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  Number 465 | Abril 2020
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Nicaragua

Nicaragau briefs

ALMAGRO REELECTED TO OAS AND
TRUJILLO MOVED TO THE STATE DEPT.

With the votes of 23 of the 34 States attending, Luis Almagro was reelected on March 20 to another five-year term as secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS). Ecuador’s María Fernanda Espinosa, whose candidacy was backed by Nicaragua, Argentina, Mexico and several small Caribbean nations, got 10 votes. Almagro’s response to the congratulations sent by Nicaragua’s Civic Alliance was that “together we will continue working for liberty, free elections and the strengthening of all democratic institutions in Nicaragua.” Three days earlier, President Trump named Carlos Trujillo, who had been the US representative to the OAS, as his new undersecretary of State for Latin America. While in the OAS, Trujillo always voiced strong criticisms of the human rights violations by Venezuela and Nicaragua.

SANCTIONED POLICE PREVENT
COMMEMORATION OF WOMEN’S DAY

On March 8, a disproportionate number of anti-riot police violently prevented a group of women from even gathering
on the sidewalk in front of the offices of La Coriente Feminista Movement to commemorate International Women’s Day. Nicaragua was one of just a handful of countries that impeded this annual commemoration. The women shouted a new slogan at the police blocking them: “Sancionados!” Only three days earlier the US Treasury Dept. had politically and financially sanctioned the National Police as an institution and three of its top commanders. See “The Month” in this issue for the Treasury Dept.’s justification in its own words.

DNP GAS STATIONS START CLOSING

At least 15 of the 69 gas stations the National Petroleum Distributor (DNP) has around the country closed on Monday, March 23. Those in Managua were draped with a huge cloth banner that read “Out of service.” The DNP and its subsidiary Inversiones Zanzíbar were sanctioned by the US Treasury Dept. on December 12, 2019. In the interim a civic boycott had substantially reduced the number of vehicles frequenting those stations. The distribution company also had difficulties selling fuels to other outlets due to the sanctions. Nonetheless, there was no official explanation about the closures, which have also implied the layoff of their workers.

DENNIS MARTÍNEZ SPEAKS OUT AGAIN

From Miami, retired Nicaraguan baseball star Dennis Martínez sent a message via the Nicaraguan newspaper La Prensa to the country’s baseball teams. The Nicaraguan regime is threatening some of them with fines if they decide to stop playing out of fear of the coronavirus. Dennis wrote that “I understand the fear and the need to work, and the economic part of it, but without your health you can neither work nor have money.” He also addressed the following words to the country’s rulers: “Leaders must be aware of everything that is happening. They will be the ones responsible for the families that could die. I call upon them now because tomorrow could be too late. They only need to see the way the virus has propagated and attacked the great powers. They won’t be able to sleep at night with that weight on their consciences.”

NICARAGUAN POLITICAL EXILES

The Office of UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that as of March 12, more than 100,000 people have been forced to flee Nicaragua since April 2018, particularly students, human rights defenders, journalists and peasants. They have left at a rate of roughly 4,000 a day and since no solution to the crisis is in sight, the UNHCR expects the number to continue increasing. It has tallied a total of 103,600 Nicaraguans who are refugees or requesting refugee status around the world, the majority of them in Costa Rica, which has taken in 77,800. Another 8,100 have gone to Panama, 3,600 to Mexico and some 9,000 to Spain and other European countries. The UN agency says Costa Rica has requested US$22 million in international aid to help receive the Nicaraguan community, but has so far only received 2% of that amount.

DEATHS IN THECARIBBEAN
REGION MOUNTING IN 2020

Nicaragua’s Caribbean region is the geographic zone most vulnerable to the Covid 19 pandemic due to the
remoteness of the outlying communities from any health care, the porosity of its borders to traffic from other countries
and from the sea, its institutional fragility and its poverty. But so far the virus is not posing the same kind of threat as government-supported mestizo settlers from the Pacific side of the country, who have invaded indigenous communities on a nearly daily basis for years. On March 27, they killed a Miskitu man and his wife and son in the Tuahka territory
in the municipality of Rosita, and two days later a group killed three young Mayangnas in the community of Wasakín, also in Rosita. The Indigenous Youth Movement of the Moskitia has recorded 9 Mayangnas killed and more than 50 Miskitus killed, wounded or displaced so far this year as a result of the mestizos’ voracious determination to take over their territorial lands in total violation of the land titles the indigenous peoples there fought so hard for and finally acquired only in the past two decades.

AMAYA COPPENS AWARDED
US PRIZE FOR COURAGE

The Nicaraguan-Belgian university student leader Amaya Coppens Zamora was imprisoned by the dictatorship on two occasions, first in September 2018 for 10 months, then again in November 2019 for a month and a half. In early March the US Secretary of State included her among 10 women from countries in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America awarded the International Women of Courage Prize for 2020. The other Latin America woman to receive the prize was Ximena Galarza of Bolivia. A Nicaraguan woman was also among the winners in 2019: 100% Noticias news director Lucía Pineda Ubau, who spent six months in solitary confinement last year for daring to report the news.

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