Ortega Police Assault Matagalpa Women’s Collective Building

Main site of the Matagalpa Women’s Collective, which was occupied by the police on September 1st.  Courtesy photo

In the past four years, the Ortega regime has shuttered scores of organizations dedicated to defending women’s rights.

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – On Thursday, September 1st, the Ortega-Murillo regime’s police assaulted the installations of the feminist Matagalpa Women’s Collective, in the north of Nicaragua. The official confiscation of the building came one year after the Nicaraguan Parliament, dominated by the government Sandinista party, cancelled the organization’s legal status.

Riot police and plainclothes agents arrived at the building at 9 am, broke the locks on the main door and entered the building, affirmed a source close to the organization. The Matagalpa Women’s Collective had a 31-year history in the city, working to defend the rights of women.

The two-story building was nearly empty at the time of the police raid, although it still held the organization’s library, previously open to the public, with over 18,000 children’s books, school texts, history books, narratives, and books on ecology, economics, health, violence prevention and human rights. The building where the NGO operated is the property of a group of private individuals, the source stated under promise of anonymity.

The Matagalpa Women’s Collective had become a key NGO in Nicaragua’s northern region. The zone where it operated is one of the areas most affected by machista violence, in a country that registered 71 femicides in 2021. The organization saw some 10,000 women yearly, in a wide range of programs including health attention onsite and in the countryside; libraries in the countryside and the main site; a theater group plus youth theater workshops; emotional support; a yearly anti-violence carnival; children’s workshops and story times; attention to sex workers and AIDS patients; plus, their core function of attending to women victims of domestic abuse. The government’s order to close last year left the beneficiaries stranded, particularly the abuse survivors, who would typically access the Colectivo in search of help the Police had failed to provide them with.

In August of 2021, the Collective denounced the closure of their organization as “an arbitrary legal action based on schemes and lies.” According to a Confidencial tally, this NGO was one of the scores of shuttered organizations that worked in the areas of women’s rights, violence prevention and accompanying and empowering victims. All have been eliminated by the Ortega regime between the end of 2018 and the beginning of August 2022.

The Mesoamerican Initiative for Women Human Rights Advocates has documented 80 feminist organizations closed by the regime from 2018 until July 2022. The latest cancellations have increased that number still further.

Other organizations also confiscated

The Ortega regime has canceled 1,781 non-governmental organizations between the end of 2018 and the end of August 2022, according to a count by Confidencial. Ninety-five percent of these cancellations of organizations and foundations has occurred in these first eight months of 2022.

Following the cancellation of an NGOs legal status, the regime has proceeded to confiscate properties according to their own whims, claiming that the new General Law of Regulation and Control of non-Profit Organizations gives them the power to do so.

In June, the Jinotega police (also in Nicaragua’s northern region) occupied the installations of the “Tuktan Sirpi” Association of Child Laborers, and the “Cuculmeca” Association for Education and Communication a mere fifteen days after the National Assembly included them in a list of 96 NGOs whose legal status was cancelled. The same thing has occurred with other organizations in Managua, including the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights and the feminist organization “La Corriente”.

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times