Category Archives: Nicaragua Unrest

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.

 

 

 

Who are the journalists being prosecuted? Hear their stories.

Violations of human rights continue to be reported daily: arresting a merchant for selling Nicaraguan flags, delaying medical treatment to an elderly political prisoner, threatening opposition business leaders with imprisonment if they do not immediately pay greatly increased municipal tax bills within days of notification- just to name those mentioned in today´s media. The journalists who report these anomalies are also the frequent target of prosecution by the state. This article tells the story of five such journalists from around the country.

Who are the journalists being prosecuted? Hear their stories.

By Julian Navarrete, August 20, 2020 in La Prensa

[original Spanish]

Five reporters are facing judicial processes simultaneously, in what seems to be a stronger strategy to silence critical journalism. Who are these journalists?

Blows, insults, arrests, confiscations, threats, shots, harassment. All this and more these five journalists have suffered who currently have cases in the courts of the country. Organizations of journalists warn that these processes reveal a new pattern of aggression against critical journalism in Nicaragua.

In this edition, we bring you the first-person stories of four of these reporters, and the story of a colleague of La Prensa, to get to know them beyond their work of reporting.

Jacksell Herrera: Living under siege

I am 21 years old, but since I was little my aspiration has been to be a professional journalist. I used to look at the reporting, the journalists on television, I liked what they were doing. Because I think that it is not just a matter of information flowing, but of helping other people. Citizens to some extent see us journalists as lawyers and counselors. I am clear that there are other important professions, but for me journalists are fundamental.

I was born here in Santa María de Pantasma. Currently I live alone because my family left the country, exiled since the crisis of 2018. This is something that works well for me, because in the current situation the Sandinista regime, what is does is take revenge on our families because we denounce their arbitrary acts.

My salary comes from the Municipal government of Pantasma where I work in the area of communications. Because I do journalism to be of service, I do it voluntarily. I pay for my transportation costs,  I buy my own equipment. Everything. The platform where I write is called Nicaraguan News NN. I not only do news about the municipality, but also about other provinces. I do not think that it is more dangerous to do journalism in Pantasma just because we are far from the capital. It seems to me that it is dangerous throughout the country. What is different is that here we only have two reporters, so any information that is published it is already known where it comes from. We carry the blame as if it were a crime.

That is why they accuse me of spreading false news. Starting with the provision of a school bonus that was being politicized. I published that, and the principal denounced me. But I am now used to this. For example, at night it is common for a Police truck to park in front of my house. They have taken pictures of me. You feel fear because you are human, but love for Nicaragua inspires us to continue this work.

Kalúa Salazar, reporter from Bluefields.

My three daughters can see how the Police truck passes in front of our house every day. The girls already know that is what is happening. That they talk about me on television, because their classmates in the school in Bluefields ask them about me, about the case that they are bringing against me. I am suffering these collateral damages, but you have to save your strength in the family nucleus.

I am 25 years old, an administrator by profession, and I never imagined that I was going to be the head of information of Radio La Costeñisima. I fell in love with journalism seeing how my boss worked, Sergio León, who was the director of the radio and recently died of COVID-19. I was his assistant in special tasks, and little by little I got involved in journalism. Because I was in charge of the sales area in the radio. It ends up that two years ago one of the reporters of the news program resigned, and we could not find a replacement. The days went by and I was desperate, so I told him that I would be the person responsible until they got someone. Since that day I have been in charge of it.

Once I was doing a report on extreme poverty, so we went to an area in a marginalized part of Bluefields. It took 20 minutes to get there by car, and then 20 minutes on foot, because vehicles cannot get in. I interviewed a woman who had six children, and to eat she chipped stone. That was her job. I sat down on the ground with her and had to stop the interview to cry with her. The poverty that I saw in her hit me hard, and how her children surely will continue the same cycle. Since that day I have tried to bring this type of issues to the news program. They are issues that the authorities do not like to see published. That is why they are prosecuting me, and why I am receiving threats. At times I have to be very strong to put up with the many offenses which I receive on air during the news program. You have to have a lot of patience to continue putting up with this.

David Quintana: from selling tortillas to director of media.

When I was seated there at INCAE[1], surrounded by people who were paying US$50,000 to take a postgraduate degree in journalism, I remembered that when I was a boy who sold tortillas in Ciudad Sandino, I never dreamed that I would be in that seat. Imagine that even though the rule is that post graduate students stay and sleep there, I never wanted to because it felt strange to me.

At the age of 45, I can say that my family suffered poverty, and that is why I did everything: I sold roasted corn on the cob, sawdust, vegetables in a pickup truck, I was a car washer and guard. That was the curriculum of my childhood and adolescence. Poverty took a bite out of me, and that is why I always have believed that, as John Paul II used to say, “you have to be at the service of justice.”

My last job in my adolescence was a bricklayer´s helper. I would go to work in the daytime and after I got home, I would bathe to get ready to go to the Batahola School to study at night. That is how I finished high school. Since that time, I have always carried a book. During recess I would read. I think that that phrase from the Little Prince marked me, “What is essential is not visible to the human eye.” For me what is essential is truth, ethics and what is behind people. I think that journalism seeks to uncover what is essential.

I studied a postgraduate in ecological journalism in Mexico. I founded the Boletín Ecológico, and prior to April 18, 2018 I had seven people under my responsibility. But that day I was coming down from my office and saw that there was a protest in Camino de Oriente. Since I saw that they had stolen the cameras of 100% Noticias and other media, I started to record it. I ended up having thousands connected to the transmission. Never had so many people been watching. Since that time the program underwent this change, it went from being just about environmental issues to focusing on the political and social problems of the country. Because in Nicaragua the environmental problem will not be solved, nor any other, as long as the authorities continue in power. This is the reason, and because of the images that I have recorded and disseminated in Nicaragua and the world,  that they are prosecuting me.

Elsa Espinoza, independent journalist.

