Ortega’s Transnational Repression “Tentacles” Denounced

Participants of the panel “Transnational Repression in the Region: The Case of Nicaragua,” held in Asunción, Paraguay. Photo: Confidencial

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – Nicaraguans in exile continue to suffer repressive acts from the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, who deploy various tactics to try to silence them. Imprisonment of their relatives, espionage in the countries where they reside, threats, denial of passports, disappearance of their records, and reports to Interpol are some of the repressive strategies, denounced by four panelists who participated in the dialogue: “Transnational Repression in the Region: The Case of Nicaragua,” a side event at the 54th General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) held in Paraguay.

Enrique Roig, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the US Department of State; Angela Buitrago, member of the Group of Experts on Human Rights on Nicaragua; Juan Carlos Arce, defender of the Nicaragua Nunca Mas Collective, and Enrique Saenz, researcher of the Bridges for Development Foundation, discussed with journalist Jennifer Ortiz how the “tentacles” of transnational repression affect the daily lives of exiled Nicaraguans and their families.

Roig said the efforts of the Ortega-Murillo regime to persecute people, repress dissent, and violate fundamental human rights beyond Nicaragua’s borders have been demonstrated. He mentioned that the 2023 Report on Human Rights Violations in Nicaragua, prepared by the Department of State and published in April this year, documented the transnational repression exerted by the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship by threatening “their own citizens”. It noted that when they do so, they “often blatantly disregard the sovereignty of the countries where they commit these acts.”

One of the repressive tactics, highlighted Roig, is the “systematic persecution” of relatives of exiles who remained in Nicaragua, as many were “monitored, punished, detained, and unjustly sentenced (…) in an effort to force exiled opponents to return to Nicaragua and face arrest.” The US official stressed that another form of repression by the dictatorship has been the “systematic denial” of public documents, including birth certificates or passports, to relatives of people considered opponents.

Another attempt to “control the mobility” of Nicaraguans is to deny them consular services and not allow the re-entry “to dozens of Nicaraguans” who had traveled abroad, Roig noted.

GHREN Continues Collecting Complaints

The Group of Experts on Human Rights on Nicaragua, created by the UN, continues to expand the documentation of serious human rights violations, including new repressive modalities, assured Colombian lawyer Angela Buitrago.

She explained that in their reports, they have insisted on the need to “measure” all crimes committed “within the national territory,” but also to understand that the “transgressions do not only remain local,” but have reached the Nicaraguan population living in Costa Rica, the United States, Spain, Colombia, Germany, and other countries.

Buitrago stated that one of the complaints has been the stateless condition of many Nicaraguans who are not only prevented from returning to the national territory but also stripped of “the right to maintain an identity.” “Erasing the trace means erasing their names, erasing their identity (…) erasing their pensions, bank accounts, the property they had, and this undoubtedly makes it difficult to settle in a new country.”

The Colombian lawyer said that within the Group of Experts on Human Rights on Nicaragua investigation, they have found complaints of “information erasure” of years of studies and professional practices that prevent people from finding jobs or studying in their new places of residence.

Increased Surveillance and Threats

Juan Carlos Arce, from the Nicaragua Nunca Más Collective, noted that the silence of many victims outside the country is explained by their “fear of the consequences for their families in Nicaragua.” “Since 2022, we have documented an increase in arbitrary detentions of relatives of those targeted for persecution (…) which shows that we are facing the cruelest regime in Latin American history,” he insisted.

Arce also explained that since last year and so far in 2024, “monitoring, surveillance, and threatening calls” to exiled individuals have increased.

Enrique Saenz, a researcher of the Bridges for Development Foundation and who was declared “stateless” by the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship, pointed out that not only have their houses been confiscated and their accounts frozen, but in some cases, their relatives have also been affected. “Those of us who had a pension for all the years worked were stripped of that right, and those who were not of retirement age had all their contributions stolen,” he lamented. Saenz believes it is necessary to approve mechanisms that regulate responses to transnational repression because “no country is immune.”

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times.