Scottish Solidarity with Nicaragua - End Repression NOW!

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We the undersigned, some of us long-term activists who have lived and worked in Nicaragua, others motivated by the recent tragic events, condemn the violent repression of civilian protests by Daniel Ortega and his government, using police and paramilitary forces whose mandate, according to Amnesty International, has been to shoot to kill. 

In just over three months of State terror, The Inter American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) has documented almost 300 deaths.  Local human rights organisations have put the death toll at more than 400, mostly civilians, with up to 2,700 injured and almost 600 people forcibly disappeared.  New anti-terrorism legislation, passed by the National Assembly in mid-July, and heavily criticised by the United Nations and the IACHR, is being used to “criminalise the protesters”, hundreds of whom have been arbitrarily detained and many tortured whilst awaiting trial.  A recent  eye-witness account from Nicaragua reports that “we in Nicaragua are living under a vicious dictatorship where as I speak people are being tortured in jails around the country”. 

The student-led civic insurrection that began in April 2018 took us and the world by surprise.  Under the Ortega government, which returned to power in 2007, Nicaragua, has experienced economic growth, a thriving tourist industry and is said to be the safest country in Central America.  Ortega, however, has built his power base through political and social pacts with right wing parties and other influential conservative forces. In turn, constitutional reforms, the control of all State institutions, (including the Electoral Council, the Supreme Court, the Police and the Army) and seriously defective elections that have been criticised for their lack of rigour and transparency, have been central  to consolidating that power and prolonging his rule. Now, in the face of a popular uprising challenging that power and demanding his resignation and free and fair elections, Ortega has resorted to the worst form of dictatorial violence, creating a de facto irregular army of occupation with licence to kill, torture and forcibly disappear dissenters.

In our view Daniel Ortega has betrayed the fundamental values of the Sandinista Revolution and its socialist vision of a just society where all people enjoy all rights and freedoms and are at liberty to express their opinions without fear. 

We welcome the Scottish Government’s condemnation of State sponsored violence in Nicaragua and urge it to use its influence to ensure that the recommendations of the IACHR, and the resolutions emitted by the European Parliament, and the Organisation of American States are enacted upon immediately.  In particular, we call on the Scottish Government, as well as other human rights, development and faith-based institutions, to support the following demands:

 a)       The immediate cessation of violent repression by police and paramilitary forces in Nicaragua, including the disarmament and dismantling of all irregular paramilitary forces;

b)      An end to the persecution of protesters, arbitrary detentions and torture, and the release of all political prisoners

c)       The organisation of free and fair elections, under strict national and international observation;

d)      Access to justice: the diligent investigation, prosecution, and punishment of those responsible for all the acts of violence committed during the protests.

Given the history of US intervention in Nicaragua, including the illegal financing of the Contra War in the 1980s, we oppose any form of interference by the US government, particularly through the National Endowment for Democracy.  We demand total respect for the Nicaraguan people’s right to self-determination as they legitimately protest the oppression and in the transitional period that will follow as they rebuild democracy. 

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