Nicaraguans See Their Civil and Political Rights Disappearing

Paramedics with the wounded after the Mother’s Day Massacre last May 30th. Photo: Carlos Herrera / Confidencial


Human rights have reached a thirty-year low.

At least 18 articles of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights have been repeatedly violated by the Ortega-Murillo government.


By Juan Carlos Bow  (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – Women, men, adults, teenagers, children and the elderly. White, indigenous, mixed-race and Afro-descendants; Catholics, Protestants, agnostics and atheists. Nicaraguans and foreigners, Sandinistas, liberals, conservatives, and those with no party affiliations. With no exceptions, the Ortega regime has violated at least one of the human rights of all of these groups over the last five months.

According to Nicaraguan advocates, the human rights situation in the country is the worst that it’s been for the past thirty years. A review conducted by Confidencial shows that of the thirty articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, at least 18 have been repeatedly violated by the government of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. The majority of these rights have been those having to do with a citizen’s civil and political rights.

The articles regarding the right to life, to security, to the presumption of innocence, private property, freedom of movement, freedom of thought and assembly are those most openly flouted by the regime. We can also include the many violations to article 12: “No one shall be subject to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence,” given the findings of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. This group documented four frequent forms of persecution suffered by citizens who protest against the government: marks left on their houses, death threats, general harassment, and defamation campaigns on social media, all in violation of this article of human rights.

Right to work and receive an education ignored

Certain basic human rights have been indirectly violated by the government’s repression. Article 23 establishes that every person has the right to work, but at least 347,000 citizens have lost their jobs during the months of crisis, according to the Nicaraguan Foundation for Economic and Social Development (Funides).

The right to an adequate standard of living has been affected for some 143,000 people who have once again dipped below the poverty line since last April. The right to education has also been denied to at least 95 students who’ve been expelled from the Nicaraguan National Autonomous University (UNAN) in Leon and Managua, while 52 professors and administrative personnel have also been dismissed.

“State policy”

The rights that have been spared from being mowed down by the Sandinista scythe are those that by their nature don’t affect the regime, such as the right to a nationality or to marry and have a family, or the right that every person has “to rest”, or that “no one should be submitted to slavery or serfdom.”

Juan Carlos Arce, director of institutional programs for the Nicaraguan Human Rights Center (Cenidh), assures that Ortega and Murillo have imposed on Nicaragua a government that assumes as “state policy” the violation of human rights in order to remain in power.

“[The government] is allergic to human rights, since to them the exercise of human rights is an obstacle to their political aspirations,” he asserts.

Officializing the policies of prohibition

Since the onset of the civic protests, the regime has attempted to detain the citizen marches through violence, but it wasn’t until the end of September that it decided to officialize the prohibition of demonstrations and began threatening jail time to the citizens or organizations that convoke them.

This official policy violates at least five human rights at the same time: freedom of movement, freedom of thought, of opinion, of assembly and that referring to having no one subject to arbitrary detention.

To Ana Quiroz, an activist for the Women’s Network against Violence, the Nicaraguan government has become a “pariah state” because it doesn’t recognize “either law or order” and has situated itself on the level of countries that live in permanent warfare and “fail to fulfill any of the indications of the United Nation’s organizations.”

Arce indicates that in terms of civil rights violations, Nicaragua ranks with Cuba and Venezuela, although it can also be compared with countries with high levels of violence such as Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. “Under the catch-all framework of security, they justify a series of abuses and the persecution of the population.”

Government to be examined by the UN periodic review

The human rights situation in Nicaragua will be analyzed shortly as part of the third Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council. All members of the UN are subject to this revision.

Quiros recalls that the government “came out badly” in the two last evaluations, but feels that in the upcoming one it will go “worse” for them.  In 2010 and 2014 they defended themselves with the argument that they were implementing programs to resolve the problems, but on this occasion, “they won’t be able” to use this.

The activist explains that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights receives reports from the organizations of civil society that are later merged into a single document that is presented to the government, which may or may not respond to the indications. Once reviewed with the state, the Universal Periodic Review, which contains conclusions and recommendations, is published.

The current indications from civic organizations in Nicaragua point to repression, poor living conditions, and a lack of strong institutions, according to Quiros.

“The government will keep quiet because it has no way of responding,” she guesses.

Silence regarding human rights has been the norm of this regime. It already demonstrated its indifference this week by not attending a public meeting of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission for the third consecutive year.