Sergio Ramirez: The Crime of Calling for Freedom & Democracy

Nicaraguan author Sergio Ramírez, winner of the 2017 Cervantes Prize. Photo: Efe/Morell.

The novelist rejects the annulment of the legal status of the Luisa Mercado Foundation and 24 other NGOs, by Ortega’s National Assembly.

By Octavio Enríquez (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – Nicaraguan novelist Sergio Ramírez, winner of the 2017 Cervantes Prize and exiled by the persecution of the Ortega-Murillo regime, denounced on April 20, the intention from those in power in Nicaragua to silence civil society and “end any expressions of freedom and democracy.”

Ramírez reacted with a statement to the decision of the legislature to take away the legal status of the Luisa Mercado Foundation, in which he is president and that over the last 16 years carried out important work in the promotion of Nicaraguan culture.

The award-winning writer noted that the foundation devoted itself to promote musical education in Nicaragua, teaching children to play musical instruments, but also culture through a library that has more than 6,000 volumes. It has strived to open cultural spaces for young people and putting teaching and education instruments at the disposal of children.

“These are the crimes for which the foundation is being punished,” denounced Ramírez. The foundation was the Centroamerica Cuenta Literary Festival promoter, one of the better known in Latin America, directed precisely by the writer. Ramirez is living in Spain and has suffered persecution from the regime that, in addition, banned the circulation in the country of his latest novel “Tongolele no sabia bailar”. (Tongolele didn’t know how to dance).

“Better times will come for the country”

The narrator also protested the closing of 24 other organizations, which the State accused of not registering as foreign agents and not complying with their obligations such as the presentation of their financial reports, the updating their board of directors, which was argued to outlaw them and confiscate their assets. As a trap to annul the non-profits, the Ministry of Interior has refused to accept their annual reports for the last four years.

Ramírez recalled that there are now more than 160 organizations, which have been cancelled by the regime, for the “fact of proclaiming freedom and democracy.” He affirmed that better times are coming and announced that he will continue working for the Luisa Mercado Foundation, whose work he described as unrivaled in Masatepe, the city where he was born.

“Better times will come for the country, we will recover democracy, we will recover freedom. Nicaragua will be a republic again, just as Pedro Joaquín Chamorro dreamed,” said Ramirez.

In addition to the Foundation, named Luisa Mercado in honor of Ramírez’s mother, the National Assembly, totally controlled by Ortega, approved the cancellation of the legal status of other organizations such as the “Asociación para el Desarrollo de Solentiname” (Association for the Development of Solentiname), founded in 1982 by Father Ernesto Cardenal, who until his death was a critic of Ortega’s government and was subjected to state persecution.

The Permanent Commission on Human Rights (CPDH), the Coen Foundation, CANTERA, and Codeni (which deals with issues related to the defense of children and adolescents’ rights), were also among the many organizations that lost their legal status.



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