Category Archives: Nicaragua Demonstrations

Medardo Mairena challenges the Army of Nicaragua: “Allow international human rights organization to go to the territories”

Medardo Mairena challenges the Army of Nicaragua: “Allow international human rights organization to go to the territories”

by Leonor Álvarez  in La Prensa, May 9, 2020

[original Spanish]

Users of social network reacted to the demand of the Army, that asked that they present proof of the supposed participation of the Army in the repression of opponents and citizens during the 2018 protests.

The coordinator of the Peasant Movement, Medardo Mairena, who is one of the those who accuse the Army of their participation in the repression, published this Friday May 8 a video where he directs a message to the Armed Forces.

Mairena tells the Army that if they want proof of the supposed human rights violation on the part of soldiers, that “they allow international human rights organizations to enter the country and go to the territories.”

“The Army is asking for proof where they have violated human rights, where they have killed peasants. The proof exists in the territories, and they know where it is. It is easy and simple, that they allow the international organizational defenders of human rights to enter Nicaragua and allow them to go to places, so they can verify and demonstrate where the proof is”, he says in the video that lasts one minute and 23 seconds.

This past Wednesday, May 6, the spokesperson for the Army of Nicaragua, Colonel Álvaro Rivas, asked for evidence of the participation of soldiers in the repression against opponents and the murders of peasants, in some strong declarations offered to reporters of the television channels 12 and 10, among other communications media.

“It is a complete falsehood what this individual is saying. So it is necessary, that if he has evidence, that he present it, we as an institution are open to listening, we have made that clear, if he has it, let him come and propose it, look, this is the situation, and we are going to proceed in accordance with the law. Now, accusing is easy, but demonstrating is difficult and complex,” said Colonel Rivas, referring to Mairena. This is what triggered several reactions in social networks, responding to this demand of the Army with videos that assure that there is evidence for these deeds.

Reaction of the Army

In reaction to Mairena´s call, that the doors be opened to the investigation of international human rights organizations, the spokesperson of the Army responded that this institution “strictly complies with what is established in the Constitution and the Law.”

Colonel Rivas also said that the Army has been clear in making known their work, and they base their credibility on the fact that “what we do, we say we do, and what we say, we do.”

“In different moments we have made known to the Nation all the data of our missions and tasks, and not on the basis of speculation and lies, which is the custom of individuals who do that under dark interests. We repeat that we are open to listening and acting in accordance with the law,” was added to the response of the spokesperson of the Army, requested by La Prensa.

Some of the videos published that they say are proof of the involvement of the soldiers were disseminated in 2018, where apparently a military presence is seen in the territories, in moments in which the country was experiencing clashes in the barricades that civilians built throughout the country, to stop the repression from the police and armed groups allied with the Ortega regime.

They also mention as supposed proof the case of the six people killed in Cruz del Río Grande, among them the minor children of the peasant Elea Valle, a 16 year old adolescent girl and a 12 year old boy. The Army said at that time that they were part of a band of criminals, even though the father of the minors, who also was killed in that group, was a recognized opponent from the region, Rafael Pérez Dávila “Comandante Colocho”.

In another published video that they mention in the social networks as proof, the former Minister of the Interior, Ana Isabel Morales, appears, giving instructions about how to mount surveillance operations against opponents in the context of the repression in 2019, mentioning “the compañeros of police intelligence and Army intelligence, who are working here in the territory.”

The country has been living in a crisis since April 2018, when armed repression began against the civil protests that demanded the departure of Daniel Ortega from power.

Since the beginning of the crisis, when citizens and dissidents began to denounce the involvement of soldiers in the armed repression, the Army of Nicaragua has denied their participation, and have said that they would never “point their weapons at the people.”

The Military have presented reports where they deny accusations

The Army has done two reports to counteract the accusations that the Peasant Movement has presented to international organizations. The last one was presented this past March, with the review of 23 cases related to the recent denouncements of Mairena.

In the document titled “Notes on supposed murders which are denounced by the Peasant Movement and some communications media”, the Army determined that “the stories recreated by those who denounce these supposed crimes intend to project them before national and international public opinion as events connected to the deeds occurred in the country starting in April 2018.”

 

The crisis in Nicaragua: chronology of the principal events

The month of April marks the 2nd year anniversary of the uprising that started in April 2018. A team of researchers at the UCA for this anniversary published a book on this ongoing crisis. The last chapter contains a chronology of the principal events. Given all the day to day events experienced in the country, reading the chronology does provide perspective, and that is why we provide the translation here.

The crisis in Nicaragua: chronology of the principal events

[Chapter VI in the downloadable book, Nicaragua 2018: The civic insurrection of Abril]

Hellen Castillo Rodríguez[1]

What follows is a chronology of the principal events that occurred since the beginning of the social and political crisis of Nicaragua between April 2018 to April 10, 2019, starting with some brief immediate background events.

Evolution of the social and political crisis in Nicaragua 2018-2019

(Immediate background events)

Feb 7,

2018

Law 331, Electoral law of Nicaragua, reformed to provide more powers to the Vice President of the Supreme Electoral Council, Lumberto Campbell, who in practice assumed the presidency of this body.
March 12, 2018 Alarm in Nicaragua over the intention of the government to issue laws to control the internet and social networks
March 20, 2018 Mothers, sisters and friends of female victims of femicide in Nicaragua–16 femicides are registered in the course of the year–, protest in front of the Supreme Court in Managua, who demand that public measures be taken to put an end to gender violence.

 

April 3,

2018

Forest fire in the Indio-Maíz Biological Reserve in the Río San Juan province, bordering on Costa Rica.
April 7,

2018

The Nicaraguan government declares a yellow alert- four days after the fire began- when the fire had burned more than 3,000 hectares in the Indio-Maíz Biological Reserve.
April 11, 2018 Demonstration of more than 500 people, mostly youth, to denounce “governmental negligence” and “State inefficiency” in the face of the fire in the Indio-Maíz Reserve, considered the worst ecological catastrophe in the history of Nicaragua. This was the first of other demonstrations over this issue.
April 12,

2018

Self-convened youth march to demand a response to the fire that started on April 3. Minutes later, members of the youth organization of Sandinista Front for National Liberation (FSLN), known as the 19 of July Sandinista Youth (JS), National Police officers (PN) and special forces of the Anti-Riot Police repress the demonstration.
April 14,

2018

The central government reports that the fire in the Indio-Maíz Biological Reserve has been completely controlled. Some 5,484.7 hectares or 7,786.44 manzanas, are affected by the fire that lasted 10 days, and that was able to be put out through the efforts of local community members, the Army, firefighters, international aid, and finally, the rainfall in the area.
April 16,

2018

The Nicaraguan government through the executive president of the Nicaraguan Social Security Institute (INSS) surprisingly and unilaterally announces a reform to the social security system, imposing significant increases in the respective contributions from employers and workers, and establishing a tax of 5% on the pensions of retired people.

 

April 18,

2018

The Nicaraguan government publishes in La Gaceta the reforms to the Social Security Law of Nicaragua, announced the previous day.

 

Eruption of the crisis

(Outbreak of protests and governmental repression)

April 18, 2018

In the cities of León, Managua and Matagalpa the elderly, women and youth take to the streets to protest the reforms of the INSS. Journalists from different media cover the news.

Police agents, shock troops and members of the JS with tear gas, sticks, metal pipes and stones repress the self-convened youth and adults who have gathered in the Camino de Oriente shopping center in Managua to protest over the INSS reforms. The journalists are also attacked, and their cameras and equipment stolen.

The government suspends the transmissions of several independent TV channels: 100% noticias, Canal Católico, Confidencial, CDNN 23, Canal 12 and Telenorte from Estelí. The only channels available are official media, owned by the offspring of the Ortega-Murillo presidential couple.

April 19,

2018

Students of the National Engineering University (UNI) and the Polytechnical University of Nicaragua (UPOLI) join the protests over the reforms to INSS.

Police repression begins to use lethal weapons and munitions. The first three people die during the police repression: two students and one policeman.

For the first time since the 1979 revolution, the indigenous community of Monimbó, in Masaya, rise up in repudiation of the governmental repression and in support of the protests. During more than 6 hours they confront the special forces of the Police.

The Superior Council of Private Enterprise (COSEP) demands that the government respect the constitutional right to protest and not repress the demonstrations.

 

April 20,

2018

The demonstration against the INSS reforms are multiplied throughout Nicaraguan territory; at the same time the repression intensifies and lethal weapons and sharpshooters are employed. Independent media, national human rights commissions and social networks point out that just in those days close to 30 people die, mostly students.

The population supports the protesters, opening up collection centers for food and medicines, and creating medical support brigades.

The death of the youngest victim is reported: 15 year old adolescent Álvaro Conrado. He is urgently transported to the Hospital Cruz Azul, but the staff of the center close the doors and deny him medical attention.

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Managua is attacked by anti-riot police. More than 500 people are left trapped inside.

In Managua demonstrators cut down the first structure of the so-called “trees of life”, or “metallic trees” in repudiation of the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship. These felling of metal trees will continue throughout the protests.

In the provinces of Managua, León and Granada the burning of some public buildings takes place, along with some municipal installations and university centers. The attitude of the Police is complete passivity in the face of these acts of vandalism.
In the face of the crisis, COSEP asks the government to begin a dialogue process and calls for the first national march, held on April 23 in the Rubén Darío traffic circle, to demand respect for constitutional rights: freedom of expression, information and the right to demonstrate.

 

April 21,

2018

Daniel Ortega, the president of Nicaragua, accepts installing a negotiation roundtable with COSEP to analyze the INSS reforms and address the issue of exonerations and subsidies, as international financial organizations are demanding.

The context of the protests takes a turn and moves to demanding the resignation of the presidential couple, in response to the repression and abuse of human rights carried out by paramilitaries and the PN.

The journalist Ángel Gahona is killed while transmitting live the events occurring in the judicial complex in the city of Bluefields. His program, El Meridiano, was transmitted through social networks.
April 22,

2018

A wave of looting begins in commercial establishments and supermarkets in Managua. The population in the media and social networks report that members of the JS, supported by the Police, are responsible for these acts. In response, the population protects commercial centers, supermarkets, and businesses.
Daniel Ortega transmits through state television a message to the nation where he revokes the INSS reforms in order to defuse the protests
April 23,

2018

From Spain, where he traveled to receive the Cervantes award, the Nicaragua writer Sergio Ramírez dedicates the award to those killed in Nicaragua for demanding justice

Thousands of Nicaraguans lead a large march in Managua to the UPOLI to present a new list of demands to Ortega that would mean the end to violence and a dialogue to addresses the profound causes of the crisis

The Vice president of Nicaragua, Rosario Murillo, calls for a replica of the large opposition march and calls it: “The Government wants dialogue and peace”.

Peasants (men and women) call for a national strike until the demands are met of the youth entrenched in the universities, principally an end to the repression and immediate freedom of the more than 200 youth captured for exercising their right to demonstrate in the streets of the country.

 

April 24,

2018

−−

After the large march in Managua that demanded the resignation of Daniel Ortega, the president invites the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua to be the mediator in a national dialogue.

The government of Daniel Ortega tries to lessen the impact of social media, and to do so suspends free wifi in the public parks of the country.

The Catholic Church of Nicaragua accepts to mediate in the dialogue requested by COSEP and the government of Daniel Ortega, but a date is still not set.

 

The first warnings come from the International Community. The High Commissioner of the United Nations for Human Rights (OHCHR) urges ensuring that immediate, profound, independent and transparent investigations be done on the deaths in Nicaragua

120 students are freed, the victims of arbitrary and illegal detention and confined to the La Modelo penitentiary system. Those arrested report having been tortured.
April 25,

2018

Peaceful protests and attacks from pro-governmental forces continue in different parts of Nicaragua. Civil society calls to take three days of national grieving.
April 26,

2018

The Permanent Commission on Human Rights (CPDH) counts 63 deaths and 15 people disappeared during the protests.
April 27,

2018

The Nicaraguan Prosecutor´s office announced that it will investigate the deaths occurred within the framework of the protests.

The National Assembly, whose majority are members or sympathizers of the party in power, announces the creation of a Truth Commission, completely composed of recognized militants or allies of the party in power. Demonstrators and NGOs describe this endeavor as a farce.

 

April 28,

2018

Thousands of opponents march again in Managua and several cities of the country to demonstrate against the government. The slogans maintain the demand that the rulers resign, and now demand democracy and electoral reforms to hold early elections.