I liked words since I was little. Writing, researching, editing the texts of some classmates. I got involved in creative writing at the age of 14 with poetry. I was the person in charge of the newspaper in high school. From there I got the love for journalism. With a camera with a roll of film I began to take photos, to later write my reports. In the last year of high school, they gave me a scholarship to study communications, in spite of the fact that I was an introvert.

I always took refuge in books and libraries. That is why I think that this profession has helped me in my professional development: I learned to speak freely and express myself, and above all to relate to others, which is what was difficult for me. Since the time I was in the university, I wanted to start my own media, and I did: I started radio programs and environmental and touristic bulletins.

I love to paint and write poetry. I have a book published and another in the process of being edited. At 30 years of age I have been in feminist and human rights organizations. Currently I do this from the Independent Journalists and Communicators of Nicaragua (PCIN). This has been the reason why they began to prosecute me. There is no other reason. I do not know the people who are accusing me, and in the Police station they branded me as “the coup supporting reporter.”

Currently I find myself living clandestinely with my two daughters. On April 17 this year they told me that they were going to kill me, and that is why I have changed the house I am in. That day they attacked me, and also in the first court hearing. The police did not do anything when they saw that. I am living displaced from my home in Managua, and I cannot leave the country because my children are still little, and my Mom lives in the same area. It is difficult, because it has caused me eating disorders, insomnia, anxiety, which affects me in my work performance. I has changed my moods, because at times I feel very depressed.

William Aragón, fearless journalist of La Prensa.

William Aragón, the La Prensa reporter in Madriz and northern Nicaragua for 15 years, has had his home machine gunned by even his own brother. They have arrested him with his two daughters while he was traveling in a bus.

Aragón is 53 years of age. On seven occasions since he has worked at La Prensa they have taken him to court, for supposed slander and calumny, just for reporting on the abuse of people who exercise power in Nicaragua. In all of them he came out clean.

In December 2019 Aragón told La Prensa that he has had three opportunities to go into exile, but he does not want to leave. In one of them he returned from the Honduran border. “I am not afraid, I want to see the regime fall”, he said.

In the 80s he belonged to the Sandinista Army. Nevertheless, on one occasion he was captured by the contras, but escaped during a firefight. When he returned to the Army, they treated him as a “deserter.” He was jailed for a month and got out through negotiations with the CPDH[2], at that time led by Lino Hernández. The UN High Commission for Refugees took Aragón to Germany, in exile, and for safety reasons even changed his name. William previously was known as Orlando Aragón.

Aragón returned to Nicaragua after the triumph of Doña Violeta Barrios de Chamorro in 1990. He worked as an insurance salesman at INISER, then washed cars and, taking advantage of his military experience, was also a night watchman.

In Estelí he started to study Law, but since he came to Managua to work as a security guard in the Military Hospital, he decided to study journalism in the UCA.

[1] Central American Institute of Business Administration

[2] Permanent Commission for Human Rights

Leak of MINSA data reveals that Nicaragua registers more than 9,000 positive cases of COVID-19

A number of publications last week referred to information leaked by Anonymous who hacked internal documents of the Ministry of Health, confirming what is widely believed in Nicaragua, i.e. that the Ministry of Health was concealing information about the impact of COVID-19 on Nicaragua. In fact the MINSA data released by Anonymous showed that the much higher numbers published by the Citizen Observatory provide a much more accurate picture of COVID in Nicaragua, even though those figures also underestimate its impact.

Leak of MINSA data reveals that Nicaragua registers more than 9,000 positive cases of COVID-19

This data reflects the concealment of MINSA of the true impact of the pandemic on the country, given that up to August 18 they stated that there were 4,311 cases of infection in Nicaragua.

Published by Lidia López B. in La Prensa, August 19, 2020

From February 28 to July 24, 2020 in Nicaragua 17,284 tests had been done to detect COVID-19, of which 9,683 ended up being positive, as revealed by a preliminary analysis presented this Wednesday by the independent physician Álvaro Ramírez, a specialist in Epidemiology, in collaboration with the Blue and White National Unity.

These numbers show the concealment of the Ministry of Health (MINSA) of the true impact of the pandemic in the country. Up until August 18 MINSA stated that the country only had 4,311 people infected and 133 deaths.

This data reflects the fact that Nicaragua is the country in the Central America region that has done the least amount of testing to detect COVID-19 and thereby, the one with less knowledge and control over the reality of the health crisis in the country. Dr. Ramírez highlighted that Nicaragua only compares to Haiti in this regard. For example, Honduras has done more than 123,000 test, Guatemala more than 200,000, Costa Rica more than 123,000 and El Salvador more than 285,000.

“Obviously this (test data) is way under what would be expected that a country should be doing. Nicaragua only compares with Haiti that has done 20,000 tests, and the country has 17,000 by July, so this is way under what a sampling would mean for public health actions in protection of the citizenry,” highlighted the specialist.

The data, as they stated in the presentation, were taken from MINSA reports leaked by Anonymous – organization of cyber-activists who are engaged in hacking data in the virtual sphere to reveal information to the public or feed social causes with which they identify. “Anonymous published this database, we had access to it and we proceeded to work on it and try to identify. There were many typing errors and data missing,” declared Dr. Ramírez, who confessed that along with some colleagues in Ireland they spent more than 150 hours in analyzing and verifying the data.

MINSA has daily reports

The documents leaked by Anonymous also reveal that MINSA reports daily how many COVID 19 tests are done in the country, and this information goes as high as the presidency. Nevertheless, MINSA weekly presents a brief report where it points out new cases and deaths, and the supposed accumulation of the data that the country records.

Last July 21 MINSA publicly reported 3,439 cases in total, and 108 deaths, but the leaked report revealed that by July 24 there were 9,683 positive cases.

Dr. Ramírez said that he has already prepared a report on this data that he will turn over to the Panamerican Health Organization (PAHO) so they can validate the numbers. “We have a record that we are going to turn over to the PAHO, exactly about how we were able to have this refined database…the data from the Ministry of Health were there, the data was daily arriving in the President´s office,” he emphasized.

On several occasions the PAHO has reported that it has requested an official report from the Government of Nicaragua to analyze the situation of the country, and offer recommendations relevant to the health crisis, but up to now the government has not responded to that request.

