This letter, although written on July 24, was published as a paid ad in La Prensa, on August 2, 2018. Early on in this crisis the Commander in Chief of the Army, General Avilés, issued a press release saying that the Army would not take part in this internal conflict. The position of the Army is seen as a very sensitive issue. On the one hand, it is the institution with the highest approval rating in Nicaraguan society, and was praised – even by the US – for its professionalism. On the other hand, after the US supported military coup in Honduras in June 2009, Ortega took steps to consolidate his effective control over this armed body. So many breathed a sign of relief with the initial statement of neutrality of the Army in this crisis. In fact various Nicaraguan national security analysts since then have attributed Ortega´s use of paramilitary or parapolice forces to the neutrality of the Army. Their analysis is that, given the massive nature of the protest, he was not able to adequately respond with just the police forces available, so has armed other groups favorable to the government. Since then a controversy has arisen as these pro-government parapolice or paramilitary forces have operated with weapons only permitted for the Army, and it has been revealed that many of them are retired military. Thus some are questioning the “neutrality” of the Army in the face of these parapolice forces
Managua, July 24, 2018
General of the Army
Julio César Avilés
Commander in Chief of the Army of Nicaragua
Dear General Avilés
We a group of Nicaraguan women sincerely write to you to ask that the National Army proceed to disarm the parapolice groups that are usurping the functions and equipment of the Institution that you lead, to carry out criminal acts against the civilian population.
The certainty that by constitutional principle the National Army is a “non deliberative and apolitical” institution has moved us to send this letter, in addition to knowing that:
- The Political Constitution of Nicaragua establishes in its Article 95 that “there cannot exist other armed bodies in the national territory, nor military ranks than those established by the law.”
- In Article 2, Law 855, Law of the Reform and Additions to Law 181, the Code for the Organization, Jurisdiction and Social Military Prevision it is written that the Army should “use its forces and means to fight threats to the national safety and defense, and any illicit activity that would put at risk the existence of the Nicaraguan State, its institutions and the fundamental principles of the nation….”
- In addition, the General Assembly of the United Nationa approved on December 4, 1989 the International Convention against the recruitment, use, financing and training of mercenaries. This Convention establishes in its Articles 1b and 1d that mercenaries are those who without being members of the armed forces of a State, get involved in a conflict with the desire of obtaining personal advantage having been hired by one of the parties in conflict from which they receive material retribution considerably higher to what combatants of similar rank and function receive in the armed forces.
As mothers, workers and professionals, we are extremely upset by the pain of hundreds of mothers and sisters who have lost their children and/or have them disappeared or in prison. The conflict – which exploded in April of this year – is the consequence of a decade of suppresion of liberties. Unfortunately the Government has tried to resolve it with indiscriminate repression, which only has made the problem worse. Even more, to be able to increase the repression, the regime – violating our Constitution – has created irregular mercenary groups who usurping the functions of the National Army murder, kidnap and torture unarmed civilians, using rifles of war and heavy arms that should only be used by the Army.
The existence of these parapolice groups constitutes a threat to our nation and to the existence of our State. The Convention of the UN cited above, having present the experience of other conflicts in which third party parapolice forces have been used, points out that the activities of the mercenary groups when they have happened, “ have contributed to the destabilization of the affected States…”
For Nicaragua to be able to move ahead it is essential that the National Army look for mechanisms to preserve the constitutional order and peace, for which purpose it is key to dismantle and disarm these mercenary forces who are sowing terror among the population, carrying out an illegal war against the true sovereign of the nation, the Nicaraguan people.
Gioconda Belli Lea Guido Josefina Vanini Ximena Ramírez
Vanessa Castro Violeta Granera Mignone Vega Carmen Elizondo
Cristiana Chamorro María Hurtado Mónica Zalaquett Grace March
Ligia Elizondo Malena Montis Ana Eliza Martínez Rita Delia Casco