Category Archives: Nicaragua Demonstrations

The history of Miguel Mora: from Sandinista to politician persecuted by the Ortega Murillo Regime

This article recounts the personal story of Miguel Mora, founder of the news program 100% Noticias [100% News] which originally was a very pro- government, privately owned channel, but in spite of government threats to stop, continued to cover the citizen protests of April 2018. It was definitively closed down by the government on Dec 21, 2018 and he and his news Director, Lucía Pineda were jailed for 172 days. The government continues to occupy the news station.

The history of Miguel Mora: from Sandinista to politician persecuted by the Ortega Murillo Regime

by Amalia del Cid, La Prensa, Oct 18, 2020

[original Spanish]

At one time Miguel Mora defended the policies of the Sandinista government for which he has asked pardon. Since 2018 he has been one of the principal targets of the attacks of the Ortega Murillo dictatorship. This is his evolution.

In the reception area of the Vivian Pellas Hospital is seated a man who appears to be incognito. He has a mask, glasses and hat, but the people who pass by his side recognize him anyway. Some stop for a second to take a better look at him, and then extend a fist to him. “Keep your chin up!”, they tell him. Or they ask him right away, “How is your wife?” “She is in a lot of pain, but she is fighting,” Miguel Mora responds to everyone.

On Sunday October 11 his wife, the journalist Veronica Chavez, was wounded in the head when Sandinista supporters stoned an opposition meeting held in the city of Masaya. The rock caused a fissure in her cranium and minor internal hemorrhaging. “She was between life and death”, Mora says, with wet eyes. Since that day he almost never leaves the hospital.

Before April 2018 Miguel Mora had no problem in being recognized as a Sandinista supporter, but things changed at that time. After the explosion of citizen protests, and the violent repression orchestrated by the State against the demonstrators, the journalist and political activist has become one of the principal targets of the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. Illegally they confiscated his channel, including the building and technical equipment; they jailed him for 172 days and since his liberation in June 2019 he has lived under constant police harassment.

Now he defines himself as a “democratic citizen.” “For me Sandinism represents death, imprisonment, confiscation, repression and dictatorship,” he states. “I believe that he has to be removed from power for our survival as a country.” In fact, in July of this year, when he announced in a public letter that he was leaving journalism to go into politics, he asked forgiveness for having been a defender of the Sandinista Front.

“On different occasions I admit that I made the mistake of believing and defending some policies of the Sandinista government; I ask forgiveness for that,” he wrote. “I ask forgiveness from you, I ask forgiveness of my own family, which has been greatly affected and personally experienced the brutal repression of this dictatorship.”

“The Word of God says that we should repent, ask forgiveness and remove ourselves from evil to achieve his mercy,” he added. “I give thanks to God that he opened my eyes, and all this came to its end on April 18, 2018.”

There are those who think that the cruelty that the Sandinista Front has exhibited against Mora and his family in some way is connected to his previous relationship. He thinks it has nothing to do with it, that it simply is the policy of a “terrorist State” and that the persecution that he has suffered is due to the “aggressive” attitude of 100% Noticias in the face of the massacre committed by the dictatorship in 2018.

Origins

Miguel de los Angeles Mora Barberena was born on August 20, 1965 in the Quinta Nina neighborhood, along the shores of lake Managua. His maternal family are from peasant origins and in the 1940s migrated from Santo Domingo, Chontales, to settle in what at that time was a private farm populated by dozens of families who were installed in shantytowns.

Miguel Mora was born and lived his childhood there. The farm was full of “mango trees”, he remembers, and he ate so many that now he can´t stand to look at them. His mother, Auxiliadora Barberena, washed other people´s clothes on the coast of Xolotlán, while he attended a private school in the settlement itself. There was not much of a relationship with his father, who was a boy a little more than 15 years old, and left when Miguel was a child.

Later on, the family moved to a home located close to Gancho de Caminos in the Eastern Market, and Miguel got a scholarship to study fourth grade of primary school in the Loyola Colegio, where he also did his secondary school. In the afternoons he would study, and in the mornings help his mother sell merchandize brought in from Panama. He graduated from high school at the age of 21, because his participation in activities of the Sandinista Front put him back.

First, he joined the National Literacy Crusade and then the Sandinista Youth; later he picked coffee, and in 1982 joined a reserve battalion, until in 1984 he was finally taken into Patriotic Military Service (SMP). They did not have to trap him in one of the typical raids of the SMP, because he arrived on his own to present himself in a health center of Managua. They put him on a truck and took him to Mulukukú, which in Sandinista propaganda was known as “paradise for the youth”, but in reality was only jungle.

In the following two years he participated in several firefights and saw many friends die. He had to wrap up their cadavers and carry them for up to a week through the jungle, or leave them buried in some site with a marking that would allow them to be found later on, he recounts. He continued having nightmares until a little while ago about the things that he saw in the war, but he has now gotten over them. He is convinced that “God” has helped him.

When he finished his service in 1986, he was then tired of the activities of Sandinism, he states. He took up his high school studies where he had left them, in third year, and did not leave school again. From his maternal grandfather, a peasant who passed the time reading newspapers and listening to the radio, he had acquired an affinity for the news, and in 1989 he registered in the Journalism School of the Central American University (UCA). There he met Veronica Chavez two years later.

At that time, he was a skinny young man with thick glasses who already had two children and who, after a lot of begging, had been able to join the news program Extravisión to do his professional practicum. On the other hand, she was a “highly desired” young woman who had “everything needed to be Miss Nicaragua”, he remembers about her. They did not like each another.

The young woman arrived at the news program to “seek to do her practicum” and the director, Manual Espinoza, assigned her to the intern.

“I don´t want to be saddled with an impediment,” protested Miguel.

“You came to me and begged me,” responded his boss. “besides, I am not asking your permission, I am ordering you to do it.”

Veronica was not happy either.

“Don Manuel,” she said, “I do not want to go around with him, send me with someone else who knows [the business].”

None of their requests were listened to, and they had to work together. Soon they became friends who gave one another advice about their respective love lives, and over time Miguel “like poverty” got more deeply involved in the family of his colleague, until one day she ended the relationship with her boyfriend and began to look on her skinny friend with new eyes. “They dated” for three years before getting married, and then had two children. The little girl died within forty days due to a heart problem, and the boy, Miguelito, was born with severe cerebral paralysis.

“She has been a woman who has suffered much,” said Miguel about his wife, seated in the reception area of the Vivian Pellas hospital.

The News program and Sandinism

He stayed at Extravisión for five years. There he specialized as an economic journalist and learned “the ins and outs” of a news program. One day he decided that he could put together his own program and came up with 100% Noticias, which he started in 1995 as a 15 minute report.

“Those were good times for reporting,” he says. “You could talk with Doña Violeta and with any minister, but they were also convulsive times, and everything was news. I went with three important stories every day. Within a year, Nicho Marenca called me to Channel 4.”

The Sandinistas wanted to have a news program and thought that 100% Noticias could be that program. But not much time passed before they expelled Mora from his own space. “The owner of Channel 4 is Daniel Ortega, when I said that I cannot be a Sandinista news program, they pulled me out and kept all the staff and the name, they simply did not allow me to enter the building,” he states. “That was the first censorship that Daniel Ortega imposed on me.”

He fought over the name of his news program for a year, through a lawsuit that he was able to win, because at that time the Sandinista Front was not in power, he recognizes. Meanwhile he led a news program on Radio Magic, that was called 100% Noticias, and when he finally recovered his television news program, he took it to Channel 8, where he stayed from 1998 to 2000. He left there over certain “economic conflicts” with the businessman Carlos Briceño.

He went out renting spaces on Channel 23 and Channel 37 until “cable came in.” In the beginning there were only a handful of channels, but when “Carlos Pellas brought in fiber optics, everyone wanted to be on cable,” he tells. He went to request a channel, and after a lot of insistence, they put him on Channel 63, where he remained for 13 years, until 2018 when the Sandinista regime took him off the air.

What type of relationship did Miguel Mora have with the Government before 2018? According to him, “it was very journalistic.” His closest relationship to Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo happened in the 1990s, when 100% Noticias was on Channel 4, he maintains. They have never been friends nor has he been a member of the party, he states. “No one is ever going to show me a party identity card that says Miguel Mora, militant of the Sandinista Front.”

After 2013 when the church and human rights organizations were already denouncing human rights violations, and the word “dictatorship” began to be used in the country, with a certain amount of timidity, Mora still would express in some forums that there was freedom of expression and press in Nicaragua.

Recently he explained that at that time he was responding as the director of 100% Noticias, and that if he was saying that there was freedom of the press in Nicaragua it was because his channel was on the air and no one kept him from transmitting news about the Peasant Movement, for example.

