A key agreement in the recent negotiation is the release of all political prisoners by June 18, 2019. One of the reasons why the Civic Alliance called for a National Strike was their concern about the lack of willingness on the part of the government to comply with this and other agreements. The Government issued a press release yesterday reaffirming their willingness to release the political prisoners by June 18th. But the number of political prisoners is under dispute, and since the agreement was reached, more protestors have been abducted and jailed. This article shows the complexity of this one issue.
Ortega Regime manipulates figures of political prisoners in order to not free all of them
Regime says that there are only 132 people left from the reconciled lists, but the Civic Alliance states that there are approximately 336 people still jailed for their participation in the protests against the regime.
By Lucia Navas and Lidia López B, May 22, 2019, La Prensa
The regime of Daniel Ortega has offered manipulated figures of political prisoners as a strategy to not free all of them, denounced relatives and lawyers of the detained protestors, as well as delegates of the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy.
The dictatorship has released 336 political prisoners at five moments, and assures that they only need to release from jail 132 people who remain illegally detained for having participated in the protests against the dictatorship of Ortega and Rosario Murillo since April 18, 2018.
According to the figures of Ortega followers, they only recognize 468 total Nicaraguans detained for their participation in the protests.
This May 22 in a press release the dictatorship said that it will grant freedom to the protestors by June 18th at the latest, by the deadline established in the agreement signed with the Civic Alliance. But these liberations will only be of the protestors already reconciled on the list of the International Committee of the Red Cross (CICR).
The Civic Alliance presented an original list with 764 political prisoners at the Negotiating Table with the dictatorship, which has increased due to the fact that in recent weeks abductions of citizens opposed to the regime have continued, who are also considered political prisoners because their detentions have been because of their support for the protests.
The Civic Alliance records 42 people who have been detained since January 2019 and have not been freed, who are not on the lists reconciled with the regime.
“So far there are approximately 336 people jailed in the different penitentiary centers, police delegations and other detention centers”, for their participation in the protests against the regime, who the opposition demands be freed, according to the opposition and lawyers of those detained.
They are not complying even with those on the reconciled list
Álvaro Vargas, from the Civic Alliance, explained to La Prensa that in the work with the International Committee of the Red Cross (CICR), 237 self convened were reconciled of the lists presented by the opposition and the dictatorship. Of that reconciled list with the CICR, Vargas said that 196 people still need to be released, in other words, 64 more than those that the regime says are left.
This does not mean that they are the only political prisoners in the jails, due to the fact that Vargas, Carlos Tunnermann (also from the Civic Alliance) and the lawyer Yonarqui Martínez, defense counsel of the self convened, said yesterday that the demand is that they must be freed from all charges, those people on the reconciled lists as well as those that the regime accuses of common crimes, but whom it has been demonstrated that they were detained for participating in the protests, as well as those who have arrest orders out but are in exile or safe houses.
42 abducted in recent weeks
Vargas and Martínez explained that the regime continues abducting citizens who relate to the protests, so far taking 42 people who are confirmed in jails. These citizens are considered to be political prisoners.
Vargas said that they are updating the lists that they will present to the CICR and the Interamerican Commission of Human Rights (IACHR), so that they can help to review and reconcile the names along with the Ortega regime.
“We have documented that the reason for the arrest is for protesting, in other words, for political issues”, stated Vargas.
Tunnermann rejected the manipulation of the Ortega followers who in their press releases state that once the 132 political prisoners from the reconciled list are freed, they will have complied with the agreement from the Negotiating Table.
“That is not the agreement, because there are dozens more prisoners who are not reconciled because the Alliance records dozens of more prisoners than the Government wants to recognize, but they should leave also by June 18th at the latest”, stated the jurist.
Tunnermann also complained that the dictatorship of Ortega and Murillo are not fulfilling the commitment to the Organization of American States (OAS) that they will be liberated, not just released, all the people kidnapped in jail for their participation in the protests since April 18, 2018, in accordance with the list of the IACHR, which the jurist recalled coincided with those presented by the Civic Alliance.
This was the response of the Foreign Ministry of Nicaragua to the action of the Permanent Council of the OAS yesterday, who approved a resolution calling for the liberation of political prisoners, respect for human rights and institutional reforms for legitimate elections; and to the call of the Civic Alliance for a National Strike on Thursday May 23rd (caps reflect the original text).
See original Spanish at : https://www.el19digital.com/articulos/ver/titulo:90399-programa-de-trabajo-del-gobierno-de-reconciliacion-y-unidad-nacional-para-consolidar-estabilidad-y-paz-en-nicaragua
WORK PROGRAM OF GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL RECONCILIATION AND UNITY TO ESTABLISH STABILITY AND PEACE IN NICARAGUA
Wednesday May 22, 2019
Definitive liberation by June 18, 2019 at the latest of those released from jail who are in their homes under family or house arrest. Those who are still in jail. And those who have an open process in their absence, whose cause is in process.
Continue with the OAS the process of electoral institutional strengthening, which consists in: A) Electoral Reform proposal, B) Technical Support to the Supreme Electoral Council, C) Implementation of Technical Recommendations to the Supreme Electoral Council for the future General Elections of 2021 within the framework of the Constitution and Legal Order of the country.
Continue making a call for the Reconciliation of the Nicaraguan Family in order to contribute to creating a climate of Trust, that would strengthen the Culture of Peace that the People of Nicaragua need.
Raise to the category of Law the Holistic Plan of Attention to Victims (PIAV) of the violent events occurred starting in April 2018, based on the Principle of Forgiveness, Not Forgetting and No Repetition.
Continue promoting, nationally and internationally, the Government of National Reconciliation and Unity (GRUN) on the Voluntary Return of Nicaraguans outside the country, who left in the context of the violent events occurred starting on April 18, 2018, with all the constitutional and security guarantees for their reinsertion in Society and their personal daily lives.
Ratify, as the Constitution and the Labor Code mandate, the Participation of Workers in the Management of Enterprises, through their Organizations.
In accordance with the Tax Law, proceed to do the pertinent audits as appropriate of all Enterprises, Non profit Associations, Foundations and the rest of exonerated sectors, in order to determine the good use of the exonerated equipment, inputs and raw materials, including those of the Social Communications Media.
Call to the International Community and International Financial Organizations to end the application of sanctions and threats of new sanctions that affect Human, Economic and Social Development of the People of Nicaragua.
Ensure the Right of Concentration, Demonstration and Public Mobilization, complying with the Constitution, the Law on this subject and the norms in effect.