More data revealed

Other data also revealed are that the people most affected are between the ages of 30-60. Likewise, it shows that in the period from February to July, 23 infants less than a year old tested positive. Among the most common symptoms that the patients presented were: dry cough, fever, sore throat and breathing difficulties.

Managua is the place where the majority of the positive cases are registered (4,238), then Masaya (757), Chinandega (711) and León (509). MINSA also registered cases in the Caribbean Coast, where the indigenous communities have denounced the abandonment on the part of the regional authorities.

Leaked audio reveals conspiracy, intrigue and uncertainty among those marginalized by Rosario Murillo in the FSLN

The lack of unity among the opposition has been a central concern of those promoting change in Nicaragua. The Sandinistas, on the other hand, publicly present a contrast in terms of what on the surface appears to be iron clad unity. This leaked audio provides a picture of possible internal fissures within the Sandinista ranks.

Leaked audio reveals conspiracy, intrigue and uncertainty among those marginalized by Rosario Murillo in the FSLN

By Artículo 66, August 15,2020

[original Spanish][leaked audio]

The recording reveals the expectations that the old Sandinista leaders have about recovering control over the party, even to the point of selling security to those who occupy the Government today.

Intrigues, conspiracy and epithets within the Sandinista Front for National Liberation party (FSLN) are more and more public. There is discontent and dissatisfaction among militants and leaders over the control and leadership of that party institution. Serious allegations and defamatory remarks are emerging among the red and black leadership, above all in those who have been displaced by the iron circle that the Vice president, Rosario Murillo, controls. All the way from sarcastic nicknames to predictions that in the future there will be some who could end up “dressed in orange” in the United States.

Artículo 66 had access to an audio recording of a phone conversation in which two prominent figures, one of them named in the recording as “El Negro”, with language full of epithets and even profanity, do an analysis of the possible scenarios that the Sandinista party could go through in the coming electoral process, the possibilities that it might lose the elections, the radicalization of the dictatorship and the challenges that it has in order to remain in government with the international pressure, the threat of more sanctions on the economic circle of Daniel Ortega, and the popular discontent.

In a conversation of nearly 20 minutes, these two guys talk freely about the absolute control of Rosario Murillo in the party and in the Government, and even what would happen in the face of the absence of “El Duque” or “El Mono”, the nicknames with which they refer, it seems, to Daniel Ortega.

According to the conversation of the two marginalized militants, it would have taken place in the last week of July, between Monday the 27th and Friday July 31st, according to a reference that they make to “the coming Monday is August 3rd”, during the call.

The people who are talking are two Sandinistas figures who have had party as well as governmental leadership responsibilities. One of them, identified in the recording as “El Negro”, according to his voice, is a former provincial political secretary in Managua; ex councilperson, and recently, former diplomat in the Embassy of El Salvador, a responsibility from which he was removed by presidential decree on July 31st. Artículo 66 was not able to confirm whether this leaked conversation was the trigger for the removal of the former diplomat, even though the dates do coincide.

The other person is a former leader of the National Union of Students of Nicaragua (UNEN) and former deputy, currently down and out supposedly for conflicts with the boss of the red and black party, Rosario Murillo.

The radicalization of the regime

The two characters talk about the radicalization of the Sandinista dictatorship in the face of popular discontent over the increase in the cost of basic services, international pressure with the economic sanctions, and the need to preserve power at any cost to stay safe.

Former president of the UNEN: “The fanaticism, that radicalization of the fanaticism, that crap that “whoever doesn´t jump is a Yankee” I think that it has decreased, because the economic situation, money is hard in the streets, has complicated it, that shit about basic services (increased cost), has people crazy.”

“It is true that those guys are going to close up, they are going to win the elections because the opposition are shit, and even if they don´t win them they are going to steal them, and they are going to win them incorrectly, and on winning them that way, getting there in tatters, the United States, the Europeans, and that whole herd of sons of bitches, what they are going to do, Negro, is one day tear out a kidney (with the sanctions), another day tear out a lung, until bleeding him to death, and this is going to last two years, three years at the most.”

The student leader predicts a “difficult” future, and as he added, “it will be more difficult if ´El Mono´ doesn´t continue, and it is not that he doesn´t continue in the presidency, but rather in this earthly life,” he said, predicting the imminent death of Daniel Ortega.

Concerning the radicalization of the dictatorship, the former deputy thinks that “I do not see that there. In addition, the process of getting to `Cubanization´ is going to take 30 years, in the case that they want to impose it, or the circumstances are going to be seen, that there is more scarcity…I do not see the Frente closing markets, even though the gringos close them on them, you and I are clear about that, they are going to be tearing it apart step by step, you and I, son of bitch, we talked about this since last year. How are the elections going to happen? In tatters. If he wins the elections, and wins them clean, maybe they put him in neutral for awhile, and if he wins and wins dirty, first they are going to rip off a leg, the next month or three months later they will rip off the other leg”, says the former UNEN leader.

“What´s going to happen is he is going to arrive without legs!”, El Negro rebuts.

Rosario Murillo took over the FSLN in the style of Mao

El Negro: “One of these days I was reading Mao (Zedong, founder of Communist China), that son of a bitch woman (Rosario Murillo), has copied him exactly, in the part of pushing aside a figure and keeping complete control. That is what Mao did. It is the same process.”

The Negro also warns about the popular discontent and an imminent uprising because of economic scarcity and the lack of freedoms.

“I feel that they will be able to function with that logic for a year (of resisting the pressures of the United States), but the big question is: Will the people put up with the stench of the scarcity?”

And the former student quickly steps in and forcefully predicts, “The people are not going to put up with shit (by which he foresees a rebellion).

FSLN out of government and without the control of Murillo

As the conversation progressed, the two Sandinistas who had been sidelined dedicate several minutes to portend the future of a figure who, along with Murillo, is managing the new structure of Sandinism. “Now then, what would your brother (by the indications they provide later on it can be identified that they are referring to Fidel Moreno) be thinking? Sanctioned, ground up. He has his money, with intelligence, if he takes care of it, he should not have problems for the next 40 years of life he might have left, but if his card gets flipped over, as it seems they are trying to do, and it comes to doing things, what is he going to do?, asks El Negro.