Prior to that in 2012, he was photographed with Laureano Ortega Murillo in a Christmas cocktail party. Mora was there as a member of AMCHAM [American Chamber of Commerce] and the son of Daniel Ortega came up to talk with the business people, he explains. “Until 2018 I saw COSEP seated with the Government, I would see everyone, I found them at cocktail parties, in embassies. We had not reached this level of brutality.”

According to Mora, he began to sense that Ortega and Rosario Murillo were “evil” people when he saw the repression of the marches of the Peasant Movement, “but I thought that they could still manage the situation.”

He states that when the citizen revolt exploded in April 2018, and 100% Noticias began to cover it, Orlando Castillo (former director of Telcor, now deceased) called him to a meeting to ask him to not report on the protests, and to demand the head of two opponents who had spaces on the channel: the activist Jaime Arellano and the journalist Luis Galeano.

“What do you want? Whatever you want we will give you but stop reporting. Give us those two programs and if you don´t, you will have to face the consequences,” Castillo threatened him. “Tell the president that we are going to continue as he knows,”, responded Mora, and the Sandinista Front assumed that he was going to cede; but instead the channel took a frontal approach.

Mora quit playing “the devil´s advocate” in the debates on the program “IV Estate” and forgot about journalistic “balance”. “The situation no longer called for half measures,” he maintains. “Everyone turned against the massacre.”

With that Channel 63 became the target of censorship of the regime, and on December 21, 2018 it was raided by dozens of men with high powered weapons. The journalist and his wife had spent around 2 weeks sleeping in the installations of 100% Noticias to avoid the harassment on the route between their home and the station. Police entered by the main door and as they moved in “they upset everything.”

In the back on the second floor, Miguel Mora, Veronica Chavez and Lucía Pineda Ubau put into action the emergency plan that they had prepared. They closed down their emails and accounts of the company, turned off the computers, reported through Whatsapp groups that they were being invaded, and when the police entered the office, raised their hands. “They came in like they were going to trap Chapo Guzmán.”

Jail and politics

Accused of inciting hate and violence, in a process without evidence, Miguel Mora and Lucía Pineda Ubau were jailed for 172 days. Before being transferred to La Modelo and La Esperanza [male and female penitenciaries, respectively], they coincided in the preventive jailcells of the Judicial Support Office, el Chipote.

In spite of everything, he remained “always optimistic”, stated Pineda Ubau, one of the journalists who had worked the longest with Mora. “He said to me, `don´t be concerned, Lucy, you are going to get out.´ The next day they took him to court. Maybe he thought that they would free me, and he was cheering me up as he tended to do, that in the midst of the storm stay calm and continue to have faith.”

According to the journalist, even though Mora had a Sandinista tendency he always asked that “it not influence” the agenda of 100% Noticias. He would say that “we report on what is happening and with balance”, she stated.

Currently Miguel Mora has distanced himself from the news agenda of the Channel, a responsibility that he left in the hands of Lucía. Politics and journalism are antagonistic powers, a journalist cannot be a politician and in no way can a politician do journalism. Mora knows it, and that is why he has distanced himself from his life project. He states that he is willing to continue the struggle as part of the opposition, even though this might mean more repression.

Suddenly a phone call comes in to his cell phone. It is the peasant leader, Medardo Mairena, another prominent opposition figure. “Medardo is my brother, we were prisoners together and we have developed a great friendship. He is concerned about Veronica, but I imagine that he is calling about something to do with the Coalition,” Mora explains. Now his world revolves around something larger than 100% Noticias.

Two visions

For Lucía Pineda Ubau, the director of 100% Noticias, Miguel Mora “has always had a positive attitude” and has encouraged young journalists to learn different skills, like editing, being controlers, and managing social networks and cameras. “!00% Noticias is a school where many were trained and today are in other news programs,” states the director of the channel.

“As boss he always was asking, ¨What breaking news do we have today, Lucy? Let us call our sources, put a lot on economic issues which is what people want to know, how their economy will be every day, the social, political and judicial situation,” relates the journalist. For her, Mora “is a friend, he knows how to detect the talents of each person and give them opportunities.”

Nevertheless, several of his old workers describe him as an “authoritarian” and an “absentee” boss who did not watch out for the well-being of his employees. “He is a person who is not very close to the workers, he was almost never at the station, but he was into his things. For him the Channel was first, second and third. There was no harmony, he was the boss and what he said had to be done,” stated the journalist Matilde Sequeira, who worked in the Channel from April to December of 2018.

“He never treated me badly personally, he never showed lack of respect by shouting at me,” Sequeira says. “But that sense of lack of closeness did exist.”

 

Personal notes

His favorite food is indio Viejo.

When he was in high school they called him “Octopus”.

He does not like going to the woods because he got “tired of it” during military service.

He is afraid of spiders, bats, rats and cucarachas. All of those were in the jail cells.

He likes to watch TV series and films, and his favorite book is “La Cabaña”.

He is an evangelical and has three children. Two (boy and girl) from his first marriage and one with Veronica Chavez.

In 2019 he stated that if he won the lottery the first thing he would do is buy equipment for 100% Noticias.

In November 2019 Miguel Mora and Lucía Pineda Ubau received the International Freedom of the Press Award in New York, granted by the International Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ for its acronym in English).

According to Miguel Mora, the last time that he voted for Daniel Ortega was in 1996.

Currently he lives “off the love and solidarity” of his family and friends, he says.

The desperation of the Ortega Murillo regime

In the last week the Government has submitted three bills for their approval in the National Assembly, which they have the numbers to easily pass:  a bill that would allow for life imprisonment- currently the longest sentence is 30 years; a bill that would require any Nicaraguan receiving any foreign money – other than family remittances and some formal business contracts – to register as a foreign agent; and a cybercrime bill that would penalize with jail any publication “of false or distorted news”. Critics of the government see them all aimed at  threatening  the opposition and curtailing their rights before the elections of 2021. What follows is the analysis by a former high level Sandinista and political and economic analyst.

The desperation of the Ortega Murillo regime

By Oscar René Vargas, Sept 29, 2020 in Artículo 66

[original Spanish]

They are only willing to leave power dead, not through elections. It is the logic of power or death.

The intolerance continues as always and the attack of the Ortega Murillo regime against the opposition is intensifying. The impunity that protects the Police and paramilitaries is the guarantee that the repression will continue. In other words, Nicaragua will continue experiencing a nightmare of political repression and state violence.

The repressive campaign of Ortega Murillo for their continuance in power is carried out within a context of aggression and death, in addition to the police violence. At the same time, the regime counts on the fractioning of the formal opposition, helped by the façade opposition parties, both factors help them in their purpose of staying in power indefinitely.

The social, political and economic crisis will continue in the case that Ortega Murillo continue in power. The consequences are more than predictable. A future will not be seen for the impoverished population nor for economic recovery in the next five years.

The regime is facing the confluence of five crises (economic, social, political, health and international) which is not favorable for their continuance in power, a situation which leads them to implement more repressive laws out of their desperation to control the social movement in order to avoid a second wave of social protests and/or a social and political tsunami.

I think that in the best electoral scenario, Ortega will hold manipulated elections in order to be able to win them and is willing to deal with international sanctions and popular uproar, like Maduro has done since 2018. Meanwhile, he is going to approve laws that further limit the freedom of expression, because for him thinking is dangerous.

This is exactly what he is preparing with the laws that he wants to approve: life sentences as a threat against opponents, cybercrime which censures social networks and foreign agents and other laws that might appear. The regime is digging in for a possible negotiation with the North Americans.

In other words, they want elections, but only with the façade opposition parties and a minimum of electoral reforms, regardless of what might come later. They are willing to leave power only dead, not through elections. It is the logic of power or death.

This does not mean that there is no need to fight for clean and transparent elections in 2021. The regime wants to get to an electoral scenario where the formal opposition is up a creek without a paddle. Nevertheless, the electoral process can be taken advantage of as a stage in the struggle against the dictatorship that we have to exhaust, taking advantage of its international isolation, and the fact that the 2021 elections that will be monitored by the international press. In other words, the electoral process has to be taken advantage of in order to mobilize the population against an electoral fraud that would have a high political cost, internally as well as internationally.

The Ortega Murillo regime is making a poor bet: Nicaragua is not Venezuela, not in terms of resources, military power, and international support on the part of the Russians and Chinese. Also, the regime is mistaken that the real opposition is the National Coalition and that its fracture, they think, allows it to do anything. The real opposition are the people in the streets, in the traffic circles, and in any place in the country that protests against the dictatorship.

