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Central American University - UCA  
  Number 445 | Agosto 2018
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Nicaragua

Nicaragua briefs

BRAZILIAN STUDENT MURDERED

On July 23, Raynéia Gabrielle da Costa Lima Rocha, a 30-year-old Brazilian medical student who was finishing up her studies in the American University (UAM), was shot to death in her car in the same residential zone of Managua where FSLN treasurer Francisco López, recipient of a US Magnitsky Act sanction, lives. It is also the location of Bancorp, the Ortega-Murillo family bank, and of the offices of Albanisa, the joint venture with Venezuela that has managed the income from the sale of Venezuelan oil. For these reasons the area is heavily guarded, including by the hooded and armed paramilitaries who have been working for the government during this stage of repression against the protests that began in April.. According to her boyfriend, who witnessed what happened, they ordered her to halt, but fearing them, she kept going and was gunned down. Her boyfriend, who has not appeared again for security reasons, took her to the Military Hospital, where she died shortly afterward. Within a few hours her car was removed from the scene of the crime and the police announced that a private guard was responsible.
The findings of the medical examiner from the Institute of Legal Medicine, controlled by the executive branch of government, did not establish how
many bullets hit her. UAM rector Ernesto Medina, who spoke with the boyfriend, did not believe the first police report.
The governor of Pernambuco, the student’s home state in Brazil, declared that he also didn’t trust “the investigation of a country living in a dictatorship.”
The crime had a big impact on Brazilian society and in the media of that country. Under pressure from Brazil, the Nicaraguan Police admitted days later that the alleged “private guard” was in fact a ormer Army member who shot her with an M-14 war rifle. The case revealed what many suspect and Ortega denies: the paramilitaries are made up at least in part of retired Army personnel. The trial of the accused, held on a day off, was very quick. The Prosecutor General’s office gave an implausible version of the facts and the judge found him guilty of voluntary manslaughter rather than murder. Raynéia’s mother said she will not stop until she learns the whole truth about her daughter’s death. 

WEAPONS OF WAR

According to the Arias Foundation for Peace, the Nicaraguan government imports its military weapons and munitions from the eight different countries: Argentina, Austria, Brazil, China, the Czech Republic, Italy, Mexico, Spain
and the United States. Since May the Foundation has been urging these supplier countries and the international community in general to block the transfer of arms and munitions to Nicaragua since the regime’s “use of excessive force to commit a serious violation of international human rights law” could mean the countries are in violation of the Arms Trade Treaty. According to retired Nicaraguan Army Major Roberto Samcam, the Ortega-Murillo government confiscated all the weapons sold in stores in the country shortly after the April insurrection. The regime also allegedly ordered the sacking of Samcam’s house, since he has been a lucid critic of the government for years.

EVANGELICALS FINALLY SPEAK UP

In a July 3 interview with the Latin American news website Evangelico Digital, Pastor Amilcar Kraudy, leader of the Beraca Family Ministry in Managua, said “We have a double discourse; we are always saying that Christians should not get involved in politics, that we are apolitical. But that is totally false because all human beings have a political position.” He said that even when the son of a presbyter of one of the largest denominations in Nicaragua died and the denomination condemned the death, “they never said it was a murder, despite the fact that the man was shot dead.” A week after that interview, the Nicaraguan Evangelical Alliance released a statement denouncing the lack of security for citizens, asking the government to comply with the law and demanding “respect for the scourge of intolerance and injustice they are experiencing daily for denouncing with a prophetic voice the abuses Nicaragua is living through today’” The letter, signed by its president, Mauricio Fonseca, asked the UN, the OAS and the European Community to act “with greater belligerence so that the State of Nicaragua through its government, will respect human rights and stop the repression and death of the people.”

BISHOP ABELARDO MATA

After suffering harassment by mobs and paramilitaries under Ortega’s orders, the bishop of Estelí, Abelardo Mata, declared that “when a ruler imposes blood and death under the pretext of defending his authority—which in this case is illegal and illegitimate from its origin—each act against the dignity of a people ends by increasingly delegitimizing him. The people are no longer his and the ruler becomes a usurping bandit… As the fruit of a blind obstinacy of the mind and heart he becomes like a beast.”

WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES
LEADER SPEAKS UP AS WELL

On July 19, Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council
of Churches called on the Ortega government to “cease the appalling violence and protect the population,” describing the current state repression level as “unacceptable.” The WCC expressed concern for “those who publicly oppose the government’s tactics,” as they are at risk, specifically mentioning Fr José Alberto Idiáquez, the UCA rector “who has been a strong advocate for human rights and democracy.”

“MINGUITO” FESTIVITIES
DIFFERENT THIS YEAR

Managua’s popular religious festivities in honor of St. Domingo (James) of Guzmán, known as “Minguito” to the people who pray to him and “pay him” promises, are celebrated every year by multitudes who participate in two processions: the first on August 1, when the statue of the saint is brought down to Managua from its resting place in Las Sierritas church in the residential area of Santo Domingo, then another on August 10, when it is returned, Given the reigning insecurity, generalized mourning and economic recession this year, many fewer people participated, less liquor was consumed and fewer firecrackers were set off. An environment of greater “religiosity” than normal thus prevailed, with a predominance of prayers “for the peace of Nicaragua.” Las Sierritas church gave out 15, 000 rosaries to the devout and “promesantes” as a sign of protection or commitment to the prayers for peace. Another major change was that the church in Managua responsible for the celebration decided not to let the mayor be the majordomo this year, as is traditional, because she belongs to the governing party. 

THE UN LACKS INFORMATION, SAYS ITS HUMAN RIGHTS MISSION COORDINATOR

In an interview with El Nuevo Diario, Guillermo Fernández-Maldonado, coordinator of the mission of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Central American Regional Office, which has had a team in Nicaragua since July, explained that lack of information from the government is hindering his mission’s work. “The exercise of our work is closely linked to information access.
We are receiving a lot of information, many denunciations, from civil society.
We’ve also received information about denunciations and perspectives the government has. Our added value is to verify and validate the effects and their alignment with international human rights standards, and to that end we need access to information and to the places where the events occurred. Everyone recognizes that in the recent months a series of very serious acts of violence have occurred and we haven’t been able to fully investigate them so far. In the majority of cases, we have not received the information we requested from the government. We still haven’t been able to gain access to the main sites where the events occurred, such as detention centers and specific places where protests and roadblocks took place. We have requested this verbally and in written form, with no success.”

CARLOS MEJÍA GODOY and
take refuge IN COSTA RICA

World-famous Nicaraguan songwriter and singer Carlos Mejía Godoy had to seek exile in Costa Rica due to threats on his life. After the April uprising, he began to compose songs in honor of various youths killed in the protests, their mothers and Monimbó, the first barrio to rise up against Somoza 40 years ago and now a bastion of resistance against Daniel Ortega. Mejía’s son Camilo, who now lives in the US, has taken the opposite road from his father, claiming publicly every chance he gets that the insurrection in Nicaragua is purely the fruit of US interference. It is not the first or only time that today’s parallel universe discourses about Nicaragua have split families, either in Nicaragua or within what’s left of the international solidarity movement.
Álvaro Leiva, director of the Nicaraguan pro-Human Rights Association (ANPDH), has also sought refuge in Costa Rica together with his team after being threatened with a lawsuit for their activity. ANPDH got its start some 30 years ago as the human rights defender of the contra organization, FDN. In July Leiva received the French-German Human Rights Prize given by those two countries’ embassies to people who work in the promotion and defense of human rights of Nicaraguans. Since April he especially defended the human rights of both the Nicaraguan population in resistance and police and paramilitaries in his native Masaya.

FOREIGN MINISTER ON JUNKET TO PROMOTE A “NEW” NATIONAL DIALOGUE

Things have not gone well recently for Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Denis Moncada Colndres. After successive diplomatic defeats in the OAS, which among other things fully supports the national dialogue in its current form, Ortega assigned him the task of organizing a “new” national dialogue with more favorable interests. Moncada went first to the UN headquarters in New York to request of UN Secretary General António Guterres his organization’s participation in the dialogue. From there he went to the Vatican, reportedly to request that only “those bishops who have maintained a balanced behavior” continue participating in the dialogue. Although he didn’t name them, this would mean the Vatican ordering Silvio Báez, auxiliary bishop of Managua; Abelardo Mata, bishop of Estelí; and Rolando Alvarez, bishop of Matagalpa,
to leave the dialogue. Upon learning this information, Leopoldo Brenes, cardinal archbishop of Managua, said, “The Vatican does not allow itself to be led by outside requests.” Moncada was not received by either Pope Francis or the Vatican’s secretary of state. 

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