Former president of the UNEN: “Well I see it as even more radical. Imagine that this changes, Negro (that they lose the elections). There are only two paths, the first, look for alliances, now and for the future, because this dimwit leaving power, or from the viewpoint of power, is going to have to be paying for security, is going to have to ally himself with those who administer the Frente at that time. Do you see him administrating it (the FSLN)? I do not know, it is a possibility. If he is administering it, it makes it easier, but I see it difficult that he be the one administering. Uh-huh, a El Negro administering it, a Yasser, another son of a bitch or any other shit, or another dimwit that administers, for example, the case of Managua, to generate protection for him. What is going to happen? That is why I was telling you before, do you see yourself doing deals, appearing (with Moreno)? No. You can´t. The only thing that you can do is watch over his billfold, and that is for paying protection”.

– “It is either this or you go to Russia. Or in the worst of cases, brother, that must be terrible and something I would wish for no one…that they dress him in orange (prisoner in the United States)”, portends the former student leader.

– “What a fuck up”, commiserates El Negro.

-“Because in another government, anyone is a bargaining chip”, the former leader of the UNEN rejoins.

El Negro foresees a strategy that would ensure impunity for those sanctioned, even with the FSLN out of power, “I think that a good measure has to be that they turn these dimwits into deputies.”

-“That could be”, doubts the other, and insists, “Me, what do I think is going to happen?”, and he responds to his own question. “Well, the Frente is not going to turn over the government, and are not going to cede anything to them. That is what I am seeing,” pronounces the former student.

El Negro takes up again the topic of the security of Fidel Moreno in the future, and tries to confirm it, “According to your theory, Fidel Moreno should be looking for us to be his allies and he should pay us?”

Former president of UNEN “That is how it should be!”

El Negro: “Well, it is not a bad idea, to think of it. The issue is who is going to tell him.”

Former president of the UNEN: “He is not going to have allies. You cannot ally with `Los Goyos´(referring to the Sandinistas from the group of Lenin Gregorio Cerna Juárez), if those sons of bitches….(Gustavo) Porras is going to need allies, also because both of them are targeted.”

El Negro: “But those sons of bitches are evil, they are negotiators, in the end they are going to kneel down to the white people (North Americans) and are going to negotiate. Do you see Roberto López (president of social security) doing shit (challenging the United States)?

Former president of the UNEN: “No, they are going to negotiate, if you want. Turn over half of their fortune.”

El Negro: “But besides, with him (Roberto López), they are not going to negotiate with him.”

Former president of the UNEN: “Yes, but right, but do you think that that many sanctioned people are going to fit in a negotiation?”

El Negro: “There are some (of those sanctioned) who are not going to have anything happen to them.”

In the audio the two characters also show a distain for the Police commanders who were sanctioned by the United States, who they mock for their economic conditions, while at the same time they brag about their “four houses”, which they are convinced will ensure them in their old age.

Former president of the UNEN: “But those who are not going to have anything happen to them are (Ramón) Avellan, (Justo) Pastor (Urbina). Imagine Valle Valle[1], if that dimwit barely got his pension. Instead they raised the profile of those poor people.”

El Negro: “I could not remember, with good reason, lately I have watched the woman writing radically, completely. And it is not until now that I am realizing that yes, Yadira, she is bursting at the seams there, the wife of that dimwit, Yadira Muñoz.”

Former president of the UNEN: “But what do they have, son of a bitch” You and I have lost more than they, we get worried that they might  take away our four houses, son of a bitch, (which we have) to mortgage them, sell them, and have something for old age (he laughs).”

El Negro: “Crazy, and Aminta (Granera), I wonder if she negotiated?”

Former president of the UNEN: “Don´t doubt it!”

El Negro: “Because that dimwit is untouched, serene.”

The two Sandinistas move from talking about the sanctioned police commanders to the possibility of a negotiation between Ortega and the United States.

“Now, the longer the negotiation goes, I think there `El Duque´(Daniel Ortega) is making a mistake, the longer the negotiation goes, the more difficult it will be for him. And he is betting on the fact that Trump loses, and I think it is a bad bet,” says the former student leader.

El Negro: “I am going to tell you something, whoever wins (in the United States)…”

Former president of the UNEN: —“they are going to grind him up, of that I am very clear.”

El Negro: “They are not going to change their policy”.

Former president of the UNEN: “they are not going to change, they have never done it. The Democrats are worse sons of bitches. At least with the Republicans you know what you are facing…”

El Negro: “I am going to tell you something else, if the Democrats win, and there is an aggressive or more aggressive attitude, that is going to end up hitting hard a sector of Sandinism, who continue as imbeciles thinking that with those dimwits (the Democrats in the US) there is going to be space.”

Former president of the UNEN: “I do not see that possibility that you are talking about, brother. That Minister of yours (seems to refer to the Minister of Foreign Relations of the regime, Denis Moncada Colindres, who at that moment was the boss of El Negro) eats shit, he is not clear

Dictatorship a la carte

In the audio the two old leaders of Sandinism change topics again. From the US elections they move on to talking about a supposed conversation with Laureano Ortega, son of the presidential couple, where the “tenor” had suggested the type of dictatorship that could be imposed on the country.

El Negro: “We were in a conference, where Laureano began to talk shit about the canal, and says to me, `Hey, what happened? I haven´t seen you! What do you prefer, the Cuban or the Venezuelan (dictatorship)?´ I did not say anything, but it left me thinking, `At least by intention, they are betting on one of the two things,´ in reality I do not know, then, whether…”

Former president of the UNEN: “Ah, that (radicalization proposal) is not from him, damn. I don´t rule out that they are betting maybe on that. They are betting on radicalization, because that is the only way that they survive. Let´s see, man, Negro, how do all those sons of bitches survive who got up on the stage on the 19th (he is referring to those who were sanctioned who were with Daniel and Rosario for the anniversary celebration). Just in that model, son of a bitch…and that is why they are more closed, and that is why they are going to squeeze him more.”