The killing of Eddy Montes has had several repercussions: 1) The majority of the business association have agreed on a National Strike for Thursday May 23, 2019, demanding that the government release all political prisoners and implement the agreements already achieved in this round of negotiations; 2) the Government released 100 additional political prisoners, which now makes a total of 322 released, according to the Civic Alliance, and 336 according to the government; 3) 22 of the 35 members of the Permanent Council of the OAS approved a resolution on May 21 demanding the liberation of political prisoners, respect for human rights, and institutional reforms needed to “free, fair, transparent and legitimate elections, in accordance with international standards”.
What follows is a translation of the Civic Alliances Press Release calling for the release of all political prisoners and calling for forming a consensus around a national strike, issued on Monday May 20, 2019.
WE WITHDRAW FROM THE NEGOTIATING TABLE UNTIL THE FREEDOM OF POLITICAL PRISONERS, AND WE CALL FOR A NATIONAL STRIKE
May 20, 2019
The Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy withdraws from the Negotiating Table until the Government releases from jail, prior to their definitive liberation, the political prisoners from the reconciled list in the hands of the International Committee of the Red Cross. This decision is based on the following facts:
On March 27, 2019 the Civic Alliance signed an agreement with the Government for the freedom of prisoners who would have the support of the International Committee of the Red Cross (CICR). That agreement stipulated, among other things:
That prior to the release from prison, the Government promised to observe and respect international standards and norms for the proper and humanitarian treatment of prisoners.
The CICR would facilitate a process of their release in accordance with the reconciled list of prisoners.
The Government committed itself to the definitive liberation of all political prisoners by June 18, 2019 at the latest.
Related to these three points, we list the following violations:
The political prisoner Eddy Montes Praslin was killed while in the custody of the Penitentiary System, and a large number of prisoners were seriously wounded and beaten this past Thursday May 16, the Government not only has not complied but has violated the agreement.
In spite of the CICR being present since March 29, 2019, not one release has happened with the support of this international organization. The fact that the CICR is in the country for nearly two months and not even one political prisoner has been released nor freed within the framework of the agreement with this organization, is another sign of the derision of the Government toward the Nicaraguan people.
On April 29, the International Witnesses and Accompaniers [Papal Nuncio and representative of the OAS] presented to the delegations the proposal for doing a progressive release from jail during the month of May, a proposal that was initially accepted by the government, but which they then retracted.
In light of this and the proximity to June 18th, the date for the definitive liberation of all the political prisoners, and in light of the little progress so far in the Negotiating Table because of the non existent political will for compliance on the part of the Government, the Civic Alliance demands signs of political will on the part of the Government to fulfill the signed agreements, that would allow a peaceful and democratic outcome to be constructed for the current crisis.
It is precisely because we believe in negotiation and the importance of compliance about what is agreed there, that we decided to return only when the political prisoners from the entire reconciled list have been released, without compromising the definitive liberation of all the political prisoners by June 18 of this year.
Likewise, to make known to the Government the demand of broad sectors of Nicaraguan society for the liberation of the political prisoners and compliance with the already signed Agreements, the Civic Alliance calls on the small, medium and large business owners, merchants and workers, as well as self employed people, social sectors and society in general to build a process of consensus to carry out a National Strike and other civic actions in the coming days.
We consider that in these key hours it is important to lay aside selfishness and ambitions for power to take a step toward the search for peace, justice and democracy.
A major news story this week was the killing of Eddy Montes Praslín on May 16, 2019. He considered himself a political prisoner, as he was called to the police station in Matagalpa on October 7, 2018 over an invasion of his land, and was then detained and transferred to the El Chipote prison in Managua without an arrest warrant, and 56 days after his arrest was charged with having looted the police clinic in Matagalpa and stealing and setting on fire the maintenance workshop of the municipal government. He was a nationalized US citizen who served in the US Navy.
Immediately following are the two official press releases of the Ministry of the Interior about this event (The Ministry responsible for the prison system). That is followed by a translation of a press released issued by his fellow prisoners of the event, providing their testimony of what happened.
The Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Nicaragua makes known to Nicaraguan Families and families of other Nationalities that today, Thursday May 16, 2019 at 3:00pm, while attending a visit of the International Committee of the Red Cross to the penitentiary establishment of La Modelo and the Women´s Comprehensive pentitentiary in Tipitapa, for the ninth time a serious alteration of the interior order occurred on the part of prisoners for crimes against public order, who in recent days have destroyed the infrastructure of the penitentiary gallery, carrying out the burning of assigned mattresses, destruction of the electric system, roof of the gallery, surrounding fencing and aggression against penitentiary officials.
Around 2:30pm a good group of prisoners pounced on the staff of the security perimeter, struggling with one of the guards with clear intentions of taking his service weapon from him, in the course of that struggle there was a shot that impacted the prisoner Eddy Antonio Montes Praslín, 57 years of age, who was immediately transferred to the closest treatment center, where he died while applying resuscitation measures.”
Issued in the City of Managua on the sixteenth day of the month of May of 2019.
Public Relations, Ministry of the Interior.
The Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Nicaragua makes known to Nicaraguan Families and families of other Nationalities that the prisoner Eddy Antonio Montes Praslín, 57 years old, died at 4:05pm today Thursday May 16, 2019, while he was being treated by emergency medical staff that were carrying out resuscitation procedures. Eddy Antonio was part of a group of prisoners who pounced on the penitentiary staff of the security perimeter, struggling with one of the guards with clear intentions of taking his service weapon and put the lives of officials at risk, who in self defense made one shot in spite of having an automatic rifle.
Eddy Antonio Montes Praslín was under the jurisdiction of the seventh district penal court of Managua, for crimes of terrorism in a series of crimes including obstruction of public services, aggravated theft, fabrication, trafficking, ownership and use of restricted weapons, substances or explosive artifacts; for having participated on May 15, 2018 at 9:00 am on the attack on the “Leonard Mendoza” National Police Unit, located in the city of Matagalpa, wounding with firearms the Police Inspector Jorge Fernando Lanzas, Assistant Inspector Ismael Talavera González, Assistant Inspector Oscar Danilo Otero Blandón, and Officer Carlos Adán Mendoza González.
Issued in the City of Managua on the sixteenth day of the month of May of 2019.
Public Relations, Ministry of the Interior
Report of incident by political prisoners, May 17, 2019
We inform the people of Nicaragua, International Human Rights Organizations, and the international Community about the events of the brutal and bloody attack that we political prisoners suffered in galleys 16-1/16-2 of the “La Modelo” jail in Tipitapa, on the afternoon of Thursday May 16, 2019.