University youth demand the presence in Nicaragua of the Interamerican Human Rights Commission (IACHR) of the Organization of American States (OAS).

April 29,

2018

Another big march is carried out in Managua called by the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua to pray for the victims and the success of the dialogue.
At the end of a religious service, a motorcyclist barges into the central aisle of the Cathedral of Managua in an act of disrespect and intimidation of Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, mediator and witness to the National Dialogue at the government´s request.
May 5,

2018

The University Coalition is created, composed of five student movements: April 19 University Movement, April 19 Student Movement, Nicaraguan University Alliance, April 19 UNA University Movement, University Coordinator for Justice and Democracy.
Demonstrations continue in the cities of Managua, Chinandega, León and Estelí. The bishops of Nicaragua demand “in depth clarification” of the deaths occurred in the student protests.
May 7, 2018

Civic protests are generalized throughout the country. The response of the regime is repression in Managua, Masaya, Chinandega, León and Estelí.

Students entrench themselves in the state National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN-Managua) and demand social justice and support for the demands of the movement.

The University Coalition chooses their 5 representatives to participate in the National Dialogue.
May 9,

2018

Demonstrators hold the third large march against Daniel Ortega, in which the Movement for Nicaragua, the Peasant Movement and civil society participate. More than 70,000 people attend. The government responds with their own smaller counter march in Managua.

 

May 10,

2018

Movement begins of civil society to recover national symbols. They paint curbs, posts and pedestals of monuments that had the colors of the FSLN blue and white, and remove the red and black flag from public places and municipal institutions.

The Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy is created, composed of those invited to participate in the National Dialogue: members of the University Coalition, Peasant Movement, private enterprise, civil society and academic sectors.

May 11,

2018

Self-convened people begin the installation of roadblocks in several cities in the country. Large protest demonstrations continue throughout the country, in spite of the violent repression against the unarmed population.
Anti-riot and para police forces carry out violent attacks and looting in Masaya.
May 12, 2018

Masaya becomes the scenario for fierce confrontations between demonstrators and police, to which are added – according to denouncements on social networks and independent Nicaraguan press – armed groups allied with the government. According to local reports, the city awoke the next day looking like a “battle field.”

The Nicaraguan Army breaks their silence on the violent events in the country in which it says it had no participation, and issues a press release where it calls on  people to say “no to violence, no to instability, yes to tranquility, yes to peace,” and states that “We are the people themselves in uniform.”

 

May 13, 2018

Demonstrators in Managua hold a caravan in support of the city of Masaya, that has resisted for more than 48 hours a nearly uninterrupted fight against the attacks of anti-riot and para-police forces. There are nearly 22 continuous kms of vehicles along the Managua to Masaya highway.

A multi-sectoral roundtable – composed of the University Coalition, the Peasant Movement, civil society organizations, private sector and academic sector – send a letter to Paulo Abrāo, executive secretary of the IACHR, inviting the organization to investigate, evaluate and assess the denouncements of violence, persecution, repression and death occurred in Nicaragua since the beginning of the protests in April.

May 14,

2018

The Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua (CEN) announces that the National Dialogue will begin in two days.

In the end the government consents that a mission of the IACHR visit the country to “observe the human rights situation”. This is reported by the Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro.

May 16,

2018

The first session of the National Dialogue is held in the Seminary of Our Lady of Fatima in Managua. Protected by a disproportionate deployment of police and army, with special forces, helicopters, drones, planes and heavily armed bodyguards, Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo attend in their capacity as heads of state. At the entrance to the area, angry multitudes boo at their passing and refute the defamatory remarks that the rulers have made about the demonstrators: in addition,  they reproach them for their responsibility for the killings of unarmed youth. The Civic Alliance, as counterpart in the National Dialogue, the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua, as mediator and witness, and the diplomatic body credentialed in the country are present.

 

May 17,

2018

A group of representatives of the IACHR arrive in Nicaragua to observe the situation and collect denouncements from the civilian population. At the end of their stay, they publish a Preliminary Report in which, having as a source the official information of the government, confirm that 76 people died, 868 were wounded and 438 arrested. They recommend creating a Special Follow up Mechanism for Nicaragua (MESENI) and a group of independent experts from the IACHR in order to clarify the events of April.
The Support Group for the Mothers of April is created.
May 18,

2018

The second session of the National Dialogue is held, where both parties arrive at the first agreement: 72- hour truce to stop the violence and relax the roadblocks throughout the country. Likewise, at the proposal of the Civic Alliance, all the participants in the dialogue roundtable approve the preliminary report of the IACHR and agree to abide by its 15 recommendations.
May 19,

2018

With the “Caravan of Bravery in Managua” the first month of the start of the protests is commemorated. Throughout the country marches and sit-ins are held to honor those killed by the government
In León the march of the Movement for Nicaragua and the April 19 Movement from that same city is held, in which more than 100,000 people participate.
At night police and para-police forces attack the National Agrarian University (UNA). The representatives of the IACHR observe the attack in person. With this aggression the government violates the truce agreement established in the first session of the National Dialogue.
May 21,

2018

The third session of the National Dialogue is held, without significant results.
May 23,

2018

The fourth session of the National Dialogue is held. The Civic Alliance makes a call to democratize Nicaragua. Daniel Ortega refuses, and denounces a “soft coup.” The lack of consensus forces the Episcopal Conference to suspend the talks, and proposes a mixed commission composed of three representatives for each party, in an attempt to overcome the impasse.
May 24,

2018

 

A cadaver appears in the drainage ditch of the El Plomo hill, with clear signs of torture. He is taken without identification to the Medical Legal Institute.

Arbitrary and illegal detentions continue. One of those detained is able to be released through social pressure.

It is reported that in El Chipote2 are found many other people arrested whose detention had not been reported.

More denouncements of disappeared Nicaraguan youth begin to appear on social networks.
The repression continues in several parts of the country. The cities of Chinandega and León are attacked by para-police forces, leaving three people killed as a result.

2 El Chipote is a jail located in the high part of the Tiscapa hill in Managua. During the Somoza dictatorship it was one of the principal torture centers. Currently the national human rights commissions denounce that there are many people detained there who are tortured, particularly in this period of crisis.

May 26,

2018

A report from Amnesty International (AI) states that the government has committed “crimes against international law” by “carrying out a lethal repressive policy”.

Marches, sit-ins and roadblocks remain. Those barricaded in roadblocks in several cities of the country are subjected to attacks with all types of weapons on the part of para-police forces.

A wave of street violence begins in which mobs and criminals that the population identifies as connected to the government go out at night, shooting at civilians and creating chaos.

An article is published in Confidencial3 that gathers several case stories that fully illustrate the pattern of shooting against demonstrators in Nicaragua, which allows one to surmise that the PN used sharpshooters.4
May 28,

2018

Students take over the UNI. At 10am attacks begin from the National Police, anti-riot and para-police forces. The clashes continue until 6pm. Three deaths are reported, along with many wounded and several people arrested.

The first round of work of the Mixed Commission was held; they reached a consensus to relax the roadblocks, as long as the first issue of the agenda in the dialogue – to be renewed on May 31 – would be the end of repression, dismantling of paramilitary groups, and the call for early general elections, among other points.

 

May 29,

2018

Demonstrations and roadblocks are maintained in a generalized way throughout the country.

Amnesty International presents a report on the situation of the country, titled “Shoot to Kill”, in which it concludes that the “Government of Nicaragua is using a strategy of lethal repression”.

3 Confidencial is a magazine that has been published in Nicaragua since 1996 as a media outlet for information and analysis among decision makers in government, diplomatic corps, private sector and civil society. In 2010 it relaunched itself to the public as an interactive digital newspaper.

4 The article is from the journalist Wilfredo Miranda Aburto, who singled out that: “Confidencial has in its possession 19 CAT scans done in the Lenin Fonseca Hospital. They show precise shots in the forehead, parietal, temporal and occipital regions of the heads of the victims. Most of the gunshot wounds present entry and exit wounds. Trajectories that leave a wake of destruction in the brain mass” (2018).

 

May 30,

2018

On the occasion of Mothers Day in Nicaragua, and in support of the more than 90 mothers who up to that point had lost their sons or daughters due to the governmental repression, held in Managua the so-called “Mother of all Marches”. It is estimated that more than 500,000 people participated. The march is reaching its end when the participants are attacked by sharpshooters and paramilitary groups allied with the government. At 5pm the first students are killed, among them a 15 year old boy, slain in front of his mother with a shot to the neck.
In other points in the capital, like the Highway to Masaya, clashes are recorded of police and paramilitaries against demonstrators. Similar events occurred in other cities, and a total of 19 deaths are reported and dozens of wounded. Daniel Ortega announces that he will not leave power.
May 31,

2018

The Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy issues a press release announcing that, after the massacre of May 30, they are not willing to renew the National Dialogue as the government has not given the order to end the repression and violence against the Nicaraguan people

The inhabitants of the city of Masaya, the indigenous community of Monimbó and the municipality of Waslala call for a national strike, after the wave of violence and repression perpetrated by the government.

June 1,

 

2018

In the city of León groups allied with the government of Ortega burn the Agricultural Ministry (MAGFOR) and create chaos.

The Central American Province of the Society of Jesus makes a pronouncement repudiating the massacre perpetrated by the government, the National Police and para-police forces in Nicaragua. At the same time, they denounce in an open and public letter threats received against the life of Fr. José Alberto Idiáquez, the President of the Central American University (UCA) who is participating in the National Dialogue roundtable as part of the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy.

June 4, 2018 Masaya suffers an armed attack that leaves 5 deaths.
Monimbó keeps up the struggle.

 

June 6, 2018 The OAS urges all parties to “promote peaceful negotiations with clear results that address the fundamental challenges of the country, including the strengthening of democratic institutions and holding free, fair and timely elections”.
June 7,

2018

Demonstrations against Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo continue throughout the country.

An undeclared curfew is imposed on Managua and other cities. When night falls, pro-government and paramilitary patrols take the streets

The bishops meet with the government to try to reactivate the dialogue. The president asks the Episcopal Conference for 48 hours to “reflect” on their proposal for democratization.

The United States decides not to wait and suspends issuing visas for “people responsible for Human Rights abuses and undercutting democracy in Nicaragua”. Even though names are not mentioned, the measure indicates that it will affect members of the government and the National Police.
June 10, 2018 Properties of between 5- 1,500 manzanas in size begin to be occupied by land invaders organized by the FLSN party and officials from municipal governments
June 12, 2018 The public becomes aware that Daniel Ortega, in order to resolve the crisis, show himself willing to move up the presidential elections, planned for 2021. The proposal supposedly was presented to the bishops and the Civic Alliance by the US Ambassador Laura Dogu and Caleb McCarry, a delegate of the Foreign Relations Committee of the US Senate who visited Nicaragua on June 9 and met with Ortega. Later events and speeches will contradict this disposition of Ortega.
June 13,

2018

The Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy calls for a 24-hour general strike to increase pressure on the government, a measure that up to now they had refused to take due to the consequences it could have on the Nicaraguan economy. At this point the crisis has cost the country $600 million dollars.

 

June 15, 2018 The National Dialogue is renewed. The government and the Civic Alliance address the “roadmap” for “democratizing” the country, specifically the proposal to move up presidential elections to 2019. At the request of the Civic Alliance, the parties agree to invite international observers to investigate the acts of violence

.

June 17, 2018

Six members of one family – including two small boys – die burned in their home in a fire deliberately caused by forces allied with the government in the city of Managua. One survivor and several neighbors state that the attack that produced the fire was committed by para-police groups of the government with the support of the PN.

With this crime, the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) denounced an escalation in the brutal repression of the Ortega-Murillo regime. In addition, the organization lamented the fact that in these 60 days another 12 minors have been killed.

The 33 year-old young man Darwin Potosme dies at the hands of a sharpshooter during an attack on the central park in the city of Masaya.
Peoples uprising and attacks
June 18, 2018

The population of Masaya, 28 kilometers from Managua, declares itself “territory free from the dictator”. The city remains under siege from pro-government repressive forces.

The High Commissioner of the United Nations for Human Rights, Zeid Ra ád Al Hussein, states that the situation in Nicaragua “might well deserve” the creation of an international investigation.

The renewal of the National Dialogue is planned, which finally is delayed a week, and included representatives of the IACHR.

 

June 19, 2018

The songwriter Carlos Mejía Godoy presents a new song: “Monimbó siempre con vos [Always with you, Monimbo´]”, in honor of the indigenous people of Monimbó.

