OAS Hears Report of Worsening Violence in Nicaragua

By Sara Barderas and Gabriela Selser (dpa)

Paulo Abrao, secretary general of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

HAVANA TIMES – On the eve of three months of the largest crisis in four decades in Nicaragua, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) urged its parent organization, the Organization of American States (OAS) and the rest of the international community to demand that the Government of Daniel Ortega put an immediate end to the repression and human rights violations in the country.

Paulo Abrao, the Secretary General of the IACHR, spoke Wednesday before the permanent council of the OAS in Washington, denouncing a worsening of the serious human rights crisis in Nicaragua.

“The IACHR calls on the international community to declare and demand that the Nicaraguan State put an immediate end to the repression and arbitrary detentions, as well as all other human rights violations that are taking place,” said Abrao. He noted that his organization has now confirmed 264 dead and more than 1,800 wounded since the start of the protests on April 18.

In Managua, an independent human rights organization reported 351 dead and 2,100 wounded by the crisis in its accounting of the violence.

The IACHR is the autonomous body of the OAS that oversees human rights in the Americas. In May it made a visit to the country. Now, on the ground in Nicaragua, their Special Follow-up Mechanism (MESENI) is currently in place to monitor the situation as well as a team of international experts (GIEI) that investigates the violence, proposed by the IACHR after its previous visit.

The report presented by Abrao is based on the information those experts gave to the Commission. The MESENI has observed a “deepening and diversification of the forms of repression against the demonstrators and opposition population,” as well as against those who are at roadblocks and barricades protesting and those who support the protests, he said.

The official described a situation of repression, with arbitrary arrests and illegal raids without a court order or other democratic guarantees, in search of people who participate in the demonstrations.

Abrao urged the government to respect the demonstrations set for Thursday and Saturday and the national work stoppage on Friday. “We want to urge Nicaragua and the international community to make a call to guarantee safety in the peaceful protests,” he urged, after the last three large demonstrations were attacked by pro-government paramilitary groups.

One of the latest episodes of violence took place on Monday in Diriamba, south of Managua, when at least a hundred persons attacked representatives of the Catholic Church, including the apostolic nuncio, the cardinal and the auxiliary bishop of Managua. The Catholic Church acts as a mediator in the national dialogue.

Journalists accompanying the religious delegation were also beaten and several had their camera equipment stolen.

Luis Almagro

The OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro, accused previously of collusion with Ortega by the Nicaraguan opposition, was hardening his position after recent events and said today that “state violence against the civilian population can never be tolerated.”

Once again, Almagro proposed early elections as a way out of the crisis. “In the hands of the Nicaraguan government is the possibility of taking decisive democratic initiatives that allow the people to express themselves at the polls,” he said.

The Ortega government categorically rejects the report of the executive secretary of the IACHR, foreign minister Denis Moncada told the permanent council. It is “hasty, prejudiced and lacking in objectivity,” said Moncada, who called the protests “terrorist acts” intended to overthrow Ortega. The representative from Venezuela supported his accusations.

The US ambassador to the OAS, Carlos Trujillo, accused the president of Nicaragua “of killing his own people” to remain in power. Washington last week approved the first sanctions against senior Nicaraguan officials in this crisis, the three belonging to the inner circle of power of Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo.

Meanwhile, the UN said Wednesday through a tweet that its secretary general, Antonio Guterres, is “deeply concerned about the continuing acts of violence in Nicaragua and its intensification.”

The Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights (ANPDH, independent) said today that 351 people have died and at least 2,100 injured in less than three months because of the violent crisis.

The director of the ANPDH, Alvaro Leiva, warned that the vast majority of the victims were civilians protesting against the Ortega government.

Different civic organizations sent out an SOS for Nicaragua on Wednesday

According to the updated report of the agency, which covers from April 19 to July 10, another 329 persons were kidnapped and 68 more tortured after being detained by police and paramilitary forces in different parts of the country. Of the 351 dead, 306 were civilians.

Meanwhile, leaders of social organizations, human rights groups, students, peasants and artists, writers, etc., launched a “humanitarian SOS” on Wednesday with a call to unity against the Government and for the resignation of Ortega.

Poet Gioconda Belli also presented a “Declaration of a human rights emergency”, signed by well-known artists and politicians of the country, which warned that violence “has reached intolerable levels and places the nation in the face of a real human rights crisis.”