Yesterday at approximately 2:30pm an official of the DOT (Office of Tactical Operations) of the penitentiary system, who was standing guard in the eastern part of the perimeter wall of the Modules where we were located, began to threaten, attack and aim his AK rifle at a group of political prisoners who were close to the eastern side of the perimeter gate, immediately we responsibly requested the authorities to move or relocate that officer because there already existed in addition a history of aggression on the part of the officer against us.
In the form of a demand a group of us brother political prisoners began to demonstrate at the side of the perimeter gate; without violating at any time the perimeter which is allowed us, and almost immediately an exaggerated amount of anti contingency forces of the DOT surrounded the perimeter and without saying a word opened fire on us, one of the AK 47 bullets hit the body of Mr. EDDY MONTES PRESLÍN, 57 years of age, a political prisoner from Matagalpa with US citizenship, who at no moment violated the perimeter nor attacked any official. The impact of the bullet was located in the left side of the pelvis with entry and exit wounds, which caused a large loss of blood. On trying to move Don Eddy Montes to a safe zone, the merciless officials intensified their fire and did not allow him to be moved; which is why we began to throw stones at them to cease fire for a moment and move Mr. Montes, who we were able to take to the southern gate of our perimeter, so that he might receive medical attention. In that place he was taken still alive by a group of doctors of the Penitentiary system. Moments later we became aware of the regrettable news of the death of our brother EDDY MONTES PRESLÍN.
Seconds after moving Mr. Eddy Montes, an exaggerated group of officers of the Penitentiary System, heavily armed, opened fire again on us, the volleys of shots were relentless, in addition to the tear gas and pepper spray that they shot at us, which is why we retreated to our modules, a small space where they also shot at us to kill and launched tear gas now being within our perimeter.
Confined and almost intoxicated by the gases, they forced us to leave our modules, attacking us in a brutal manner with tonfas, iron bars, kicks, blows, stun bombs, pepper spray into our eyes, body and even genitals, until they had us subdued on the floor, where still not satisfied, they continued kicking us, beating us, and launching more pepper spray, but this time in our open wounds and mouths.
“We are the sons of Sandino”, “We are the cubs of Ortega”, “The Comandante stays”, “Damn sold out dogs”, the officials of the Penitentiary shouted at us while they beat us continuously, in a bloodthirsty manner.
The brutal and inhuman aggression stopped when the officials became aware of the presence of the International Commission of the Red Cross in the jail, which saved us from death.
The bloody attack left more than 100 people wounded and injured, approximately 60 of them with serious injuries like broken arms, ribs, legs and serious wounds to the head, face and eyes. We want to express our grief over the cowardly murder of our dear friend and brother Eddy Montes Preslín, his death leaves us in deep grief and tears; but with an even greater commitment to continue this struggle.
At night a group of juridical assistance from the National Police entered into the jail to arrange a set up to justify the cowardly murder of Eddy Montes, with suspect objects and bags in their hands they did a false diagram of the event, which is why we ask the Nicaraguan people to not believe the lies of the official media of the government, nor of the institution of the police. We have photographic proof of the place where Mr. Montes was killed, which we will send to the communications media along with this press release.
We are grateful for the support of the Nicaraguan people and our families, especially the people of Matagalpa for their support and signs of solidarity with us and in memory of our brother Eddy Montes.
The verbal attacks and provocations still continue on the part of the officials.
The distance between the perspective of the two sides can be seen in their most recent press releases. The Government emphasizes the disruption in their economic program that benefitted the poor and blames the Civic Alliance for the situation of the economy today. The Civic Alliance blames the situation on the Government and its de facto suspension of civil liberties. The latest press releases are provided below (Nicaraguan Government provided the english on their website):
The GRUN Delegation at the Negotiation Table greets the Nicaraguan Families and the International Community, reiterating its Commitment to advance in the Discussion of all the Points of the Consensus Agenda, according to our Constitution, our Laws and the Legal and Institutional Order of our Nicaragua.
The GRUN Delegation at the Negotiation Table reminds the Nicaraguan Families and the International Community, that among the Agreed Upon Agenda Points, there is the call that the Table must make for the suspension and cessation of Unilateral, Illegal and Arbitrary Measures that continue to affect the Nicaraguan economy and especially the most vulnerable sectors.
We also remind the Families of our Homeland and the International Community, that it is precisely those that lived in the worst poverty that are most affected by these Unjust Measures; those that have been benefiting for 11 years of the Christian and Solidarity Programs of the GRUN, in the progress of an Economic Model that privileged Social Justice (until the attempted coup of April 2018), recognized by all the International Organizations.
The GRUN Delegation at the Negotiation Table has ratified our Commitment, of Good Faith and Good Will, expressed in the 236 unilateral releases and in the Commitment to continue addressing, in accordance with the Nicaraguan Laws, those cases that remain pending due to delays, non-compliance and inconsistencies of the Counterpart at the Negotiation Table.
We also remember that the GRUN has committed itself to Respect all the Constitutional Rights of our Democracy, considering them the Rights of all Nicaraguans, without exception.
We have also unilaterally proposed:
a) The free and safe return of those who fled the country, having engaged in the violent actions of the coup.
b) The presence of International Witnesses and Guarantors to accompany the implementation of the Agreements.
c) Resume the Work Plan for Electoral Reform, signed between our Government and the OAS, on February 28, 2017, and interrupted by the events of the coup.
All the Agenda Points signed at the Table are part of a General Agreement that contemplates the joint call for the suspension and cessation of Illegal and Arbitrary Measures against the Nicaraguan Economy.
These Illegitimate Measures, that undermine International Law, were designed as a Political Mechanism, with the intention of destroying the Economy and attacking the Right of the Nicaraguan People to advance with Social Justice, on the Path pertaining a Model and Program of Christianity, Solidarity and Sovereignty.
All Nicaraguans know where we were, how we have achieved Objectives and Goals on Social Inclusion, with the Economic, Political and Cultural Protagonism of those previously discarded Majorities, separated from the exercise of their Basic Human Right to Life Work, Hope and Wellbeing.
That Project of Christian Solidarity, Justice and Common Good was attacked by a perverse, selfish and insensitive minority, which has never known hunger or suffering, much less the lack of Schools, Hospitals, Roofs, Clothes, Housing, Work… A hoarding and greedy minority that committed the madness, and the vileness, of attacking the poorest of the poor, without shame, disgrace, or the slightest Human Compassion.
The GRUN Delegation demands Respect and Civilized Spirit from the Counterpart at the Negotiation Table, stripping itself of ignoble and blinding feelings that prevent them from seeing themselves in the mirror of those who suffer “hunger and thirst for justice”. “Blessed” they will be, says the Bible, “because they will inherit the World.”