New clashes leave at least 3 dead and 30 wounded. In the days that follow the repression increases against the students of the UNAN.

June 21, 2018 Work in defense of Monimbó is reorganized, where barricades are reinforced to prevent the entrance of anti-riot forces and paramilitary groups. The barricades are guarded 24 hours a day by the population.
June 22, 2018 The IACHR presents a report that raises the numbers to 212 dead, 1,337 wounded and 507 detained by “the repressive action of the State” which, according to the denouncement, “has been directed at dissuading participation in the demonstrations and crush this expression of political dissent”.
June 23, 2018

Armed groups attack a barricade guarded by students holed up in the Rubén Darío university campus, wounding 15 students with gunshot and kidnapping three youth protestors.

The 14 month-old baby Teyler Leonardo Lorío Navarrete is killed. According to his mother´s testimony, Teyler was hit by a bullet from the Police when his family was taking him to the home of his grandmother in a neighborhood in the eastern part of the capital. The Police refute this version and accuse a criminal of the act. His mother, nevertheless, maintains that her baby was killed by the Police.

June 25, 2018

The dialogue is renewed in the country, with the presence of a technical team of the IACHR. The group forms part of the Follow up Mechanism for Nicaragua (MESENI) responsible for oversight over fulfillment of the recommendations and cautionary measures previously issued by the IACHR.

Hundreds of Nicaraguans who live in New York and in other states close by in the United States walk twelve blocks in the center of Manhattan, NY, demanding an end to the repression in Nicaragua.

June 26, 2018 A team from the High Commissioner of the United States for Human Rights (OHCHR) arrives in Nicaragua to participate, along with experts from the IACHR, in the investigations on the violent acts in Nicaragua.
July 1,

2018

“The march of flowers” is held, that walked through Managua in memory of the minors killed during the protests. It is the first time that a large march is held since the tragic event of May 30. Shock groups and paramilitaries return to attack and kill another person.
July 5,

2018

The United States sanctions three high Nicaraguan officials, within the framework of the Magnitsky Act. They are Francisco Díaz, chief of the National Police and in law of Daniel Ortega; Fidel Moreno Briones, Secretary General of the Municipality of Managua; and  Francisco López Centeno, Vice president of Albanisa – state enterprise partner with the Oil Enterprise of Venezuela (PDVSA).
July 7,

2018

As part of “Operation Clean up” 5 Ortega launches a new offensive against “rebel” cities: Matagalpa, Jinotepe, Diriamba, León, Masaya.

Paulo Abrāo, Executive Secretary of the IACHR, denounces from Nicaragua that “pro governmental armed groups supported by the Police are entering into cities in a massive way”. “Shooting and bursts of gunfire. Yesterday Matagalpa. Now around Jinotepe and Diriamba”, he relates. In just four days nearly 40 dead are counted.

July 9,

2018

The roundtables of the National Dialogue are suspended due to the attacks suffered by the bishops in the basilica of San Sebastián, in the city of Diriamba.
July 10,

2018

Ortega appears before official media to clarify that finally there will be no early elections. “There will be time, just as the law orders, there will be time for elections. Everything has its time,” he notes.
July 11,

2018

 

The Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, expresses his concern over the “intensification” of the violence in Nicaragua, and points out that dialogue is the only way of finding “a peaceful solution to the current crisis.”

5 “Operation Cleanup” – term used popularly – consisted in the joint dismantling by force of roadblocks and barricades, carried out by members of the National Police, paramilitaries, and mobs allied with the government, as well as armed attacks against the population that demonstrate against

 

July 12,

2018

The Permanent Council of the OAS meets to address the situation in Nicaragua. The Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro, advocates for early elections and offers his support to Daniel Ortega so that it might be a “clean and transparent process.”

That same day, dozens of thousands of Nicaraguans take to the principal streets of Managua shouting “Together we are a volcano” and “The people united will never be defeated.” Throughout the route of the march the pervasive slogan is “Ortega and Somoza are the same thing.”

 

The Union of Agricultural Producers of Nicaragua (UPANIC) revealed that some 5,500 manzanas of land for agricultural, housing and forestry uses has been invaded by heavily armed people, who looted and violently stripped the legitimate owners of their respective possessions.
July 13,

2018

Nicaragua wakes up under a 24-hour national stoppage.

Accompanied by a military caravan of cars and motorcycles, the presidential couple celebrate in the police station of Masaya the 39th anniversary of the historic “Tactical Retreat”. For the first time since 1980 the Retreat did not end in the indigenous community of Monimbó, Masaya

During the Retreat, the people of Monimbó stayed hunkered down in the barricades, and all the population of Masaya closed themselves in their homes to show their repudiation of the government.

At the end of the “Tactical Retreat”, the National Police carry out a harsh attack against the population that protested in Monimbó. The attack lasts two and a half hours and leaves two people dead as a result.

Medardo Mairena, coordinator of the National Council in the Defense of the Land, the Lake and Sovereignty, and member of the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, is captured and transferred to the cells of El Chipote. The peasant leader is accused a priori of terrorism and the murder of four policemen in the municipality of Morrito, in the province of Río San Juan.

 

July 14,

2018

Armed groups attack the UNAN of Managua. The students seek refuge in the nearby Divina Misericordia Church, where they spend more than 15 hours under constant automatic gun fire from police and paramilitaries. This repressive act leaves another two dead.
July 15,

2018

Another ten people die at the hands of police and paramilitaries in a series of attacks on the indigenous community of Monimbó, in the city of Masaya.
July 16,

2018

With combined forces of the government, the so called “Operation Clean up” continues against five cities of the Pacific, among them Managua, Masaya, Diriá and Catarina; their inhabitants remain in a state of anxiety and high alert.

Two people are reported dead.

July 17,

2018

More than 1,500 troops of the Army, Police and paramilitaries lay siege to the city of Masaya and shoot at the indigenous neighborhood of Monimbó, an attack that lasts more than seven hours and leaves as a result four people dead.

The Organization of American States (OAS) calls an extraordinary session for July 18 to address the Nicaraguan crisis when it enters into its third month.

July 18,

2018

It is now three months since the start of the protests against the regime imposed by President Daniel Ortega, with close to 300 people killed.

A group of US senators, Democrats as well as Republicans, present the bill “2018 Law for Human Rights and the Fight Against Corruption in Nicaragua”, that seeks to put an end to the wave of violence that Nicaragua is suffering, and that includes the application of new sanctions on the government of Daniel Ortega and the demand to call early elections.

July 19,

2018

Daniel Ortega celebrates the 39th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution, reaffirming that he is not leaving power and launching a virulent attack against the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua, accusing it of being “a coup supporter.” The event includes the presence of the diplomatic corps accredited in the country, among whom is the representative of the Vatican, Apostolic Nuncio Mons. Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag.

 

July 20,

2018

In La Gaceta No. 138 is published “Law 977 Against Laundering of Assets, Financing for Terrorism and the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction”. The organizational defenders of human rights in Nicaragua state that this legislation would allow for a high amount of discretion on the part of judicial authorities to process any citizen who opposes the regime of president Daniel Ortega for the crime of terrorism.
July 21,

2018

The Catholic church, which says “it does not suffer for being slandered (…), it suffers for those who have been killed”, calls the faithful to a campaign of fasting.
July 23,

2018

After nine years of not offering declarations to national or international media, Daniel Ortega offers an interview for the Special Report program of Fox News, the conservative television channel and sympathetic to President Donald Trump. In the interview- conducted by the journalist Bret Baier− Ortega denies the accusations of repression and human rights violations that international organizations charge him with, and states that there is a panorama of normality in his country, and rejects the call for early elections.
The 31 year-old Brazilian student Raynéia Gabrielle is killed. She dies from a shot to the thorax when paramilitaries blasted her vehicle that was passing through the Lomas de Monserrat neighborhood in Managua.
July 24,

2018

On the 100th day of the crisis, Daniel Ortega says he has “defeated the coup”. In an interview to the interstate channel TeleSur he accuses the United States of “interventionism” and expresses that it would be “ideal” to have a dialogue with his US counterpart, Donald Trump, to deal with the policy of that country toward Nicaragua.
Persecution y criminalization
August 2,

 

2018

The Organization of American States (OAS) approves the creation of a working group for Nicaragua for the purpose of supporting the National Dialogue and contributing to the “search for peaceful and sustainable solutions.”

 

 

August 26,

2018

In the neighboring country of Costa Rica, a massive march is held of repudiation to the xenophobia toward Nicaraguan immigrants who are arriving in the country, fleeing the social and political crisis that Nicaragua is undergoing.
August 27,

2018

Brandon Lovo is condemned to 23 years in jail, and Glen Slate to 12 years in jail, for the supposed murder of journalist Ángel Gahona, on April 21 in the city of Bluefields. Both Afro-descendent youth became the first political prisoners that are sentenced by the Ortega-Murillo dictatorial regime. The family of the murdered journalist refute the version of the government about the culpability of those sentenced.
August 31,

2018

Daniel Ortega terminates the invitation of Nicaragua to the representatives of the OHCHR, after it presented a report which denounces the human rights abuses and abuses committed by the security forces of the government during the protest that occurred since April in Nicaragua.

The European Union suspends the aid program with the National Police of Nicaragua, which had not executed 3.5 million euros.

Authorities of UNAN-Managua expel 82 students for participating in the protests against the regime of Daniel Ortega.
Sept 1,

2018

The delegation of the OHCHR leaves Nicaragua for Panama because the Government “invited them to leave” the country.

In the Jean Paul Genie roundabout in Managua groups of government party sympathizers destroy the memorial done by relatives and friends of the victims of the repression.

The National Police and members of the Sandinista Youth besiege the self-convoked inhabitants in the cities of Granada and Nandaime to keep them from marching.
Sept 2,

2018

Paramilitaries in three pickup trucks shoot at participants in the “March of the Flags” and wound two people.

Sympathizers of the party in power hold a caravan through the neighborhoods and principal streets of Managua to ask for justice against the “terrorists.”

 

Sept 4,

2018

Edwin Carcache (27 year-old) is arrested, a leader of the Movimiento Estudiantil 19 de Abril, for joining the university struggle and protesting against Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo.
Sept 8,

2018

The “Balloon March” is held, convoked by parents and relatives of all the people who have been detained and face different judicial processes, principally accused of terrorism. Blue and white, the colors of the national flag, stand out.
Sept 10,

2018

Amaya Coppens (23), student leader of the Movimiento 19 de Abril, is captured in León, along with Sergio Midence Delgadillo (28), accused of the crime of simple abduction, terrorism and minor psychological injuries.
Sept 20,

2018

A Solidarity caravan for Nicaragua arrives in Peru to expose and denounce the murder and abuse that the Nicaragua people are experiencing, in the face of the worst social and political crisis that the country has experienced in the last decade.

The selective eviction of some of the so called “land invaders” begins, people who had invaded land in some cities of Nicaragua. The last report of UPANIC indicates that of the 9,800 manzanas of private property that were invaded, some 2,483 manzanas are recognized as recovered.

Sept 21,

2018

The government of Daniel Ortega orders workers (men and women) of State institutions to hold sit-ins in the principal roundabouts of the capital, to prevent the gatherings of members of the self-convened movements.
Sept 24,

2018

An arrest order is issued against Félix Maradiaga, academic and director of the Institute for Strategic and Public Policy Studies (IEEPP), who at the beginning of September denounced before the Security Council of the UN the persecution and repression of the Nicaraguan government against civil society.

