Confessions of ex-Supreme Court Justice Rafael Solis

Solis is an example of what other functionaries will use as their justification when they one day ask to be pardoned

The recent interview that Rafael Solis offered the Nicaraguan media has given rise to countless interpretations and questions

27 de abril 2021


The recent interview that Rafael Solis offered the Nicaraguan media has given rise to countless interpretations and questions. They center around his true intentions.

Speaking to the Nicaraguan press in Costa Rica, he offered extensive declarations on his past participation as a high-level public official. Could we call them confessions? As a political operator, he knows and knew first-hand the dictatorships’ wheeling’s-and-dealings. Yet he served this regime without contradictions or hesitations for several decades, enriching himself in the process.

He was no stranger to the perversion of justice. He was personally charged with instructing the judges how to proceed in the political “trials”. Hundreds of citizens who protested against the dictatorship were subjected to these shams. Solis openly admits he set up meetings with “a large number of judges”. The purpose of these meetings was to communicate the need to declare the victims of the repression guilty. That’s what his bosses had instructed. If that’s not a perversion and a manipulation of Justice, then, what is?

Rafael Solis is fully aware how the justice system repeatedly violated the established rules for judicial procedures. Violations included having paramilitaries sequester people for indefinite periods of time. These people would later appear in the hands of the Police. He was aware of the absence of the established guarantees for legal processes, and the violations of due process. He knew of the false accusations and fake witnesses, in cases completely fabricated by the Prosecution.

Likewise, he knew of the harassment of families of those murdered by the police and paramilitary. He was conscious of a long list of arbitrary actions which constitute crimes described in the Nicaraguan penal code.

Even now, he didn’t dare give the names of the treacherous judges. He wouldn’t offer specifics about the cases in which he’d intervened, or the victims of his “obedience”. He evaded the reporters’ insistent questions on the topic, alleging that he didn’t recall. His opportune amnesia is food for thought.

Solis argues that, as FSLN Political Secretary of the Judicial Branch, he had an obligation to comply with the “orientations” given him by both dictators. These, he claimed, were political decisions, and the Judicial Powers had no other option but to comply.

I ask myself if Solis believes we’re that ignorant. Any ordinary citizen with a sense of ethics, morals, and professional responsibilities knows better. Obeying orders to harm citizens, violating their most basic human and Constitutional rights, submitting them to arbitrary and unjust sentences, is against the Nicaraguan Penal Code.

“Due obedience” doesn’t constitute an argument that exonerates anyone from responsibility. This is true for members of the military during the recent conflicts. It’s even more true for civilians at the service of the people.

Rafael Solis “believes” the Nicaraguan Army facilitated the war weapons used by government assassins to massacre so many unarmed youth.  But immediately afterwards, he says he doesn’t know “with absolute certainty”. He alleges that he has no proof, and that possibly the Army didn’t participate in the repression. His argument falls under its own weight. A number of reports from international experts revealed that the arsenal utilized was for the exclusive use of the Army and the Police.

According to Solis, he made the decision to jump ship when he read the forensic reports on the assassinated youth. These reports clearly established that they weren’t killed by stray bullets, but by shots aimed to kill. The shots were aimed at the head, chest and throat.

His words confirmed what many believed to be the truth of our national tragedy: that the lethal decision came from the highest level. It was then fully implemented by highly trained henchmen. The shots were fired by snipers specialized in high caliber war weapons.

I ask myself what planet Solis was living on. How could he not have known what was happening in the street, in the universities, in the demonstrations, in the churches and in the countryside? Did he maybe not get the information that every citizen was getting? Or did he merely accept the official explanation of a “coup d’etat”, being circulated from El Carmen and his former close friends and comrades?

Is it possible he didn’t see the death caravans go by, carrying squads of executioners, armed to the teeth?  Did he not hear about the attacks on the priests, the human rights advocates, the unarmed population? He knew nothing about the attack on the Church of the Divine Mercy with consequences everyone else knows about?

He consistently protected the interests of the presidential couple. The proposals he elaborated helped guarantee their continuance in power. He spoke of this in his interview. He was equally the legal artifice allowing Ortega to be reelected indefinitely. His justification was that the former policy prohibiting reelection violated Ortega’s human rights. This argument was rejected by the United Nations.

During the entire interview, Rafael Solis remained cool and casual, as if he were recounting a movie he’d seen. There was no display of empathy with the dead, the exiled, the persecuted. No overt recognition of the dramatic situation Nicaraguans are facing, due to the infinite ambition and cruelty of those clinging to power.

Someone later remarked that Solis “isn’t talking just for the fun of it”.  Truthfully, it’s odd that he chose this moment to offer such a broad interview. His responses were full of information, though in some cases partial and incomplete. They offer a glimpse of a hidden agenda that could allow him to salvage the remains of his own shipwreck.

Why isn’t he fully sincere, giving his people and his country the opportunity to begin the search for truth and justice? These are fundamental elements for repairing all the damage that Daniel Ortega, Rosario Murillo and their minions have inflicted on Nicaragua. His information could allow those responsible for the death of so many youth to be brought to justice.

The only crime these young people committed was that of opposing this cruel dictatorship. They opposed a regime that systematically violates the human rights of all the Nicaraguans. A regime responsible for crimes against humanity, as successive reports of Inter-American Commission for Human Rights have classified the massacre.

In my opinion, Rafael Solis is the living example of what other functionaries and public servants will utilize as their argument for redemption. That due obedience should be accepted as exoneration for their individual and collective responsibility. That the complicity of the dictatorship’s chief government operators was partial and diluted.

His acts are a betrayal of the Nicaraguan people’s ideals, and his current declarations don’t exonerate him from blame. Sooner or later, he must respond before Nicaraguan or international courts of justice. Even though he tries to negotiate, by offering to bear witness against the dictatorship, in exchange for his own impunity.

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Amelia Barahona

Arquitecto, especialista en Conservación del Patrimonio Cultural y gestión cultural


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