Beyond the hatred and crude and pretentious Political Agendas, there is the Reality of a Courageous and Hardworking People that from Sun to Sun rekindle their Hope and their Faith, certain that God will make the Miracle of opening Hearts to the Understanding of the needs and afflictions of the Neighbor. To that Neighbor to whom we owe ourselves, and more so those that, without question, have enormous responsibility in the vulgar and mad attempt of destruction and submission of Nicaragua to their interests.
Thank God we are the People of Darío and Sandino. Thank God we are People that move forward, that has never stopped walking towards “the Promised Land.” Thanks to God that as a People we have walked the Desert, as well as the Powerful Works of God that opens Seas and Gates, that knocks down mountains, when Right is Right.
Forgiveness is Christian. Forgetting does not teach. And we all must learn. Yesterday’s Lessons are today’s Teachings. We do not forget, but we do not become bitter or paralyzed. We trust in God, and we know that we are in His Hands, that we bless all the efforts we make as a People, so that the Rights of all Nicaraguans to Live in Tranquility, Safety, Humility and Happiness, with Family Values, in Family, and especially with the un-renounceable Duty of Dignity, Identity and Sovereign Culture.
We think like Nicaraguans, because we are and we recognize ourselves with Nicaraguan Pride, by the Grace of God. This Path of Determination, of Victories, does not stop. With absolute Faith we say that Nicaragua is a Land of Vigor, of History, of Freedom, of Character, and of Glory!
Our People demand Justice, Reparation, and Non-Repetition from those responsible for the damage we have suffered, as a basis for lasting Reconciliation and Peace.
The Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy calls on the Government to lift the brutal sanctions that it has been applying against the Nicaraguan population since April 18 of last year. In particular we demand the lifting of the prohibition against free expression, free mobilization and the liberation of political prisoners.
We demand lifting the systematic violation of human rights, lifting the sanction imposed on patriots who cannot wave the national flag. We demand lifting the sanction of unfair imprisonment for hundreds of Nicaraguans who are deprived of their freedom for thinking differently. Lifting the stalking of relatives of prisoners and those released from prison, who suffer harassment and threats. Lifting the sanction of criminalizing independent journalism. We demand lifting the sanction of impunity for the crimes committed.
The international sanctions that futilely the Government wants to ask get lifted are the consequence of these sanctions mentioned against the people, brutally perpetrated by the Government. It is the lifting of the former sanctions that will bring about the lifting of the latter. It is not through lyrical and empty calls that the sanctions will be lifted, but with real actions, like the liberation of the political prisoners, the re-establishment of rights, truth, justice and holding free, democratic and early elections.
The Civic Alliance will continue to be willing to dialogue to find a real way out of the crisis.
We Reject the Additional Accusations
Press release of Civic Alliance, civil society counterpart in the National Dialogue
The Government insists on its position that a call be made to suspend the sanctions, a call that in addition to being useless and empty, will not resolve the heart of the problem of the country which is the systematic violation of the rights of the Nicaraguan people.
In its most recent press release, the Government indicates, to the weight of its words, that the Civic Alliance is responsible for countless crimes, misdeeds and even diabolic acts and that in the call they would make us responsible for such actions. This means that in addition to calling to suspend sanctions on corrupt officials, we would implicate ourselves in the commission of crimes. Proposing such an action, a product of nonsense and stupidity, confirms that the Government intents to bar and obstruct the fulfillment of what is already signed. Calling for a counterpart in a negotiation process that they declare themselves guilty of crimes only verifies the lack of will to sit down at the table to discuss fundamental issues.
The Alliance will be present once again at INCAE, because of its commitment to justice, democracy and the freedom of the political prisoners, to listen to the now well known insults and threats. In light of the accusations we maintain the determination to demand respect for the people and show with concrete actions the willingness to progress in the search for a solution to the crisis that the Nicaraguan people continue suffering for more than a year.
The Alliance continues willing to dialogue to find the solution that involves the freedom of prisoners, justice, truth and holding free, democratic and early elections.
This speech Daniel Ortega gave is wide ranging, touches on history of slavery, the coup attempt in Venezuela, international labor day; but it is also important in that it shows the government´s perspective on the Sanctions in effect on specific members of his family and the regime, the National Dialogue and their counterpart, the Civic Alliance. At one point Ortega compares the current process to a similar negotiation process at the end of the “contra war”. As usual capitalized letters and italics are in the original Spanish.
Ceremony in Homage of the VII Anniversary of the Journey to Immortality of Comandante Tomás Borge Martínez and the Celebration of the Day of the Workers (April 30, 2019)
Brother and Sister Nicaraguans; Families, Men, Women, Youth, Boys and Girls of these Lands of Darío and Sandino, Lands of Diriangén, Land of Andrés Castro, Land of José Dolores Estrada, Land of Benjamín Zeledón, the Land of Carlos, the Land of Tomás, our Brother, who we always have present with all his Strength, with all Light, with all his Steadfastness, with his Word, with his Action.
Seven years now since the Journey of Tomás and he has been present in all these Battles for Peace, because that is the World, the World always is confronting the aggression of the Superpowers, not just now, but always Empires looking how to subject, dominate, enslave Peoples.
Enslaving them in the most brutal way, like they enslaved the Peoples of Fiery Africa as Rubén used to call it, and turned them into merchandise. Who? The West, that presents itself as the purest and most sacred Democracy that exists on the Planet throughout History. They turned Men, Women, Children into merchandise who they placed on ships there in Africa. They placed them on ships in chains, they took them to the Slave Depots.
We have had the opportunity to get to know these Slave Depots in visits to Peoples in Africa, in Ghana, in Senegal; good centuries-old constructions, dungeons, and there were the slaves, Men and Women snatched from their Lands, their Peoples, turned into merchandise. And the business people of that time would go there to buy the merchandise, they would put the slaves out to show them, and the business people there, the slave trader, logically a western man, a “civilized” westerner, to examine them, to see how their teeth were, how their sight was, how they were, if they were strong, how much to pay for them.
That is how Human Beings were trafficked, under the sacrosanct Western Empire that moved this slave force from Africa to Europe and then toward these American Lands that were also subjected, looted, exterminated. This has been the History of Humanity, in other words, the powerful of the Earth defining and deciding what Human Beings would be turned into merchandise, what Countries would be turned into Colonies.
This practice has not disappeared, it has been repeated throughout History. What was Slavery, what was Feudalism, what was Colonialism, what was Neocolonialism, the same forms of domination of Empires, of Imperialists of the World, as well Sandino used to call them. They feel they have the Right to decide the fate of Peoples.