El Negro: “I can assure you, fool, that any of those sons of bitches are going to look for where to break the chains.”

Former president of the UNEN: “…But you are clear that that is going to happen once `El Mono´ is no longer here (Daniel Ortega).”

El Negro: “That man (Daniel) is a survivor…”

Former president of the UNEN: “That is right, well, that dimwit (Daniel) is a beast in that, but Negro, you are clear that this is hard…”

El Negro: “You are not kidding, difficult, more these two days that I have not been doing much, I have been thinking about it, you should see what kind of a headache it is, no matter where you look and turn it over, there is no way out.”

Former president of the UNEN: “There is none! Negro, there is none”. There is no way to come out of this unharmed!”

Juan Carlos Ortega, “The little thug” and José Mojica “the disgusting rat”

The two sidelined Sandinistas spare no one in their conversation. After the two police chiefs, Daniel, those who were sanctioned, and Rosario Murillo, they also go against the favorite son of the first lady, and the US sanction that categorized him as an international criminal, a designation that ended up truncating for him the dream of being the successor of the dynasty.

El Negro: “Well, and that son of a bitch kid, he kept quiet. I thought that the thug in him was going to come out.”

Former president of the UNEN: “The thing is that blow [US sanction] is worse, it is the biggest blow. Listen to me, here the opposition is so stupid, I do not understand the opposition, they are imbeciles. But the punch they gave that boy is the hardest. The Other one (José Jorge Mojica, front man for the Ortega-Murillo family), he should be clear about it, some people in the Frente should be clear about it, Mojica, I assure you that if he could commit suicide and go back in time, that disgusting rat, he must be out crying, but he should be cowering.”

El Negro: José (Mojica)?

Former president of the UNEN: “For one simple reason, that shit is drug trafficking [US sanction]… that shit is too dangerous.”

El Negro: “But is it that the translation was done well, or would it be that someone…”

Former president of the UNEN: “For drug trafficking, it is that he is designated under the logic of drug-trafficking,” conclude the two prominent people from old Sandinism.

 

[1] Commissioner Juan Valle Valle is the target of mockery because, according to the old Sandinista guard, he still lives in Villa Flore, and they describe him as “that poor devil.”

The Civic Alliance and the National Unity Should Make a Correction

On the political front the key issue has been the dispute revolving around the National Coalition, an initial attempt for forge a united front among all opponents to the Sandinistas. The scandal last week was the definitive withdrawal of student and youth organizations, because what they saw as the dominance of the traditional parties in the decision making within that Coalition. This week the Civic Alliance and Blue and White National Unity have also announced temporary withdrawals, in support of the youth. This article by a well-known political analyst and former president of the MRS addresses the crux of the current status of the National Coalition.   

The Civic Alliance and the National Unity Should Make a Correction

By Enrique Sáenz, August 14, 2020 in Confidencial

[original Spanish]

The crisis of the National Coalition, is it time to collect the bats and turn off the lights?

To defeat the Ortega regime and promote a process of democratic transformations, with justice, respect for the law, citizen rights and freedoms, and promote measures to get over the social and economic crisis, a political alliance is needed that brings together the forces really committed to democratic change. We all know this.

But what are the forces really committed to democracy?

When the willingness to build the National Coalition was announced on February 25,2020, a document was signed there that said the following in one of its paragraphs:

“In this Coalition we have a purpose, a shared country vision, with ethical principles and values that commit its members to lay aside particular interests and work for a Nicaragua with freedom, justice, security, prosperity and in democracy. A National Coalition that practices a new form of doing politics…”

Since then nearly six months have gone by and one can ask, and at the same time respond, ethical values? Shared country vision? Have the members of the Coalition fulfilled their promise of laying aside particular interests? They did exactly the opposite.

One can ask, and at the same time respond, have they practiced a new form of doing politics? No. They have repeated exactly the same tainted forms of doing politics.

The declaration of February closed with a hopeful phrase. The signers proclaimed, “It is time for Nicaragua first, here and now.”

Just around six months the result is that they neither placed Nicaragua above their group interests, and “here and now”, they changed that for “who knows when”. Quite simply they did not honor their word.

Obviously, if after six months they have not reached an agreement not even on how they are going to reach agreements, it is easy to imagine what would happen when the moment arrived to discuss candidacies, selection of the legal figure under which they will run, the administration of campaign funds, the red lines that separate democratic elections from an electoral farce, or the decision to participate or not, in a circus put on by Ortega…to mention some upcoming issues.

If “the eve indicates what the day will bring”, common sense leads to the conclusion that the National Coalition, in its current configuration, simply is not the alliance that expresses the interests of the majority of Nicaragua, nor the political force with the capacity to contest and wrest power from Ortega.

Recognizing these facts does not mean being against anyone in particular. Even less, being against the unity of democratic forces. Just the opposite. At this point in the game, continuing with half measures, covering up realities, is falling into webs of complicity.

There is a well-known saying that advises against confusing fat with lard. In the end it is neither fat nor lard, but an undigestible mixture.

This is what has happened by mixing parties and people characterized by making politics into a competition of artful tricks, with social or sector organizations new to political work.

In this way we have entered into a type of political schizophrenia. Those who are, do not want to be, and those who are not, strive to impose that they are.

So, while the Civic Alliance and the Blue and White Unity do not consider themselves as options for power, the traditional political parties, including partners of Ortega, who lack all legitimacy, came out of the garbage dump to sit in the parlor, with sass and bluster.

If the consequences of these games and schemes will only affect the members of the organizations, well they could continue the time they desire. The problem is that there are millions of Nicaraguans who suffer daily the havoc of the social and economic crisis, aggravated by the pandemic, added to which are dozens of thousands among those exiled, persecuted or jailed.

By repeating the same curses of the past, they are shredding the hopes of building a better future.

The following question that we have to ask ourselves is whether there is a solution.

