Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 443 | Junio 2018



Nicaragua briefs


These 10 commandments were among the many memes, photos and videos that have appeared on social media, demonstrating a capacity for intelligent reflection and very often humor despite the scale of the crisis affecting the county:
1. Thou shalt not kill: the most perverse power of monsters is to make us monsters.
2..Thou shalt not die: taking care of yourself is not cowardly. Although it may seem extreme, it’s not crazy to use a helmet and make a shield. Always have minutes on your cellphone, be aware of your surroundings, move around in a group, communicate using Signal or WhatsApp. If things get rough, run without shame or regret; you have to live to be in the protest tomorrow.
3. Thou shalt not commit vandalism: acts of destruction of private or public property are not admissible. Note: intervening artistically on Chayo-trees and billboards that pay homage to the cult of the tyrant is at each citizen’s discretion. Barricades count as “installations for the defense of the population’s physical integrity.”
4. Thou shalt invoke change by example: all this effort is aimed at making a better Nicaragua and implies personal change. Offending regime supporters isn’t worth it, reprisals aren’t worth it. Courtesy doesn’t take away from valor and if we want to break the cycle of “kicking you out to install me instead” we have to embody the change.
5. Thou shalt build bridges: even when its tiresome, it’s important not to stop talking to people close to the regime. A friendly verbal exchange is an antidote to violence.
6. Thou shalt not generalize: not all
police are murders, not all government employees are sell-outs. We must assume that people are good until proven otherwise. By making generalized judgments, we just generate conviction about their opposite.
7. Thou shalt not propagate fake news: take time to review. Garbage in the internet confuses and frightens people. Besides, if the regime lies, it’s our job to tell the truth.
8. Thou shalt not spread pro-government propaganda: no need to go viral with the absurdities the regime’s communicators produce. Or pay any attention to its regrettable “celebrities.”
9- Thou shalt not obsess 24 hours a day: be sure to maintain your mental health and avoid becoming fanatical, forcing yourself to enjoy some hours of the day without thinking about this. No need to feel guilty for a little distraction; this isn’t ending now and it’s best not to collapse. Organize turns with your friends to attend the vigils and thus assure yourself a few good nights of sleep a week.
10. Thou shalt not give up: this a long-distance endurance race, not the four-minute mile. Although the economic situation is a bitch, remember that the tyrant can’t be allowed to get away with
it again after so many deaths. It’s a regime that has shown itself capable of killing, lying and stealing. Nicaragua deserves better.


Former national baseball star and US major leaguer Dennis Martínez learned in April that the new baseball stadium inaugurated in October 2017 and named for him is being used by the Ortega-Murillo regime to conceal para-police forces and snipers who are coordinating with the anti-riot police to shoot at youths and the general population. Although he didn’t react right away, he sent the following message to the country from the United States, where he lives, following the regime’s Mother’s Day massacre: “It pains me to know that the national stadium is being used for violent purposes, affecting my Nicaraguan brothers and sisters. That stadium is a place where I dreamed we would come together to enjoy the sport dear to my heart. I hope you will understand that I have no intention of interfering in the Nicaraguan authorities’ use of it for whatever they want, but out of respect for me and for what they believe I have meant, do not use it for violent purposes. Enough of all this bloodshed among brothers.”


“The Sandinista National Liberation Front no longer totals even a thousand people: just officials of different sectors, mayors, deputy mayors, legislators… They are the firm nucleus, people who have everything to lose if the government leaves. These few are assuming a “fatherland or death” posture because they’ve all been marked. They know that if there’s a change, they’re out.” (Óscar René Vargas, early member of the FSLN in the 1960s)


“Daniel has no right to bury Sandinismo. If it is now being shouted in the protests that ‘Ortega and Somoza are the same thing!’ he mustn’t also be responsible for us hearing one day that ‘Somocismo and Sandinismo are the same thing!’” (Julio López, in charge of the FSLN’s Department of International Relations in the revolutionary years)


A gigantic security apparatus accompanied Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo from their house to the Catholic seminary for the inauguration of the national dialogue on May 16. The armored Mercedes Benz driven by Ortega was preceded by 14 motorcycle police, 3 pick-up trucks carrying at least 8 heavily armed police each and another 2 closed vehicles. Behind the couple’s vehicle came another 6 motorcycle cops, 2 more pick-ups with at least 8 policemen in each and 2 microbuses full of an undetermined number of armed men. At the end of the caravan was an ambulance, while 2 Army helicopters flew above the entourage. Six traffic policemen guarded each traffic signal the length of the route. Why would a “”People President” have so much to fear?