Today we have seen once again the Imperialists of the World acting in the same way in which they have always acted, and pouncing on our Peoples, not Respecting our Peoples, not Respecting the Governments of Latin America and the Caribbean, that even, given the circumstances, threat, pressure, subject them to their dictates.
They also do not Respect them, they insult them, humiliate them; for them simply we continue being merchandise, they see us as merchandise, and for that reason they do not admit, do not accept that Peoples honorably might decide for Peace, Progress, Well being…They do not allow it!
And how many times have we asked ourselves: What harm has the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela done to the Peoples of Our America, or to the Peoples of the World, or to the North American People itself? What harm has it done them? Simply put into practice a Principle which is Christian, a Socialist Principle, the Principle of Solidarity. They have condemned this. Solidarity that even they have taken to North American Families; North American Families that would die of cold and that with the Programs that Comandante Chávez took there to the United States allowed impoverished Families to have access to heat who in the wintertime would have died of cold.
What harm did Chávez do to them? What harm has Nicolás done to them? What harm has the Bolivarian Revolution done to the United States of America? And why such brutality? Why so much hate? Why so much poison? The pride of the powerful, empires, those who have the whip, those who are accustomed to mistreat and whip Human Beings. And if the person that is being attacked complains or protests, they get upset; in other words, they do not even give the person the Right to complain, not even give Human Beings the Right to be upset, so they get more angry, more violent, more terrifying.
Today they launched another onslaught against the Sister Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the onslaught started since dawn, and they were already claiming victory. It was another Coup, another Coup attempt, because a Coup was done against Comandante Chávez, and later came other Coup attempts. Now, one more attempt.
Thanks to the Awareness of this People who carry the Strength of God in the example of Bolivar, in the example of Chávez, the Bolivarian People of today were able to defeat the Coup. For them our Solidarity, our Love, our Affection, our Respect, because in the midst of the blockade, and the terrible Sanctions that this People have been subjected to, this is a People that does not lose its Morale, does not lose its Dignity, does not give up. It does not give up or sell out!
And on this day where were are here with the Example, the Thinking of Tomás greeting the 1st of May which is the day that reminds us of heroic moments in the struggle of the Workers precisely in the United States, the Martyrs of Chicago; that Democracy, that for demanding fair labor shifts, then later they captured them, processed them and hung them. It was the form of execution of that time. That is the Democracy that they would like to implant in our Countries, put in Rulers and submit our Countries to these brutal practices.
The Fight for Peace, as we would say, is an ongoing Struggle, Latin America, the Caribbean, the World, all fighting for Peace. Cuba fighting for Peace! What harm has Cuba caused the Latin American and Caribbean peoples, or the US People? On the contrary, Cuba, the Cuba of Martí, with Fidel building there a Society in the midst of the aggression, the blockade, a blockade that now is intensified.
They are behaviors that do not really have any rational explanation, but rather are the manifestation of the arrogance, pride of those who turn rabid when they come upon Peoples that have Dignity, that simply demand respectful relationships with the Superpowers. And we are in those struggles, we are in those struggles, and as they apportion Sanctions, they apportion Sanctions all over, even sanction those who have been their allies, who were one after the Second World War.
But it is nothing strange that the imperialists would have this behavior, what is really shameful and indignant is it is the behavior of the Judas and the Cains.
This is what is most disgraceful. They are the same ones who grabbed Christ and looked for the Romans, the Ruler, they sought out Pilate to ask for Christ´s head from him.
Pilate even wanted to save Christ because he was not finding a cause, but those same ones, those who our General Sandino called “stooges” and “sell-outs”, they are the most heinous that can exist on our Earth and on our Planet, those who turned over their People, those who turned over their Country to the Imperialists of the Earth.
Those who are on their knees asking for Sanctions against their Peoples, those who rejoice every time that their Peoples are sanctioned, that is the most heinous thing that can exist on the Earth, and the most heinous thing that can exist here in our Country Nicaragua, yes, it is the most heinous thing, because they are continually celebrating. Every time there is a Sanction against Nicaragua, they celebrate, if there is a Sanction against Cuba, they celebrate, if there is a Sanction against Venezuela, they celebrate, they rejoice, they celebrate, yes they do!
Where is their Soul? Where is their Heart? They do not have neither Soul nor Hearts! What they have is venom! They were born marked by venom, which turns them really into wretches, that is Human Wretchedness, they are an expression of Human Depravity.
In the face of these realities we cannot give up, since we have not given up seeking even how to converse and seek Accords with these Human Wretches. I have not heard even one Pronouncement, even one Press release on the part of those who promoted and engaged in pain, death, when the Country was in Peace and better than ever.
I have not heard on their part, nor on the part of those who coincide with them in the different economic, commercial or spiritual fields, I have not heard even one word of condemnation of the Sanctions that have been applied on Nicaragua. Rather they rejoice, even though it affect they themselves, because they also affect them. They should not believe that it is not affecting them, it also affects them.
But they have the Heart, or they do not have the Heart, as is said, it is a behavior so rotten that, even though it affects them, they rejoice, because Sanctions are being applied to Nicaragua, thinking that with this they are going to be able to destroy the Dignity, Spirit, Steadfastness, Awareness of the immense majority of Nicaraguans who do have Dignity and will not give up or sell out.
But well, just like Cuba, 60 years there waging Battle with Sanctions, Venezuela and how many People are not suffering. And the Sanctions have been extended now to other Countries, right here in Central America there have been Sanctions on other Countries, because many migrants from Central America are going to the United States, so Sanctions come in, and insults come in. And what is arriving from Central America and from these Mesoamerican Countries, said in the very words of their Highest Authorities, he said that “all this was a hole”, this is how he said it with these clear words, that it was a hole, of what?, “of shit”, that is how he said it, this is how he described these Countries.
That is a complete lack of respect, a humiliation for our Peoples, a humiliation for the US People themselves, because we know that the majority of the US People have a different attitude and behavior. And that is why we are experiencing this New Cycle of Battles for Peace, and to progress toward Peace, to Stability, seeking Agreements and Negotiations, as I was telling you about our case, that they might allow us to protect Nicaraguan Families, because the first victims of the Sanctions are the Poor, the Workers, the Peasants, the Producers, the Merchants, and even the Big Business people, all suffer when there are Sanctions!
They use the Sanctions as a year ago they used the roadblocks, you remember, then it was the roadblocks, now there are no roadblocks, then there are the Sanctions to seek to achieve their objectives: Nothing good for the Nicaraguan People. And we are committed seriously to this effort of Negotiation and the least that we can do is talk, as we are talking.
