Between November 2018 and April 2022 the dictatorship has closed down 164 civic organizations in its purge of civil society
HAVANA TIMES – The Government of Nicaragua, through the Ministry of the Interior, ordered the closure Monday of another 25 NGOs, including the Luisa Mercado Foundation, which is directed by Sergio Ramirez Mercado, the prestigious Nicaraguan writer exiled in Spain.
With these new annulments, the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo has, since November 2018, closed down without recourse 164 organizations, foundations and associations of civil society that promoted social, political, economic development, human rights, democracy, education and health in Nicaragua, according to a count made by Confidencial.
Among the causes used to cancel them, the fabricated breach of three laws stands out: the Law on Non-Profit Legal Entities; the Law of the Legislative Power, and the Law against Money Laundering, Financing of Terrorism and Financing of the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction.
The Ortega presidency also ordered the closure of the Association for the Development of Solentiname, founded in 1982 by the late Nicaraguan poet Ernesto Cardenal (1925-2020).
Ramírez was vice president of Nicaragua during the first Sandinista regime (1979-1990), which was also headed by the current president, from whom he distanced himself in 1995 when he co-founded the Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS), a split from the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN).
Meanwhile, Cardenal, who was Minister of Culture, went from being a symbol of the Sandinista revolution to being “political persecuted” by Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, with whom he clashed in the last years of his life.
Both the writer and the poet participated in the struggle against the Somoza family dictatorship and were militants of the FSLN until 1995. Ortega returned to power for the FSLN in January 2007.
Cardenal, one of the most celebrated figures in Latin American literature and a great promoter of Liberation Theology, argued that the Ortega government “is not leftist, nor Sandinista, nor revolutionary, but simply a family dictatorship,” like the one that they overthrew.
Human Rights Defenders
Also included in the long list of organizations summarily losing their legal status was the Permanent Commission of Human Rights of Nicaragua (CPDH), dedicated to the defense of human rights since 1991.
Other NGOs proposed to be outlawed are the Coen Foundation, owned by businessman Piero Coen; the Nicaraguan Association of Engineers and Architects, the Nicaraguan Association of Cinematography, and the Training Center Association for Working Women.
Likewise, the Center for Communication and Popular Education Foundation, the Foundation for the Comprehensive Development of Indigenous Women of Sutiaba, and the Nicaraguan Coordinating Federation of Non-Governmental Organizations that work with Children and Adolescents (Codeni).
In addition, the Nicaraguan Academy of Legal and Political Sciences Association, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the Nicaraguan Foundation for the Promotion of Democracy, Peace, and the Development of Civil Society.
In Nicaragua, with the vote of the Sandinista deputies and their allies, at least 164 Nicaraguan NGOs have now been outlawed since December 2018, eight months after a popular revolt broke out over controversial social security reforms described as a coup attempt of State by Ortega.
Another 25 NGOs, including the Nicaraguan affiliate of Operation Smile, were annulled on March 17th as part of the stepped-up Ortega government offensive to destroy civil society organizations.
Among the organizations that have been affected are non-profits that defend human rights, medical, feminist, educational, university, environmentalist, indigenous, journalist and financial assessment organizations.
The Executive has also canceled the legal status of four US and six European NGOs.
The same old argument
According to the Ministry of the Interior, the new 25 NGOs affected have failed to comply with their obligations, including that they did not register as “foreign agents, being obligated to do so because they received donations from abroad.”
They are also accused of failing to report their financial statements with their detailed breakdowns of income, expenses, trial balance and details of donations (origin, provenance and final beneficiary); nor their boards of directors. This has been a catch-all accusation since for the last four years the government has refused to accept the annual reports from most organizations.
The National Assembly, totally controlled by the Ortega executive, included the new cancellations on the agenda for this Wednesday. All orders from the presidency are routinely approved by the deputies.
Nicaragua has been going through a political and social crisis since April 2018. It went from bad to worse after the controversial general elections on November 7, in which Daniel Ortega assigned himself a fifth term, fourth consecutive, and second along with his wife, Rosario Murillo, as vice president. In the months leading up to the electoral farce, all the potential opposition candidates and many leading activists and several business people were imprisoned.