The response is yes. We still have time. We have talked these weeks with many people and listened to many voices, in general there is a basic agreement: the Civic Alliance and the Blue and White Unity made a critical mistake by precipitously getting involved with traditional political parties.  Rectifying this is a matter of life or death, literally. And rectifying it means leaving the traditional parties with the empty box that the National Coalition still is, and both organizations building the basic nucleus from which the process can be promoted of gathering the social and political forces really committed to democratic change.

And the international community? Let us be clear: governments primarily are moved by interests, by realities, not by sympathy or antipathy. If a coherent force is able to be established, with respectable and capable leaders, with the willingness to contest the power of the regime, and backed by the majority of the population, that force will receive the wholehearted support of governments and international organizations.

The Civic Alliance and the Blue and White National Unity, that for now continue as trustees of the legacy of the banners of April, can and should, as quickly as possible, reach agreements on the following points.

  • The electoral conditions needed for democratic elections
  • A strategy to pressure Ortega on national and international levels, so that these conditions might materialize.
  • A programmatic platform that would synthesize the basic consensus on the economic, political and social transformations indispensable to put the country on the path of democracy and prosperity.
  • A plan that would connect the current anguish of the population in economic and social matters with aspirations for political change.
  • Democratic mechanisms for decision making.

If they are not capable of making and applying these decisions, the path that is left for us is to shut off the lights, gather the bats, and look at starting another team.

 

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!

Two reports on the fire in the Cathedral of July 31, 2020

The main news story that has occupied the attention of Nicaragua in these days was an event that happened in the Cathedral on Friday July 31 at 11:00am. Several witnesses claimed seeing a hooded man come into the Blood of Christ Eucharistic Chapel and throw an incendiary device, which consumed the tabernacle and seriously burned a 382 year old Crucifix known as the Blood of Christ statue. Less than an hour later, In the First Lady´s customary noon time address to the nation, Rosario Murillo attributed the fire to votive candles in the chapel that people had lit for their prayer intentions. But Cardinal Brenes immediately refuted that claim, pointing out that the chapel has no candles, clearly stating it was a well-prepared terrorist attack on the church, one of four other attacks on Catholic Churches in Nicaraguan in the preceding three weeks.

What follows is the original story published by La Prensa an hour and a half after the attack, and then the story that appeared on Sunday with the later developments related to the different press releases issued by the Police.

 

Cardinal Brenes on the attack on the Cathedral of Managua: “This was a planned attack…it is an act of terrorism” by Yubelka Mendoza González and Cinthya Torrez García

La Prensa, July 31, 2020

[original Spanish]

According to witnesses, a man entered and just said, “I come to the Blood of Christ”, he was hooded and carried something in his hand. Rosario Murillo implied that the fire was due to “candles that the parishioners light”, but the Cardinal denied that that was the cause.

An unidentified man this Friday July 31 threw a Molotov bomb into the chapel of the Cathedral of Managua, which caused a fire that burnt the image of the Blood of Christ. “This was a planned act, planned very calmly”, pronounced Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes.

According to witnesses, the man entered and just said, “I come to the Blood of Christ.” The subject was wearing a hood and had something in his hand, but the witnesses were not able to identify what it was.

After talking to the witnesses, the Cardinal stated that the person responsible spent more than 20 minutes walking around the Cathedral before throwing the bomb. “He even planned how he was going to leave. There is a grate that was stolen a little while ago and he went out through there. In other words, he calculated everything: how to enter, where to do it, and then how to escape. This was planned,” he affirmed.

Within the chapel there was a church worker, and a parishioner praying, who were the ones who saw the man throw the device and advised the authorities about the fire.

Alba Ramirez, a witness, stated that the man who threw the bomb is known. “It is a lot of hate (for the Catholic Church), those people are messing with God…sooner or later that person who was sent is going to pay, they are going to burn in hell. We adore that statue because that image represents the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ,” said Ramirez.

Brenes was emphatic in stating that this was a terrorist act. “This is how I want to clearly state it: this is a terrorist act, an act to intimidate the church in its evangelizing mission.”

The Archdiocese of Managua described the act as “as act of sacrilege and completely reprehensible desecration.” He added that “we need to remain in constant prayer to defeat malignant forces.” Along the same lines, Cardinal Brenes pronounced that “this was an incendiary act of terrorism.”

The church housed the image of the Blood of Christ, that is 382 years old. It was left completely charred. “With the heat, half of the face came off, but the statue was left charred, we are going to evaluate calmly because it is a precious statue that is over 300 years old,” Brenes said.

Concerning those responsible for the act, the Archbishop of Managua stated that it was not the style of the church to accuse anyone, but yes to denounce. “I think that time will accuse them. We see how many who have attacked us later have perished. As the Cardinal said one day,` the church always sees the funeral of its persecutors go by,´” exclaimed Brenes.

The auxiliary bishop of Managua, Silvio Báez, said in his Twitter account that he was in communication with the sisters and priests of the Cathedral after the fire. “We have wept together on account of the fire that has occurred in the chapel of the venerated statue of the Blood of Christ. My closeness and prayers with the people of Nicaragua in this painful moment! Wrote Báez.

Rosario Murillo implies that the cause were candles

The designated Vice President of the country implied, in her customary daily communication, that the fire in the chapel was due to the “candles that the parishioners light who always seek to pay promises to our Saints, in this case, to our Sacred Blood of Christ.”

With this discourse, the First Lady did not condemn the attack against the Catholic Church, and only said that one should always take precautions with candles, and that they will await the assessment of the firefighters.

“Unfortunately this fire happened, it combusted, the aluminum structure was burned, the curtains and the flowers that adorned it,” mentioned Murillo and added that the firefighters as well as the Police experts are investigating, and in the coming hours are going to issue the report on the causes of the fire.

“We have asked them to be quick so that we might have all the necessary information about the causes of that fire. Unfortunately, we people do not understand that candles have to be placed at a certain distance from the statues so that events like this one do not happen, and let us always try to take care of our cultural patrimony,” she stated.

