Nicaragua: it is a dictatorship and there are crimes against humanity

Concepts, in politics, are sometimes not just “labels.” They define positions and organize concrete actions. The case of Nicaragua is paradigmatic. Faced with positions that range from open defense, as is the case of the Communist Parties or the governments of Venezuela and Cuba, to the complicit silence of the so-called progressives, or the shameful ambiguity of sold out intellectuals; even some sectors of the left that condemn Ortega-Murillo, but do not define them as a dictatorship. The ISL and the MST have no doubts about this. But, let’s provide some arguments.

By Luciana Echevarría, legislator for the MST-FIT Unity (ISL-Argentina), parliamentary spokesperson for the International Commission.

In the regime’s 10 years, more people have been assassinated in Nicaragua for political reasons than in the entire first decade of the pro-US Somoza dictatorship. It is data, not an opinion. Furthermore, to contribute:

– In Nicaragua, hundreds of independent organizations and NGOs, of the most varied kinds, have been suppressed. The latest offensive was against feminist groups that also had their headquarters and assets confiscated.

– There is no right to protest, nor is there the right to assembly. Passports are confiscated at the border, family members of political prisoners are fired from their state jobs.

– All seven presidential candidates opposed to the dictatorial couple who participated in the electoral farce last November are now in prison.

– There is no freedom of the press. All media outlets that were independent of the FSLN have been closed, their assets have been confiscated, and they operate from exile. In addition, there are imprisoned journalists and media directors.

– Ortega-Murillo carried out reforms in the Penal Code. In addition to new figures such as “cyber-crime” (punished with years in prison), “treason against the country” or “threat to national integrity”, an article that enabled the State to retain people up to 48 hours for a background check, was modified to legally hold people for up to 60 days. That is to say: the legalization of state kidnapping.

And this is the “softest” part of the institutional repressive device. Let’s continue.

The Carazo Massacre and the case of Rodolfo “Piel” Rojas

Carazo lies south of Managua. Its main city is Jinotepe. On July 8, 2018, in the context of the so-called “Cleaning Operation” by the dictatorship to lift all the roadblocks that had been organized across the country, a true massacre occurred in Carazo. That department, together with Masaya and Monimbó, may have been one of the most combative in that year’s process of rebellion. Carazo is a university region, but also a working-class and popular one, and the San José roadblock had a particularity: the policy of “dialogue” called by the leadership of the Catholic Church and accepted by the business leaders and other sectors, was unable to lift it. When they communicated with the picket leaders to suggest that they drop the measure, because of the mandate of their bases, the response was “go eat shit, we’ll stay here. Carazo does not give up.” It had a second peculiarity: it had the support of experienced workers and neighbors from the ranks of the FSLN, which gave it a very strong consistency and resistance capacity. They blocked 50 kilometers of huge trucks, in that area that is a key commercial corridor in the country. And they had a third distinctive note: faced with the attacks by military forces and Ortega-Murillo’s paramilitaries with live rounds, they armed and defended themselves, repelling the attack. 

Carazo was a high example of armed, legitimate, popular self-defense, with social support (for days and days, the population attended the vanguard of the roadblock with food), and managed to defeat the first violent attempt by the dictatorship to evict the route. On July 8, however, a military operation of nearly 3,000 troops, armed with AK-47, Dragunov and M16 rifles, attacked. After 12 hours of confrontation and almost 30 killed, Carazo surrendered. The Massacre was brutal and the aftermath bloody. 

One of the leaders of that roadblock was Rodolfo Rojas, alias “Piel,” former leader of the Sandinista youth of Carazo. Rodolfo was in exile in Costa Rica, working as a construction worker. 15 days ago, he was kidnapped from Costa Rican territory, and executed with several shots to the chest and head. His body was found lying on the border between Honduras and Nicaragua, with his teeth and nails pulled out. Extra-territorial kidnapping, followed by torture and execution. They had prepared this for him for “deserting.” Very serious. Unprecedented. We made an oath with his relatives and comrades, with whom we met. They testified for the Commission’s final report. The world has to know.

Open the doors of Chipote! No more solitary confinement and torture!

Personally, it is not easy to collect the testimonies of relatives and victims. The tortures, the disappearances, the exile, the privations and the defenselessness in another country. All of this has to be experienced as a daily drama by those affected by the Ortega-Murillo regime. The methods and cruelty have no limit: none. Currently, in all the prisons where political prisoners are held, there are daily tortures and humiliations of different kinds:

  • Beatings, isolation cells.
  • Psychological torture.
  • Rapes.
  • Contaminated food.
  • Permanent exposure to artificial light or darkness.
  • Denial of visits for weeks and even months.
  • Confiscation of food and personal items sent by relatives.
  • Lack of medical attention.

Currently, in El Chipote, the regime’s emblematic political prison, detainees suffer isolation and the cutting off of communication with their families. A human rights group constructed “spoken” stories that compare the current figures of several of the prisoners noe to how they entered the prison. It’s heartbreaking! There are many tremendous cases and at the same time, those of Tamara Dávila, a feminist, or Félix Madariaga, a former candidate, like Juan Chamorro, or the director of La Prensa, Juan Hollman, are overwhelming. I don’t want to forget Yader Parajón, who we met in Argentina, Jaime Navarrete, with whose relatives we speak repeatedly, Ana Margarita Vijil and Dora Téllez, for whom we also demand the preservation of life and liberty. There are crimes against humanity. The dictatorship acts according to a plan, they are not isolated blows. There is an objective of exterminating people for their political positions. It is a bloody and sinister dictatorship. Without a doubt.

Capitalist and Stalinist: a Police State, to defend the business of an emerging bourgeoisie

Ortega-Murillo socially express a new bourgeoisie: the Sandinista bourgeoisie. Since their pact with Arnoldo Alemán at the end of the 1990s, which essentially consisted of an agreement to share businesses and properties in the country, Ortega-Murillo and their entourage have become large owners with diversified businesses: financial, forestry and other types of businesses. They are millionaires who defend their privileges. Power is an instrument for that purpose. They kill, persecute, repress, spy, banish, harass, all to ensure business and impunity. They are capitalist because of their class content, and Stalinist because of the Gulag and GPU methods they employ. How else to describe such a monstrosity, but a dictatorship? Obviously, the use of “left,” “socialism” or “anti-imperialism” narratives have the obvious goal of confusing and covering up what they are: right-wing, rich capitalists and gravediggers of the beautiful revolution they hijacked. But, from our trip, from getting to know so many stories of life and dignity, still in resistance, we part with the firm conviction that no one here is giving up.