Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 460 | Octubre 2019



Nicaragua briefs


Starting in April 2018, the blue and white national flag became a symbol of the rebellion. It’s a particularly legitimate one because it represents the national aspirations that united protesters and clearly makes the point that the uprising was spontaneous and not led by any political party. By September 2018, waving the flag or displaying its blue and white colors in any other fashion—balloons, t-shirts, kerchiefs, face paint and the myriad other creative ways people came up with—had so irritated the ruling couple that it resulted in arrest and incarceration. This year the national celebrations of the Battle of San Jacinto—a decisive defeat for US invader William Walker in 1856—and Independence Day, respectively on September 14 and 15, promised to be a sticky wicket for the government. Could it still claim normality had returned while outlawing the displaying of the flag even on Independence Day? It responded by mounting a competition over the flag’s use that had all the sophistication of the childhood taunt “I’m rubber and you’re glue…” The Vice President ordered public buses, state buildings and vehicles, and party sympathizers to display the flag. “That way the Right,” as she called the bulk of the population identified with the blue and white opposition even though it includes many principled leftists, “will feel lost and will feel obliged to criticize us, initiating a process in which they will cease feeling identified with the flag and will be obliged to turn tail yet again and we will recover what is ours.”
Some displayed a special variation of the flag in which the shield in the middle was overlaid with the red and black olors of the ruling party. For their part, the leaders of the Civic Alliance and the Blue and White Unity called on people to hang the flag with the shield upside down, a habit which started early on in the rebellion, or with a black ribbon on it in honor of the many people killed by the government. In Managua, police patrol vehicles and garbage trucks followed the Vice President’s order most rigorously, but the Sandinista population in general apparently wasn’t enthused by the idea. Nor did many on the opposition side risk hanging the flag with the shield upside down. Some vehicles that did so were fined by the police. The bottom line was that, at least in Managua, many fewer homes, vehicles and streets honored these two days of national pride by displaying the flag.


On September 11, in the Caribbean city of Bluefields, 27-year-old Evans Nathaniel Taylor, fleeing from police following a beating in which they broke his hand and several ribs and wounded him in the arm and neck, jumped into Bluefields Bay. When he could no longer swim due to his wounds, he asked for help from the police, who watched him drown from a boat alongside, making no effort to help him. The tragic scene was filmed and went viral on social media, showing one police officer even hitting him over the side of the boat. A police communique defined Evans as a “delinquent,” as if that justified the inhuman act of beating him then letting him drown. Taylor’s parents traveled to Managua to demand an investigation and to file charges since neither the police nor the Bluefields district attorney would receive them.


Since July the anti-riot police are taking to the streets of the capital ever more frequently en masse, armed with assault rifles and trained dogs, in an effort to more effectively intimidate anyone who tries to demonstrate against the regime.


The Costa Rican government has organized what it calls a Comprehensive Plan to Attend to Mixed Migration Flows to deal with the migrants entering that country, most of whom are Nicaraguan. Recognizing the country’s limitations in covering even 100% of its own people much less the more than 70,000 Nicaraguans who have requested refugee status, the new plan coordinates 33 public institutions and their budgets, prioritizing education, health and security. Those who apply as refugees when crossing the border are given access to basic health, emergency and vaccination services and provided immediate national protection. After three months the government accredits the person as a provisional applicant and three months after that the person acquires a work permit. Ultimately issuing refugee status is based on the results of an hour-long interview. Costa Rican officials say they re processing 60 such interviews a day.