They give themselves the right to insult us every day. They give themselves the right to be attacking us every day. We have the Right and the Obligation to be completely clear in what conditions we are in, with whom we are negotiating, and therefore, the determination that we have to strengthen to wage these Battles. That is why, with everything and what is there in the midst of Human Depravity, we cannot give up on the fact that the Miracle of Peace with Reconciliation might be the result.
That Miracle was possible at the end of the 1980s, it was possible to arrive at Peace Accords, under conditions of complete confrontation, of war, yes, a situation of war that Nicaragua was experiencing, with thousands of dead, thousands of people mutilated, thousands of wounded, thousands of orphans, thousands of widows. And finally, after we had sworn that we would not dialogue, finally there was no other Path, we are Nicaraguans, we are here, as we have said, and therefore, there is no other Path than dialoguing.
About the Dialogue that was started, and it has to be remembered, the Dialogue began with intermediaries, because at that point we were not willing, neither they nor we, to sit down face to face. That is why these Negotiation were so long. In the end progress was achieved in the Dialogue, Peace Agreements were able to be achieved, and then the Reconciliation Process that allowed us to get closer to one another, thousands of Nicaraguans with whom we had such profound differences, because even blood had been shed from within families.
I would say that the conduct of most of Nicaraguans was to walk toward Reconciliation, but there always remained a remnant, who are the same people who carried out the ambush there heading toward Sébaco, Darío, they ambushed that July 19th that caravan of buses. And they ambushed it not with rocks, not with mortars, it was with AK, with AK rifles. There was the Human Depravity that was not able to enter into the Reconciliation Process.
So the challenge, the challenge that we have now is once again work so that first we achieve and implement the Accords, and then that we work also with Peace, Reconciliation, being clear yes, that there will always be a segment that will not accept and will condemn the Reconciliation. That will always be present there.
The important thing is that this People, and it has to be recognized, this is a People, like all the Peoples of the World, in spite of all the challenges this is a working People, and in the name of our Heroes, Martyrs, in the name of Tomás, we greet the Working People on their Day, May 1 which is their Day, which is the day of the Workers, of all Workers, from the Peasant who is out there with their little machete, working the land, or the Compañera who is there with her little store, selling fried banana slices, fried cheese, that has their fried food; or the Compañeros who are in the Medical Service, a work that requires a lot of Vocation, a lot of Patience, because it deals with saving Lives, curing diseases. What a great responsibility for a Doctor, for a Specialist, for a Nurse! The pressure that they have on behalf of the Patient and the Family of the Patients, and it is understandable.
Teachers, what a Vocation! The Workers who are in what we call the bureaucratic field, well, that might appear to be a pleasant little place, because they spend the time seated there and in air conditioning; another person spends the time seated at the computer, even though they might not have air conditioning, but they pass the time seated because they have to be there responding through papers or with a computer. But that is a work that I would not wish on anyone, the bureaucratic work of being seated there hours and hours and hours.
They are Workers who are fundamental, necessary, all that we call the Bureaucracy, they are Technical Leaders, Professionals who work all the time, and they work in the State as well as in the Private Sector. In other words, when we talk here about the Workers, we are talking about Workers in general.
How many activities that require effort, work: Coffee growing, Ranching, the preparation of land for planting, the planting of Corn, Beans. The basic foods for all Nicaraguans, where does it come from? From working hands, as also Works of Art come from working hands, and Crafts come also from working hands. Fishermen, Workers also, risking their Lives on our Seas; how many times Workers disappeared, or Fisherman dragged away by a wave, and died.
And the Workers of the National Police, they are Workers, of course, the Police, and the Workers of our Army, the Soldiers, Officers, likewise Workers. And those who are in the Judicial Branch, also Workers, who never satisfy anyone. It is difficult for the Judicial Branch to be seen well by everyone, always one party is not happy. And the Workers who are in the Sports field, an Athlete needs a lot of dedication, a lot of effort, a lot of discipline to be in shape. The Workers of the Communications Media.
Students…the work of the Student is to study, study, study and get good grades! And well, there are many cases of Students who in the face of economic difficulties when they want to move on to the University have to work and study. Double recognition for these Young People.
We could continue enumerating there the different Skills. Carpenters are also Artists, Carpentry needs Creativity. And the Brothers many of whom are boys, other now older, who shine shoes, the Shoe Shiners, are Honorable Workers, yes, who are celebrating their Day.
Women, who, when they are “housewives” are not recognized much and not valued much. And these Women who we see also in the creeks and the rivers, in the lagoons, washing clothes for pay and who earn a living washing clothes, they are Honorable Workers!
And the Street Vendors, the Vendors in the Markets, those who sell food, clothing, all Workers. A multitude of Skills, all need an effort of work, physical, intellectual, creativity. And I am not going to continue with the list of Workers, because we would be here all night.
But on this day, in Homage to Tomás, in Homage to the Day of the Workers, in Homage to the Brothers and Sisters of the Caribbean Coast, who now in the Month of May are celebrating the “Mayo Ya” Feast, here is Lumberto [acting president of Supreme Electoral Council], here is Valdrack [Vice Chancellor] and here is Ivan; well, now they will be able to go to celebrate that Feast on the new Highway that for the first time in History unites the Pacific with the Caribbean. There is the Highway, there runs the Highway, we are inaugurating today that Highway.
[continues with intervention of ex General Óscar Mojico providing details on the construction of the highway all the way to Bluefields: 72.8 kms of hydraulic concrete made to specifications to last 50 years under swamp conditions… the speech ends with a focus on this new highway].
This pastoral letter, a theological reflection on the Easter mystery in the current context in Nicaragua, also has clear political consequences. It was issued by the Nicaraguan Catholic Bishop´s Conference on May 1, 2019
Message of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua to Priests, Religious, Lay Christian Faithful and all People of Good Will
“Easter joy: key for reading the current country history”
“In this you will know that you are my disciples: if you love one another”
These words of Jesus Christ, that show the path that all those who want to be his disciples should follow, St. John Paul II used to say, are far too accurate to try to minimize their scope. Many things will be necessary for the historical path of the church in our time, but, if charity is missing, everything will be useless (cf. 1 Cor 13:2; cf NMI 42).
Our faith in Jesus Christ dead and resurrected for our salvation does not allow us to remain outside the events of the world, and for us, the cultural, political, economic, family and social situation of the country. Closing oneself selfishly in ones own comfort and, even worse, stoking feelings of hate among brothers and sisters, is not evangelical.
The Second Vatican Council teaches that the Christian message should not separate us from the construction of the world, nor lead us to be unconcerned about the common good; rather it obliges us to undertake all this as an obligation (cf. GS 34).
