call to boycott a business for having red and black chairs in their place, don´t you feel that this is diverting attention to superficial things?

I am happy with this new version of a country that we have, because I think that Nicaraguans have stepped it up to identify any manifestation of violence. In this case the regime has used symbols to repress. Violence is not just blows, it is also when they rub in your face that they have power over public spaces. In Nicaragua red and black means mourning, grief, blood, death, and we all know that. In terms of the issue that you are mentioning, that business is the property of a Sandinista deputy from Rivas, and what she did was mark off her territory and she has the right to do it, but the people also have the right to decide where they are going to consume, and where they are not going to consume. When we quit consuming in a Sandinista business, what we are doing is giving our income to a blue and white business, and that is a very effective way of protesting, because we are touching on what most hurts the Sandinista Front, which is money.

Before the crisis you openly defined yourself as a Sandinista. Then you made the distinction between being a Sandinista and an Orteguista. What has happened to that idea since you went into exile?

I come from a Sandinista home, where I was taught the ideals of Sandino and I believed that the FSLN represented those values. I refused to see the corruption and the lack of values that public institutions and people directly connected to the party exercised. Always looking for a leftist orientation, I started to participate in the Sandinista Renovation Movement, because I thought that that was where it was at. In fact, in the first marches of April I wore my t-shirts with Sandino, diverse Sandino, or Sandino with a cell phone logo, because it was my way of reclaiming my idea of Sandinism. Starting in April and May I was seeing that the same methods that they were using to repress the population, like the torture and killings, were exactly the same methods that I imagine they used in the decade of the 80s to justify their revolution. For me April was a wake up call. I insisted in the fact that I was a non Orteguista Sandinista, but I have come to the conclusion that it is the same thing. Some killed in the 80s and others do now.

At this moment is seems everything is stagnant, it seems that people are not united at least on social networks.

I think that it is part of the democratic processes that people have the capacity to say the things that they are thinking. Some just resort to insults, aggression, vulgarities. Nevertheless I prefer that people are expressing their opinion in excess, and not that they express their opinion as we did prior to April. Although at times they might go over the mark for nearly everyone, including me. It does not matter, it is better than a complicit silence.

There is a sector that hates you and another that adores you in social networks, and some criticize you over the fact that being in exile you call for actions like the boycott.

I defend freedom of expression. People have the right to say what they are thinking about me or whoever. Likewise I have the capacity to ignore or block what does not interest me. We are all part of this process, it is normal, healthy, it is necessary. I have been generating material for social networks for four years, which meant that I was somewhat media friendly and I have received a lot of threats. I only suggest, propose, challenge, criticize, but I never impose, and those who want will join, and those who do not… The beautiful thing is that we all do what we can with the resources that we have.

You have met with members of the international community who are following the crisis in Nicaragua. What assessment does their role deserve?

Their role has been mediocre and ineffective. In fact one of the ambassadors to the OAS told us that the sense of timing for politics is very different from the urgent sense of timing that the Nicaraguan people needed; and an authority from the US government told us that Daniel Ortega was not going to negotiate because negotiating his departure meant that he would end up in jail, and that that was not going to happen. The international community is not going to liberate us. Over above the interests of human rights, the international community has political and economic interests. It is not a coincidence that over all the condemnations, the United States continues being the principal trade partner of Venezuela and Nicaragua. Now is not the moment to continue complaining, it is the moment to look more within.

And what do you have to say about the Civic Alliance?

They have played a good role in what it has been theirs to do. My criticism always has been around what they have not done, for example, from the beginning the people of the Alliance were telling me that their mandate was not to direct a popular insurrection, but that their mandate was the national dialogue. I think that they have stayed in that role, and that role has been dictated by the business and bureaucratic approach that that structure has, that is the reason for my criticism that the Alliance cannot be abducted by big capital, the private sector has the right to have a voice and we to ensure that it have one, but not that it be the only voice. That the businesspeople have the power to vote but not to veto. This moment is important because the Alliance is destined to strengthen itself or disappear, but it depends on them and how they channel the popular unrest.

At what moment did big capital take that control?

The business version that we have of the current Alliance is different from the one that was called by the Bishop´s Conference. With the first version of the Alliance we all came out to support them. But as time passed, people were replaced, which is why in the last negotiating table 50% of those there were from the private sector. AmCham, FUNIDES and COSEP, and that made me reflect at what point these people were representing the people who were in the barricades in the neighborhoods, the mothers of April, the mothers of the political prisoners, and currently those ex political prisoners. I think that the Alliance should be restructured for the good of Nicaragua.

Until there is a dialogue, what should the Alliance do?

I think that they should go into a process of assessment about their strategies, effectiveness and efficiency about what they have been doing so far, and they should be sincere and say to the people of Nicaragua: “this is as far as we go or this is our new work proposal”. The departure of Ortega will depend on our measures. If we are not forceful, the regime is not going to ever want to leave power, and we will be destined to be Venezuela or Cuba. Ortega prefers to govern a country in extreme poverty than end up in jail. This type of dictator does not leave because they wake up one day being good people.

Has the scenario been considered where these measures are applied to the letter and Ortega remains in power?

No. Right now I do not have a plan B, because first I have to try plan A. Evaluate, to change, strengthen and remove. Rather I am sticking to these ideas, because I do not want to lead people to use methods from the past that no one wants anymore.

How are the exiles doing?

Where I am here in Costa Rica people are depressed, feel powerless, frustration, sadness. While in Nicaragua the people that belong to organized structures are afraid, suffer persecution, death threats; while the Nicaraguans who are not involved in anything are living the most normal lives in the world. Because the regime what it is doing is creating an enclosure, teaching society a lesson through punishments or rewards, so that you are clear, that if you demonstrate you are going to suffer, but if you do nothing you are going to live comfortably. It is the same Cuban model. We cannot have the luxury of going back to the same“ normality” that existed prior to April, but if we do not increase this pressure that is what is going to end up happening.

Personal plane

Yaser Morazán is 33 year old and is from the province of Matagalpa. He is the son of a retired soldier Alfonso José Morazán Castillo, who was abducted in October 2018 by the Ortega regime and was released in May 2019.

He did Chemical Analysis Laboratory studies in the National Technological Institute in Granada, and then studied Social Work at the Central American University (UCA). His first relationships with human rights organizations was in 2007 working with the Organization of American States (OAS). He also did post-graduate studies in Family Psychology.

He has been working since he was 19 years old. He loves Nicaraguan food, especially beans and tortillas. He has been an activist for 13 years, and before going into exile used to produce multimedia pieces for social networks. He says that ignorant and violent people make him nervous.