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Army General Avilés accuses Nicaraguan media of being "greedy" and "sell-outs"

True to Ortega and Murillo's style, the military chief attacks journalism in exile on the Army's anniversary, and reiterates loyalty to the dictator

Army General Julio Cesar Aviles presented Daniel Ortega with a photo of him taken in the eighties. Photo: CCC

Redacción Confidencial

6 de septiembre 2023


The event commemorating the 44th Anniversary of the Nicaraguan Army began like any good party: General Julio Cesar Aviles, head of the Nicaraguan armed forces, presented Daniel Ortega with a photo from the 1980s in which Ortega appears riding in a jeep with his olive-green uniform. It was all laughter and good times, with the military host sharing greetings and smiles right and left.

Some 45 minutes later, the laughter gave way to shouts, insults and threats, all broadcast nationally over radio and television. General Aviles fired up his motors and let go with a fierce attack against what he called “parasites and mercenaries of information.” A definition broad enough to encompass all the media outlets in exile, that defy persecution and press censorship to criticize the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and his wife/VP Rosario Murillo, who have imposed a police state on Nicaragua since 2018.

“This day (September 4, 2023) we reject with firmness and determination the campaigns of lies, slander, aggression and attacks that the parasites and mercenaries of information unleash against our institution,” the visibly agitated military chief declared.

“We say to these freeloaders and mercenaries that the homeland (…) the dignity and honor of the Nicaraguan Army is not to be messed with,” he warned.

Daniel Ortega con la Memoria Anual del Ejército 2022
Daniel Ortega displays the 2022 Annual Report of the Army, given him by Army Head Julio Cesar Aviles. Photo: CCC

Results of Confidencial’s investigations

“These [reporters] that attack us daily, receive salaries from foreign interests and everything they do goes against the benefit of the homeland. Everything they do is aimed at selling it out, weakening it and destroying it, as all the blighters of the homeland have done throughout history,” Aviles roared.

The threats from the Army Chief came three days after Confidencial revealed that Aviles was among twenty generals – each of whom has held their positions for thirteen years, thanks to two reconfirmations – and two major generals who have comprised the Army’s General Command Structure for the last six years. These veteran Army chiefs form an “institutional plug” within the Armed Forces, where promotions and retirements depend on the will of the dictator. Confidencial based their journalistic investigation on the 16 annual reports published by the Army from 2006 to 2021, as well as dozens of editions of their quarterly reviews and press declarations. Aviles hasn’t denied the facts in any of these.

In May 2023, Confidencial also published the investigative series “Daniel Ortega’s Military,” demonstrating with details how the dictator has bought the loyalty of the military heads by handing over to them nearly a hundred properties, as well as conceding them a budget increase in the millions.

Julio César Avilés con Rosario Murillo y Daniel Ortega
Army general Julio Cesar Aviles greets Rosario Murillo and Daniel Ortega before beginning the act in commemoration of the 44th anniversary of the Nicaraguan Army. Photo: CCC

First time Aviles has mentioned the sanctions

With his handkerchief in hand to wipe the sweat, Aviles affirmed: “these parasites and mercenaries of information are constantly clamoring for more aggression, in the form of the badly named sanctions, against the homeland and our institution.”

The General chose to ignore the fact that the international sanctions haven’t been leveled against the homeland or the Army, but only affect a few members of the of the military high command, who have been accused of corruption and covering up the human rights abuses in Nicaragua since 2018.

On May 22, 2020, the US Treasury Department leveled sanctions on Aviles for refusing to disarm the paramilitary that attacked the civilian population during the 2018 civic protests. The military head vigorously denies the existence of these pro-Ortega armed groups.

The activity commemorating the 44th Anniversary was the first time that Aviles – who in 2025 will mark 15 consecutive years at his post – referred publicly to the sanctions against him and his collaborators. “They don’t know that despite their campaigns of lies, slander, aggression, or the sanctions received by all of us members of the Nicaraguan Army, the people’s army, we continue and will always continue loyal, firm and cohesive.”

Julio César Avilés en el acto por el 44 aniversario del Ejército
Army Commander in Chief Julio Cesar Aviles during his speech for the 44th Anniversary of the Army, during which the FSLN flag was on prominent display. Photo: CCC

The other three sanctioned Army officers

The General spoke of “all the members of the Army,” but, in reality, there are only three other military leaders who have been sanctioned by the United States. The first is Brigadier General Julio Modesto Rodriguez, executive director of the Instituto de Prevision Social Militar [Institute for Socio-Military Welfare], the financial arm of the army. Rodriguez was sanctioned in June 2021.

The second in the Army chain of command, Major General Bayardo Rodriguez Ruiz, was sanctioned in January 2022. Along with him, sanctions were leveled on Brigadier General Bayardo de Jesus Pulildo Ortiz, head of the Army Agency for Personnel and Cadres.

According to Aviles, the demand for international sanctions is “to make us react.” “React how?” he asked rhetorically. “To effect a Coup d’etat over a legitimately constituted government, as they’ve been trying to do since 2018?”

“In the face of these pretensions, our response is firm and clear: we will never do that, because we’re patriots, because we’re not Coup promotors, as we have demonstrated throughout our history,” Aviles declared.

“We will remain loyal, firm and cohesive defending this institution,” the Army head repeated.

Comandancia General del Ejército de Nicaragua
Rosario Murillo and Daniel Ortega with the top Army Command: Julio Cesar Aviles, Bayardo Rodriguez and Marvin Corrales. Photo: CCC

Thanks to “the Comandante and his Compañera”

Aviles’ speech not only centered on the “parasites and mercenaries of information.” He also had time to give a detailed report on the Army’s actions over this last year, and to thank Ortega and Murillo for always “backing us in our efforts.”

“Our thanks to you, Comandante Daniel Ortega, for the support you offer us in dignifying the military life which for many years was undervalued, trying to strangle us and demoralize us in order to destroy us,” the General commented, without ever specifying when and how that disregard occurred.

He reported that they had improved the food for the soldiers, “the same food supply that in years past the National Budget allotted the quantity of nine cordobas daily for the Army members’ three meals a day.”

“Mr. President, we thank you in the name of all and every one who make up this institution at the service of the people. You can count on us, Mr. President, on our determination to always be loyal, firm and cohesive,” Aviles assured.

In his message of closure, Ortega ignored the General’s flattery and spoke mainly about international affairs: the BRICS group of emerging economies (currently composed of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), Russia’s war against the “Nazis” in Ukraine, and a supposed US media campaign against China.

Ortega spoke very little about the Army, although he did recall that they had inherited “the combative courage, the dignity and the valor” of General Augusto C. Sandino.

This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by Havana Times.


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Redacción Confidencial

Redacción Confidencial

Confidencial es un diario digital nicaragüense, de formato multimedia, fundado por Carlos F. Chamorro en junio de 1996. Inició como un semanario impreso y hoy es un medio de referencia regional con información, análisis, entrevistas, perfiles, reportajes e investigaciones sobre Nicaragua, informando desde el exilio por la persecución política de la dictadura de Daniel Ortega y Rosario Murillo.