Police quickly reject a political motive in the murder despite numerous witnesses
HAVANA TIMES – The Nicaraguan Police quickly rejected the idea of political motivation as one of the causes of the assassination of Jorge Luis Rugama Rizo, 45, in La Trinidad, Esteli on the night of July 19th. Rugama, who sympathized with the opposition movement in Nicaragua, was killed by a bullet to the neck shot by Ortega fanatic Abner Onell Pineda Castellon.
In a brief press dispatch, the Police stated that Pineda had argued with Rugama and “took his life”. However, the victim’s family members, along with witnesses of the homicide, tell a quite different account. Both say that Rugama, who opposed the Sandinista government, was sitting outside his house, together with his mother Luisa Rizo Laguna, when a caravan of Ortega supporters passed by. Jorge Luis Rugama yelled at them: “Long live a free Nicaragua!” At that, Pineda and other Sandinista militants came back to the citizen’s home, struggled with him and shot him.
According to the official version, police investigators “captured” Pineda, who works for the Esteli City Hall, but both the victim’s relatives and the Sandinistas who were present at the assassination indicate that the killer voluntarily turned himself in to the Police.
The Police reported the cause of death as cranioencephalic trauma. They confiscated “a pistol with a clip and eight 45 caliber bullets” from the assassin, according to the press note.
The crime occurred following the main act commemorating the 41st anniversary of the Sandinista revolution. The central speaker at that Managua event was President Daniel Ortega, who reappeared after 38 days of unexplained absence from the public eye. The FSLN caudillo appeared in public wearing a face mask for the first time, despite the fact that his government has minimized the pandemic.
Challenge for the Police
National Human Rights Organizations have warned that this case represents a challenge for the Police, who have often demonstrated permissiveness and complicity in the face of the abuses perpetrated against opponents of the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo by the police agents themselves and members of the Ortega paramilitary.
Representatives of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh), the Nicaraguan pro-Human Rights Association (Anpdh), and the Permanent Human Rights Commission (CPDH), have all stated that they would be following this case closely.
Human rights advocates fear that this case will end like that of the homicide perpetrated against Brazilian medical student Rayneia Lima, who was killed in 2018 by the paramilitary Pierson Gutierrez Solis. Gutierrez, a Sandinista militant, was freed in July 2019, via an Amnesty Law approved by the Sandinista majority in Nicaragua’s National Assembly.
Sociologist and researcher Elvira Cuadra stressed that the National Police and the entire apparatus of the Judicial system form part of a “system of impunity”, since many of the investigations conducted “are very superficial, if they’re conducted at all”.
Repression never ended
The government repression that began in 2018 in Nicaragua “never ended”. The repression became overt in April of that year, when Daniel Ortega resorted to armed attacks to silence the civic protests against his government. This was the conclusion of a report presented on Tuesday, July 21, in Managua, endorsed by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights.
According to the report, which was elaborated by the interdisciplinary group Blue and White Monitoring, from July 4, 2018 to date, government repression in Nicaragua has produced 10,360 incidents, among them: 410 killings; 3,511 arbitrary detentions; 4,147 threats; and 2,437 physical attacks.
“The repression has never ended, although it’s cyclical and becomes more pronounced on key dates,” the Blue and White Monitoring group noted in the report’s conclusions. The members of this group receive citizen denunciations and issue periodic reports to national and international human rights organizations, sometimes working clandestinely.