This interview by a Spanish News Agency (EFE) has received a lot of attention in that Daniel Ortega denies all responsibility for the hundreds of deaths, claims that the only armed paramilitary groups belong to the opposition, calls “liars” those who claim the police have fired on the population, and makes many more assertions about the uprising that directly contradiction the recent Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Report from the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights entitled “Gross Human Rights Violations in the Context of Social Protests in Nicaragua “ , in addition to thousands of video and photographic evidence available on youtube, twitter and facebook.For the first time he admits that the Army has been involved in the Government response to the protests, in spite of the fact that early on the Army issued a release saying they would not be involved.
Ortega denies the repression and blames the US and Narcos for the crisis in Nicaragua
EFE, Managua, Sept 4, 2018
By Fernando Gadea and Sabela Bello
The President of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, denies that he has suppressed the protests with repression, does not feel responsible for the deaths in the streets during the last months, and blames the United States and drug trafficking for financing, supporting and arming violent groups.
In an interview with the EFE Agency in Managua, the leader of the Sandinista Front of National Liberation (FSLN) and president of the country described the protests as a “criminal coup” that, in his opinion, form part of a plan to remove him from Government.
Different international organizations have quantified in more than 400 the number of deaths in these protests, and pro human rights organizations have been expellted from the country after denouncing the repression.
These denouncements are complemented by those of personalities like the Nicaraguan writer Serio Ramírez, the last Cervantes award winner and ex vice president of Ortega in a Sandinista Government, who spoke about “police and armed paramilitary forces with war rifles, who act jointly against an unarmed population.”
“He knows that he is putting to work his capacity as a story teller. He is a great story teller and is telling a really gruesome story about what is a tragedy that this people is experiencing. He is lying,” responded Ortega.
The president directly blames the United States for what he considers a history of interventionism in Central American, and especially Nicaraguan, politics.
“It is a matter of not respecting the Nicaraguan people, but rather implementing a policy of permanent interference to force the people in favor of that interference and their candidate,” he explained.
“It is really clear. We return to Government and the hostility from the United States comes. And the first thing that they did was remove us from the Millennium Challenge that was part of a project agreed upon with the previous Government to place funds throughout Central America,” he added.
“They punished Nicaragua, stated Ortega, because the Frente is not democratic for the United States, and immediately they began to organize armed groups.”
During more than an hour of interview, Ortega referred on several occasions to a supposed intervention to directly accuse the United States of arming the groups that are protesting against the Sandinista Government, united with groups of drug traffickers.
“There was an activity – according to him – that originated with the extreme right in Florida. It has been a permanent umbilical cord that was left there since the period of the Contra war. A relationship so close to US politicians of Florida with the Contras that it turned into a friendship.”
“It really hurt the right with a lot of political power in Congress the fact that the Front returned to Government, and a spearhead was installed that fed these armed groups and began to connect with groups involved in drug trafficking. In some actions against them activity was found connected to the cultivation of marijuana,” he stated.
Ortega roundly denies that there are Sandinista paramilitaries, and states that the only armed groups are those who are protesting against the government.
The president pointed out that “the only paramilitaries that have existed in Nicaragua are those who were formed after 2007 and have committed and continue committing a multiplicity of crimes.”
“We – he said – have waged this battle with the Police and the Army. There are people from the Army who have died in this combat and they do not exist for the right nor for the human rights organizations.”
In his story nor does he admit the denouncements from different organizations and the population against the Police for shooting at demonstrators.
“This is a big lie. I saw the demonstration on television, because they were broadcasting it. And what there was there was an attack on the part of the demonstrators against another march that was headed toward the Bolivar Avenue, an armed attack,” he added.
“The 22 Police killed these months, for example, how can the deaths of 22 policemen killed by peaceful demonstrators be explained? The hundreds of Sandinistas dead who were kidnapped in homes and murdered, those that were burned. How can we explain all of this?”, reiterated Ortega.
He also denied the denouncements of the European Union, the UN and the OAS accusing the Government of repression, arbitrary detentions and torture, for considering that they are influenced by the US.
The Nicaraguan president points out that “for them (opponents) the 22 dead police do not exist, nor the compañeros burned who were civilians, nor the burned home where a child died who Sergio (Ramírez) mentioned, distorting the reality.”
“A home where a Sandinista compañero lived who had a mattress factory and since he did not joint the strike and was in the hot zone, they went to attack him and started a fire. They burned his house and the entire family died,” related the president.
On the other hand, he assures that there are no political prisoners in Nicaragua and “those who are arrested are held for crimes that they have committed against the people, and are being submitted to the appropriate processes. No one is arrested for their ideas and for their political activism.”
About the accusation of lack of press freedome, he denies it and says that it is enough to put on the television channels, see the news and read the newspapers.
“There is so much free press that there is even a program where they interview these days hooded people who are armed paramilitaries on the right, and where they come out saying peacefully that more deaths are needed here,” pointed out Ortega, who added that “they calmly state it.”
He does not feel responsible for the deaths and explains that “here those responsible for these deaths are those who have promoted, financed and fed these acts, and behind it is the US policy from Florida that has achieved influence in the US Congress.”
In the opinion of the president, “what bothers the US right the most is the alliance that the Frente was able to construct with workers and business owners who ideologically are not Sandinistas, but that accepted the proposal of making a Government among business owners, workers and the government.”
“The threat was not against the Sandinistas, but against the business owners who have interests in the United States and who move large financial operations. They created the conditions for developing offensives like the one of April,” he reiterated.
He adds that this is combined “with weapons, because if there have been deaths it is because there have been weapons, and if there were not weapons they would not have been deaths.”
The protests against the Administration of Daniel Ortega started when a decree became known that would reform social security.
“There were protests, there were no deaths, but they invented that a student had died. I saw these protests on television and there were no weapons there, on neither side, the weapons came out the following day at night. They combined marches without weapons during the day and at night the armed groups came out to attack municipal government offices, offices of the Frente, hospitals, state institutions and to kill Sandinistas,” he added.
In his opinion, “that is where the skirmish began, the confrontations and the deaths,” that according to the Government were 195, while different human rights groups calculate the victims to be more than 400.
He also disparages the petition for elections which the European Union and European Parlament have joined, arguing that “in Europe there is a pretty conservative wave as well, where in spite of the differences with the United Setates, they tend to unite their positions around Latin America.”
For Ortega “it does not make sense” to move up the elections planned for 2021 and he thinks that “it is the most absurd thing that has been proposed,” because that “would set a very negative precedent that would lead to a situation where at any moment it would happen to a Government when the opposition did not like its measures.”
“It would be living the history of Ibero-American countries who were not stable and had to be constantly changing governments because people were going out to the street to protest and the army would come in and remove the president,” he stated.
The president accepts the fact that there has been a loss of jobs, especially in the tourism sector, where different business sectors put the job losses at 70,000 since the beginning of the crisis last April 18th.
“Indeed there has been a loss of employment, the country was paralyzed by the famous barricades for a long time and that affected employment, and that is the challenge now, to be reactivating activities, as is being done, “ the president pointed out.
He states that “national tourism and the sources of small local businesses are more quickly reactivated,” but “where there have been more problems is in the attraction of international tourism, because this situation tends to frighten off tourists.”
About his supposed family enrichment, he states that it is “totally false”, and ask that those who make this accusation “present proof.”
In reference to the position of vice president of the Government which his wife, Rosario Murillo holds, he explained that “the compañera is there in so far as she is an activist of the Frente and because of her capacity.”