 

Sept 27,

2018

The university students Elsa Valle, Elizabeth Centeno and Yuri Valerio are freed from the “La Esperanza” women´s jail, after being arrested on July 14 for protesting against the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega. Days later, Elsa Valle would reveal that she suffered a miscarriage in prison as a result of the abuse suffered during her imprisonment.
Oct 2,

2018

The House of Representatives of the US approves the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act, known as the Nica Act, a law that imposes sanctions on the government of Daniel Ortega. The legislation is opposed to international financial institutions granting loans to the government of Nicaragua and demands that measures be taken to ensure electoral transparency and the fight against corruption. In order to become law it requires the approval of the US Senate, and the approval of President Donald Trump.
Oct 4,

2018

The “National Blue and White Unity” is officially presented, composed of the different social sectors who are opposed to the regime of Daniel Ortega, among them the Civic Alliance and the Articulation of Social Movements, for the purpose of fighting for democratization and justice in Nicaragua.
Oct 9,

2018

The anti-governmental demonstrator Carlos José Bonilla is sentenced to 90 years in prison for the aggravated murder of the Policeman Jilton Rafael Manzanares, and for attempted murder of another four police officers.
Oct 14,

2018

The Police prevent the first march called for by the National Blue and White Unity (UNAB) and capture 38 people.
Oct 17,

2018

Red lipstick becomes a symbol of protest against the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega. Social networks (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) propagate a massive digital feminist campaign called “#SoyPicoRojo” as a new form of demanding the release of political prisoners.
The National Police repress and militarize the island of Ometepe, for the purpose of capturing all those on the island who have demonstrated against the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship.
Oct 18,

2018

Amnesty International publishes the report “Instilling Terror”,6 in which a team of experts in the analysis of images, weapons and munitions show that: “During the months of June and July 2018 groups of national police in black uniforms were identified, using a wide variety of military style arms and weapons of indiscriminate impact. Among the weapons that they carried were identified AK-47 style rifles, which only use lethal munition, Russian Dragunov sharpshooter rifles, Remington M24 SWS and FN SPR rifles, that allow for precise shots over very long distances, light RPK machine guns and PKM machine guns (arms that are fully automatic, and therefore in no way applicable for public security tasks). In addition, slam gun Pistols, portable RPG-7 anti-tanks grenade launchers (…), all shot on occasions in an indiscriminate manner”.
Oct 20,

2018

The Nicaraguan Central Bank (BCN) notifies commercial Banks of the suspensión of the mechanism of online purchases of dollars. This disposition indicates that, in order to request the purchase of dollars, they must do so in writing 48 hours in advance, indicating amount, purpose and actors in the transaction. This type of measure was considered by some analysts as a type of foreshadowing of financial banking restrictions”.

6  On the “possible serious human rights violations and crimes against international law” that the Nicaraguan authorities would have committed between May 30 and September 18, see the complete report from Amnesty International Instilling Terror: From lethal force to persecution in Nicaragua (2018).

Oct 21,

2018

19 year-old university student María Alejandra Castillo García is freed, after suffering a miscarriage in the cells of El Chipote, where she was detained since Sept 23.

After Sunday Mass, after three weeks since the Police increased the harassment of the Blue and White marches, hundreds of Nicaraguans protested in the Managua Cathedral to demand the freedom of political prisoners

The Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights (ANPDH)7 publishes a report where it reveals that the victims of the repression number 528 people killed; some 4,102 wounded; 1,609  people abducted by unauthorized armed groups, of whom 1,486 remain detained illegally or disappeared, and 21 homes of citizens destroyed due to the fact that their inhabitants protested civically and peacefully against the regime. From April 19 to this date the ANPDH has not ceased to register denouncements of abductions perpetrated by paramilitaries.

Oct 25,

2018

It is leaked that the government of Daniel Ortega will be taking 4% of the salary of each State worker for the purpose of mitigating the scarcity of funds in the party and the State.
Oct 26,

2018

Nicaraguan authorities deny entry to the authorities of the Center for International Law and Justice (CEJIL), who were trying to enter the country to meet with representatives of the IACHR for the purpose of analyzing the situation of Nicaragua.
Oct 27,

2018

President Daniel Ortega, through the Nicaraguan Institute of Telecommunications and Mail (TELCOR) orders businesses that provide Cable TV services in the entire country to take off air the signal of 100% Noticias, an opposition enterprise that transmitted by cable on Channel 15, and put in its place the pro-government Channel 6.

7 This report of the ANPDH (2018) presents timely data on the victims killed during the crisis in Nicaragua for having exercised their right to civic protest.

 

Oct 30,

2018

17 political prisoners jailed in the La Esperanza National Penitentiary System for Women denounce- to their relatives and human rights organizations – that penal authorities allowed the incursion into their cell of some twenty hooded men dressed in black, who savagely beat them.
A delegation of MESENI and the IACHR request entry to the La Esperanza women´s jail to confirm the status of the health of the 17 political prisoners who were beaten. The authorities block their access.
Oct 31,

2018

The Petronic DNP gasoline station chain (Nicaraguan Distributor of Oil) changes their corporate image after the economic losses that the business suffered based on the campaign against them disseminated in social networks. Its current name is PETROCEN. This business is a partner of the Venezuelan oil Company

and is connected to relatives of the rulers of Nicaragua.

Nov 1,

2018

Rosario Murillo announces the creation of a policy of peace, and a bill called “Law of National Reconciliation”; the interpretation of the opposition of these measures is that their true objective is to prepare the conditions to promulgate a general law of amnesty which would leave the crimes committed during the crisis unpunished.

 

Nov 2,

2018

Alex Vanegas, known as the marathon runner, is violently arrested for the sixth consecutive time. This time his “crime” consisted in depositing flowers on the tombs of the victims of the repression. Alex, at 61 years of age, has run in different parts of Managua wearing a blue and white shirt – the colors of the national flag – in demand for freedom for the political prisoners of the dictatorship.
Nov 6,

2018

The Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation (FVBCH)8 releases a systematization 9 on cases of the violation of freedom of the press where they reported that between April 18 and October 18 there were 420 violations against freedom of the press in Nicaragua.
Nov 7,

2018

The Prosecutor´s Office demands 21 years in prison for nine students of the UNAN-Managua who survived the attack on the Divina Misericordia Church on July 14th and were later arrested. They are found guilty for the crimes of terrorism and illegal arms possession.
Nov 8,

2018

COSEP presents a report monitoring economic activities in Nicaragua10 that reveals that between April and Sept of this year 417,000 people have lost their Jobs or have been suspended from their places of work.
Nov 26,

2018

The 62 year-old defender of human rights, Ana Quirós, is arrested and expelled from Nicaragua. Epsy Campbell, the Vice President of Costa Rica, reports hours later that Ana was taken to the border post at Peñas Blancas, where she was received by Costa Rican authorities.
Dec 13,

2018

The National Police without a warrant searches the offices of CENIDH, the Institute for the Development of Democracy (IPADE), the Leadership Institute of the Segovias (ILS), the River Foundation, and Popol Na, all of whom previously had been stripped of their legal status by the National Assembly.
The National Police attack and loot the newsrooms of the communications media Confidencial, Esta Semana and Esta Noche, of the journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro.

8 The Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation is a civil society organization that works for the defense and establishment of freedom of press and information in Nicaragua.

9 Journalism in the Americas: “Nicaraguan organization reports 420 violations to the freedom of the press in the last six months”, November 7, 2018, available in Spanish at https://knightcenter.utexas.edu/es/blog/00-20318-organizacion-nicaragueense-reporta-420-violaciones-contra-la-libertad-de-prensa-en-los

10 See monitoring of business news of COSEP, November 9, 2018, available at http://www.cosep.org.ni/index.php/comunicaciones/monitoreo-de-medios/6754-monitoreo-de-noticias-empresariales-9-de-noviembre-de-2018

 

Dec 19,

2018

The IACHR reports that MESENI and the GIEI, entities responsible for monitoring the human rights crisis in Nicaragua, are suspended temporarily by the government of Nicaragua.
Dec 21,

2018

GIEI presents in Washington a report that concludes that there is no evidence of a coup, but there was a strategy of repression carried out with the knowledge of high representatives of the Nicaraguan government.

The Police raid the television station 100% Noticias and dismantle the studios and transmission equipment; in addition, they suspend their transmissions, based in Managua. In the operation its director, Miguel Mora, is detained, and the journalist and press director, Lucía Pineda Ubau.

Jan 9,

2019

Rafael Solís, magistrate of the Supreme Court, resigns from his post in that branch of the State, and also his militancy in the FSLN. In a letter sent to Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, Solís points to the increase in violence and repression against the population and a complete party takeover of the Judicial Branch in Nicaragua.
Jan 11,

2019

The OAS holds an extraordinary session to analyze whether to apply or not the Democratic Charter to Nicaragua in the face of the social and political situation the country is experiencing, while understanding that basic freedoms and citizen rights are being violated.
Feb 16,

2019

The regime of Ortega reports that it had held an encounter with a group of private businessmen in the presence of two prelates of the Catholic Church, in order to “begin a negotiation” on important issues for the country.

 

Feb 18,

2019

Edgard Altamirano López, Judge of the Ninth District Penal Court of Managua, sentences to 216 years and three months of jail the peasant leader Medardo Mairena, who participated in the National Dialogue as part of the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy. In the same sentence the peasant leader Pedro Meña is given 210 years in prison, and Luis Orlando Icabalceta 159 years.
Feb 21,

2019

To overcome the social and political crisis that the country is experiencing since April 2018, Daniel Ortega calls for some negotiations to take the place of the National Dialogue.
Feb 26,

2019

The Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy announces a preparatory session in light of the installation of a negotiating table with the government. In their press release,11 the Civic Alliance explains that their agenda is “(…) the freedom of political prisoners and the re-establishment of freedoms, rights and guarantees, established by the Constitution.”
Feb 27,

2019

A National Dialogue begins with representatives of the government and the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, but without the participation of President Daniel Ortega. A few hours before the start of the dialogue, the government reports that a hundred political prisoners have been released.
March 15,

2019

A second group of political prisoners is freed. Their release happens after the Civic Alliance threatened to abandon the negotiating table that seeks to resolve the social and political crisis that Nicaragua is experiencing.
March 16,

2019

More than 160 people are detained in Managua while they gather to participate in a protest called by the UNAB to demand the release of political prisoners. The people detained are set free after several negotiations carried out by the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, as well as by the Apostolic Nuncio Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag.
March 29,

2019

As part of the National Dialogue begun between members of the Civic Alliance and representatives of the government of Daniel Ortega, an agreement is signed12 that includes the freedom of all political prisoners and respect for constitutional and citizen rights.
March 31,

2019

UNAB declares itself to be in permanent mobilization and calls for the Nicaraguan population to hold campaigns of “express picket lines13 to demand justice from the government of Daniel Ortega and freedom for people jailed for political reasons.

11 To learn more about the preparation campaign of the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, see the complete press releases published on Feb 26, 2019: Preparing ourselves for the start of the negotiations- in Spanish at (https://www.alianzacivicanicaragua.com/preparandonos-para-el-inicio-de-la-negociacion/).

12 The agreement “to strengthen citizen rights and guarantees” establishes the commitment to comply with at least 10 constitutional principles in a term not longer than 90 says.

13 The “express picket lines” were called by the National Blue and White Unity (UNAB) as a form of protest that protects the safety of the demonstrators, after the National Police prohibited the blue and white protests throughout the national territory.

April 5, 2019 50 political prisoners are released by the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega, who were detained in the La Modelo jail for men in Tipitapa.
April 10,

2019

The journalists Lucia Pineda Ubau and Miguel Mora have spent 110 days of forced enclosure in the El Chipote jail, after having been detained arbitrarily for bravely exercising their profession. Lucía and Miguel live their captivity under inhumane conditions, to which is added a judicial process that has been postponed three times.
May 20,

2019

The negotiations of the National Dialogue between the representatives of the government and members of the Civic Alliance are suspended with the murder in the La Modelo jail of the political prisoner Eddy Montes,14 who is shot by one of the guards.
June 11, 2019 The regime of Ortega and Murillo release 56 political prisoners, among them the journalists Lucía Pineda Ubau and Miguel Mora. Nevertheless, police agents continue detaining youth who participated in the protest demonstrations, which is why there is more than a hundred people detained according to human rights organizations.
July 13,

2019

The 22 year-old student María Guadalupe Ruiz is detained, for having participated in student protests against the regime of Ortega and Murillo. She is currently the only woman who is in jail for political reasons, in addition to the 120 political prisoners who remain in jails in Nicaragua. The regime refuses to release them, in some cases denying they are jailed or accusing them without proof of committing common crimes.

14 See the article: This is how the murder of Eddy Montes happened, according to the accounts of freed political prisoners. Available in Spanish at https://www.laprensa.com.ni/2019/05/21/nacionales/2551494-asi-ocurrio-el-asesinato-de-eddy-montes-segun-los-relatos-de-los-excarcelados-politicos

 

July 31,

2019

The regime officially notifies the Vatican and the OAS of the end of the negotiations, entities that were mediators and witnesses of the process, through which the release of political prisoners is partially fulfilled and the agreement for the restitution of citizen freedoms is completely unfulfilled. The agreements on democratization and electoral reforms are also left without effect; the issue of justice, truth, reparation and non-repetition, as well as their respective mechanisms for implementation, among them the safe return of exiles, freedom of expression, restitution of legal status and assets confiscated from non-governmental organizations; disarming the para-police forces and the full autonomy for universities, municipalities, and regional governments of the Caribbean Coast.