PROPOSED LAW FOR THE REGULATION OF FOREIGN AGENTS

The biggest news of last week was the introduction of this bill in the National Assembly by the Government. Some commentators have called it “Putin´s bill” claiming it is modeled on a similar law Putin had passed, which obligates all entities and people receiving any type of foreign funds  – except for family remittances, retired pensions, and foreign business investment- to register with the Ministry of the Interior as “foreign agents.” They need to report those funds prior to receiving them on a monthly basis. Failure to report can result in legal sanctions, including confiscation of assets.  Furthermore it prohibits such persons from being candidates or holding public offices or public employment in any way.  Analysts say this  would effectively prohibit most of the current leaders of the opposition from running as candidates in the next elections.

What follows are the articles to the bill, which is slated to be taken up by the Economic Commission of the National Assembly on Sept 29, 2020

PROPOSED LAW FOR THE REGULATION OF FOREIGN AGENTS

(submitted to the National Assembly Sept 22, 2020)

Article 1 Purpose and sphere of application

The current law has the purpose of establishing the legal framework for the regulation of natural or legal persons who respond to foreign interests and financing, and use that financing to carry out activities that stray into the meddling of foreign governments or organizations in the internal affairs of Nicaragua, putting at risk State security.

It has as its sphere of application obligated subjects, as well as foreign monetary funds, assets, goods and objects of value, established in this law, excepting all foreign retired people who reside in Nicaragua and receive money under the concept of their pension; natural persons who receive family remittances; foreign productive and commercial enterprises with branches in Nicaragua, factories and supermarket chains from foreign investment, their workers and service providers, as well as people who establish commercial relationships under the conditions of operative commercial Agreements, Treaties, and Accords, particularly with respect to investment, service provision and the temporary entrance of business people, in accordance with current legislation on those matters.

In that sense, the current law will not affect operative commercial agreements or treaties, nor those who might sign them in the future. Nor foreign investments, nor connected physical or legal persons, or those who perform strictly economic or commercial activities, or those related to foreign investments.

Article 2. Registry of Foreign Agents

Organizations, associations or natural or legal persons, Nicaraguans or from other nationalities, who within Nicaragua receive funds, assets or any object of value coming, directly or indirectly, from foreign governments, agencies, foundations, societies, no matter what type or nature they may be, are obligated to register in the Registry of Foreign Agents established in the current law.

All organizations, agencies or individuals who work, receive funds or respond to organizations that belong to or are controlled, directly or indirectly, by foreign governments or entities, must register as foreign agents.

Article 3. Obligated Subjects

Any physical or legal person must register as a foreign agent who, within Nicaragua, performs or works as an agent, representative, employee or attendant, or any person who works or performs any activity under the order, requirements, instruction or under the direction, supervision or control of a foreign organization or of a physical or legal person whose activities  are directly or indirectly supervised, directed, controlled, financed or subsidized completely or partially by foreign governments, capital, businesses or funds, be that directly or through third parties, be they physical or legal persons.

People should also register, who within Nicaragua, act as advisors, public relationists, publicity agents, information service employees or political consultants for or in the interest of foreign governments, foundations, businesses or associations; that request, charge, employ in any way or disburse funds, contributions, loans, money or any other things of value for or in the interest of foreign governments, foundations, businesses or organizations; or represent directly or indirectly the interests of foreign governments, foundations or organizations before any ministry, public entity, business or official organizations of the State of the Republic of Nicaragua.

Natural or legal persons exempted from this law do not form part of the obligated subjects.

Article 4. Definitions

For the effects of the current Law, the following definitions are established:

  1. Foreign Agent: Natural or legal person, Nicaraguan or of another nationality, who within Nicaragua receives funds, assets or any object of value coming, directly or indirectly, from foreign governments, agencies, foundations, societies or associations, no matter what type or nature they may be, who work, receive funds or respond to organizations that belong to or are controlled, directly or indirectly, by foreign governments of entities.
  2. Competent authority: Ministry of the Interior responsible for the regulation, supervision and sanction on matters of Foreign Agents
  3. Registration format: Document prepared by the Ministry of the Interior to implement the Foreign Agent registration
  4. Foreign Agent registration: Entirety of orderly and systematic information that the Ministry of the Interior has for the exercise of the regulation, supervision and sanctions on matters of Foreign Agents.
  5. Obligated Subject: Any physical or legal person must register as a foreign agent who within Nicaragua, performs or works as an agent, representative, employee or attendant, or any person who works or performs any activity under the order, requirements, instruction or under the direction, supervision or control of a foreign organization or of a physical or legal person whose activities are directly or indirectly supervised, directed, controlled, financed or subsidized completely or partially by governments, capital, businesses or foreign funds, be that directly or through third parties, be they physical or legal persons.

People should also register, who within Nicaragua, act as advisors, public relationists, publicity agents, information service employees or political consultants for or in the interest of foreign governments, foundations, businesses or associations; that request, charge, employ in any way or disburse funds, contributions, loans, money or any other things of value for or in the interest of foreign governments, foundations, businesses or organizations; or represent directly or indirectly the interests of foreign governments, foundations or organizations before any ministry, public entity, business or official organizations of the State of the Republic of Nicaragua.

Article 5 Competent Authority

The Ministry of the Interior is the competent authority for the application of the current law, exercise regulation, supervision and sanction in these matters. The Ministry will reorganize itself administratively to establish the Department of the Registry of Foreign Agents.

The Ministry of the Interior will request the collaboration of all public, mixed and private entities to ensure compliance with this Law.

Article 6 Prior Request of the Ministry of the Interior

Foreign agents must present previously to the Ministry of the Interior a report of any offer that is made from their foreign principal concerning funds, assets or any other assets and objects of value being received directly or indirectly to carry out their activities as foreign agents, and explain in what activities those funds or assets will be used.

Article 7 Presentation of Information

The physical or legal persons who perform as foreign agents must present, monthly, to the competent authority, a documented, detailed and verifiable report of expenses, payments, disbursements, contracts and other activities connected to their performance as foreign agents. The total expenses or income should respond to the amount of income and assets received.

Article 8 Donations

Donations that physical or legal persons registered in the Foreign Agents Registry receive cannot be used to finance activities not previously declared; to carry them out without registering them in the web portal that the Ministry of the Interior sets up for that purpose; to change the previously declared purpose for which the funds were received, without notice to the Ministry of the Interior.

Article 9 Prohibition of anonymous Donations

Physical or legal persons registered in the Foreign Agent Registry will not be able to receive donations or funds or material assets of any type from anonymous sources or persons.

Article 10 Monetary funds and material assets.

Monetary funds must be received through any supervised financial institution that is legally registered in Nicaragua. Material assets coming from outside the country must comply with the customs legislation.

Article 11 Information

Physical or legal persons registered in the Foreign Agent Registry must provide the competent authority the name of the foreign government or governments, foreign political parties, businesses and other physical or legal persons who finance, provide funds, or in any way facilitate economic and material means or of any other type to perform their work as foreign agents. This information will be public.

Article 12 Foreign Agents

Natural or legal persons, Nicaraguans or of other nationalities, who act as foreign agents must abstain, under the pain of legal sanctions, of intervening in matters, activities or issues of internal politics. They also are prohibited from financing or promoting financing to any type of organization, movement, political party, coalitions or political alliances, or associations that carry out internal political activities in Nicaragua. Nor will they be able to officers, public employees or candidates to public offices of any type or nature.

The prohibition in this article will end one year after the foreign agent requests being removed from the Foreign Agent Registry, which will be done once accredited before the competent authority that, in effect and in a documented way, he has ceased to be a foreign agent. The presentation of false documents or proof can incur administrative and penal responsibilities, depending on the case, previously determined by the competent authority.

Article 13 Faculties of the Ministry of the Interior

When the Ministry of the Interior has knowledge of the existence of physical or legal persons who are acting as foreign agents and have not complied with the obligation of registering, it will proceed to notify them of the duty to comply with said obligation.

In the case that the physical or legal person, once notified, within the term of 5 work days, does not register, the Ministry will be able to establish fines on natural persons, as well as fines and request to cancel the legal status of the competent authorities, without affecting the penal responsibility determined by the competent authority for the commission of crimes against State security.

In any case, the refusal to register will authorize the Department of Foreign Agent Registry to intervene funds and real estate and other assets of the physical or legal person who refuses to comply with the law, as well as prohibit their activities.

Article 14 Regulations

The Ministry of the Interior will establish the necessary regulations to carry out the regulation, supervision and sanctions on matters of Foreign Agents.

Article 15 Complementary application

The Ministry of the Interior will apply in a complementary form the dispositions that have to do with Law 977, Law Against Laundering Assets, Financing for Terrorism and Financing for the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, whose entire text was published in la Gaceta, Official Daily no 165 of August 29, 2019, to ensure the effective application of the current law.

