Police raids carried out throughout Nicaragua in May resulted in the arrests of some 60 opponents of the Daniel Ortega-Rosario Murillo regime. After being convicted within hours in summary trials without legal defense for “conspiracy to undermine national integrity and propagation of fake news,” the detainees were released on parole yet will have to report daily to police stations, Spanish newspaper El País reported.
The first raid took place during the fifth anniversary of the April 2018 social uprising. “It’s already been more than five years of systematic persecution with serious human rights violations and crimes against humanity,” attorney Gonzalo Carrión, founding member and advocate of nongovernmental organization Human Rights Collective Nicaragua Nunca Más, told Diálogo on June 13 from exile in Costa Rica.
In addition to political opponents, detainees included human rights advocates, journalists, rural workers, and people linked to the Catholic Church, the National Blue and White Unity opposition movement, which has been keeping a tally of the arbitrary detentions, said on June 2.
The Nicaraguan justice system also ruled on May 9 and 11 that 26 attorneys and notaries critical of the regime could no longer practice law for defending those attending the protests. On February 9, 25 attorneys were stripped of their nationality along with 292 others. The regime confiscated their assets and property.
“The new method for these processes is illegal in addition to violating due process and human rights,” Attorney Yonarqui Martínez, who has worked in the defense of several Nicaraguan political prisoners, told Voice of America (VOA).
“I was declared a traitor to the homeland without having been subjected to any process. I was convicted without a trial,” Carrión added. In March, the Ortega-Murillo regime stripped him of his nationality along with 94 other people. “In a dictatorship there are no rights or guarantees,” he said.
According to Martínez, this restructuring of the repression directly affects the economy of the opponents and the integrity of their families, because having to report to the police day after day is a heavy physical and psychological burden. Another method is not allowing the accused to have a public defender or denying them the opportunity to have access to another alternative, he pointed out.
House by house
The Ortega-Murillo regime is also implementing a house-to-house visit program led by the police and the Ministry of the Interior to “guarantee peace.” “We are going to do it all the time, to strengthen the knowledge and observance of our citizen security model,” Rosario Murillo said on May 25.
The house-to-house visit program has already made 43,000 visits, Nicaragua’s state-owned media El 19 Digital reported on June 1. However, the visits are to guarantee social control, to bring the country “to absolute control, typical of a totalitarian regime,” Carrión said.
“Murillo calls acts of repression and intimidation a visit. They visit house to house to bring the message of peace. Where have we seen that the police are visitors to bring the message of peace of a state?” Carrión said. According to Despacho 505 news site, informants that the regime has in all neighborhoods pass on information prior to the visits.
In that same vein, police agents threaten to arrest opponents who criticize the regime on social networks, who react with sarcasm to the projects it develops and offers or describe the socio-political crisis Nicaragua has been experiencing since April 2018, Mexican newspaper Crónica reported.
The Ortega-Murillo regime “prioritizes repression, even though it talks about dialogue and reconciliation. Even when there are no protests in the country’s streets, authorities continue to repress as if the people were protesting,” Carrión said.
Carrión believes that the repressive methods of the Ortega-Murillo regime are duplicates of those used by their authoritarian allies: China, Cuba, Iran, Russia, and Venezuela. “I think there is an effort to take a bit of all repressive models […], just as Hitler did,” he said.
“For the regime we do not exist, they have erased us. They use the manuals of evil for repression, control of the population, and social control, to silence and create terror,” Carrión said. “The totalitarian model is being implemented with all the schools of evil, to uproot any sign of the exercise of citizenship.”
“In the midst of the 21st century we have rooted in the center of the Americas a family that intends to impose itself in perpetuity as a dynasty in power,” Carrión added.
“I call on democratic states to be more forceful, as when the Somoza dictatorship fell,” Carrión concluded. “The people of Nicaragua urgently need a more forceful and coherent backing from the entire international community, to put an end to this painful violation of human rights and crimes against humanity against its citizens.”