Nicaragua: Torture and the Narrative of Hate

The acronym of the FSLN was marked on young Leonardo Rivas Guevara. Photograph: Courtesy.

Torture, like bullets, has become the language of the Ortega regime against the population, inside and outside the FSLN

By Silvio Prado (Confidencial)

“We must all remember that the narrative of hate precedes crimes against humanity…” -Adema Dieng, UN Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide.

HAVANA TIMES – The report on torture suffered by former political prisoners by the Nicaragua Never Again Collective, leaves no room for doubt: the Ortega dictatorship practices torture in a systematic and generalized manner.

No matter what uniform they wear or the rank of the police officers, they torture those who have been arrested; regardless of the mask that hides them, FSLN members torture those who have been kidnapped and held in captivity in clandestine centers where they are abused without restraints or scruples. The FSLN and its government are a torture organization.

From where did such fanatical evilness emerge? Who planted on these extremists’ soul the seed of such visceral hatred?

As Mr. Dieng has said, before the Rwandan genocide was the narrative of hate, as before ethnic cleansing in the Balkans there was also the narrative of hate; two cases that illustrate that the hate narrative preceded the killers’ behavior. That type of narrative first sowed the seed of evil in their fanatics, who are closed to any questioning that considers their opponents as fellow human beings, leading them to see them as disposable, as expendable for society. Afterwards, it acted as a moral justifier of cruelty, the pattern for their actions to torture, mutilate and eliminate those who the hate narrative had already stripped of their human condition.

In Nicaragua it has not been different. Since its return to power in 2007 the Ortega regime has resorted to the hate narrative. In the first years the attacks were against civil society organizations, NGOs, feminists and anything that smelled like autonomous initiatives. Then it was up to the Catholic Church, with whom it tried to compete in prayers and virgins in the Managua roundabouts. Later it was the turn of opposition forces who dared to challenge the hegemony of the FSLN, denounce electoral frauds and the narrowing of freedoms.

With the consolidation of the Ortega rule came the omnipresence of the proxy and spokeswoman. Every midday she presents in her neo-language her version of the ordeal of Nicaragua and spills her venom against those who threaten her and her husband’s rule. She goes overboard at any time, when her level of bile exceeds its container. This debauchery reached its highest level during the April revolt, with a virulence that has not diminished as has been demonstrated in these same pages by the outstanding work of Cindy Regidor.

Currently the practice of torture by State agents has increased as detailed in the Nicaragua Never More report: aggressions during demonstrations, beatings in detention, torture of all kinds in detention centers, repeated sexual violence by a large numbers of police officers, permanent nudity, tapings, mockery, public scorn, denial of medical care, threats against families. No pages of the torture manuals have been skipped by them.

What did they intend to obtain with these tortures?

The agents of the dictatorship knew better than anyone that the people captured could not give them information about any conspiracy forged by a higher organization or by any foreign government. In spite of this they kept asking the same questions: Who finances the protests? Who are the leaders? Where are the weapons? Therefore, the tortures have not had any intelligence objective that would lead to the dismantling of a previously planned plot.

The torture had and continues to have —as the case of the Reyes Alonso family in Leon and the capture of the water carriers in Masaya have shown—, the purpose of being a warning, to punish those who rebel against the dictatorship, give a lesson to all other people who in their insides oppose the tyranny, so that they would not dare to publicly express their rejection of the regime’s oppression. That is why they capture and raid without a warrant, accuse with fabricated evidence and imprison innocent people in inhumane conditions.

Torture, like bullets, has become the language of the Ortega regime against the population, inside and outside the FSLN. For those who support the dictator, it is a warning of what awaits the “traitors;” for those who oppose him it is a sentence that begins to be implemented from the very moment that they fall into the power of the despot’s forces. The message is clear: nobody is safe, or has rights; Nicaraguans are doomed to survive between the whirlpool of Charybdis and Scylla’s dogs.

Spokespersons and torturers expect to remain unpunished. When the dictatorship falls, the former may argue that they never plucked a nail or pressed the button of the electric shocks to the prisoners’ genitals; and the latter will say that there is no concrete evidence to incriminate them, that they never hung anyone by their feet or raped prisoners. They will surely believe that, just like other times, political arrangements will not only save them from the courts, but also allow them to recycle into public offices, even within law enforcement agencies or the Judiciary.

But this time the evidence is overwhelming. There are no fogs of war in which they can hide their involvement in torture. The spokespersons, as instigators of the tortures, for extending the license of extermination, as celebrants of brutality. The torturers, for being the ax that carved the flesh of their fellow men, for causing so much pain to their own kind.

For both characters, , what are already your epitaphs:

…don’t escape your eyes, look at yourself like that

Even if nobody kills you, you are a corpse

Even if nobody rots you, you’re rotten

God help you, or better

God burst you.



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