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  Number 444 | Julio 2018
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Nicaragua

Nicaragua briefs

THE IACHR ADDS NINE
MORE RECOMMENDATIONS

In its final report, presented to the OAS Permanent Council on June 22, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) added 9 recommendations to the 15 it made to the Nicaraguan State
in its May 21 preliminary report. Although the Ortega government originally accepted all 15, it has only fulfilled the 3 having to do with inviting international human rights organizations to the country and cooperating with them. These are the new recommendations:
1. Immediately cease the arbitrary detention of those participating in the protests…. Assuming the detention does not respond to expressly categorized causes or has been done in a manner contrary to the procedures objectively specified in the legislation, the judicial authority must immediately release the individual.
2. Prepare and make available a public record containing information about the number of detainees, causes, duration of the detention, place where it occurred and number of people released, all with data about age, gender and occupation.
3. Immediately initiate ex oficio an effective investigation that permits the identification, trial and punishment of those guilty of abusive treatment and torture of detainees, with results by a reasonable deadline.
4. Guarantee the decent treatment
of individuals being held by the state authorities, assure their right to legal defense from the moment of detention, and immediately inform their family members.
5. Adopt the measures necessary so that, in line with the obligations of due diligence, the proper medical-legal examinations are performed in all cases of victims of violence in the framework of the protests.
6. Guarantee the right of victims and their family members to learn the truth.
7. Assure adequate and non-discriminatory emergency attention to wounded persons in the country’s public and private hospitals and health centers
8. Protect the teams and personnel performing humanitarian work and emergency medical assistance.
9. Implement a multidisciplinary program to treat the psychological impacts on the population, above all on the victims of human rights violations and their relatives.

“SYSTEMATIC EROSION OF
HUMAN RIGHTS OVER THE YEARS”

“The violence and repression seen in Nicaragua since demonstrations began in April are products of the systematic erosion of human rights over the years, and highlight the overall fragility of institutions and the rule of law,” said
Zeid Ra´ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in a July 5 press release. His statement followed the visit to Nicaragua by a UN Human Rights Office team between June 26 and July 3 to monitor the human rights situation and support the work of the Verification and Security Commission. “My team heard expressions of deep frustration and despair, as well as widespread fear,” reported Zeid. “Real guarantees need to be established so that people can exercise their right to freedom of expression, assembly and association. Victims’ rights to truth, justice and reparations also need to be upheld.”
In the 38th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in June, prior
to the team’s visit, Kate Gilmore, Zeid’s deputy commissioner, directed her words to “the people in Nicaragua, who have bravely risen up.” She assured them that “we are with you, not because it is an act of generosity on our part, but because it is our obligation and our duty. Each of you, without exception, has the right to respect for your rights and when we have evidence that those rights have been violated, we must raise our voice.”

GIEI: A HISTORIC RESPONSIBILITY

On July 3, the Center for Justice
and International Law (CEJIL), an organization that oversees human rights in the Americas, issued a press release in which it said that “The Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) will enter a country that is facing the gravest human rights crisis in recent history. … Despite the fact that the conformation of this group is an advancement in the process, the ultimate responsibility lies with the State. In this context, the State must provide all necessary means to guarantee that the GIEI will have the institutional collaboration and access to information needed to carry out its duties. The Nicaraguan State has to guarantee protection to those who are a part of the GIEI, so they can complete their mandate free of any interference, threats, or incidents that put their life and personal integrity at risk. They must also protect the victims, their families, and those who give information and participate in the penal processes. “The responsibility that the members
of GIEI assume today is historic. The Nicaraguan people entrust them with the task of ensuring that the investigation identifies those responsible for the grave violations of human rights that have been committed over this time period. We call on the international community to monitor and support the process….”

US VISAS AND POLICE VEHICLES

On June 6 the US State Department cancelled the visa of a number of Nicaraguan government officials, both civilian and military. US law establishes that their names not be published.
It repeated the move on June 28 with another group of Nicaraguans responsible for human rights violations in the repression of the protests. A couple of days later the US Embassy in Managua issued a public communique to the Nicaraguan Police demanding they return or pay for a number of pick-up trucks it had donated for use in police work against drug trafficking. While it
did not specify the number of vehicles involved, the communique said that “some of these vehicles have been used by the National Police of Nicaragua and irregular forces under its command to violently repress the voices of those who are peacefully protesting the actions of their government. These actions violate the terms of the Letter of Understanding for cooperation” between the two governments.

LETTER TO THE POLICE

www.change.org began collecting signatures on June 13 for an open letter to Nicaraguan police officers, including the following excerpts: “When the family of Daniel Ortega and his wife Rosario Murillo disappear from power, you will remain alone and unprotected. Why continue exposing yourselves to the
cost of penal responsibilities for crimes ordered outside of any reason or law
by those at the top who disrespect you and use you as instruments of repression? The only way to preserve the institution to which you belong is for you to stop the spilling of blood. The next bullet some of you shoot could be aimed at someone in your own families: a son, wife, brother, childhood friend, old classmate. Examine your conscience, remember all the good and noble things your parents taught you, the principles learned in your churches, the first of which is the commandment “Thou shalt not kill.” There is still time for you to be part of the new Nicaragua. The regime of Daniel Ortega is now depleted. It is up to you to stop this senseless bloodbath once and for all. Why continue with a cause that is not yours, but that of a family living outside of reality? The country that saw you born wants you on its side!” Despite fear of reprisals, thousands of Nicaraguans signed the letter.