“If the regime is about extermination, what country does it think it will govern once this is consummated? It is impossible to govern a people that refuses to let itself be governed, above all by those who have drowned the peaceful protests demanding democracy and freedom in blood. How do they think they can recover the obedience and cooperation of a population that has been outraged by a political regime that is keeping itself in power against the popular will? It would not be easy to see the Ortega regime’s hierarchs, the mayors who are ordering their citizens killed, for example, trying to share public spaces with the repressed, attending Masses officiated by priests who with clarity have taken the side of the subjugated. In summary, they would have to govern using more violence and beating down more wills until one day, for whatever reason, the flame of a new rebellion is ignited again. Because at bottom, the repressors will have fed the rancor, not of those already beaten down, but that which engenders a fury that’s unafraid to try it again. They will find themselves obliged to continue killing, but that won’t make them any more efficient. Peoples always survive their exterminators. Threats by paid killers are as useless as their bullets against people’s courage and loss of fear.” (Silvio Prado, sociologist and municipal activist)


On May 9, directors of the independent media covering the civic rebellion in Nicaragua got together with 105 journalists, itself an unusual event, to sign a communique that ended with the following conclusion: “Throughout our history, winning freedom of expression in Nicaragua has come at a very high cost: journalists murdered, exiled and jailed, and media confiscated and forced to pay high fines. The coverage of the current protests forms part of the inescapable daily work of journalists from different media. Nicaraguans have the right to know about the development of events marking the course of the nation. By virtue of the above, we call first on all Nicaraguans to respect the right and duty of journalists to do their work without any kind of vexation. We demand zero aggressions against journalists, and no reprisals of any kind by the State against the media for simply fulfilling their sacred work of informing.”


“In addition to having revealed a total incapacity to govern with any restraint, our governors are two elderly people obsessed with power, even at the cost of the youth’s blood. But like it or not, a generational hand-over is inevitable. This is the moment to do it. This government is incapable of resolving either the social security crisis or implementing necessary fiscal reforms. The reason is simple: it has neither the political capital nor the legitimacy needed to implement adjustment policies. A new attempt to transfer the costs of the corruption to businesspeople, pensioners and workers would be disastrous. Only a new government with legitimacy and political capital can reach a consensus on these issues with the different sectors. The social crisis cannot be resolved and a fiscal reform cannot be instituted without first resolving the institutional crisis. There will be an economic crash, which will affect foreign investment and produce capital flight. The postponement of the necessary political transition will have very serious implications for the economic crisis…. The insurrection today is civic, unarmed. But it is massive. The dictatorship can only survive with more repression, which will irremediably sink the country. It is time for big business to take some historic decisions.” (José Luis Medal, economist)


In a May 29 communique, the directors of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (COSEP) urged all members of private companies on the boards of state institutions to immediately resign those posts. In the model of economic consensus and alliance COSEP has maintained with the Ortega-Murillo government since 2007, also called the “COSEP model,” business leaders ended up occupying more than 40 posts in these directive bodie. The communique says the businesspeople have suspended all meetings with government authorities since April 18.


Alejandro Lagos, a doctor offering free treatment to wounded youths who get to his consultancy, told the daily newspaper La Prensa that “the government is creating a new generation of disabled people, youngsters wounded for life. There are kids who can’t write or speak very well, many of whom need prostheses for their eyes or special materials that are very costly. I dare say that more than 700 wounded youths in Managua will have problems in the future.”


In the first days of June La Prensa published a comparative chart of repression by the Maduro regime in Venezuela (between April 1 and July 31, 2017) and by the Ortega regime since April 18. There were 43 deaths in Venezuela and 99 in Nicaragua. It also compared the number of wounded and detained in the two countries. In Venezuela 1,958 were wounded in those four months, while in Nicaragua 1,200 were wounded in only 45 days. In those same respective time periods, more than 5,000 people were detained in Venezuela and more than 400 in Nicaragua. With respect to their overall population, Venezuela has 31.5 million inhabitants and Nicaragua just 6.5 million. The data for this chart were based on figures from the Nicaraguan Human Rights Center (CENIDH), Amnesty International and the paper’s own records.


Ethics and Transparency (EyT) issued a communique on June 1 stating, among other things, that “The essential problem of the dialogue, which would allow the country to avoid the bloodiest solutions, is the refusal of Ortega and Murillo to understand that this is being done for their benefit, giving them the opportunity to leave power with some minimum conditions in exchange for halting the genocidal wave that would drag them down together with the people they are now trying to crush. To channel the dialogue, it is necessary for the Army... to make the binomial dictator see reality, showing it the limits of the nation’s patience. Also necessary is the resignation of Cabinet members and officials. It is one thing to support an autocrat, but quite another being accomplices of murder.” EyT is calling for a rapid electoral solution without any deceit.


On May 25, the US Department of State condemned “the recent violence perpetrated by government-controlled thugs, resulting in further deaths of demonstrators in Nicaragua.” It called on the Nicaraguan government to “create the conditions conducive to a credible and inclusive dialogue and guarantee the safety of the participants,” and urged it to “fully implement the recommendations of the independent Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), and act upon its findings to ensure accountability and justice for human rights abuses and violations.” On June 5, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in the Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly that “Nicaraguan police and government-controlled armed groups have killed dozens, merely for peacefully protesting…. The United States supports the work of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and what it is doing in Nicaragua, and strongly urges the Nicaraguan Government to implement the recommendations issued by the commission this past May 21st.”


