Ortega, Increasingly Repressive and Dictatorial

Dictators Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo during an act on February 9, 2023. Photo: Taken for Diario Barricada.

After the banishment and deprivation of nationality to 222 political prisoners, arbitrariness increased even more in Nicaragua.

By La Nacion (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – After Daniel Ortega’s dictatorship banished 222 Nicaraguan political prisoners to the United States and deprived them of their nationality on the 9th of this month, there were expectations among some sectors that this measure was an indication of some flexibility or a minimum opening of the regime. Only a few hours passed before the dictator himself gave a categorical answer: repression continues and, worse yet, it is growing.

Rejoicing over the release of that group of opponents was more than justified, because finally they had stopped suffering ill-treatment in arbitrary confinement: individual freedom is a supreme good. However, by turning them into exiles and stateless persons, it was clear that there was no real humanitarian objective behind the regime’s measure, nor any hope of change, however minimal. On the contrary, it was a specific maneuver designed to seek some external oxygen.

Almost immediately, two perverse decisions confirmed it. The first was the expeditious condemnation, the day after the releases, of Monsignor Rolando Alvarez, Bishop of Matagalpa, who had refused to be in the group of those exiled to the United States. His punishment was brutal and had the overtones of a mafia vendetta: 26 years in prison for “treason,” in addition to depriving him of his nationality.

The second great repressive action occurred on Wednesday the 15th. On that day, the president of the Court of Appeals of Managua, one of the many judicial screens of the dictatorship, again invoked the spurious “treason to the homeland” to strip 94 courageous priests, activists, politicians, intellectuals, and exiled journalists, many of them in Costa Rica, of their nationality and to label them “fugitives from justice.”

Among those affected are writers Sergio Ramirez and Gioconda Belli, journalists Carlos Fernando Chamorro, Lucia Pineda and Wilfredo Miranda, former Sandinista commander Luis Carrion, former ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS) Arturo McFields and the president of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights, Vilma Nunez.

From now on, we are notified that in this primitive regime, subject to a fictitious “legality,” it is in the hands of the supreme leader, Daniel Ortega, and his wife, Rosario Murillo, to decide who are Nicaraguans. The rest  -spurious laws, subjugated judges, or decorative courts- are pure formalities to impose their decisions.

But none of these dark and perverse maneuvers will erase the national identity of those affected. On the contrary, the arbitrary attacks would only reinforce it. Sergio Ramirez expressed it with beauty, precision and strength in a tweet published almost immediately: “Nicaragua is what I am and all that I have. And I will never cease to be, nor cease to have my remembrances, my language and my writing, my struggle for its freedom for which I have pledged my word. The more Nicaragua they take from me, the more Nicaragua I have.”

Such acts of the regime deserve severe international condemnation and the rejection of conducting possible negotiations with the dictatorial couple unless they begin to take concrete, clear, verifiable, and irreversible steps towards real political openness and democracy. If the initial gesture of the releases was nullified by the conditions in which they took place, the following events, in a context of total arbitrariness, reaffirm that, far from opening up, the dictatorship is closing down even more.

For now, clear external condemnations are few. Even the US government and the Vatican wanted to believe that an opportunity for dialogue was opening up. The evidence should lead them to turn their unfounded illusions into realism, and on this basis develop an active policy of denunciation, rejection and isolation of the Ortega-Murillo and their clique.

The extreme repression into which the ruling couple has drifted is not a sign of strength, but of weakness,  journalist Lucia Pineda told La Nacion. However, precisely because of this, it is possible that the onslaught will continue and worsen. Only with firmness, external pressures and determined support to those who fight for freedom in the country will a real progress towards democracy in Nicaragua be possible.

*Editorial published in the newspaper La Nación of Costa Rica.

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