A DIVIDED COUNTRY

“The guaranteed impunity of those doing the shooting has not only provided a shield for the killers but also deepened the rift in the political community called Nicaragua,” sociologist and municipal activist Silvio Prado told Confidencial. “The violation of the principle of equality before the law has meant the disappearance from the collective self-image of norms and common government, a decisive condition of national unity. The fact that hooded men are going around killing at their pleasure and a population is having to defend itself as well as it can has created two countries, In other words,
a division of sovereignty along the irrefutable axis of the right to life between those who can take it away and those who fear losing it.”

90 CITIES DEMONSTRATE
FOR NICARAGUA

On June 31, Nicaraguan emigrants living in 90 cities of 30 countries around the world were joined by locals in solidarity vigils for Nicaragua. The largest demonstration was in Miami, but the message was similar everywhere: the Ortega regime has denied the rights of 2 million Nicaraguans working abroad to vote and have a Nicaraguan ID card even though we send home US$1.5 billion in remittances a year. What is happening in Nicaragua pains us and under the flag of Global #SOSNicaragua we are assuming the commitment to raise our voices around the world until Nicaragua is free and democratic, with peace and justice. We don’t want the new generations of Nicaraguans to repeat the exodus and economic tragedy of the 80s and the tragedy Nicaragua is living through today if Ortega doesn’t leave the government as soon as possible.

TOURISM IN CRISIS

Lucy Valenti, president of the National Chamber of Tourism, declared that “tourism will bite the dust if there is no government response.” She is the first representative of the various business chambers in the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (COSEP) to call for Ortega’s resignation, pointing out in an interview on the nightly news magazine program “Esta Noche” that many Presidents have resigned for having done much less. According to the Tourism Chamber’s calculations, the sector has so far lost US$200 million and a full half of the 120,000 jobs tourism provides. Last year it brought in US$840.5 million with around 2 million tourists visiting the country. Guacalito de la Isla Luxury Ocean Villas and Apartments and Mukul Beach Golf Course and Spa Resort, the mega tourist complex of the powerful Nicaraguan business magnate Carlos Pellas, which has attracted show business personalities from around the world and was considered one of the best resorts in the world, closed down in June due to the dearth of tourists and of reservations for the rest of this year.

BANKS AND GOVERNMENT
IN A BATTLE OF WILLS

At the end of June, the Superintendence of Banks and other Financial Institutions (SIBOIF) asked the country’s private banks for a list of clients who had withdrawn more than US$50,000 from their accounts since April 19, fining by that same amount those that refused to provide it within the 48-hour deadline. Some banks provided information about the amounts withdrawn minus the names of the account holders, fearing that such information violated bank privacy and would therefore endanger confidence in the banking system. SIBOIF further punished those that failed to cooperate by excluding them from “being beneficiaries of any financial assistance from the Central Bank.” Banks that neither provided the information nor paid the fine plan to file suit for legal protection against the country’s financial and justice institutions, even though those same institutions have been under the regime’s control for years.

WILL THE GOVERNMENT FREEZE
THE BANKS’ FINANCIAL ASSETS?

“The national tragedy is the massacre of the youth, even of children,” said economist José Luis Medal in la Prensa on June 22; “and despite its importance, the economic aspect is secondary. But it needs to be mentioned that if there is no democratic political transition in the near term, a grave financial crisis looms. There have been strong withdrawals of bank deposits. The total deposits in dollars and in córdobas on April 18 was equivalent to US$5.479 billion, but that figure had dropped to US$4.819 billion by June 18. If the withdrawal of deposits persists at this strong rate, there could
be a freezing of financial assets. The Central Bank can print córdobas, but it can’t print dollars. This seriously limits its ability to function as a lender of last resort to the banks. Unlike the 1980s, today’s financial system is highly dollarized, with 75% of the deposits and over 80% of the credits in dollars. If the public continues withdrawing its deposits, the banks will have liquidity problems. And although the Central Bank has a “small cushion of dollars” to support the banks, it wouldn’t be able to avoid the lack of bank liquidity that would result from the continued withdrawal of deposits in dollars…. The banks are being affected from two directions: withdrawals of deposits and an increase in the credit portfolio of hard-to-recover loans.”

POPE FRANCIS NEWLY INFORMED
ABOUT NICARAGUAN´S SITUATION

Pope Francis’ message following the Angelus prayer of Sunday, July 1, the third he has dedicated to Nicaragua’s crisis, referred explicitly to the effort Nicaragua is making to achieve democracy. “Dear brothers and sisters,” he said, “Renewing my prayer for the beloved people of Nicaragua, I would
like to join the efforts being made by the bishops of the country and so many people of good will, in their role of mediating and witnessing through the national dialogue process underway on the path to democracy.” Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, archbishop of Managua, and Rolando Álvarez, bishop of Matagalpa, were in Rome that day, having traveled to inform the pope firsthand about the country’s situation.

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