Public officials who know about the reception of funds on the part foreign agents and supervised financial institutions that receive the monetary funds for foreign agents must report to the Financial Analysis Unit, in accordance with the existing legislation.

Article 16 Transitory

The subjects obligated to register in the Foreign Agent Registry will have a term of 60 days to do so, from the date this law takes effect. Starting with the date this law takes effect, the subjects obligated will not be able to carry out the movement of monetary funds nor material assets, until they comply with the obligation of registering.

Article 17 Registry Format

The Format of the Registry will be prepared by the Ministry of the Interior for the application of this law.

Article 18 Publication and applicability

This law will take effect with its publication in La Gaceta, the Official Daily. (NOTE: date is left blank awaiting approval of the law).

 

 

 

 

To achieve transitional justice in Nicaragua, the victims of the regime should not forgive and forget

Last week the big news story was that Daniel Ortega was recommending changing the longest sentence from 30 years to life, purportedly in response to the rape and murder of two girls in Mulukukú. Nicaragua, and Central America in general, have never had life sentences, because their penal legislation has always recognized the possibility of rehabilitation. However, two leaders of the Peasant Movement Against the Canal, after the rebellion in April 2018, were given sentences of over 200 years each, in clear violation of that law. Paradoxically, this is the context in which this interview was done of an expert on transitional justice.

To achieve transitional justice in Nicaragua, the victims of the regime should not forgive and forget

By Eva Inestroza, La Prensa, Sept 20, 2020

[original Spanish]

The four pillars of transitional justice are: truth and memory, justice, reparations and guarantee of non-repetition.

Monday September 14 was 26 months since Gerald Vásquez  was murdered by paramilitaries who carried out an armed attack on the Divina Misericordia Church, which offered refuge to more than 200 young people who were expelled by gunfire from the trenches of anti-government protests in the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN-Managua) on the afternoon of July 13, 2018, three months after the beginning of citizen protests against the regime of Daniel Ortega.

Susana Lopez, mother of the university student killed by para-police at the service of the Sandinista dictatorship, said that the damage that they caused her and her family is irreparable, and even though more than two years have passed without those responsible for the death of her son paying for the crime that they committed, she trusts that a process of transitional justice will be applied in the country.

“The person who shot as well as the person who gave the order to shoot have to pay”, pointed out López, who from the Association of the Mothers of April (AMA), an organization that includes more than 100 mothers and relatives of the people murdered during the rebellion of April 2018, have confronted international bodies in order to get justice, reparation, and non-repetition.

Transitional justice

In order to understand the search for these four fundamental pillars to transitional justice, and the necessary process for its application in Nicaragua, it is important to understand what transitional justice is.

A specialist in the Transitional Justice area of the Nicaraguan Foundation for Economic and Social Development (FUNIDES) explains that transitional justice are judicial and non-judicial mechanisms to enable a transition or change to be carried out, be it because a country wants to get out of an authoritarian regime, or is leaving an armed conflict and wants to get to peace.

The specialist, who asked to remain anonymous, points out that the important aspects that nurture what today is considered transitional justice are war crimes, which can be committed against a civilian population when there is an armed conflict, and crimes against humanity; in other words, crimes that are committed against humanity, which are no longer the responsibility of one country, whether there is a desire or not to judge those who have committed human rights violations, but rather that those crimes now are passed to being the responsibility of the international community.

“The development of transitional justice was very marked by historical events in Latin America between the 70s and 80s, there were several dictatorships, above all military ones, in Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. In the mid 90s the concept of transitional justice emerged, which as such basically has to do with judicial and non-judicial mechanisms to carry out a transition to a democratic system,” said the specialist of FUNIDES.

“Since now there have been many experiences on the international level, there is no specific recipe, but there are several mechanisms, which even though they have demonstrated that sometimes they do not function completely, and that are going to depend on the context of the country, they have proven that they help to improve these transition processes,” she argued.

The four pillars of transitional justice are: truth and memory, justice, reparations and the guarantee of non-repetition.

Truth and memory

The specialist pointed out that historically when a country has come out of an armed conflict or a war in search of peace, or from an authoritarian regime toward a democracy, what is wanted is to begin a process of “erasing and starting with a clean slate”, and what this does is make the victims invisible.

“For a sustainable transition process to exist, the victims have to be in the center, because that is the great slogan of transitional justice. The victims have to be in the center, and therefore it is important to know what happened. It is important that the truth be constructed or reconstructed, an inclusive truth that does not only tell what happened from one side, but that can really take up and listen to what the different bands experienced, to say it in that way, and this implies a reconstruction of the historic memory, “ she pointed out.

What is considered to be an entry point for a process of transitional justice to happen, and a classic mechanism, is the creation of a truth commission.

To keep alive the memory of the events occurred since April 2018, the Association of Mothers of April (AMA) created the Museum of Memory against Impunity, which was built for the purpose of contributing to dignifying the victims of the State of Nicaragua and to honor their memory. “The fight to achieve justice has been international, because there is no national justice, and there will not be national justice. As long as this Government is in power, there will be no change. On the contrary, there are reprisals after the harm,” denounced López.

“The Museum of the Memory of April remains alive, especially in the search for that truth and that these crimes not be repeated in the history of Nicaragua,” she added.

Truth Commission

Truth commissions have to comply with certain basic criteria, the specialist explained. For example, they cannot be managed by the Government which has been reproached.

“Because it is clear that it is going to distort everything and is going to tell their story. The truth commission has to be impartial, which is normally created within the State because it needs a budget, but it is fundamental that it be composed of people who have recognition, legitimacy and when the commission has been formed, it needs to begin to do a very concrete report which takes into account and represents the largest amount of human rights violations that happened during the conflict,” specified the specialist.

Truth Commissions do not have penal power as such, she explained, but are an input that afterwards is presented to legal institutions for the information to be processed. In addition to the fact that, those who compose it make recommendations on the other pillars that have to do with transitional justice.

The regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, through the National Assembly, approved the creation of a truth commission on April 29, 2018, which was sworn in on May 4 of that same year, to investigate the deaths and harm caused during the protests begun on April 18, 2018. Nevertheless, it was noted by several organization and civil associations for their prejudiced conclusions on the descriptions of the crimes committed, which covered up and benefitted the regime.

“In 2018 a truth and reconciliation commission was created in Nicaragua, but it was not recognized by any human rights organization on the international level, nor nationally, because it was clearly completely prejudiced,” commented the specialist.

Justice

The word transition is added to the word justice, because it deals with a process of transition towards democracy, justice by itself is not enough, states the coordinator of the transitional justice area of FUNIDES.

“Since so many human rights violations have been committed that the traditional judicial systems come up short, then transitional justice says that justice has to be done, but so that what happened not be repeated, one, the victims have to be the center, and two, it is important that several structural reforms have to happen to prevent human rights violations from happening again,” insisted the specialist.

Therefore, the role that justice has is to take up again what refers to truth and memory, and investigate the principal people responsible, ensuring that those who have not been sentenced or accused of crimes against humanity be judged and sentenced, even though the State may not want it.

“An international institution can come in and begin a legal process. Admittedly this is pretty complicated, but it is possible,” warns the specialist. In addition, she states that crimes against humanity cannot be negotiated and cannot be the object of an amnesty.

“Justice is going to depend a lot on the willingness that a new government may have in Nicaragua, to really not allow and not apply amnesty laws, but fundamental there is the role the civil society may have, that can demand and insist, that can oversee whether processes are really carried out, and in the case that there is no state willingness, advocacy can be done from the international community because, as I was saying, there are mechanisms so that crimes against humanity be judged and not prescribed, and can be done on the international level,” recommended the expert of FUNIDES.

Such was the case of the Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet, she pointed out. “He was tried a long time afterwards. The Chilean State was protecting Pinochet, but at a moment in which he was in England, which was a party to the Rome Statutes, is what allowed these international trials to happen. Chile was not party to it, that is why Pinochet was very protected in that sense, and Spain, that also ratified the Rome Statutes, tried him and England allowed it,” the specialist in transitional justice said, providing the context.

For his part, the political analyst and former ambassador of Nicaragua, Mauricio Díaz, also gave the example of the dictator Pinochet, who was arrested in London on October 16, 1998, because of his presumed implication in crimes of genocide, international terrorism, torture and disappearances of people which occurred in Chile during his dictatorship between the years 1973-1990, and up to the moment of his death had an arrest warrant against him.

“An independent prosecutor pursued him when he left his protection, from his niche that was the Chilean geography. The same is going to happen to the regime here, they are not going to live in peace, at least in the world, even though they are entrenched within the national geography, clad in a concept of sovereignty that serves to clothe them in impunity,” said Díaz.