 

 

[1]   Social Communicator and assistant researcher in the Interdisciplinary Institute of Social Sciences (IICS-UCA).

Carlos Mejía Godoy: “My silence ended up being complicity”

It has been two years since the April 2018 uprising against the Ortega government. Many of those who rose up were Sandinistas appalled at the brutality of the response of the regime to the demonstrators. This interview of the songwriter most associated with the revolution follows this vein, where he criticizes himself for staying silent too long, out of the “the facile excuse: I have to continue fighting from within.”

Carlos Mejía Godoy: “My silence ended up being complicity”

By Fabián Medina in La Prensa, April 25, 2020

[see original Spanish]

Carlos Mejía Godoy talks about his days in quarantine, and appraises his participation in the Sandinista revolution. He recognizes that he should have resigned from the Sandinista Front when he began to see “all types of vices.”

What does the most famous living Nicaraguan songwriter do, and how does he spend his days in these times of coronavirus? Carlos Mejía Godoy, 76 years old, will have spent two years in exile this coming August. He left Nicaragua to keep himself safe from eventual reprisals that Daniel Ortega could take against him, when he decided to confront him publicly and head on. Since then he has been seen in concert tours, received in each country by Nicaraguans who see him as a national symbol, and, at times, missing from the public scene.

In this interview, held at a distance and with all the complications that have to be done in these times of plague, Mejía Godoy talks about his days of quarantine in a city in California, the ups and downs of his most recent musical work, and of course, he reviews the situation of Nicaragua and his participation in the Sandinista revolution. He maintains that he continues being Sandinista, but recognizes that he should have resigned from the Sandinista Front when he began to see “all types of vices” in the last revolutionary years. “I fell into the sin of omission,” he confesses.

Where is Carlos Mejía Godoy right now? If it can be made known, of course…

I am in California. In a city located two hours from San Francisco. In the beginning of April when my wife Xochitl and I got ready to fly to Costa Rica, this pandemic forced us to stay here, in the home of my sister, Conchita, married to a Russian citizen. They have been true angels for us. The home is spacious. It has a garden where we get some  sun every morning, and it offers us a certain amount of freedom of action. I feel blessed because there is an acoustic piano here in perfect condition, which allows me to exercise my limited piano skills, and, what is most important, be able to compose new songs and play popular and classical music.

How is your health?

Without wanting to be triumphalistic, I feel more vital and optimistic in my 76 years. Because, even though it is true that the prolonged exile is  physical and spiritual wear and tear, when I think about the dramatic situation of our brothers and sisters inside and outside the country, jailed, threatened, persecuted and now more beaten down by the global coronavirus plague, I feel that I am privileged. In my last stay in Costa Rica I had a general checkup, and for the advanced age that I am in, I find myself in optimal conditions.

How are you experiencing this coronavirus pandemic?

Fortunately, it hit us in this house in California and not in Costa Rica. Our apartment there in San José is comfortable, but is more limited in area. We are complying to the letter, my family and my sister, with all the WHO (World Health Organization) recommendations. And from here we are exhorting our relatives and friends of Nicaragua that, in spite of the demented and criminal attitude of the Ortega Murillo government, what is most consequential is staying home.

Do you have new projects, new songs?

Very impressed by the heroic role that doctors and health workers throughout the world are carrying out, I wrote a new song titled “Pandemic of Love”. Recording this was a true odyssey, especially with all of us dispersed in different countries. I tell you: to sing this we needed basic technical resources. Here in California my only option was the studio of a friend who is ten kilometers from our house, but his wife firmly refused due to the danger of the pestilence. So I asked my brother Luis Enrique, who is in Costa Rica, if he was able to access a studio close by. And my sister in law did not let him go out even to the corner. In that context I spoke with Hugo Castilla, who has a studio in Nicaragua, but he did not have anyone to sing the song. And in the face of his stupor, I told him: you sing it. And that was followed by a byzantine discussion, and after two days, almost against his will, Hugo Castilla took charge.

The female voices are Alma Rodríguez and María Alejandra. They were recorded in Costa Rica with a cheap cell phone and in Nicaragua just biting the bullet. This very complex work that could have cost $1,500 dollars was done with $450, which I was able to pull together selling my drawings. The video recording, the same. There are no resources, we are in lock up. An excellent producer, whose name we are concealing because he is “suspect” by the dictatorship, did a beautiful job.

You sell drawings you say? You also draw?

My three brothers, Chico, Luis, Armando and Luis Enrique, have reached a professional level in their drawings and paintings. To not leave myself behind them, since the exile began, I have also been doing free hand, creating modest works inspired by the civic struggle and the prodigious nature of our Nicaragua: volcanoes, flowers and birds. Even, with the death of the dear poet Ernesto Cardenal, I dared to depict, without pretension, the profile of the poet in several versions. And an acrylic landscape scene with the poet reading in a hammock on the Island of Mancarrón, the largest of the Archipelago of Solentiname, where the Trappist priest founded that small community of artisans, painters, poets and guerillas.

You published in the Magazine of La Prensa a column telling about your experiences and the histories of your songs. Have you thought about publishing your complete memories?

I am not disciplined enough to write a daily [column], in the strict sense of the word, but at any moment I am communicating with my friends from different parts of the world, and spontaneous prose emerges, which I am saving as inputs for my book of memories that provisionally will be called “A Somoteño called Carluchín”, my nom de guerre on the streets of my town, playing with tops, jumping puddles or flying kites. I am in communication with Jesús de Santiago from Hispamer [publisher] to give shape to the book, “And the word became song” with the material that we published in Magazine.

You have sung in two wars, a revolution, a civic insurrection and now in a world pandemic. I suppose you accumulated many moments of pain.

Without a doubt the parting of my parents has been the most impactful. And in that order of feeling I was impacted by the death of two indispensable people in my development as a singer: Ernesto Cardenal and my dear brother Chale Mántica. But if we are talking about the most heartrending moment, since the events of April, it was that night that I describe as Kafkaesque. On television Daniel Ortega cynically talking about peace and reconciliation, invoking God, and in that instant was massacring university students protected in the Divina Misericordia Church. I got up and said to my wife, “I have had it!” I have to call the dictator and tell him to quit killing our people. Sincerely, I thought that Xochitl, who was crying with me, indignant and impotent, was going to stop me, because of the danger that was hanging over us. In the end I got her support.

More than one person described me as impassioned on hearing that letter confronting the despot and reminding him of an anecdote with his father. I responded, “I did not get impassioned, I am impassioned.” And that is the truth. I have always maintained that the things that are not done “with passion” end up impersonal, because they do not bear the imprint of the heart. I say it with no holds barred, I am impassioned in all moments of my life. As a singer and as a wild human being.

Does Carlos Mejía Godoy continue being Sandinista?

Of course I am. Because my Sandinism did not come to me from a brooch or an identity card. I was never raised to be a militant through this or that ceremony. My militancy has its roots in my convictions, many years before my organic inclusion in the FSLN. Even more, once again I declare this: I do not regret having given the best years of my life, as an artist and a human being, to a cause that I heartily embraced. I am absolutely convinced that that was the correct path. But yes, long before the electoral defeat, I began to perceive all types of vices that were in contradiction with that “revolutionary mystique” of our catechism. And for the first time I am going to be categorical in this statement: My duty was to resign!

Why didn´t you?

Because of that blessed pretext of not wanting to play into the hands of the right and the empire. The facile excuse: I have to continue fighting from within. Serious mistake. And today I confess to my people. With all the gallantry of my soul: my silence ended up being complicity.  From my Christian option, I fell into the sin of omission.

It could also be thought that it was to not lose the privileges that you had as a singer of the revolution.

I never had privileges, nor, thanks to God, did I ever make money under the shadow of power. I gave the house that I lived in back to its legitimate owners, and I went to rent a home like any other common citizen. I can declare with pride: I entered the FSLN poor and I left poorer when I went. And that will be the only legacy that I will leave my children: a handful of decent songs and an honest life, dedicated to just one, nearly obsessive idea, to tell the world that Nicaragua is a beautiful country, full of hardworking and intelligent people, but betrayed by their rulers.

How do you see Nicaragua from exile, two years after the events of April 2018?

I am very stressed with what is happening in Nicaragua. The Ortega Murillos are worse than the pandemic, that is why they are not reacting, and scoff criminally at the WHO. I think that this genocidal attitude is going to progressively hasten the fall of the regime.

Do you see a violent end again?

I continue maintaining that the sustained and relentless civic struggle is the only way. I have a seamless faith and optimism. In spite of the disinformation and some dissonant voices that use discrediting and defamatory language as a weapon, I think that this redeeming light will come at the end of the tunnel.

Have you thought about returning soon?

I am eager, but not desperate to return to my beloved Nicaragua. I have asked different friends if it is prudent to go back in these times, and all of them in chorus have told me that it would be a mistake. Sincerely I feel more insecure that in the time of Somoza. Anecdotally, after winning the OTI award[1] they asked the dictator if Carlos Mejía Godoy could return to his country. Somoza responded immediately, “Mejía Godoy is a citizen with the same rights as everyone to remain in this country.” Would Daniel Ortega respond the same? I turn the question back on you.

Personal Plane

Carlos Arturo Mejía Godoy was born in Somoto, Madriz on June 27, 1943. He has been married three times and has eight children. Currently he is married to Xochitl Acatl Jiménez Guevara.

For the general elections of 2006 he was a candidate for the Vice presidency for the Sandinista Renovation Movement. His running mate was Edmundo Jarquín.

As a child he sold gum and shined shoes to help his family.

He studied in the School of Journalism, where he was a classmate of Bayardo Arce and he also studied Law and had classes with former President Arnoldo Alemán.

He has a fear of planes. The first time he got in one was in a trip to Guatemala, and he does not like to fly in small planes to the Caribbean Coast.

He eats everything, especially beans and rice, fried cheese, cream and on Sundays he never misses eating his nacatamal. He is an addict of soft drinks. He does not know how to cook anything. According to him, “I burn water”.

“I never quit complaining to the Government for using our songs as the soundtrack for crimes, terror and genocide,” he said in an interview for Domingo about the use of his songs by the Daniel Ortega regime.

In exile he says he misses his library in Nicaragua where he has a collection of Nicaraguan poetry: Rubén Darío, Salomón de la Selva, Alfonso Córtes, José Coronel Urtecho, Pablo Antonio Cuadra, and Joaquín Pasos, among others.

Memories of Hadrian, of Margueritte Yourcenar, a Belgian-US novelist, is one of his books by his bedside. “It marked me forever since the year 2000 when I discovered it,” he says.

[1] Very prestigious singing competition in Spanish speaking world

SPECIAL – The lawyers of the political prisoners: two years demanding justice and freedom

April 18, 2020 is the two year anniversary of the uprising in Nicaragua, initially provoked by changes in the social security law. When elderly and student supporters demonstrated against those changes in the streets, they were brutally beaten by people clearly identified as Sandinista supporters. This resulted in an explosion of protests, including many life long Sandinistas appalled at the brutal response of the government, which were covered on live television.  This piece talks about the principal lawyers over these two years who have defended  those arrested for their dissent. 

SPECIAL – The lawyers of the political prisoners: two years demanding justice and freedom

By Geovanny Shiffman, in the online Magazine “Artículo 66” on April 18, 2020

[original Spanish]

Lawyers, human rights defenders, since April 2018 took on an important role in the defense of political prisoners.

Since the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo criminalized civic protest in Nicaragua in 2018, the lawyers Julio Montenegro, of the Defenders of the People Organization, Yonarqui Martínez, and the technical team of the Permanent Commission of Human Rights (CPDH) assumed an important role in the defense of political prisoners who  surfaced after the convulsion of April.

Two years later, Julio Montenegro still remembers his first hearing in the Courts of Managua, in the month of May where he decided to assume the legal representation of figures who now are emblematic of the civic struggle, like Medardo Mairena, of the Peasant Movement; Edwin Carcache, Cristian Fajardo and the journalists Miguel Mora and Lucia Pineda, all prisoners freed through an Amnesty Law approved by the regime of Nicaragua.

“There were no less than three occasions when I practically started crying on camera while being interviewed by the communications media,” remembers Montenegro, while his mind reconstructed the stories of torture denounced at that time by prisoners of conscience.

The “people´s lawyer” narrated that the only time he felt close to death was precisely July 10, 2018 in the San Sebastian Basilica in Diriamba. “We were trapped by armed civilians, who broke through doors, attacked the journalist Jackson Orozco, beat Bishop Silvio José Báez”, added the criminal lawyer in an interview with Artículo 66.