About this, Cardinal Brenes denied that the candles had anything to do with this. “Inside the chapel there are no candles, and nor do we have curtains. In other words, we cannot think that the fire, in quotes, could have had that cause,” pronounced the Cardinal.

Recent attacks

The attack on the Cathedral this Friday is one more aggression that the Catholic Church of the country has recently suffered. Last Wednesday, the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Nindirí, Masaya was desecrated by unidentified people. The criminals stole the monstrance and the ciborium, broke statues, defiled the tabernacle, trampled on the hosts, broke pews, damaged furniture, doors and pipes, denounced the parish.

Prior to the attack on Nindirí, this past July 25th another attack was registered in the chapel of the parish of Our Lord of Veracruz in Masaya. It was desecrated by unknown people who stole microphones, cables, amplifiers, speakers, and collection boxes. That desecration was denounced, also through facebook, by the priest Pablo Villafranca, the pastor of Our Lord of Veracruz, who stated that on that occasion that the attack caused him “a sense of powerlessness, pain and frustration.”

“We see in all of these (attacks) a series of details that concern us,” said Brenes this Friday, and called the faithful to remain in prayer.

The US Ambassador in Nicaragua, Kevin K. Sullivan, condemned the attack on the chapel of the Cathedral, and called on the authorities so that “these events be investigated in depth, and those responsible tried in accordance with the law,” in reference to the other attacks that Catholic Churches have suffered in several cities of the country.

“We share the profound pain of the Catholic Community of Nicaragua over the damage caused to the sacred statue that has survived natural disasters and has been venerated by generations of Nicaraguans,” stated the US ambassador.

 

Orteguista Police Interrogate Witnesses for Six Hours

By Leonor Álvarez and Yubelka Mendoza

Published in La Prensa printed version, Sunday, August 2, 2020

Two were detained and then the “story” of the candle attributed to them.

After an interrogation of at least six hours of the witnesses to the attack on the Blood of Christ chapel in the Cathedral, Xiomara de Jesús Castro, candle seller, and Manuel Salvador Bravo Álvarado, the Orteguista Police (OP) issued a new press release where they attributed the fire to the existence of a candle in the site of the incident.

In this way the OP made this new version coincide with what was said on Friday by the Vice President, Rosario Murillo, that the fire had been caused by an accident with the candles that the parishioners place on the altar.

Nevertheless, Castro, prior to being taken against her will to the Judicial Support Office known as El Chipote, maintained that there were no candles in the chapel.

The detention of Castro was carried out within the Cathedral, where a large number of police arrived yesterday morning [Saturday, August 1] led by the General Commissioner of the OP, Glenda Zavala, head of the Crime and Forensic Science Institute.

Zavala entered the burned chapel with an entourage of officers and was asking questions of the people who had been in the church at the time of the explosion. Zavala spoke with Castro and repeatedly asked her about the possibility that there were candles on the Blood of Christ altar. The witness repeated no, and she also said that she did not believe that the spray bottle that the Police found intact in the site of the incident would have caused the explosion that caused the fire.

Spray bottle and candle

Even so, the second press release issued by the OP yesterday afternoon, stated that the fire was caused by the spray bottle with alcohol [for hand disinfecting], and now also mentions a high candelabra where supposedly every day a candle is lit.

The version of the candle did not appear in the first press release from the OP, issued on Friday around 8:00pm, not until this Saturday. The person who mentioned the candles as the cause of the fire was Murillo less than an hour after the fire occurred. She said that “the candles that the faithful light who are always looking for how to pay promises to our Saints, in this case, to Our Sacred Blood of Christ”, and “unfortunately we people do not understand that candles have to be placed at a certain distance from the statues so that events like this do not happen, and let us try to always take care of our cultural patrimony.”

But that information has been repeatedly refuted by his eminence, Cardinal Leopoldo José Brenes Solórzano, since the day of the attack.

“Inside the chapel there are no candles, and nor do we have curtains. In other words, we cannot think that the origin of the fire, in quotes, is that, pronounced the cardinal, who in addition described the event as “a terrorist act, an act to intimidate the church in its evangelizing mission.”

The OP stated that they interviewed Castro and she supposedly told them that “inside the chapel every day at 7:00am a sacristan lights a candle placed in a high candelabra, like a meter high, that is found in front of the dome of the Blood of Christ statue.”

The OP also enhanced the version of the candle with the testimony of the parishioner Bravo Alvarado, 70 years of age, who presumably told them that “inside the chapel he has always seen a high candelabra with a lit candle in front of the dome of the Blood of Christ statue.”

Also it was known that Alba Ramirez, another one of the eyewitnesses of the attack, and who on Friday gave several interviews to the media stating that a hooded man was the person who caused the explosion in the chapel, was also taken from her home by the OP this Saturday, according to a denouncement by her husband to civil organizations.

The OP also discarded the version of Ramirez in their second press release.

They cite in the written release that at the moment of the fire in the chapel, only Bravo and Castro were present – the candle seller – and that they “did not see any one who would have thrown any object, nor did they hear any explosion.”

 

The 41st anniversary of the Sandinista revolution and the fall of the Ortega regime

The writer of this reflection on the implications today of the 41st anniversary of the revolution is known as one of the few Comandantes of the Revolution, and the author of a 4 volumes of  interviews of those who fought against Somoza. Her history gives special relevance to her reflections.  

The 41st anniversary of the Sandinista revolution and the fall of the Ortega regime

By Monica Baltodano in Confidencial, July 19, 2020

[original Spanish]

Thousands of Nicaraguans gave their lives in the struggle against the Somoza dictatorship throughout the forty years of its duration. The biggest quotas of sacrifice were paid in the final phase, when the population, particularly the youth, got massively involved in the insurrections that culminated with the triumph of the Sandinista Revolution, on July 19, 1979. It was a long and painful journey, that we will never forget.

During those decades of Somocism, thousands of peasants were disappeared; dozens of union leaders jailed time and time again; and hundreds of women fighters raped in the Somoza dungeons. The civilian population was massacred by bombs and rockets launched by Somoza aviation in the insurrections of 1978 and 1979.