Nevertheless, the former ambassador indicated that in order to apply transitional justice, the barbarities that have occurred within the country rooted in the explosion of the crisis of 2018 would have to be documented through an impartial and independent Truth Commission, which in his judgement will not be possible, if the State continues being controlled by Daniel Ortega. “Another government would have to do it, in the future, that would say that the more than three hundred and so murders, those tortured, women raped are not going to be left unpunished.”

Reparations

In this pillar, the specialist in transitional justice of FUNIDES indicates that listening to the victims is very important, knowing what it is that happened, and which begins to try those responsible.

“The victims have the full right that their rights be restored to the extent possible, there are several forms of restoration if you wish, a classic one is economic restorations. It is known that everything that a violation of human rights means cannot be recovered through money, but people broke with their life projects, and have the full right to receiving some type of restoration,” expressed the specialist.

Even though there are also symbolic type restorations, among these that the State recognize what happened, that sites be created to remember and commemorate. “So that the population not forget and these crimes not be committed again. In addition are reparations concerning psychological accompaniment, since the surviving victims of the relatives who are the indirect victims, are left with serious trauma and emotional impacts,” she added.

In terms of reparations, the mother of Gerald Vásquez pointed out that more than two years later the Ortega Murillo regime has not even recognized that the youth that were murdered during the protests were students. She deplores the fact that the dictatorship couple continue categorizing them as criminals.

“I have gone through psychological even psychiatric treatments, the harm to me and all the mothers that this regime caused us is irreparable. Nevertheless, we are going to continue being the voices that they silenced with bullets, we are going to dignify their names, their memories, because they have still not recognized that they were students, they say that our children were criminals,” objected López.

Nevertheless, the specialist of FUNIDES recognized that it is not possible for the pain to be  completely repaired, even though the pillar of reparation be applied, it will not be accomplished. “Even though the wound cannot be completely healed, but on seeing that the transition does not forget what happened, that is to say, that we have to deal with the past, shouldering what was done, that these are the victims, and all needed resources have to be sought so that the victims be restored, and above all to prevent a conflict of this magnitude from happening again,” she recommended.

Guarantee of non-repetition

Even though to achieve this last pillar of transitional justice requires medium and lon- term work, in the case that a dictatorship end and a democratic government begin, the principal institutions that committed violations, were accomplices or allowed the human rights violations, cannot continue the same, indicated the expert.

In other words, “for the population to once again have confidence in the State, normally the institutions that are implicated like the Army, Police, judicial system, Legislature, an immediate task is that there has to be a profound transformation, not just of the people who had a role of involvement, but also how to return to allow these institutions to be independent again, have a vision of professionalism and democracy,” said the specialist of FUNIDES, as an immediate response, as long as there is a democratic change.

Nevertheless, she pointed out that in the long-term educational programs should be carried out, where topics about a culture of peace can be developed. “That being able to have peace implies developing skills, also in a collective way, that allow for conflicts to be resolved without having to get to violence,” she said.

For Guillermina Zapata, this last pillar on the guarantee of non-repetition is linked to truth and memory, which has cruelly marked her life and that of her family in the two dictatorships of Somoza and Ortega.

The National Guard of Somoza killed her older brother on April 28, 1978 and four decades later, her oldest son, Francisco Reyes Zapata, 34 years of age, was murdered by a well-aimed bullet, direct to the head, while he participated in the protest march on May 30, 2018, Mother´s day in the country.

“The objective is that the youth not be forgotten, and that history not be repeated again. My family fought against the dictatorship of Somoza. We lived through that war, we lost a brother and 40 years later they killed my son. As mothers we have seen that international organizations have made an effort to support us, that is why I have faith that transitional justice will be achieved,” expressed Zapata. “I know it is not going to happen overnight, justice can be slow, but we are going to achieve it,” she added.

The regime is betting on forgetting

After the overthrow of the dictatorship of Somoza four decades ago, the hostilities of two armed conflicts, like the insurrection and the counterrevolution of the 80s, former ambassador Mauricio Díaz commented that a transition process has not been experienced in the country. On the contrary, he says that Nicaraguans have had a short historic memory, which is why the regime is betting again on forgetfulness.

“These [people of the regime] are betting on forgetfulness, that the people will forget, and it is a historical political curse, because we Nicaraguans forget, we have a short historic memory and they are betting on it being forgotten,” he pointed out. Nevertheless, at the same time, he recognizes that the events that occurred rooted in the civic rebellion of April 2018 are “fresh”, and the ongoing reports and pronouncements of the international community are keeping alive the memory of April and the crimes committed by the regime.

“One of the few things that were achieved in Nicaragua with the National Dialogue was that it permitted the entry of the Interamerican Commission of Human Rights (IACHR), the report done by the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) and the Special Follow up Mechanism for Nicaragua (MESENI). All of these inputs are key and have been key because they have allowed that everything that has happened in Nicaragua be made visible on an international level, from a well-recognized external organization,” concurred the specialist of FUNIDES.

“There is a very clear, very powerful report, from a recognized institution in terms of human rights, and effectively this is going to serve as an input for judicial processes that can happen in the future. Everything that has been done, and what can continue being done on an international level, is very important to accelerate a process of democratic transition in Nicaragua,” recommended the expert.

 

 

PROPOSAL FOR A COUNTRY AGENDA, Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, NICARAGUA 2020

The week before the celebration of Nicaraguan and Latin Ameican independence (Sept 14 &15), the Civic Alliance published their proposed country agenda, which they expect will be enriched by consultation with people at the grassroots level. That consensus document follows.

PROPOSAL FOR A COUNTRY AGENDA

Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, NICARAGUA 2020

[Original Spanish]

Our Agenda for a New Nicaragua is Humanistic, placing the HUMAN BEING, each Nicaraguan, at the center of development and public policy plans.

Our Principles:

We believe in the right of each Nicaraguan to equal and holistic development

We believe that each man and each woman should have the capacity to achieve their aspirations and enhance their fulfillment, personal and economic well being

We believe in a Nicaragua where dictatorships do not happen again; in a Democratic State

We believe in political pluralism, in the freedom of Nicaraguans to express themselves and form associations

We believe that democracy is based on citizen participation in the governance of the country

We believe in the need to create and strengthen a true Rule of Law

We believe in freedom, in a State that respects public liberties

We believe in the fact that HUMAN RIGHTS are inalienable and sacrosanct.

Aspirations

  1. A new Nicaragua
  2. Eradicating the old way of doing politics
  3. Genuine and fair Rule of law.
  4. Justice for the victims of abuses of Human Rights violations.
  5. Social policy that would ensure equity and sustainable human development
  6. Economic policies aimed at productive transformation, generating quality jobs and development with equity.

Social

  1. The State will ensure quality public services.
  2. Social policy will ensure equal opportunities
  3. Projects will be implemented for social housing, nutrition, attention to children and the elderly
  4. Reviewing rates for water, light, taxes and garbage, as well as other municipal services.
  5. Social Security will have to be reformed without affecting the poor nor retirees.

Health Care

  1. Improvement of salaries and working conditions for health care workers.
  2. Incrementally, appropriate and sustainable financing of health care will be achieved, with equity and efficiency, reducing out of pocket costs.
  3. Health information systems will be strengthened in order to support the formulation of evidence-based policies and decision making
  4. Prevention, detection, monitoring and response to outbreaks of disease will be strengthened, responsibly applying the International Health Regulations.
  5. Revision of the conditions of social security, treatments, guaranties of quality and coverage.
  6. Immediate depoliticization of the health care system
  7. Access to health care without discrimination will be promoted
  8. Reinstatement of all fired health care workers, as well as expelled students.
  9. Begin a program of inclusive holistic health care, including mental health, for victims of the conflict.
  10. Implementation of a program for the return from exile of human talent in health care.
  11. Universal, free and equitable access to to holistic, quality health services and to medicines will be ensured.

Education

  1. Immediate depoliticization of all schools
  2. Reinstatement of all teachers expelled or fired, as well as students
  3. Public education in Nicaragua will be free, high quality and pertinent.
  4. Primary education in Nicaragua will continue being obligatory
  5. Review of the salary table for teachers, in accordance with their capacities and level of study.
  6. Modernization of educational programs
  7. Inclusion in the curriculum of values of inclusion, integrity, honesty, civility, critical awareness, discipline, responsibility, revitalization of cultural identity and protection of the environment.
  8. University autonomy, academic freedom and democracy will be fully respected in the universities
  9. A cultural policy will be designed that promotes the arts and creativity, as well as protect the cultural manifestations of the Nicaraguan people themselves.