From 2018 to now Dr. Julio Montenegro has taken on the defense of approximately 150 political prisoners, of whom 90 were benefitted by the Amnesty Law. “Right now, currently- in other words processes where I have daily hearings – we are talking about 16 live cases.”

First political prisoners

On her part the lawyer Yonarqui Martínez, also influential in the defense of dissidents, says that on a personal level she has taken on the legal representation of 200 political prisoners since the crisis began. Currently she is defending 22 prisoners of conscience, of them at least 70 who still remained abducted in different penitentiaries of the country.

Martínez says that she was the person who took the first cases of political prisoners in Nicaragua, beginning with the events that happened in April 2018. “My first case I took on after April 23rd, which was the case of the young boys of the P del H Pali [supermarket]. Their mothers were crying because they did not have money for the defense of their boys, and in that time the regime turned against them,” she pointed out.

Because of her role as a human rights defender, the Martínez has been the object of persecution, threats, police harassment of her home, and on several occasions has been stopped by traffic police, to the point of stopping her vehicle and imposing unjustified fines.

CPDH at the helm

The CPDH (Permanent Commission of Human Rights), from May 2018 to now, treated a total of 220 cases of political prisoners on the national level, according to data provided by Eber Hosbaldo Acevedo Villachica, legal advisor of that organization. “Of those 220 people, 96% were men and 4% were women. The provinces most affected were Managua, Carazo and Masaya,” he added.

The legal advisor explained that of the total number of cases treated by the organization, currently only 11 remain locked up in jails “of whom three of them already have been ordered freed because of a not guilty verdict.”

Lawyer María Oviedo, from the technical team of CPDH, explained that on an individual level she has taken on the cases of 13 political prisoners, which have cost her reprisals, jailing, suspension of her lawyer´s license, and repression on the part of the dictatorship of the Ortega-Murillos.

Oviedo relates that the number of cases that were under her responsibility, two of them marked her stage as a human rights defender. “It is the case of Jaime Navarrete and José Santos Sánchez, who have been brutally tortured, and the conditions in which they find themselves currently in the jail of La Modelo are inhumane conditions,” she laments.

The defender María Oviedo took on the defense of the ex-prisoner Cristian Fajardo, an opposition leader from Masaya. In July 2019 Oviedo was jailed while she was accompanying Fajardo in the police station in the city of flowers [Masaya]. After the arrest and beating, the dictatorship staged a trial and sentenced her to 30 days in jail, even though she was able to serve her sentence in her home.

Parallel to this, in an arbitrary process, the party machinery of the Sandinista Front of National Liberation, which continues their cooptation of the judicial system, stripped her of her license to exercise the legal profession. Even so, Oviedo continues the defense of the human rights of political prisoners.

Óscar René Vargas: “Ortega´s Regime is betting on creating chaos”

An important analyst and early founding member of the FSLN now in exile in this article proposes political reasons behind the puzzling lack of reaction of the Nicaraguan government to the coronavirus threat. 

Óscar René Vargas: “Ortega´s Regime is betting on creating chaos”

The sociologist, economist, historian and political analyst reveals a possible political strategy which the Ortega regime is implementing in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Ana Cruz in La Prensa, April 4, 2020

[original Spanish]

Óscar René Vargas, 73 years old, is one of the cofounders of the Sandinista Front for National Liberation (FSLN) in the sixties. In 2006 when Daniel Ortega sought once again to get to power, he was one of those who supported his campaign, but his relationship with that party ended twelve months later, because he dared to reveal that “thinking is dangerous” within that political organization, and the Ortega regime did not like that.

Now from Costa Rica, in what he calls his second exile, Óscar René Vargas, sociologist, economist, historian and political analyst, author and co-author of more than 50 books, analyzes the scenarios in which Nicaragua will find itself in 2021. In addition, he points out what he thinks is the strategy that the Ortega regime is implementing to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to offset the civic rebellion that began in April 2018.

Everyone sees the inaction of the regime of Daniel Ortega in the face of COVD-19, do you think that it is affecting his image more?

First of all, I must say that this coronavirus is not an issue between the regime and the opposition, it is an issue that must concern all of us in the country. Unfortunately, the Government has adopted a policy, a strategy on this issue, that consists in letting the disease enter with the political objective that the people themselves begin to say that you have to be more concerned about coronavirus, and not about the issue of the political divinity of the Government. The proof of what I am telling you is the press release itself that the students issued this week, that says that you have to be concerned about the issue of health, and that is not political, but all public policy in health is a policy of the Government, in other words, every action of the Government is political, that is the mistake that people are falling into, and it is an mistake that several from the opposition are falling into as well.

In other words, you think that Ortega is also using COVID-10 to offset the civic struggle that has been developing since April 2018?

Correct. The proof is that the press release from the students does not propose any action of civic struggle, etc. In other words, the civic struggle is being left to one side, almost no one is talking about political prisoners.

So, the fight against COVID-19 should not displace the fight that has been happening for now nearly two years?

Correct. That is the objective that they should not lose, because the problem is that this is the approach of the Government, if it continues to be applied in the same way, and that is why there has to be pressure to change their policy, because if not, It is going to be a disastrous thing for the country, this situation is going to quickly collapse the hospitals and health centers, and therefore, there is going to be an extraordinary amount of deaths. This is the issue behind that, in other words, the fact that the regime has not taken any preventive measures in the case of the coronavirus pandemic is not because they do not want to, but because it is a strategy. The objective is to dismantle social protests, social mobilizations, if a complete disaster comes, try to stop the US sanctions.

But do you really believe that the Ortega regime is achieving this objective? There are opponents, for example, who continue demanding the freedom of the political prisoners.

I do not believe that the objective is being achieved with everyone, but precisely the objective of Ortega is this, dismantle the opposition and turn attention to the coronavirus. The objective is to divide. Some are no longer addressing the problems for which people were fighting for nearly two years.

So, I insist, is Ortega achieving the objective according to your analysis?

Partially, but the problem is that five crises are being confronted that they do not control, five crises that are developing more every day, and this is the weakness of the government. The problem of the people that believe that you should not get involved in politics is because they do not understand that the five crises have their own dynamics. The dynamic of the health crisis is one, the dynamic of the economic crisis is another, the dynamic of the international crisis is another, the problem of the Central American crisis, and the problem of the international crisis, the problem of the crisis in the United States. Only in the United States, to give you an example, there are more than 100,000 people affected by the virus, in other words, they are crises where the Government has no control, but that in one way or another have a repercussion in Nicaragua. The crisis of the United States means for Nicaragua that there are 2.2% of jobs have been lost, and most are in the construction sector or in commerce, jobs that generally are occupied by migrants, so this means that family remittances are going to drop. The crisis in Central America is where the Government does not have control either, let us remember that remittances also come in from Panama and Costa Rica.

With regard to economics, the Ortega regime, through the official media, has been justifying that it did not order a quarantine because, precisely the informal sector is one of those most affected by those measures.

The clearest example that they are not concerned about those sectors is that the Ortega unions themselves, who are in the free trade zones, are forcing workers to retreat to their homes without pay, alleging that it is to protect employment. They are promoting unemployment. In other words, this propaganda discourse that they are not stopping for the informal workers does come from a reality that is being experienced, because at least between 70 and 80 percent of economically active people are within the informal sector. In the face of that, there is no policy that would help them. They only use them, and put up their photos, to justify that they are not doing anything for those who live day to day and are exposed to coronavirus.

What public actions or policies would have to be happening for the most vulnerable sectors of the country, such as the informal workers?

The first thing that the Government has to do is ensure the basic resources of the country for people: energy, potable water and sewage, drainage. The municipal governments should be geared toward this work, to keep the pandemic from propagating. The other detail is that people go out in the streets to get food and the expenses of daily life, because they only have their work space in the streets, because the system has not been able to incorporate them into the formal economic system, in other words, street vendors can be indirect victims of coronavirus. These citizens cannot isolate themselves and stay in quarantine, but the problem that they are also confronting is that there is another sector that is staying in quarantine, you have to be clear that at this time there is no policy that can resolve these problems, but there are some measures that can mitigate the problem: remove taxes on all the products of the basic basket of goods to make the prices cheaper and more accessible to the population; that the people stop paying for basic services and taxes for three months; so that people can dedicate their money to the purchase of the basic basket of goods; that people have access to true information to prevent the distortion of information; that the State change its policy and seek to mitigate the increase in coronavirus, this means that the students would no longer go to school, that government officials would no longer go to their institutions unless they are indispensable, that businesses close and can only offer through delivery. There is a series of measures that the Government can take to mitigate the crisis because of the coronavirus, but poverty they have not been able to resolve in 13 years, and they are not going to resolve it right now in this period.

Some of the policies that you have mentioned do not require more than will, what is the regime of Daniel Ortega betting on, politically speaking, in the face of COVID-19 with this inaction?

I think that he is betting on creating social chaos. That they might appear as the saviors and call a national emergency, a national roundtable, so that people come to talk and they direct this matter. They want to dismantle the protest. In two years with the repression they have not been able to do that, and they think that the social chaos, that might be established because of the humanitarian crisis, could dismantle the social protest, that is a political strategy that they have. Now this political strategy also has another element, which is that this social chaos and this chaos because of the health crisis might allow the regime to appear as a regime that needs international aid to be able to address the fiscal shortfall that they have in the budget. They are out looking for how they can fill the treasury with international aid. The strategy of the regime has several angles, not just one, it has the angle of killing off social protest, the proof is that people are talking about the fact that you cannot mix politics with humanitarianism, but the Government continues repressing, the fear continues, in other words, the policy of repression has not changed.

So, if they want to create chaos to displace social protest, how do you think we are going to get to 2021?

That is precisely the objective of the regime, getting to 2021. Personally, I think that they cannot get to 2021. Why do I think that? Because the poor management of the health crisis can be a trigger for a deeper social and political crisis that could generate an unexpected fall of the regime, like no one was able to foresee the rebellion of 2018. This is the same. In this possible scenario where the regime might fall, the opposition would have to be proactive to be able to present a transition government. This is the central element for me.

But in the case that he gets to 2021, would we see a weaker regime?

I think that he is not even going to get there, because, look, only the departure of the regime can allow us to begin to truly resolve the problems and change the strategy of dealing with coronavirus. Ortega does not want to change because that weakens him. In other words, any truce that might want to be given to the Government, what is does is facilitate him getting to 2021.

That is precisely what I wanted to get at. A political or economic truce is talked about, how viable is this?

This just means establishing again the alliance between the economic powers and the regime. If the health crisis goes beyond April 30 what is most likely is that the economy will reach a drop of -5%… But even forming an alliance, the economy cannot be solved while the health problem is not resolved. There has to be a change in the health, economic and social policy, in other words, all that weakens the Government, and that is why it is not doing it. I do not see the economy is going to straighten out by this year, and I would see it to be political suicide on the part of big capital if it looked to negotiate with the Government, but these press releases that the students have been issuing endorse a possible truce because they want to give a non- political covering to things that are political.

And so, how does Ortega remain on the international level in the face of this irresponsibility with which he is acting in the face of COVID-19?

So far Ortega has been left alone on the international level, because previously he invoked the fact that other countries were not acting, but now only they are the ones who are not doing anything to prevent the spread of the virus. He no longer has the backing of Cuba, nor Venezuela, who are his political allies, not even Russia, because yesterday they announced that they are building a 500 bed hospital, in other words, there is no one in the world who has the position of Ortega-Murillo in the face of COVID-19. This situation of isolation obviously is going to have repercussions for him. The proof of that is that the United States decided that, in the support for the fight against coronavirus in the region it did not include Nicaragua, therefore this has repercussions on other international organizations, that also will not be very much in agreement in supporting Ortega, because he is acting contrary to all the recommendations of the World Health Organization. Ortega is being left internationally isolated and this weakens him even more because of the internal weakness that he has had. In other words, that combination of internal and external weakness puts the government of Ortega in a predicament, that it is weaker and therefore, he is going to look for a way to enter into a logic of creating consensus with some social sector that would lend itself to that ploy.

In terms of the weakness of Ortega on the international level, the fact that countries like Venezuela and Cuba, in addition to Nicaragua, are joining with other members of the UN to request a call for the lifting of sanctions, what does that show?

In the case of the other countries, like Cuba itself, the sanctions have been against the State, and in Nicaragua they have been against individual people, with the exception of the Police, so, there isn´t the evidence to equate them with the situation of sanctions that impact the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, they would have to very clearly differentiate this.