For this reason we note with pain how the suffering of the Nicaraguan family continues. Political prisoners, lack of respect for constitutional rights, exiles, refugees, people seeking asylum, poverty, unemployment, insecurity, conflict over land and their corresponding consequences for the displacement of families from the west to the Caribbean Coast of the country, invading fertile lands that historically the indigenous peoples have possessed, and those natural reserves like Indio Maíz and Bosawas, show that without the Presence of the God who has placed his tent among us, we do not have a future.
The Easter that we celebrate offers us the key for living the joy of hope, and teaches us how to inspire it in others. Forming and being formed for joy and hope is, without a doubt, an aspiration of all Nicaraguans. This hope is seen darkened by the sin from which Christ has come to free us with his death and resurrection. It is an arduous task to discover the path of easter joy and leading people and communities to produce the fruit of the Spirit which is joy according to the Gospel. The task is very demanding, because it implies taking the focus off oneself and placing the interests of others and the nation over ones own.
Moved by this joy of the hope which is embodied in the Risen One, we exhort all Nicaraguans to build:
A Nicaragua where all of us are capable of achieving a vision of change that would lead to a qualitative transformation.
We are called to build a holistic concept of peace, and in this sense, construct a society where peace is lasting, just and coherent with the interests of all. The peace that flows from the Crucified-Resurrected One that remains in the face of the test of time and is not the object of short term arrangements. It is the peace that our country needs in order to not repeat a history of suffering, death, pain and agony. Only in this way will Nicaragua begin a new history without the burdens nor pacts of the past.
A Nicaragua where the centrality of the human person and their dignity as children of God is assumed.
“…you have not received a spirit of slavery to go back again to fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption as children” (Rm 8:15). This spirit creates the joy of freedom.
The exercise of freedom and the dignity of the human being is prior to the State. A modern and functional, ethical and moral State, has the obligation to protect, respect, promote and defend these rights, that are also prior to any social agreement. The State should be completely and holistically at the service of the human person, so that acts are never carried out that would affect this nucleus of values. It is then an imperative that in a society actions of repression and persecution should not exist, promoting rather a climate of unrestricted freedom and trust.
For this reason every person should be able to exercise their fundamental rights and public freedoms under the protection of the political constitution, laws and international treaties ratified in a sovereign way by Nicaragua. The freedom of people does not allow for timetables, nor conditions or bureaucratic excuses.
A Nicaragua where we respect and strengthen democracy and its institution structure.
The life of the human being has meaning within the framework of democratic values, principles and institutions. We should not forget that respect for democracy should be inspired by the idea of strengthening the institutions and principles that are the basis for the rule of law: the supremacy of the law, division of powers and respect for human rights. This implies that the government structures are not an arbitrary power, nor the opportunity for apportionment of titles, perks and privileges.
We Nicaraguans must work to achieve a politics with ethical principles and at the service of the common good. Easter joy urges us to work for the construction of this historic project in order to steer us to the encounter with God. In this sense, this challenge becomes morally urgent, inescapable, without the delays that over time will be the causes of new and repeated vices. The dynamic of the process requires avoiding impasses that would be fatal for the country.
The independence of the branches of government provide stability in the exercise of power and the defense of the citizens. For no reason can only one branch of the State prevail over the rest.
In the case of the electoral branch it is important that in accordance with established norms, it be revamped in such a way that it be trustworthy and independent, so that a neutral, impartial and nationally and internationally observed electoral process might take place. Otherwise, free elections will not happen. The people are the true sovereign.
In the case of the administration of justice, it must be absolutely independent, impartial, professional and ethically imparted, outside of political, partisan and ideological designs. Without independent justice there is no freedom.
A Nicaragua where the freedom of expression is exercised without restrictions.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us (cf. John 1:14). Every principle of freedom of expression has its origins in the highest expression of God, who freely showed his love for humanity through the Word incarnate.
The freedom of the press and expression is a fundamental requirement for building a democratic order in Nicaragua, a modern and pluralistic state. Without freedom of expression all the other freedoms wither and end up perishing. It incarnates the power of the people to make pronouncements, denounce, access information and nourish themselves from the infinite exchange of ideas, opinions and positions. Freedom of expression, that sinks its roots in the Word made flesh, is a natural principle for the new order of freedoms and development to which the country aspires, shunning disinformation, slander, defamation and the love of scandals.
A Nicaragua where peace is the fruit of justice.
“Love and righteousness meet together; justice and peace kiss each other. Truth springs from the earth, justice looks down from heaven” (Psalm 85:11-12). For the Psalmist justice is like the rain that sprinkles the earth, and the fruit that emerges from it is truth. Truth will always be the path of justice.
In this moment of crisis we Nicaraguans are called to establish agreements on matters of justice that are lasting and respected, in such a way that we support every initiative of dialogue that is done with good will, and particularly the effort that the Holy See has been doing through the different messages that Pope Francis has sent us, and the presence of the Nuncio as International Witness and Accompanier. These agreements have to be laden with a profound ethical and moral sense, capable of revealing the story of the tragedy and pain of the victims. We must not forget that truth and justice kiss one another. This is the certainty that should guide our searches for new horizons in Nicaragua, which demand contemplating the truth about the facts, no impunity for the guilty, reparation and reinsertion of the victims and their families, as well as guarantees of no repetition. It is the only thing that can provide true security to the citizens. Only in this way can a country be morally constructed.
The exhortation of joy happens in the heart of a dramatic existence of Nicaragua which is experiencing a crucial moment in which it will have to define the bases of its future as a country, and its destiny as a nation. Rejoicing in the Lord or being joyful in the Lord entails a way of situating oneself in life, in the drama of existence. This has to be a constant of Christian character. Joy has to be the fruit of being rooted in Christ, in the dynamic of his humiliation and glorification. Because in spite of the contrary signs that we are experiencing, the Lord is at the door, close and active. It is not a matter of looking for routes of evasion in the face of the current situation, but addressing them from communion with Christ. In the same way that the resurrection is rooted in the night of the cross, so the energy and joy of the Christian will spring from communion with the sufferings of the Lord.
Let the Queen of Heaven, who rejoiced with the resurrection of her Son, while participating in his painful passion, intercede for us and make us participants in her joy.
Issued in the Offices of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua, May 1, 2019 on the feast of St Joseph the Worker.