On September 22 the Nicaraguan daily newspaper La Prensa revealed the whereabouts of 22-year-old Xavier Mojica, who became the best known of those “disappeared” during the April rebellion thanks to his parents’ determined campaign to find him. Although he had not participated in any protests or roadblocks, he was captured by hooded paramilitaries near his house on June 11, 2018. Mojica says e was taken to a clandestine jail where he spent 300
days isolated in a dark hole and was subjected to continuous beatings and interrogations he had no idea how to respond to as he had never been involved in politics. On March 20 of this year, his parents were contacted by his kidnappers who handed over their son in exchange for US$600. For his own safety he quickly took refuge in Costa Rica. “I stopped being a person, and only wanted them to kill me as they’d ruined my life,” he confided to journalist Fabián Medina. Mojica finally decided to speak out after months of silence outside Nicaragua “for the sole purpose of recovering myself as a person.” His case revealed the existence of clandestine prisons in Nicaragua and raises questions about what happened to other kidnapped people who were either held in them or perhaps died there. It also begs the question of whether such prisons existed even before last year. Upon learning of Xavier Mojica’s capture-disappearance-imprisonment-and- reappearance under extortion, lawyers of the Nicaragua Nunca+ Collective, based in Costa Rica, told La Prensa that this is the only case it knows of that has been made public. “We’ve received other cases in which paramilitaries and even the Police have kidnapped people then extorted the victims’ families, leading to the release of many prisoners. They have all told us that they don’t want to give their name or make their case public because they are under threat and have to comply with the condition of silence demanded of them for the freeing of the prisoners.” The majority of these cases have occurred in the municipalities, both in clandestine jails and in local police delegation buildings, where police chiefs and lower-ranking officers have participated in the extortions. Xavier Mojica and his parents decided to speak up, out of courage and a commitment
to truth and justice.


“The silence of the Nicaraguan government in response to repeated requests for a solution is distressing,” reported Inter-American Commission on Human Rights commissioner Joel Hernández in one of the forums on Nicaragua held by the UN Council on Human Rights in Geneva on September 9, the day before that institution released its report on the country. “What we are seeing is a tendency of the authorities to offer the image that the crisis has been surmounted and normality has returned. But there is no normality. Nicaragua is in a state of exception. We have returned to a state of total close-mindedness to any kind of solution. All windows have been closed.”


On September 30, the Mothers of April Association (AMA) inaugurated the “Museum of Memory against Impunity” in the Central American University’s Institute of History of Nicaragua and Central America. It is a collection of photographs, documents, biographies, investigations and significant objects belonging to the dozens of youths, mainly university students, gunned down by police and paramilitaries ordered to respond with bloody repression to their peaceful protests against social security cuts in late April 2018. Rather than quell the protests, the repression triggered weeks of massive rebellion that peaked in marches by hundreds of thousands of people all around the country. The museum was created with a participatory focus in which the mothers and other relatives of the victims in AMA assumed a role in the gathering of information for and the design and presentation of the museum as a contribution to the active construction of the memory of their loved ones, the defense of human rights and the reconstruction of the rule of law in Nicaragua. The museum can also be visited on line at www.museodelamemorianicaragua.org.


The rainy season has been deficient in Central America this year. Preliminary data of the Union of Agricultural Producers of Nicaragua (UPANIC) reported losses of basic grain crops in various parts of the country. During the first harvest cycle, bean production dropped by 30-35% and maize production by 40%. The losses are greatest in the poorest area of the country, known as the “dry corridor,” which consists of 37 municipalities in the north and central part of the country. Víctor Campos, director of Centro Humboldt, a member organization of the Nicaraguan Alliance on Climate Change, which has reported on the relevance of the drought in the dry corridor, also mentioned areas of Chinandega in the northwest where the peasants have gone “more than a year without producing foods” given the bad harvest of last year’s second cycle and the total lack of harvest of the first cycle this year. Campos believes the government should decree a state of emergency, at least in those zones most affected by the drought, as Honduras and Costa Rica have already done.

Print text   

Send text

<< Previous   Next >>


The standoff between the majority and the dictatorship hits the year-and-a-half mark

Nicaragua briefs

From the UN to a regime that denies its human rights violations

The new government’s first steps

A global recession + Trump’s anti- immigrant policies = an explosive combo in the region

Utopias in Central America (part 2): The dreams and nightmares in literature
Envío a monthly magazine of analysis on Central America
GüeGüe: Web Hosting and Development