The year 2022 is “the year of greatest suffering” for Nicaraguans since 2018. They continue enduring the regime’s repression.
HAVANA TIMES – On December 10th, International Human Rights Day, Nicaraguan advocates declared that 2022 has been “the year of greatest suffering” in Nicaragua, after 2018. They affirm that Nicaraguans “have lost our status as citizens.” “Our lives are conditioned by fear,” they stated, with the only caveat that the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo hasn’t surpassed is the 355 killings that were committed four years ago, during the government’s repression of the massive protests.
Vilma Nuñez, president of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh), feels that the repression in 2022 has been “especially cruel.” “You can’t speak any more of systematic human rights violations, but of a policy of extermination,” since the regime’s blows are aimed “against everyone.”
Human rights violations in Nicaragua this year have surpassed those of the previous few years. “Perhaps the only thing [the regime] hasn’t surpassed is the 355 killings. That doesn’t mean people aren’t still dying. The Nicaraguans who drown crossing the Rio Grande, the people that are killed while fleeing towards Costa Rica, those deaths have a cause, and it’s the persecution,” Nuñez stressed.
Juan Carlos Arce of the Nicaragua Nunca+ [“Never again, Nicaragua”] Human Rights Collective agrees. Without a doubt it’s been “the year of the greatest suffering” after 2018, and it’s also the year when “the Ortega regime confirmed its status as a perpetrator of crimes against humanity.”
“There’s a systematic and widespread practice of torture that we’re seeing with the political prisoners,” the human rights advocate commented. Also “this is the year of abductions of family members of political dissidents. That’s unacceptable.”.
“There’s no visible stronghold for citizens”
In Arce’s judgment, this year the Ortega regime succeeded in consolidating its de facto police state: “the state of terror, of fear, has immobilized the citizens and political dissidents.” “We [Nicaraguans] have lost our status as citizens, and the regime has consolidated its state of terror, squashing or annihilating our citizens’ rights,” he underlined.
The human rights advocate recalled that the regime has gone from forbidding all types of citizen protest to closing dozens of media outlets, to persecuting the Catholic Church and canceling the legal status of over 3,000 civil society organizations of all sizes in just this year. “There’s no visible stronghold left in Nicaragua for citizens, they’ve forced us to exercise our rights clandestinely,” he commented.
Cenidh president Dr. Vilma Nuñez believes the persecution of press freedom rose to a climax in 2022. “We’d already witnessed the confiscation of Confidencial and 100% Noticias, but we never imagined that an entire newspaper like La Prensa could be forced to send its entire newswriting team into exile.”
On the other hand, the fact of “taking family members as hostages, when they couldn’t capture the person they were looking for, is the last straw. They were so brazen about it as to say: ‘We don’t have anything against you, but unless your relative turns themselves in, we’re not going to let you go free.’ Now they’re proceeding to try them,” Nuñez denounced.
Nicaraguans victimized by fear
Both Nuñez and Arce recognize that fear has currently taken possession of Nicaraguans. All the government institutions “are oriented towards the repression,” and the de facto police state “has consolidated itself.”
“All of our daily chores, all our thoughts and actions, are conditioned by the will of these people [the dictators]. Even though you’d rather not think about them, as soon as you can’t do something, as soon as you can’t exercise your will to act, you immediately think of them, like an omnipresent and perverse image that affects people’s everyday life,” Nuñez described.
Arce noted that despite the seriousness of the human rights violations in Nicaragua, “many people don’t denounce them for fear of having their families attacked.” That harmful pattern is also “aimed at neutralizing (dissidence) and leading people to think that if they continue speaking out from exile, they’re going to harm their relatives in Nicaragua, so it’s better to remain silent.” “That’s their objective,” Arce pointed out.