Nicaragua: Government Home Surveillance Generates Distrust

Members of the National Police guard the detention center known as “El Chipote”, where many of those arrested after anti-government protesters in 2018 were detained; in Managua, Nicaragua.

The Surveillance Plan was announced a week ago by Rosario Murillo, presented as an initiative that ensures citizen security

By Voice of America / La Prensa

HAVANA TIMES – A surveillance program recently released by Daniel Ortega’s government in Nicaragua called “Security that promises peace” arouses distrust and fear among opponents and analysts in Nicaragua.

The program was announced a week ago by vice president and first lady Rosario Murillo, presented as an initiative that ensures citizen security.

“The program is being developed by the National Police and the Ministry of the Interior. They have already visited 43,000 mothers regarding all issues related to safety at home, in the family, and citizen security,” said the vice-president.

Murillo did not specify the cities in which the program is being carried out. All she said was that government officials are traveling around visiting homes.

Given that the Ortega government has imposed strong constraints against opposition groups, the independent press, aspiring presidential candidates, other members of civil society, and the Catholic Church, the initiative is perceived as a surveillance mechanism.

Elvira Cuadra, a specialist in security issues, says that as a result of the plan “the feeling of fear and insecurity among the population has grown, as well as the population’s fear of the political violence that the State exerts on the citizenry,” she told the Voice of America.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights recently warned of repression by the Ortega government against internal dissent.

The Associated Press reported that according to the UN, in Nicaragua at least 63 people were arbitrarily detained in May, 55 of them on a single night.

“During their custody hearings, none of the 55 defendants had their own lawyer, but instead were represented by a public defender imposed on them,” said Marta Hurtado, a spokeswoman for the UN office.

“Paralyzing” discontent

Analyst Ricardo Baltodano believes that the intention of the program announced by Murillo is to implement greater surveillance over citizens, and to identify government opponents.

“Murillo’s announcement legitimizes the brutal levels of persecution that have been unleashed as an alternative mechanism to generalized prison,” says Baltodano.

“It is all geared towards provoking a terrible fear among the population and cause internal political paralysis,” Baltodano concluded.

As of 2018 the political crisis in Nicaragua has increased, since a civic rebellion was violently repressed by police and paramilitary forces, leaving more than 300 dead, thousands injured and at least 100,000 exiled, according to international organizations such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the OAS.

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