In his speech to his peers at the OAS General Assembly on June 5, Nicaragua’s ambassador to the OAS, Luis Alvarado, said: “The government
of Nicaragua reiterates its vocation for peace and the only path for achieving it is dialogue, the establishment of truth, justice and the search for solutions that the people are demanding…. Nicaragua is currently under the attack of criminal violence generated by certain opposition groups who are conspiring from the darkness with a specific political agenda similar to that used in other countries of the region with the aim of activating criminal formats to terrorize families in frank violation of the Constitution and the laws of the Republic, destroying the security and life of Nicaraguan families…. We emphatically condemn all acts of violence that have occurred since April 18 in Nicaragua. These are painful days that have plunged families into mourning, so we ratify to our people and the international community that we repudiate these acts and remain on the side of the families to confront with reason and laws this criminal wave battering Nicaragua.” According to News4Europe, Alvarado then “started to recite the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi amidst an uproar of the member States, some of which expressed their disapproval.”


Also on June 5, the OAS General Assembly approved by consensus a declaration co-sponsored by the governments of the United States and Nicaragua “ in support of the people of Nicaragua” that condemned the violence without assigning responsibility for it and called for all parties to engage in constructive peaceful negotiations. For those surprised by its weakness, US Ambassador to the OAS Carlos Trujillo said in the plenary that the declaration “marks the beginning of the participation of OAS member states in the grave situation in Nicaragua” to put an end to the violence “perpetrated against the population by the government and its supporters and eliminate the anti-democratic practices that the government has instituted in the past decade…. Let’s be clear: the Nicaraguan government has the main responsibility for complying with the declaration’s call for the ‘immediate cessation of acts of violence, intimidation and threats against the public in general.’” In an interview with Confidencial, Trujillo reiterated that the declaration “is a first necessary step for the OAS to hold the Ortega administration responsible for its actions and help support genuine dialogue…. We have a commitment to the people of Nicaragua and not to the government…. The US government can act differently and is going to do so. This is not the final action of the American government.”


When government forces attacked the mammoth Mothers’ Day march on May 30, thousands took refuge in the Central American University (UCA) campus. That day, the UCA’s rector, Jesuit Priest José Idiáquez, denounced to the Nicaraguan e-bulletin Confidencial the “bestiality, the savagery” of those who “have clung so strongly to power,” who want the “peace of the cemeteries.” In response to growing numbers of threats against him, the Association of Jesuit Universities of Latin America released a communique on June 1 “ratifying our total support for the UCA university community, especially its rector, Fr. José Idiáquez, and holding the Nicaraguan government responsible for any attempt on the liberty or life of the rector and other UCA authorities, who have come to the defense of their compatriots who are only longing for a country in peace and democracy.” In a communique issued the same day, Rolando Alvarado, the Jesuit provincial of Central America, said that “in the name of all Jesuits in Central America and all laypeople who make up the 40 institutions we are running with the single desire of serving the Central American people, I hold the Nicaraguan government responsible as of now for any aggression or attack that Father José Alberto Idiáquez SJ might suffer.”


At the Sunday Angelus address on June 3, Pope Francis appealed for peace in Nicaragua and expressed his “deep sorrow” for the violence that has caused so many deaths and injuries. Sharing the concerns of Nicaragua’s bishops and their pain at the violence of armed groups to repress the protests, the pope called for an end to all violence and prayed for the victims and their families, an end to the violence and the re-establishment of conditions for a return to dialogue. He said the Church always favors dialogue but that “it requires active engagement in respect for freedom and, above all, life.” The previous day the police had laid siege to a Catholic church in Masaya after around 30 opposition supporters sought refuge there from attacks by anti-riot police and pro-government militias. Two people died in the church before local church authorities could intervene and secure the release of those inside. On June 5, the pope’s representative in Nicaragua, Nuncio Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, was interviewed on Vatican Radio about an audience he had had with the pope: “It has been very important and delicate, considering the situation of Nicaragua. The Holy Father is very well informed and is praying a lot for the arrival of a peaceful solution through this national dialogue in which the Church has the role of mediator.
The Church can never withdraw from its responsibilities. The Holy Father is a man of hope and his calls are always invitations to a concrete dialogue. And he Church of Nicaragua will never abandon its people. In any sphere of
life of those who are going through this situation, the Church is a presence that is nearby, merciful, fraternal, spiritual, but also a very concrete, material presence.”


At the close of this edition, on June 7, the bishops of the Episcopal Conference requested an audience with Daniel Ortega after consulting different sectors, and he agreed to speak with them. The bishops said they planned to address “justice and democracy, topics indispensable and essential for our country, those on which peace always depends, in order to assess the benefit of moving forward with the dialogue table.”

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