HAVANA TIMES – On a night that recalled the style of the Nazi attacks known as “The Night of the Broken Glass” of 1938, the Nicaraguan Police assaulted and looted in simultaneous raids on numerous non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to which the Parliament had canceled their legal operating permits in recent days, reported dpa news.
Vilma Nunez, president of the prestigious Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh), said that police “violently raided” their headquarters in Managua and captured for several hours the night watchman, identified as Jose Morales.
“Like vulgar thieves, they went through the roof last night at Cenidh and the offices have been taken,” Nunez told reporters. She added that the guard “was tied and beaten” by the police.
Journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro also reported that police forcefully entered the offices of the Communication Research Center (CINCO), from where “documents and all the computers and equipment were illegally taken.”
Chamorro, son of former president Violeta Barrios (1990-1997), added that the companies Invermedia and Promedia, owners of the media he directs (Confidential, This Week and Tonight), were simultaneously registered without a court order, despite the fact that these two entities operate legally in the country.
“This is an insane attack on freedom of the press in Nicaragua,” the journalist said. “I accuse the supreme head of the police, the dictator Daniel Ortega, as the sole responsible for this brutal assault against freedom of the press and expression in Nicaragua,” he added.
Likewise, Ortega’s police carried out night raids on the offices of the NGOs Popol Na, Institute for Democracy (IPADE), Leadership Institute of Segovias (ILSS) and Fundación del Rio, the latter located in the cities of Ocotal (north) and San Carlos (south) respectively.
At Popol Na, “the Ortega police destroyed the gates and savagely raided our building without a warrant. They assaulted the mothers of political prisoners who were staying there, beat our watchman and stole their cell phones,” said a statement from the organization, led by lawyer Monica Lopez, exiled in Costa Rica.
In addition, “the institutional and private vehicles, computers and stationery of our offices were stolen, and they burst into offices of international organizations that rent in the same complex,” the report said.
The representative of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (CIDH) in the country, Ana Maria Tello, appeared today at the Chamorro offices to learn about the situation. “This is a clear violation of the right of association and freedom of expression,” said Tello.
“In recent weeks there has been a notable increase in the harassment of police forces against members of NGOs and the media,” she said.
The night of the raids took place of the day before the arrival on Friday of the Central American representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OACNUDH), Marlene Alejos, who will meet with Foreign Minister Denis Moncada.
The withdrawal of permits to NGOs occurs almost eight months after the outbreak of anti-government protests on April 18th, whose subsequent deadly government repression led to the worst crisis in the country in the last 40 years.
The attacks on the media and NGOs also occurs after the United States Congress approved the law known as the “Magnitsky Nica Act,” which, when signed in the coming days by President Trump, will apply harsh sanctions on the Ortega government, which could include the suspension of multilateral financing to the country.
The violent action of the police and paramilitaries against civilian protesters in the protests left at least 325 dead, several thousand wounded, 603 political prisoners and tens of thousands of exiles.
The government accuses its opponents of trying to “destabilize” it by means of “a terrorist plot” financed by the United States.