Opposition Leader Abducted in Nicaragua as OAS Condemns Violence

Irlanda Jerez


HAVANA TIMES – Irlanda Jerez, a leader of the merchants at Managua’s largest market, the Oriental, one of the sectors of society protesting against the Ortega government, was detained today by the police in Managua. The abduction took place shortly after the OAS approved a resolution condemning “human rights violations and abuses” in the Central American country, reported dpa news.

A spokesperson for the Articulation of Social Movements, led by Jerez, told dpa that the woman was captured in the capital by uniformed, hooded and armed police.

The source indicated that it is presumed that Jerez, a 41-year-old merchant and dentist, was taken to the feared prison known as El Chipote, where political prisoners are interrogated and in some cases tortured.

On its Facebook page, the Articulation of Social Movements blamed the government of President Daniel Ortega “for any action that threatens the integrity of Irlanda Jerez.” “They took her alive, and we want her back alive!” they demanded.

This is the second arrest of opposition leaders in less than a week in the country. The previous one was that of rural leaders Medardo Mairena and Pedro Mena, arrested and accused yesterday before the courts for crimes of terrorism and organized crime.

Irlanda Jerez with the Articulation of Social Movements.

Likewise hundreds of people, mostly young, have been detained without rights, in different cities and rural areas of the country during the last three months.  Many are still missing, note local and international human rights organizations.

Both Mairena and Jerez are linked to the opposition Civic Alliance and other social movements that have led the protests against the government since mid-April.

Irlanda Jerez promoted a strike by the merchants of the Oriental Market and in recent days had called for the creation of a National Unity movement for Nicaragua to increase the pressure against the Government through “actions of resistance and citizen disobedience.”

Since the start of the protests against Ortega, human rights organizations report more than 350 persons killed and over 2,000 injured, many seriously.  The figure is extremely high in a country of six million inhabitants.

OAS Takes a Stronger Stance against Government Repression

In Washington, the Organization of American States (OAS) adopted a resolution today that expressed “its strong condemnation and its grave concern for all acts of violence, repression, human rights violations and abuses, including those committed by the police, paramilitary and other groups against the people of Nicaragua. ”

Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Denis Moncada at the OAS meeting on Wednesday, July 18th. Photo: OAS

The OAS Permanent Council also condemned “the attacks against the clergy, the harassment of the Catholic bishops participating in the National Dialogue, and the acts of violence at the UNAN (National Autonomous University of Nicaragua), the headquarters of Caritas, and  against other peaceful demonstrators.”

In its resolution, approved by 21 votes in favor, three against and seven abstentions, it also demanded the government order “the dismantling of the paramilitary groups” and “support an electoral calendar”, a formula to request early elections in the country.

Nicaraguan foreign minister, Denis Moncada, criticized the resolution alleging that the opposition intends “a coup d’état” and a “rupture of the constitutional order”. In addition, he accused the United States of “interference.”

Moncada presented a last-minute resolution proposal that urged the international community “to respect the self-determination of the State of Nicaragua to restore peace and security without interference of any kind,” which was rejected by a vote of 20-3 with 8 abstentions.

Amnesty International Condemns the Government Violence

For its part, in a statement issued from its regional headquarters in Mexico, Amnesty International urged the Nicaraguan president to stop the “lethal strategy of repression.”

Ortega “has shown again and again that he will stop at nothing to crush all the people who dare to oppose his Government,” said the Amnesty director for the Americas, Erika Guevara.

She also noted that “the generalized attacks against the civilian population” have intensified and condemned the use of “lethal weapons” in cities such as Masaya, southeast of the capital.

“The Nicaraguan authorities must immediately stop the state security forces and dissolve the paramilitary groups that clearly act with their support,” he said.