The Left and Human Rights in Latin America

Former guerrilla commander and historian Monica Baltodano. Photo: Flickr

Lula’s government is lobbying in the OAS to “soften” the resolution on human rights violations in Nicaragua.

By Monica Baltodano (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – Between April and May of this year, I toured Brazil, invited by the Brazilian Committee of Solidarity with the Nicaraguan People and supported by trade unions of PSOL (Socialism and Freedom Party). The trip was extended to Uruguay, invited by Corriente Renovadora del Frente Amplio (Renewal Trend of the Broad Front), particularly by Tato Olmos, vice president of the Chamber of Deputies. And I also went to Argentina, encouraged by Panuelos en Rebeldia (Scarves in Rebellion) and one of its founders, my friend Claudia Korol.

I had just been the victim—with my husband and one of my daughters–, of a despicable resolution, with which the Ortega Murillo dictatorship decided to take away the Nicaraguan nationality of 317 opponents to the regime. Based on non-existent verdicts, the malicious decision of February 15 declared us traitors to the homeland and fugitives from justice, disqualifying us in perpetuity from holding elective office and confiscating our properties and other assets. All of this was accompanied by the stripping of pensions from retirees, and the seizure of our homes, most of which were rented or occupied by relatives since those of us who were stateless were already in the condition of forced migration and refugees in various parts of the world. 

These aberrations were added to the crimes against humanity committed by the dictatorship in 2018: murders, injures, disappearances, extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detentions, sexual abuse, and tortures. And those that continue against political prisoners subjected to endless suffering, and the 70 murders of Mayangnas and Miskito indigenous people, counted to date, to seize their territories.

I denounced this terrible situation in countless events, meetings, and public assemblies and to written, radio, and television media outlets in Sao Paulo, Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, and La Plata.

In these countries, I met with mostly leftist organizations and exchanged opinions with authorities of other ideological currents and personalities from the religious community—priests and pastors—and human rights organizations.

I gave special recognition to intellectuals and leftist political forces that have condemned the violations of human rights in Nicaragua and to the reiterated censure of these crimes made in international forums by President Gabriel Boric and the Government of Chile. In those days and in the face of the new crimes, the pronouncement of the Colombian Government of Gustavo Petro regarding Nicaragua was refreshing and forceful.

The authoritarianism that has been imposed in the sister republic has infringed ius cogens norms. Those that have been defined to be prevailing, irrevocable, absolute, peremptory, immutable in essence. Precisely those whose violations must be heard by the International Criminal Court. The Prosecutor of the Court is asked to take action in such an alarming matter.

In this regard, Uruguay’s Broad Front made a statement on March 27, as did the Brazilian Socialist Party. Invigorating was the meeting with Celso Amorin, who had conveyed his views in the Grupo de Puebla; and the interviews with Frei Betto and Julio Lancellotti, religious men committed to the excluded of the planet; and PT (Workers Party) veterans, such as Tarso Genro and Luiz Eduardo Greenhalgh and students of the Landless Workers Movement (MST) schools.

The conversation with Pepe Mujica and Lucia Topolanski in Uruguay was particularly enlightening. I also spoke with CRYSOL, an association of former political prisoners of the dictatorship of the 70s. In Argentina, I met with Norita Cortinas, Founding line of Madres Plaza de Mayo, and Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Nobel Peace Prize winner, well-known leftist defenders of democracy and human rights. Their stance maintains high the dignity of a democratic left that is not non-aligned with the reasoning of supporting Ortega for his rhetoric against imperialism.

The Brazilian government’s support for the UN Human Rights Council Group of Experts report, which determined that Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo are responsible for crimes against humanity, was positive. But it must also be noted that left-wing parties, such as the PT, and the President of Brazil in particular, still maintain inscrutable silence and that important Latin American left-wing forces refuse to condemn the Ortega regime.

How can socialists, communists, and militants of liberation forces of the last decades of the past century, who were victims of atrocities committed by right-wing dictatorships, be indifferent to so many injustices committed against anyone anywhere in the world and, in this case, in Nicaragua?

I dare to affirm that the matrix of these obnoxious distortions has a common denominator, that I shall sum up like this: Where democracy and respect for human rights are minimized, all that remains, ultimately, is the path to authoritarianism and brutality. From the great Russian Revolution until now, leftist sectors persist in underestimating these achievements of humankind. However, no human right has been a concession of power. They were all achieved through the people’s struggle, blood, and sacrifice, and their defense is an obligation of those who claim to be leftists.

In the 21st century, we must reaffirm that without freedom and respect for citizens’ political rights, there is no progress, equality, or social justice, much less socialism. It is quite the opposite.

These reflections are strengthened in the light of recent information about the lobbying work of diplomats from Brazil —currently governed by a left-and-center coalition— which seeks to soften the Declaration of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) against the violations of human rights in Nicaragua.

This lobby plays down confirmed crimes, tortures, and violations of crimes against humanity committed by Ortega, certified by all international human rights organizations, and puts Brazilian diplomacy in the same lane of the oppressors and is an unacceptable slap in the face of the victims and the people of Nicaragua.

Brazil knows very well what a dictatorship, repression, and manipulation of justice mean and that it should not be repeated anywhere.

When a new ultra-conservative wave threatens the democratic gains in many countries, it is repulsive and disgraceful to ask people to close their eyes to what has been happening for years in Nicaragua. And from the left to incinerate national democratic principles and international obligations in that direction.

It is absurd to pretend to be antiimperialist by eradicating every form of life of civil society, as Ortega does in Nicaragua, as 15 of us denationalized people recently addressed the Foro de Sao Paulo, demanding it to raise its voice for human rights in Nicaragua. To temper Ortega’s crimes only adds to the discredit of the left.

*Article originally published in desInformémonos.

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times