Youth

The youth agenda has been thought through in order to respond to the problems of youth in the country, expressed in demands of the State as well as civil society in its entirety.

In terms of the State, youth demand:

  1. Application of the Law for youth
  2. Application of the Law of Access to Public Information, which allows for full accountability, clarity and easily understood, publication in all communication media.
  3. Reestablishment of public freedoms, particularly the freedom of expression, organization, and mobilization of students.
  4. Spaces for employment in accordance with the academic plans offered by different universities and technical schools in Nicaragua.
  5. Eliminate political sponsorship in order to get a job.
  6. Not being discriminated against for ones political decisions and ideas
  7. Education without political biases
  8. Opportunities for new spaces for entrepreneurship
  9. Programs for food and citizen protection for those who live outside of Nicaragua
  10. Voting for youth outside the country.
  11. Protection for reserves and green areas
  12. Access of youth to legislative spaces
  13. Training and recreational spaces
  14. Respect for Human Rights as youth

Youth, also youth demand of civil society:

  1. Unity in action and international lobbying (Coordination of civil society)
  2. Inclusion of exiles in processes of political unity
  3. Promotion of decent spaces for contributing ideas
  4. Preparation and training to participate in elections
  5. Formational spaces for knowledge about political history and current events
  6. Strengthen spaces of trust among citizens
  7. More inclusive system of participation
  8. Organization of all the movements of youth born before, during and after April 2018
  9. Construction and strengthening of this national agenda of youth for youth.

Culture

The State will be a facilitator and promoter of culture, far from any propaganda or ideology. Full independence will be established for creators and their cultural manifestations.

  1. The Institute of Culture will be reorganized to have an appropriate and efficient cultural institution to carry out a cultural policy that cares for the cultural values and assets of the nation, and guarantees the freedom of creation, developing spaces and providing appropriate means so that creators can have support for their creations.
  2. The publication of national or literary or general interest works will be promoted, offering fiscal incentives to national publishers and eventually creating a state publisher.
  3. Human and material resources will be assigned for the conservation of monuments and cultural assets. The export of archaeological pieces will be overseen and controlled, and other artistic works that would be considered national patrimony.
  4. Creation of a Museum of Visual Arts
  5. The teaching of plastic arts, theatre, dance, music, cinema and audiovisual arts will be strengthened
  6. The National Literary Award will be created
  7. Program for the promotion of reading, and network of public libraries, including the use of digital networks.
  8. Fiscal incentives will be offered for the private sponsorship of museums, expositions, fairs, and festivals for poetry, literature, music, dance, cinema, plastic arts, among other cultural expressions.

Sustainable Economic Development

The objective of the political economy will be economic growth with social equity and environmental sustainability, with an emphasis on the development of Nicaraguans and the realization of their aspirations.

  1. The right to private, collective and community property will be protected.
  2. The free market, productive diversification, and the generation of highly productive jobs will be promoted, with well-paid salaries and taking advantage of world trade opportunities
  3. Developing productive skills in the youth that would promote new and better jobs
  4. Policies that stimulate activities like tourism, agro-industry and construction.
  5. The promotion of direct foreign investment and national investment will be fundamental for the process of productive reactivation and transformation.
  6. Holistic reform of the electric energy generation, transmission and distribution system. Promotion of renewable sources.
  7. The safe return of exiles will have to be incentivized and creating programs so that they can invest in new undertakings.
  8. Promoting programs for financing innovations, putting them at the disposition of entrepreneurs.
  9. Designing a credit policy that would promote the production of agriculture, ranching and its derivatives, fishing and other sectors.
  10. Reactivation and/or construction of the highway system and productive roads.

Environment

  1. Natural reserves will be respected and protected, preventing land invasions.
  2. India Maíz and Bosawas will be reforested and the settlement of new inhabitants will be prevented within the reserves
  3. Promoting reforestation and natural regeneration
  4. The exploitation of natural wealth will be rationally regulated.
  5. Water pollution through industrial waste will be prohibited and sanctioned, projects will be done to clean up water reserves
  6. The use of the coasts will be regulated
  7. Campaigns will be carried out to educate the population to take care of public spaces
  8. Fiscal benefits for ecological reserves

Aspirations of the Caribbean Coast

  1. That the programs come from a commitment of the national state, so that there is no interruption by changes of the parties in power.
  2. That the legal advances in matters of the recognition of the rights of Indigenous and Afro-descendent peoples which the State of Nicaragua has achieved up to now be maintained and recognized
  3. Completion of the Autonomy Regime.

Justice

  1. There will be justice for those guilty of violations of the human rights of citizens
  2. Creation of an Independent Truth Commission and a special prosecutor
  3. All action of justice will have as its principal objective the victim and their relatives.
  4. Entry into the country of the IACHR and the OHCHR
  5. El Chipote will be closed and torture eradicated.
  6. Reform of the justice system that includes a new national forensic and criminal laboratory system with full autonomy.
  7. The culture of non-violence will be promoted for the resolution of differences between Nicaraguans.
  8. The Statute of Rome will be signed and ratified by the State of Nicaragua.
  9. Amnesty Law 966 will be annulled.
  10. Return of confiscated properties.

The Rule of Law

  1. Nicaraguans will recover all constitutional rights and guarantees.
  2. Independence of the branches of government.
  3. Reform of the Constitution to definitively eliminate presidential re-election.
  4. Corruption will be fought head on.
  5. The freedom of the press, freedom of expression and demonstration will be re-established.
  6. Strict compliance with the civil service and administrative career, access to public information and citizen participation laws.
  7. Gender equality, non-discrimination will be promoted, and violence against women, minors, indigenous and Afro-descendent peoples will be fought.
  8. Reforming the Army and National Police.
  9. Paramilitary groups will be eradicated, who will be put into the hands of justice.
  10. The functioning of municipal autonomy will be reinforced.
  11. Canal Law 840 will be repealed.

Equality before the Law

  1. Adherence to the reformed Constitution
  2. No one is above the law, regardless of their religious beliefs, political affiliation and gender.
  3. Respect for private, collective and community property.
  4. Respect for the mechanisms of the free market, formal and informal.

Electoral Reforms

  1. The electoral branch will be reformed in a holistic manner in accordance with the already prepared reform proposals by the electoral reform roundtable. Among the most urgent reforms are:
  2. a) A new Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) composed of honest citizens, along with changes in the structures of the CSE
  3. b) Unrestricted national and international observation
  4. c) Clean-up of the electoral rolls
  5. d) Access and functioning without impediments for political party poll watchers.
  6. e) Publication of electoral results in real time.
  7. f) Access of all citizens to free identity cards
  8. g) Elimination of two-party system
  9. h) Flexibilization of requirements for the registration of electoral alliances
  10. i) Voting from outside the country
  11. The electoral branch will fulfill its function with transparency, communication, information and integrity during all the phases of the electoral process.
  12. A new Political Party law will be created that facilitates the formation of new young political parties.

A Social Contract

  1. This proposed program is conceived as the basis which should be enriched with the contributions of different social sectors.
  2. We do not believe in programs imposed from above.
  3. This Agenda is the basis for a SOCIAL CONTRACT where all of us commit ourselves to working together for this just country.

Decalogue

  1. We Nicaraguans will be equal before the law.
  2. We will be equal in our rights to receive social benefits from the State.
  3. All of us Nicaraguans will contribute to the development of our country through our taxes.
  4. Respect for public freedoms: freedom of the press, to organize, to demonstrate, freedom of expression.
  5. The environment, water and reserves will be respected and cared for.
  6. Independence among the branches of the State.
  7. Free, transparent and supervised elections that prevent forever strong men and dictatorships.
  8. A clear Social Contract in effect of democratic exercise from the national level to the communities.
  9. Justice. The crimes suffered by the population will be prosecuted.
  10. Army and Police will be reformed to fulfill the law, obey civilian authorities and be apolitical and professional.

 

 

 

Press Release of the Student-Youth Sector on negotiations with the National Coalition

The major issue among the opposition has been the representation of the youth in the “National Coalition” – an attempt to unify all the groups opposed to the current government. In general, the National Coalition wanted the youth participation to be linked to already existing organizations in the National Coalition, which in essence would give additional votes (i.e. their party youth) to the political parties which form part of the National Coalition. The autonomous youth sector rejected that option, and instead wanted to ensure an important representation of youth not linked to any political parties. Their logic was that it was precisely this sector, which at the cost of many of their own lives and futures, forced the government to negotiate in May 2018. It was not the largely discredited political class, which they feel has too much influence in the National Coalition under the current arrangement. On August 3, 2020 they released this statement after the failure of the negotiations with the National Coalition about their participation.

Press Release

Student Youth Sector

The 14 autonomous youth organizations organized with self-determination in the Student and Youth Sector (SEJ).