So, should they not even be included in this pronouncement?

No. Not even did Michelle Bachelet[1] herself include them, because she mentioned the sanctions that have an impact on the country, not on individuals.

In terms of the sanctions against regimes, the Government of the United States has not remained quiet, recently Nicolás Maduro practically was designated a criminal on the international level. How does this affect Nicaragua, Maduro being one of the principal allies of the Ortega dictatorship?

I would say that they trained their guns on Maduro. Two intelligence chiefs turned themselves in, and now they pull out a framework to democratize the country, in other words, they are offering the regime a ladder to get out; but the regime obviously is going to say no, but this is going to soften up a part of the Army. The repercussion for Nicaragua is that the Government of the United States is saying that, in spite of the coronavirus, they are continuing with their political strategy for Latin America. So, Nicaragua continues on the US radar…One element of evidence for this is the nomination of Carlos Trujillo, as Sub-secretary of State for Western Hemispheric Affairs.

If the international community continues doing their part, and the regime its part with these strategies that you are commenting on, in the face of COVID-19 and the rebellion of April, what then is left for us Nicaraguans?

I think that you have to continue the resistance. It does not mean that I am sending people into the streets, because the conditions that have changed. The resistance now means making issues like the freeing of political prisoners, the repression, continue being important issues in the political struggle, this means that it be an important issue for international organizations and pointing out that, as long as the Ortega-Murillo government remains in power, the danger that Nicaragua might become the focus of the health crisis in the region becomes more real every day. In other words, an uncontrollable crisis can break out in Nicaragua that is going to have repercussions on the countries of Central America.

 

 

[1] Current High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations

LETTER SENT TO THE SUBCOMMITTEE FOR THE PREVENTION OF TORTURE FOR THE LIBERATION OF POLITICAL PRISONERS

LETTER SENT TO THE SUBCOMMITTEE FOR THE PREVENTION OF TORTURE FOR THE LIBERATION OF POLITICAL PRISONERS

[original Spanish]

April 2, 2020

We share the complete text of the letter that we have delivered to the Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of the United Nations:

Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

On April 18, 2018, as a consequence of the social security reforms, peaceful protests broke out in different regions of the country which were met with an excessive use of lethal force on the part of the National Police and paramilitary groups.  The disproportionate use of force gave way to national demonstrations in demand for justice and democracy that also have encountered as a response repression and restrictions on the right to demonstrate.

The governmental repression has been maintained for nearly two years, and has passed through several phases that have pursued objectives and have had different characteristics. In each one of the phases the repression of the government has significantly raised the levels of violence against the population, especially against leaders of citizen and political organizations, journalists and human rights defenders.

Under governmental direction the excessive use of the police force was established, along with the presence of parastate armed groups who acted with the acquiescence of the police and the army, as well as the execution of a state strategy directed at preventing and criminalizing the right to peaceful protest and mobilization. This strategy is reflected in the behavior of all the different State institutions: the National Police, the Ministry of Health; the Judicial Branch, the Public Ministry, and the Medical Legal Institute, and on the other hand, the Legislative Branch, directing their behavior to providing legal formality to the impunity of the perpetrators, in addition to trying to control and intimidate the relatives of victims, threatening them with losing the benefit of  amnesty if they repeated [their behavior].

In short, a sustained and systematic use has been made of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment in the context of arbitrary detentions. Following the protocol of Istanbul,  and after the technical and independent expert analysis of the physical and psychological consequences of freed political prisoners, dozens of cases have been able to be documented on the part of the formal and informal social control systems (National Police and para-police forces), of physical, sexual and psychological torture, as well as humiliating treatment and bad treatment.

Since April 19, 2018 to now the National Police, accompanied by para-police groups and armed civilians, have carried out hundreds of arbitrary detentions, including of minors between the ages of 14-17. These detentions have been massive and indiscriminate, within the framework of different demonstrations, as well as during and in the months following the so called “Operation Clean up”.

In 2019 with a selective logic against leaders and activists, these detentions have taken place in different cities of the country. The Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts of the Interamerican Commission of Human Rights in their Report on the events of violence that occurred between April 18 and May 30 of 2018 point out several elements connected to this policy of arbitrary detentions, and observed a “devious use of the exercise of legal faculties of detention, and thereby their arbitrary nature remains undeniable.”

Patterns of human rights violations have resulted, starting with kidnapping or illegal detentions, the ineffectiveness of the recourse to personal exhibition, as well as in hearings and oral trials.

The authorities who are obligated to fulfill the law and constitutional guarantees have acted in an arbitrary, discretional way, and in express violation of the law, without exception, the people who have been illegally detained, have had their right to the presumption of innocence violated.

The people who have been jailed and are being prosecuted because of the criminalization of the exercise of their human rights, have been removed from their natural judge, captured by orders of authorities without mandates, or kidnapped by armed civilians who operate with the Police, have been taken to illegal centers where they have remained detained and the presentation to judicial authorities happens beyond the 48 hours that the constitutional norm establishes, in some cases after 96 or 150 hours of their illegal detention or abduction.

I attach the Patterns relative to the detentions of political prisoners in the national context starting on April 18, 2018.

Likewise, I attach the preliminary list of people detained and political prisoners on March 26, 2020.

Petition:

That in the framework of what was declared by different authorities of human rights organizations, particularly Dr. Michelle Bachelet, the High Commissioner for Human Rights,  the freedom of all political prisoners be demanded of the state of Nicaragua, because they have been captured not for having committed crimes, but for exercising fundamental rights and because the reality of the COVID 19 pandemic demands it.

Carlos Tünnermann Berheim

General Coordinator

Copy:

Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations,

Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the Organization of American States

Michelle Bachelet, High Commissioner for Human Rights

Joel Hernández, President of the Interamerican Commission of Human Rights (IACHR)

Antonia Urrejola, Vice President of the IACHR

Mons. Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, Apostolic Nuncio in Nicaragua

Preliminary list-report of people arrested and political prisoners

[original Spanish]

This list-report is an updating of the information on arrests for political reasons, and of political prisoners who remain in jails on March 26, 2020, as a result of the social and political crisis that began in April 2018.[1] The preliminary list was  constructed by an interdisciplinary and diverse group that systematized the information provided by human rights organizations, civil society organizations, territorial networks, activists on social networks, organizations of relatives of political prisoners, people released from jail, defense lawyers and citizen denouncements. Likewise, it is supported by the reports offered by the Blue and White Monitoring team, that daily reports to the Blue and White Unity, the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, as well as national and international civil society and human rights organizations on people abducted, killed, wounded and persecuted for political reasons in the country.

  1. Arrests for possibly political purposes

Since the publication of the last list-report of political prisoners, published on February 13, 2020, in the period between February 14 to March 26, 2020 a total of 58 people have been arbitrarily arrested for purposes of political persecution in Nicaragua, of that total 48 are men and 10 women. Of the total people arrested in this period 43 have been freed, be that the same day, or between day 1 and day 3 of their detention, in the case of another 3 of them more information is being gathered, and finally 12 people remain in jail and are added to the complete list of political prisoners.

During the period analyzed a phenomenon known as the “revolving door” has been identified, which is a dynamic where the regime arrests and frees a similar number of people. This practice allows the regime to continue making use of arrests as a strategy of deterrence against the political participation and organization of dissidents, and, on the other hand, reinforces their official narrative of normality and deny the existence of people arrested and political prisoners.

What follows is the earlier graph that shows the revolving door effect between February 14 and March 18, 2020:

Source: based on report from Blue and White Monitoring and different sources of verification

  1. Political prisoners within the context of April 2018

The preliminary figure of political prisoners on March 26 rose to 70. Of that total, 9 were detained for more than 48 hours, as of now without being presented with a judicial arrest warrant, 61 are facing judicial processes, of whom 28 have been sentenced, and 2 of those people, Yader Antonio Polanco and Jhony Alonso Castro Hernández, have a cassation judgement.

Distribution of political prisoners

In terms of location, we found that of the 70 political prisoners, 4 are in the new installations of the Judicial Support Office, 13 are in some police station, and 53 have been transferred to the penitentiary systems of the country. Among those jailed in the penitentiary system, according to information from their relatives, 2 are in maximum security cells (known as “the 300”). In demographic terms, currently there are 69 men, of whom 2 are minors and 1 female political prisoner.

Recaptured and political persecution of those released from jail

During the period analyzed, a total of 140 reports[2] were able to be systematized of political harassment (threats, attacks and raids) directed against freed prisoners and relatives of victims within the context of repression. According to the reports received, this harassment they receive mostly from the Police, and to a lesser extent from armed civilians, and from partisan organizations, followers of the regime.

Of special concern is the case of 11 people freed from jail who have been re-incarcerated, in other words, political prisoners who were freed, and have been captured again, and who now face charges against them again for reasons of political repression and persecution. These cases are made more visible later on in the list in the column “recaptured ex-prisoners.”

COVID 19 and the health conditions of political prisoners within      the jails

Within the context of the COVID 10 epidemic, the population incarcerated in Nicaragua are in a situation of special vulnerability, due to the precariousness and overcrowding of the jail cells, the lack of health conditions due to the limited access to potable water, in addition to the respiratory diseases that persist in the penitentiary system. For this reason we demand that the Nicaraguan State carry out all the necessary actions to preserve their lives, including the change of preventive measures with special attention to the population with greater risk in the face of the epidemic for reasons of age and chronic illnesses.

Of special concern have been the multiple denouncements on the part of relatives of political prisoners against the La Modelo National Penitentiary System which has been denying them the entry of gel alcohol and cleaning and hygiene products in the weekly packages that they prepare for their relatives, which are primary needs for fighting the pandemic that we are facing on the worldwide level, another concern of the families is the disinformation about COVID-19 on the part of the authorities of the National Penitentiary System with the political prisoners, as well as the lack of safety measures and behavior protocols, not just within the System but also for the visits and delivery of family packages, as well as the continuation of the judicial processes of the political prisoners in hearings without taking safety measures.

List of Political Prisoners

In what follows we present the preliminary list of political prisoners within the prison on March 26, 2020. We have marked with an “x” those cases of freed prisoners recaptured for their quick identification. We urge the citizenry in general to carefully review the preliminary list of this report. If you know a political prisoner who has not been registered, please communicate with these telephone numbers: +505 8879-3343 and +505  8687-3298.

[3]

[1] Given that the neither the Judicial Support Office of the National Police, the Justice System, nor the Penitentiary System provide official information, the information of these lists is gathered from denouncements on social networks, media monitoring and public denouncements, as well as the denouncements of relatives or the citizenry in general to national human rights organizations. Therefore, their verification has not been possible in all cases and there can be a margin of error. The information contained here is from public access.

[2] Source: Daily reports from Blue and White Monitoring.

[3] In accordance with national legislation, the names of minors are omitted, leaving only their initials. Likewise we have omitted the names of prisoners whose families do not want their names made public.

PRESS RELEASE Our Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic in the Country March 20, 2020 The Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy

PRESS RELEASE

Our Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic in the Country

March 20, 2020

The Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy

[Original Spanish]

Nicaragua, like the rest of the world, is experiencing the coronavirus pandemic. The apathy with which the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship is acting while hiding information and wanting to impose on the Nicaraguan citizenry an environment of safety and normality contradicts any logic or protocol for attention to this issue.

The dictatorship has shown that it does not have a prevention strategy, nor a treatment strategy in the face of coronavirus. The precariousness of the public health system that we have, and the discretional nature of state information does not allow one to know clearly the level of preparation of the Ministry of Health (MINSA). A minimum of preventive actions have been seen on the part of the State.

The regime continues calling for massive activities and gatherings of people, borders are not closed, very little information is provided about the basic measures to prevent the spread to the population, and the medical personnel are not provided the material needed for their protection. A call to society to stay in their homes is needed to contain the pandemic. The schools continue receiving hundreds of children, and the universities and the rest of the public institutions of the country are not applying preventive measures.