What objectives moved the fighters from the liberal or conservative ideologies who suffered jailing, exile and death in different stages of the anti-Somoza struggle? What ideals prompted the youth to get involved in the Sandinista armed struggle at the risk of losing their lives? What united an entire people so that, coming from different ideologies, social strata or religious adherence, they would decide to contribute, from different forms of struggle, to the national torrent that put an end to the despotic regime that subjugated us?

In the end we were able to build a consensus, an essential front to the brutal escalation of the repression and the crimes against the population; one of the most abhorrent was the murder of Pedro Joaquín Chamorro in January of 1978. The people thought, if they killed Pedro Joaquín, who could be saved? So, the national cry was unified: Enough already!

For the construction of the post-Somoza Nicaragua, most of us were committed to our own model, derived from our reality, with its limits and opportunities. From a Nicaraguan reading of Marxism emerged then, the proposal for a mixed economy, the co-existence of a social, cooperative and State economy, with private property and markets. Most of us did not like the single party, we were committed to political pluralism, and we were not interested in aligning ourselves with any of the superpowers. We aspired to an independent and non-aligned foreign policy.

Even though Somoza called us “communists”, most of the militants fought to build a society where democratic voting prevailed, where people could organize to defend their rights and no one was persecuted for their political ideas nor for their religious beliefs. And many of us dreamed, above all, of ending the poverty that afflicted more than 60% of Nicaraguans. In the new Nicaragua there would be progress, education, health care and work for all. This country aspiration explains the involvement in the struggle of thousands of Christian youth and priests, from their convictions in the “God of the poor, human and simple God”, as the Peasant Mass goes.

What I want to emphasize is that the end of the dictatorship and the new national project came to be a banner under which the great majority of the Nicaraguan people got involved, and that on arriving at July 19, 1979 only the central nucleus of Somocism, a clear minority, was with the tyrant. July 19th was then the victory of an unquestionable social majority and a beautiful national celebration.

Unfortunately, our dreams were not able to be realized. This is not the place here to refer in detail to this, but we cannot avoid the fact that the decision of Ronald Reagan to fight the Sandinista Revolution, financing and arming the contra in a war, called a “low intensity war”, explains in part the unique course of the revolution.  In that civil war, like in all conflagrations, there were thousands of deaths, human rights violations, cruelty, grief and suffering of families to be regretted, all of that from one side and the other. So it is that the revolutionary government ended up restricting liberties, confiscating its opponents, installing unpopular obligatory military service and, in order to survive, ended up depending on the socialist camp led by the Soviet Union.

It ended up surprising, nevertheless, that in 1990 and in the worst scenario possible, with the economy completely destroyed, nearly inexistent social services, all the warehouses empty, all the attrition imposed by the war, and a precarious military situation, the revolution maintained 40.8% of support expressed by the votes.

During the decade of 1990 Sandinism was fractured. In this way the MRS emerged in 1995. Later on, in 1999, hundreds of us left, denouncing the neoliberal, authoritarian drift and the culture of power sharing in the top leadership of the FSLN, when Ortega made a pact with Arnoldo Alemán to distribute between themselves, and undermine, the institutions of the State. On coming to power in 2007 Ortega did it with new allies: liberals, conservatives, contras, part of the Catholic hierarchy and big capital.

The authoritarian regime of Ortega and Murillo not only did away with the already fragile democratic institutions of Nicaragua, but also put an end to the last accomplishments of the revolution. An organized people who learned to defend their rights moved to nourishing completely submissive organizations whose only currency is the defense of Ortega; critical and autonomous universities, ended up in the absolute control of the department chairs to impose the story of the government; citizen participation was replaced by vertical Orteguista control. The National Police, recognized as professional and apolitical for decades, became a guard of the dictator, highly repressive; and an Army that evolved favorably in the 90s under a patriotic and non-bellicose manner, became a strategic element for keeping Ortega in power. There are no vestiges left for political archaeology of the popular and progressive essence of the revolution.

All the authoritarian and corrupt policies, as well as the crimes committed, have been carried out in the name of Sandinism, the left and a project that Ortega and his followers cynically call “the second stage of the revolution.” Ortega in this way pretends to take over the history of the just anti-Somocista struggle. And at least for now he is achieving it. On the one hand, one sector of the combatants of that feat have been turned into paramilitaries responsible for repression against the citizenry. On the other hand, there are those who, for selfish interests, persist in assimilating the brutal Ortega dictatorship with the 1979 revolution; and the crimes against humanity committed in 2018, they incorrectly assimilate with the casualties of the civil war of the 80s.

In addition, while Ortega shows more and more his reactionary disposition, people from the Trump administration insist on calling him a communist. On the other hand, sectors from the international left take the empty discourse of Ortega as true, instead of examining his policies and actions, thus supporting a conservative, corrupt and criminal dictator.

But history, which puts the facts, motivations and true heroes and heroines in their place, will know how to differentiate between the men and women who gave their lives for freedom throughout the four decades (between the 50s and 80s), from the criminals who, manipulating the symbols and discourse of that time, do just the opposite to the ideals that moved thousands of youth to fight. This the Sandinistas submissive to the regime know well, whose consciences challenge them every day.

The Nicaraguan patriots who got involved in the anti-dictatorial struggle prior to July 19th did so with the best of intentions, like – it has to be said – most of those who fought in the civil war of the 80s, on one side and the other. The examples of the heroes of those campaigns inspired thousands of participants in the uprising of April to rise up against this new dictatorship. Those murdered of 2018 are today the icons of the new generations of fighters and will be fused in history with those of past feats.

A present challenge is learning from our history without subordinating it to prejudices and self- serving ideological stories. And on this anniversary of the revolution, it is important to realize that today, like yesterday, the struggle of the people of Nicaragua continues to be achieving liberty, democracy, justice for the victims, and social justice for all. The relaunching of a true transformative and inclusive project, that would unite the vital forces of Nicaraguans, is needed for that purpose.  The new generations and their emerging leaders are committed to this challenge.