Whereas:

We promoted a negotiation process for the broad, fair and consequential integration of Youth in the National Coalition (CN), for which purpose we attended a meeting of that space on July 4 without the right to vote, having agreed with the 7 actors of that roundtable that they would give a response this past July 28th, time during which we were asked to discuss our proposal with other young actors.

Having presented two proposals, an initial one, and another one constructed thanks to the exchanges with youth organizations, we continued in the constructive dialogue with the National Council of the Coalition on July 29 and 30, and in view of the fact that the issue of the integration of the youth was relegated in order to discuss important topics without the legitimate participation with the voice and vote of the Youth, we gave additional time to the representatives of that Council to comply with the commitment before the end of Friday July 31, 2020 at 5:00pm.

We make it publicly known that:

Having fulfilled the time period of the summons, and receiving the response of the National Council of the National Coalition, where they vehemently rejected our proposals, we suspend our participation in the negotiations of that space, we think that the decisions imposed by the block, political parties and allies have generated double voting for their political parties and limited the participation of the autonomous and independent youth, this imposed decision can not happen in a space that says it is democratic and inclusive.

We refuse to provide legitimacy to a Coalition where political parties, that historically have destroyed, reached pacts, and deceived the people, would have hegemony over the decisions, we will not allow the adult-centric culture along with the native and traditional political class to utilize the youth of April, we make it clear that we youth are not political lackeys that they can continue using to breathe life into their worn out and unrecognized political parties, we value the coherence of the National Unity and the Civic Alliance who have been the only organizations that have supported in an ongoing fashion our proposals.

We will continue working on the internal strengthening of our Student and Youth Sector, organizing our structures, having an impact internally and externally, working for initiatives in the streets and social networks to continue demanding the liberation of political prisoners, return of exiles, end to the repression, freedom of political organization and free, observed and transparent elections; contributing to the efforts from the different spaces where we are linked.

Our commitment is with Nicaragua, with the Youth, Freedom, Justice and Democracy.

All the corrupt ones: let them leave!

Dora María Téllez: “The word Sandinista now is repugnant to me”

This interview of Dora María Tellez, former Minister of Health during the 80s, also founder and past president of the MRS (Sandinista Renovation Movement), is significant for a number of reasons. The questions asked by one of the editors of La Prensa, Fabian Medina, reflect the perspective that sees the FSLN of the 80s composed entirely of human rights abusers, without any redeeming policy initiatives. This echoes a current problem in the ongoing attempts to forge unity among the anti-Ortega opposition. Some, reflective of the questions asked by Medina, are claiming they will not be part of any coalition that includes any group with the name “Sandinista”.

 However, since their founding the FSLN has seen the MRS as their principal electoral threat, given that the other parties have not been associated with pro-poor policies, but rather have been seen as exclusively pro-business. This is a significant factor in elections in the second poorest country in Latin America. The animosity of the FSLN reached the point where they revoked the legal status of the MRS just prior to municipal elections of 2008, where some observers thought the MRS could win the race for mayor of Managua (at that time Dora María Tellez was on a hunger strike precisely to protest that measure). This forced the MRS´s participation in electoral processes to be limited to allying with right wing parties, which clouded their reputation, and gave the FSLN a “public monopoly” on commitment to the plight of the poor.

Further complicating the scenario, is the reputation the FSLN has for infiltrating opposition organizations, preventing them from forming a united electoral front. So, while some right-wing groups use this very reason to refuse to ally with the MRS, more frequently in recent political history the FSLN has successfully manipulated “right wing groups” to prevent a united front. This leads others to believe that right-wing attacks against the MRS are actually incited by the FSLN.

All of these dynamics are reflected in Dora María´s responses in this interview.

Dora María Téllez: “The word Sandinista now is repugnant to me”

By Fabián Medina, La Prensa, July 19, 2020

[original Spanish]

The former guerrilla recognizes that in these times when someone hears the word Sandinista “what is heard are the crimes committed by the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega” and in that sense her party debates whether it is worthwhile to continue using that word in their name.

41 years ago, Dora María Téllez was entering Managua at the head of a large group of guerrillas from the Western Front of the Sandinista Front. She was the leader. She was 23 years old. She was coming to celebrate the fall of the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza and the beginning of the Sandinista revolution. Since then she was always on the stage celebrating that date, year after year, until 1993 when the differences with Daniel Ortega began that led her and other militants of the Sandinista Front to leave, and found in 1995 the Sandinista Renovation Movement party (MRS). Téllez, a guerrilla commander, was Minister of Health in the cabinet of Daniel Ortega in the 80s. If any word has defined her in her life it is “Sandinista”. Nevertheless, she feels that the regime of Daniel Ortega has given that word a different meaning, and she herself questions it now. She addresses in this interview on the 41st anniversary of the defeat of Somoza and the beginning of the Sandinista revolution the controversial MRS and the figure of its old fellow party member, Daniel Ortega.

When was the last time that you were on stage for July 19th?

It must have been like 1993…

Do you feel nostalgia?

Actually no. I am not a person that feels nostalgia for past times. I think about my dead father and mother and I do not have nostalgia. I have good memories, experiences, learnings, but nostalgia is not a feeling of mine.

Is there something to celebrate on July 19th?

Celebration as celebration I do not see in these circumstances. There are commemorations. We, in the MRS, commemorate instead July 17th. The departure of the dictatorship is celebrated, from which we should have learned, but we did not. And in these conditions, the country is not for celebrations.

I was not asking about the moment, but rather about what July 19th means for history.

In historic terms it is like the liberal revolution. They are historical facts. And the celebration depends on each person. It should not be a national holiday. Maybe July 17th, when the dictatorship fell.

Many people do not see just the end of the Somoza dictatorship, but also the beginning of the other dictatorship, that of the 80s.

They are the two events. The fall of the dictatorship of Somoza and the establishment of the regime of the Sandinista revolution that, in effect, was an authoritarian regime, that had the characteristic that it opened the path, in elections, to a peaceful transition, which is exactly the point which we want to reach now.

How would you evaluate Daniel Ortega who appears at this 41st anniversary of the Sandinista revolution?

For me, this is a regime which is dead, in the process of getting its death certificate and burial. It no longer governs. There are no public policies, there is nothing. The only thing that exists is a series of defensive maneuvers for the capital of Ortega Murillo, for the political power of the Ortegas. It is not even a bad government. The pandemic has made this mismanagement more transparent. The country is in the wind. People defend themselves in their homes as best they can, with their medications. Ortega is a ghost, who is there, and is the source of power for an oligarchical machine that wields economic and political power in different spheres.

As a historical figure, where would you place Ortega?

Daniel Ortega has the worst outcome of all. Ortega is going to pass into the same level as Somoza. With the additional characteristic that Ortega is a destructor of the institutional framework. The Somozas built certain institutions that have been long lasting, like social security. Ortega has destroyed it all: Army, Police, even the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, unthinkable things.

The behavior of Ortega now has made a lot of people look backward, and see the revolution as that dark period that he produced. What is your evaluation?

From the political perspective point of view, that was an authoritarian regime. With political intolerance. It oscillated between a single party regime and political pluralism. A very contradictory game, but that finally culminated in elections.

Was it a dictatorship?

From a political point of view, that is what it is. If you are talking about an authoritarian regime, you are talking about a dictatorship. He wields dictatorial power. And from a social point of view, the Sandinista government had a lot of success in establishing some important public policies, creating some institutions and opening space for popular organization, unions, grassroots organizations, etc. Even the 1987 constitution set the pace with some exceptions. The question that I ask myself is, what is it that we did, and what did we not do in 30 years to end up at the same point?

But the eighties are not remembered for those changes that you mention, but rather for its crimes: Red Christmas, Operation Bertha, Military Service, State Security, confiscations… And from there, it is logical that many ask themselves, how can this be celebrated?

That is how it is. It is reasonable. That is why I say that July 19th should quit being a national holiday. Because all that is part of it and is real. Crimes denounced…

What responsibility does Dora María Téllez assume for those crimes?

I assume the responsibility for having been there, but I cannot assume responsibility for crimes that I did not commit. One of the big problems of blaming everyone is that you end up protecting those who are truly guilty. Can I assume blame for Red Christmas? No. if the first information that I had about Red Christmas was through La Prensa.

Complicity could be alleged. You were the leaders, and no one complained about it.

That can be alleged if we would have known.

Operation Bertha which was a huge operation of confiscation, the entire State participated in it.

Yes, it was an operation of change in currency that ended up being harmful. The economic area was not my responsibility. I administered Health in 1988. I can assume responsibility for that, but I cannot for crimes that I did not commit.

And what would be the crimes for which you would assume responsibility?