The National Coalition demands the following actions of the regime, in agreement with the recommendations made by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the measures taken by the rest of the countries in the world and that have had important results:

  1. Suspend massive events or crowds of people, of any nature (political, cultural and social).
  2. Send home on paid leave public and private employees older than 60 years of age, pregnant women and people with chronic or immunological depressive diseases.
  3. Create a special Program to prevent contagion in State institutions
  4. Suspend non-essential work in state institutions.
  5. Authorize access to basic cleaning supplies (soap, alcohol, gel, etc.) to prisoners and people deprived of freedom. Special protection to homes of the elderly and nursing homes.
  6. Liberation of all valetudinarian detainees. Create a program of protection in the jails.
  7. Suspend all in person recreational activities within the framework of Holy Week.
  8. Close centers, commercial malls, bars and recreational places at 9pm, in order to mitigate scenarios of contagion.
  9. Temporarily close land, aid and sea borders, with the exception of the transportation of essential goods, medicine and food.
  10. Ensure the daily supply of potable and safe water in neighborhoods and communities
  11. Eliminate taxes on hygienic and cleaning products and facilitate their importation.
  12. Speed up import processes for needed reagents and medicines.
  13. Suspend classes in schools and universities for one month.
  14. Reduce the rates for water, electric and the price for fuel, in accordance with the reduction in the price of oil, and suspend for three months cutoffs of home water and energy services.
  15. Extend the collection of property taxes for three months, with rescheduling once the WHO has declared the pandemic ended.
  16. Ensure that the clinics of INSS are ready for treatment. Ensure transfers of the general budget of the Republic to INSS; to ensure the subsidy of the affiliated workers affected by the pandemic.
  17. Make the public information from MINSA about the evolution of the pandemic transparent.
  18. Automatically extend for six months all proof of survival, so that those retired and on INSS pensions do not have to go out to do that paperwork.
  19. Provide health workers with appropriate physical protection equipment that meets international standards.
  20. Provide private hospitals and social security clinics with enough reagents and process the tests quickly.
  21. Temporarily freeze the collection of mortgages, personal loans, credit cards, working capital and entrepreneurial loans to families with people affected by the illness.
  22. Create a Program of support to businesses to maintain jobs.

To these measures should be added others depending on the context and the need to alleviate specific situations of the health crisis that we face.

This pandemic is happening in the context of a dictatorship, where demands connected to human rights become more urgent. Among them we mention:

  1. The complete end to repression and full respect for human rights of the Nicaraguan population is an absolute guaranty to exercise the prevention and treatment protocols.
  2. The right to health and treatment of everyone, without any political discrimination.
  3. The absolute and immediate liberty of all political prisoners, now in more vulnerable conditions. And the treatment of the overcrowding and unsanitary conditions of all the common prisoners, with a high risk to their own contagion and that of their families.
  4. The demand for the safe return of people under forced exile and in precarious conditions outside the country.
  5. The right to access to information so that independent media and journalists are able to inform the citizenry without putting their lives at risk.

From the National Coalition we will create an Emergency Committee composed of professionals and experts in health, finance, economy, social welfare and law so that they might contribute to evaluating the situation of the epidemic, and measures to promote within that framework. We will be offering sectoral and professional recommendations, so that hand in hand with the citizenry, we might be able to prevent and conquer the coronavirus.

Every day is crucial. While the State takes the pertinent measures, the citizenry should remain in their homes to the extent possible, respect physical distancing and frequent hand washing.

NATIONAL COALITION

The UNAN held a “black mass” to order to expel students

This is the second part to the previous article dealing with the expulsion of over 110 students from public universities by the Government. 

The UNAN held a “black mass” to order to expel students

By Keyling T. Romero/Franklin Villavicencio in REVISTA NIÚ January, 2020

II and last part

[original Spanish]

A “Security Commission” decreed their “academic death”. Members of the UNEN turned in a list of “coup supporting” university students.

The verdict of “academic death” against at least 110 students from the campuses of the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN) came out of a “black mass” with the participation of members of the National Union of University Students (UNEN). Three weeks before the University finalized the expulsion in August 2018, the University Council authorized the creation of a Special Extraordinary Commission that would analyze the consequences for university students critical of the regime, many of them barricaded and even political prisoners of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo.

University students confirmed for REVISTA NIÚ that since the beginning of August 2018 the University Council held emergency meetings in the Center for Research on Aquatic Resources of Nicaragua (CIRA-UNAN). The Special Commission there analyzed case by case the list of “coup supporting students” provided by the UNEN itself. The result was the first massive expulsion of students in the history of Nicaragua, in a process that violated the internal regulations of the university itself, and curtailed the right to education for more than a hundred university students.

None of the students that were expelled on August 17, 2018 knew that a process against them existed, as the internal regulations of the UNAN require. Nor did they receive notification in writing for the reasons or the final resolution, nor did they have the possibilities for appeal.

The Special Commission, also known as the Security Commission, was created apart from the two disciplinary commissions that were already established in the academic rules of the UNAN. And in those they created sub-commissions for each school, but not all had to do with the academic lives of the accused students. There was one whose task was the revision of the social networks of each university student.

Authorities are silent about the expulsions

This new commission was a closed commission. It was just called the Special Commission. It was never revealed who they were. “Another process that is completely illegitimate because you have to know who is judging you,” denounced the student Elthon Rivera, a member of University Action, the student movement that has gathered information about this case.

“That commission,” adds Rivera, “had the mission of spying and doing follow up to identify those who were criticizing the Government, and based on that, to do the expulsions.”

This month of January 2020 will be 17 months since these massive expulsions, and the UNAN had not publicly recognized how many students were sanctioned, what campuses they were from, what the proof was that resulted in that decision, why the students were not notified either of the process nor of the decision, and who formed the Special Commission that issued the decision against the students.

The only official communication that alludes to the expulsions is a document leaked in September, but dated August 20, 2018. In the document Luis Alfredo Lobato, General Secretary of the UNAN writes to César Rodríguez Lara, Director of Registration.  Lobato mentions the Extraordinary Session No. 13-2018, carried out on August 17th. That day a “report” was presented prepared by the Special Commission, along with the resolution of the University Council. The annex: the names, majors, schools and identification numbers of 82 expelled students.

According to figures from the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), in the UNAN 144 expulsions were carried out, recorded by University Action. The movement argued to REVISTA NIÚ that they could not share the details of those figures, because the information was provided in confidence. Nevertheless, it provided a list of 55 students expelled with their personal data and identities protected.

The “crimes” of the students

The commission and sub commissions that banished the university students from their campuses, started with the approval of the University Council, the highest body of the UNAN. The Council is composed of seven members under the responsibility of the President Ramona Rodríguez. In addition, ten deans of schools, three secretaries and twelve presidents of the UNEN, led by Allan Daniel Martínez, and Iris Valeria Cruz Martínez, the student president of the Ruben Darío campus in Managua.

“The decision to expel the students was made in the University Council, but it had to pass through a disciplinary commission. That commission never existed,” complains Alejandra Centeno, a young woman expelled in spite of her academic excellence, and a member of University Action. Centeno also criticizes the fact that a Security Commission was created that did not exist in the University Council. “We do not know exactly who got the idea to expel the students, we think that the UNEN made the list and turned it in,” she denounced. The UNEN, she clarifies, is a member with voice and vote in the University Council.

Among the reasons to justify the expulsion of the students, the Special Commission alleged “having participated in barricades, use of devices for physical aggression, allowing the entry of people from outside the university, vandalistic behavior, calls for academic disobedience and inciting hate and violence.”

In addition, it prohibited those expelled from entering the campus again, threatening to file charges against them “in court.” At the end of the leaked sheet of paper is the detail: “cc (copy to): Ramona Rodríguez Pérez”, the President of the UNAN, who later was named president of the National University Council (CNU), the umbrella organization of higher education in Nicaragua.

“Publicly accepting that she expelled students who are opponents is openly accepting that you violated a human right, and that the State is not capable of ensuring education,” denounced Centeno.

Ramona Rodríguez, the key element within the UNAN.

If the repression against the students came to expulsions, the principal person responsible for allowing it – assess the students – is the President, Ramona Rodríguez, who in August 2019 was  named the new president of the National University Council (CNU).

“She goes into history as the worst president that the UNAN has had. There are videos where she appeared haranguing and threatening the students with taking away their scholarships if they participated in marches (…) and since then, some questions have been raised as to whether her nomination followed the criteria established by law to name or elect the president of the CNU. Her academic qualifications have been questioned, because the president of a university should be an academic par excellence, and she did not have the best academic attributes to be the president”, assesses Jorge Mendoza, President of the Forum on Education and Human Development (FEDH).

According to her academic profile published on the web site of the UNAN-Managua, Ramona Rodríguez has a Masters in Environment and Natural Resources, a specialization in Scientific Research Methodology, and a licentiate in Education Sciences. In addition, she was the Director of the Regional School of Estelí from 1994 to 2010. Then she was chosen as the General Vice President on the Managua campus, and since March 2015 has been the President of that campus.

REVISTA NIÚ requested an interview with the President of the UNAN and President of the CNU, Ramona Rodríguez, to get to know the official version of the university, but she has not responded to communications.

The academic and former President of the UNAN-León, and American University (UAM), Ernesto Medina, commented, “I do not know whether that woman sleeps peacefully, because of everything that is happening in her university and the CNU, because it is also a body that has lost the little prestige that it might have.” In his judgement Rodríguez “does not play any role in being concerned about higher education,” but rather in administering the 6% of the General Budget of the Republic that is shared among the universities as a reward or punishment, depending on their positions in respect to the Government. “In recent years – Medina criticizes – that has been her only concern.”

They violated procedures

The Student Discipline Regulations of the UNAN-Managua establish that when a student commits a serious offense – all the expulsions were justified in this way – the case should be taken to the Facultative Disciplinary Commission, which must notify the student in a period of three days, with the purpose of starting the investigation. Then, the case is taken to the Higher Disciplinary Commission, that has between 10-15 days to investigate and listen to the version of the student. And finally, both commissions deliberate and issue their verdict.

The student, adds the regulations, has the power to appeal to the President. Nevertheless, this procedure was not followed in the massive expulsion decided in August 2018 against more than a hundred university students, and none of them were notified of the accusation, nor of the verdict.

The youth denounced that in addition to being expelled, they lost the opportunity to take up their studies in other universities, because the authorities also refused to give them their certified academic records which even, in some cases, were completely erased from the records.

The takeover of campuses in protest

The takeover of universities, schools, churches and public buildings as a form of protest and resistance has been recorded for more than sixty years in Nicaragua. The ruling Sandinista Front, which through the control of the UNEN and the authorities of the UNAN in August 2018 pushed for the expulsion of at least 110 students after the protests that erupted in April of that year, also used the takeover of institutions and campuses.

“When I was a student (in the seventies) we did it several times to protest for the freedom of the political prisoners and, at that time, that was beautiful, marvelous, we were heroic; now we are vandals and coup supporters for doing what the youth have always done,” criticizes the academic Ernesto Medina, who was student and president of UNAN-León, and until November 2018, the president of the American University (UAM).

At that time, Medina recalls, the only expulsion was against two leaders of the University Center of the Autonomous University of Nicaragua (CUUN) in the León campus. In protest, the students took over the campus again, and the president was forced to allow them to return. Then, he adds, there was other takeovers, but there were no expulsions.

“In the times of university autonomy there were never expulsions for reasons of a political nature,” maintains the professor, former president of UNAN León, and ex Minister of Education, Carlos Tunnermann. “It did not even occur to either Dr. Mariano Fiallos (considered the father of university autonomy), nor to  I, to expel anyone,” he states.

Medina and Tunnermann agree today in the Civic Alliance opposition group, and while talking about the current expulsions against university students, they compared their own experience when they coincided in the León campus, Medina as a student and Tunnermann as the President.

In those years, Nicaragua was under another dictatorship, the Somoza one. Nevertheless, they state that in the universities the students had freedom of thought, and that was where they organized, protested and even raised money to send to the Sandinista Front.

On one occasion, remembers Medina, the students protested over a book. “In that book there was a chapter on the American Embassy, and that is why we ended up taking over the university. We went to sing a serenade to Dr. Tunnermann (then the President of the campus) and it never occurred to him to expel us. He knew who we were who were singing songs to him in front of his house. Even more, when there were problems within the university, we would pull out the benches and block the street. And the authorities would show up to talk to us,” he relates.

University autonomy, approved in 1958, is hamstrung with the new dictatorship that Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo lead. The public universities are controlled from within by the tentacles of the regime: the UNEN, the Sandinista Workers Center, the Provincial Sandinista Committees and the university authorities who are strategically chosen by the party to follow their guidelines.

A researcher of educational issues, María Josefina Vijil, assesses that “education in Nicaragua is suffering” at all levels, because it has become partisan. “Many youth have told us that the public universities are like a big prison: you cannot come on a day when you do not have classes, they have lowered the amount of class hours to keep the students from meeting among themselves, and a ton of repressive measures to keep them from organizing. The University – she laments – has become a repressive institution for the youth.”