SEAL OF THE EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE
Cardinal Leopoldo José Brenes Solórzano, Metropolitan Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Managua, President
Mons. Pablo Schmitz, OFM Cap., Bishop of the Diocese of Bluefields, Vice President
Mons. Juan Abelardo Mata Guevara, Bishop of the Diocese of Estelí, Secretary General
Mons. Roland José Álvarez Lagos, Bishop of the Diocese of Matagalpa, General Treasurer
Mons. Bosco Vivas Robelo, Bishop of the Diocese of León
Mons. David Zywiec Sidor OFM Cap., Bishop of the Diocese of Siuna
Mons. Sócrates René Sándigo Jirón, Bishop of the Diocese of Juigalpa
Mons. Jorge Solórzano Pérez, Bishop of the Diocese of Granada
Mons. Carlos Enrique Herrera Gutiérrez, Bishop of Jinotega
The news that the Ministry of the Interior approved legal status to a new NGO called “Defenders of the Homeland”, composed of ex-military, created expressions of serious concern in the current context where the Interamerican Human Rights Commission has documented extensive use of paramilitaries in the deaths of 325 civilians in the first two months of the crisis.
They Created “Defenders of the Homeland”, a Suspicious Military Organization
By Uriel Velásquez
April 29, 2019, published in Despacho 505, on line magazine of Nicaraguan exiles in Spain.
Among the objectives of the organization are “contributing to respect for the fatherland and patriotic symbols.” They will be able to have a presence throughout the country, and to be a member it is enough to be 18 years old. Experts warn that they are legalizing paramilitaries in Nicaragua.
The Ministry of the Interior authorized the registration of an organization called “Council of Defenders of the Homeland” (CODEPAT) that brings together different organizations of retired soldiers from the old Popular Sandinista Army (EPS) and the current Army of Nicaragua, and has the objective of “contributing to the establishment of ethical and moral values, respect for the homeland and national symbols.”
The statutes of the organization were published in the official public record this past April 24th, and it was founded on February 14th of this year.
CODEPAT has its central office in the city of León, but it can have provincial and municipal branches throughout the country or outside the country “if necessary”, according to the official publication.
To fulfill its objectives, the organization will establish contacts with public and civil society entities “to respond to a series of problems that the association of retired soldiers are facing who belong to organizations who come together in this Council.”
“Contributing to the improvement of the living conditions of its members through the preparation and implementation of economic and social projects aimed at programs that the president of the Republic and private or state institutions are promoting for that purpose”, is another of its objectives.
In addition this organization will be able to negotiate public and private medical attention, education and scholarships for its members.
Who can be members?
According to the statutes, retired and demobilized soldiers from the Armed Forces can be members of this organizations, those who are interested in joining and are older than 18.
There are three categories of members: founding members, members and honorary members.
The only requirement to be a member is to be over 18 years of age, present an application in writing, and obey the statutes and internal regulations of the organization.
The creation of this new organization creates suspicions in a context where the Regime of Daniel Ortega has used hundreds of paramilitaries to repress and murder demonstrators who since April 2018 decided to protest against him.
Roberto Cajina, an expert on security issues, states that the creation of this organization to seek “benefits” for retired military and youth who want to join, “looks more like a smoke screen for a strike force and even para-state force.”
Formally it meets all the requirements for an association. Nevertheless, in the current conditions of Nicaragua, in other words, in the context of the social and political crisis, “it ends up being suspicious not just the name, but that it is composed of people with military preparation and operational capacity (youth older than 18), in other words, potential paramilitaries that are looking for legal cover”, explained Cajina.
According to the expert, the fact that it is called “Defenders of the Homeland”, already provides an important clue about its true purposes: “defending the Homeland is, for them, defending the regime.”
Another fact that draws attention is that its national office is in León, a city which has been a niche for ex members of State Security in the decade of the 1980s, adds Cajina.
“They are legalizing paramilitary actions”
Vilma Núñez, the president of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) criticizes the fact that among the objectives of this organization is “contributing” to respect for the homeland and national symbols.
“They do not say how they are going to do it, but this is a faculty that is exclusive to the Army,” she maintains. For Núñez the creation of this organization for purposes of assistance is a smokescreen of the Daniel Ortega regime for legalizing para-militarism.
“It is like legalizing the aggression, it has all the characteristics of a paramilitary organization. They are promoting assistance to buy off people. This is very serious because they are legalizing paramilitary actions”, she denounced.
The human rights defender argues that currently organizations exist of people who participated in the resistance of the 1980s, and in this case warns that they want to recruit new members, above all, youth.
“They are going to recruit more people, they are preparing themselves to increase the levels of repression. This is a smokescreen for increasing the aggression and repression. They have always kept the members of the resistance excluded, now that they are using them to repress the people, they are rewarding them. Invoking the right of association, they are using them”, states Núñez.
Characterization of the Paramilitaries
The Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI), that investigated the deeds of violence of April 2018, define paramilitaries as groups composed of unidentified people who use firearms, many times weapons of war, and that act in coordination with police forces in repression against voices opposed to the regime.
Hundreds of illegal detentions of demonstrators opposed to Ortega are attributed to these groups, and their participation in the so called “Operation Clean up” carried out between July and August of last year. It consisted in the elimination of road blocks and barricades through armed attacks on demonstrators, that left hundreds of people killed throughout the country.
The Interamerican Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) documented the operation of these groups from May 2018, less than a month after the beginning of the civic rebellion against Ortega.
They called them para police groups, considering that they act with the “acquiescence, tolerance and collaboration” of state authorities and, specifically, the Police.
THEY ARE NOT SINCE APRIL, THEY ARRIVED WITH ORTEGA IN 2007
The so-called strike forces were formed at the end of 2007 and the beginning of 2008 with the arrival of Daniel Ortega to the Presidency. One of the first occasions where there is a record was in the municipal elections of 2008, when they confronted and attacked opposition sympathizers who protested the electoral results in different municipalities of the country in view of the Police, in full light of day and directed by officials of the regime.
According to testimonies collected by the GIEI and documented in their report of December 2018, the strike forces, also called “Sandinista mobs”, are composed of youth recruited in different ways: members of the Sandinista Youth, people picked up in the neighborhoods through the CPCs, Municipal Governments, political leaders, workers of state institutions and gang members or ex-gang members.
Since 2011 those responsible for centers for the reinsertion of young gang members publicly warned about the recruitment on the part of political secretaries of the Sandinista Front and the delivery of weapons to participate in acts of repression against political opposition groups.
The most serious case was that of young Samir Matamoros, who shot at a protest demonstration in the campaigns known as “Protest Wednesdays” outside of the Supreme Electoral Council. The youth had belonged to a gang, went through a reinsertion process, and was pressured by government supporters to join the strike forces.
“The participation of strike forces in attacks and aggression on the political opposition or expressions of social discontent has been a constant during the eleven years of the Ortega government”, concluded the GIEI.