I did not commit crimes. To begin with, I did not have the power for that. I was in Managua in the organization of the Frente, of unions, from 1980 to 1985, and then in the Ministry of Health. And I am going to tell you, the Ministry of Health never, never was sectarian.

The piñata. When the Sandinista Front lost power an assault on the State took place. The leaders doled out assets. Did you keep some public asset?

No, none. In addition, you can see in the memoirs of Fernanda Cardenal what my position was on that issue. It is not even me saying it. Fernando describes an assembly in El Crucero, a very important one, and you will see clearly what my position was on that.

What was it?

I was completely opposed, and in addition we demanded that that it be rectified. It was compromising the moral capital of Sandinism. And that there had been an illegal appropriation on the part of people who had access to resources. So, they took a peremptory measure on us there. That proof needed to be presented, to be seen. And what proof was going to be presented?

What property do you currently have?

Basically my home. I have set about building a home to rent. I have my home in Matagalpa that I inherited.

Would you submit to scrutiny if it was required?

Absolutely. You say to me, how was this house built? And there are the bank loans. I have my receipts, my bills, my papers.

When the MRS was started in 1995, did it propose to be a new version of the Sandinista Front?

No. The MRS was founded from a profoundly critical position. All this that we are talking about was put forth. The term “Sandinista” was taken from the point of view of identification with the issue of national sovereignty, with Sandino, national independence and social justice.

But it reclaimed the revolution. In the first years there was an ongoing allusion to the revolutionary years.

In the first years, yes, but the critique continued to deepen. The MRS has the characteristic of keeping a strong grounding. Later new generations have come whose reference point is not the Sandinista revolution.

There are members of the MRS, even leaders, who think that the party should no longer bear the word “Sandinista”.

Yes, there is a debate about that. There is a debate about the distinction that would have to be made under these conditions. That includes the name change, change in symbols, etc.

Could the MRS remove the name Sandinista?

It is possible. If the convention decides it, it will be removed.

And what is your position?

It seems to me that in this moment the only thing that the Sandinista name evokes it what is happening with this dictatorship. No matter how much we might say that this has to do with Sandino, with social justice, independence and sovereignty, when someone hears it what they are hearing are the crimes committed by the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega. It is not worth it, for a political party like the MRS, that is looking toward the future of the country, that is committed to a profound democratization process of Nicaraguan society, to keep that name. For me this is a personal opinion, it could be that there are other opinions in the MRS. There is a debate now for several months about this topic. And this has to do with the youth who are currently leading the party.

There is also a debate among political groupings about “Orteguism” and “Sandinism”. There are those who see the word “Orteguism” as a disguise for Sandinism itself.

Orteguism was a larvae that infected Sandinism. Like Somocism was a larvae that infected liberalism. And nearly finished it off. Then there were groups that left Somocism that formed parties, the PLI was one of them, CxL another, let us say, that see themselves as liberals. But if you look in the year 1979 Somocism had completely infected liberalism. I think that Orteguism completely infected the Sandinista Front. Let us not say Sandinism, but the Sandinista Front. In such a way that the institutionality of the Sandinista Front disappeared, and a segment was left there completely and absolutely committed to the Ortega Murillo family, and a segment was left that has an interest in saving the party, for whom the Frente is their party, and they are going to see how to save it. There is a difference there, and that difference is important because it has to do with the effort itself of the deconstruction of the dictatorship.

The party in power comes down hard on the MRS, but the opposition does as well. It is seen as a party that is in everything, always conspiring.

Certainly Orteguism is the mortal enemy of the MRS. That is very true. Because it was not able to break us, because it was not able to make the MRS disappear, because every time that it beat it, it resurged. That is the reality. The MRS is 24 years old and it has been 24 years the object of punches and blows. It has not been easy. The Sandinista Front took on the task of selling to a sector of the business class, a sector, not all, because they did not buy it, that we were the great confiscators of the 80s, and not Daniel Ortega. Imagine, who am I going to confiscate from the Ministry of Health, or who is Victor Hugo Tinoco going to confiscate from the Vice Chancellor´s office.

The thing is that if you were part of the team, you have personal responsibilities. So, you pay for that.

Yes, that is clear, but it is not exactly like that. What one section of La Prensa does, no matter the fact that you might be an editor, if it is not your section, you cannot assume responsibility for that. You can even not be aware of it. You can assume responsibility for everything, but you cannot take on the guilt of others. Ortega unleashed a campaign against us by every path, in every possible way, and there are people who bought it. For what reason? I am not clear, but I imagine that they are the embers of old animosities, without realizing that organizations are evolving.

And there is an apparent contradiction: the MRS is a very famous party, your name appears everywhere, but it does not show up in the surveys.

Maybe it does not show up because people are afraid to say.

There is a stigma on the MRS?

That is how it is. Maybe people say that if they are in favor of the MRS they are going to be repressed. Or they will be fired from their job. That already happened to me with one person. This has to do with a price that you pay, and it can be that for that reason it does not show up in the surveys, because there is a repression completely directed and aimed at the MRS.

In the discussion about the unity in the opposition, the MRS reappears as a figure that creates antibodies.

What antibodies? That depends.

Groups that say that they are not going to be part of a union where the MRS are present.

CxL (Citizen for Liberty Party). But remember that the CxL were our allies. We had an alliance with them for seven years. In addition, an alliance that worked very well in the National Assembly. It began to stop functioning when Ortega told the CxL that in order to ensure their legal status they had to abandon us. And under those circumstances also Violeta Granera and the Liberal United Front left, for considering that to be onerous. But the alliance with the current CxL, and Kitty Monterrey [current president of CxL] was there then, was an alliance for at least seven years.

But the fact that you have been allies does not mean that you can be now, just like you in the MRS were allies with Ortega and now cannot be.

With Ortega we never shared more than a program in some specific circumstances, where there was Antonio Lacayo, Miriam Argúello, Agustín Jarquín, Alexis Argúello, some stayed and the rest of us left, because the course that we already know was followed. But with the CxL we jointly promoted laws, we put to work agreements we had, and we jointly ran electoral campaigns. Kitty Monterrey cannot say to me, “I am not joining with you because you are the same.” Hey, why did you join before? The proposal should be more sincere. She should say the truth. What is the truth about why she does not want to join the National Coalition?

What would be that truth?

You would have to ask them, but it stands out to me the fact that the CxL did not even try to talk about what their terms where to join the Coalition. Everyone has made an effort, the National Unity has made an effort, the people of Saturnino [party linked to evangelical churches] have made an effort, the PLC has made an effort, but the CxL do not want to make any effort. The question that they need to be asked is what is the reason they do not want to join forces in a coalition?

If the MRS would end up being an obstacle for unity, could it rethink its participation?

But what is that measure? Who is going to decide that measure? Is the measure going to be decided by CxL? Who decides what an obstacle is? Up to now the obstacle for unity is the CxL. The MRS instead has tried to aggregate forces.

And whether you see elections in 2021?

I think that we have to fight so there is an electoral outcome. If not, this is going to go from bad to worse. The economic condition of Nicaraguans is getting worse. The regime itself is completely unviable from an economic point of view. We have to do everything at hand to achieve clean, transparent and competitive elections.

And what would you do so that Daniel Ortega would allow that?

He has a large stone on top of him. He does not have one cent, tax income no longer exists, the economy is plummeting again worse than in 2018, and external aid is zero.

But if Ortega faces the dilemma of continuing to govern in that way, under those misfortunes, or losing the elections and going to sit in court to be judged, obviously he will opt for the former.

Daniel Ortega you can be sure is going to do everything possible to stay in power. We cannot count on him saying, “Well, this is as far as I go.” You have to keep pushing. We have pushed it to here, you have to keep pushing until he falls.

Does it cause any sentiments in you the fact that Sandinism, to which you dedicated your life, is ending with this stigma so similar to Somocism?

What makes me sad is the fact that the country is once again at this point. It makes me sad for the youth. Nicaraguan youth should be doing something else, acting in different environments, finishing their majors, contributing in different areas to national development, and politics should be under other conditions. It makes me sad to see that there are generations of young people who are in exile, who said good-by to their majors because they are in exile under some horrible conditions. Those who are in hiding and are harassed every day by the Police, young people who are in prison. It is an awful thing that we are once again facing a dictator.

Does Dora María Téllez continue being Sandinista?

I identify with Sandino. I can no longer tell you that I identify as a Sandinista in the terms that it is understood today. That word now has another connotation. Words have their contexts. I identify with Sandino´s quest, with social justice, national independence, the fight for sovereignty, but it is difficult for me to identify with the word Sandinista, because it now is repugnant to me, because of what we have all experienced.

 

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.”