Nicaragua’s National Assembly, dominated by the governing Sandinista party, unanimously approved the immediate closing of the Nicaraguan Red Cross Association, an apolitical and independent institution that has functioned since 1931. It then gave the green light to a bill to confiscate their assets. Their new version of the Red Cross will be an entity attached to the Ministry of Health, while its patrimony, property and assets will be absorbed by the Nicaraguan government.
Daniel Ortega’s ire with the Red Cross stems from 2018, when their volunteers gave medical attention to the wounded demonstrators, during the protests the regime insists were a US-sponsored attempt at a Coup d’Etat. His annulment of the independent organization’s status interrupts many humanitarian projects linked to the Red Cross’s role as mediator.
During the massive demonstrations of 2018 against the presidential couple, some branches of the Red Cross acted in accordance with the objectives under which they were created, attending to and comforting those wounded in the brutal repression the police forces exercised, under orders from the Ortega-Murillo couple. Now, according to the National Assembly, this decision of the Nicaraguan Red Cross Association violated their neutrality; with this argument, they determined it should be closed.
At the time of the large-scale violent repression, Ortega had ordered the country’s hospitals not to assist anybody wounded by its police or paramilitary forces.
The prevailing dictatorial regime has sought to make all vestiges of disagreement disappear. Nicaragua has been left without opposition leaders, critical voices, or independent media. The Ortega camp has swept them all away. They harassed them, persecuted them, imprisoned them, forced them into exile, and now, not satisfied with such infamy, they’ve raised their maliciousness to a new level by stripping them of their nationality.
The attacks against individual and collective rights, the acts of cultural repression, and the political or religious persecution directly exercised by the government powers should not be tolerated under any circumstances. Nor should their attacks on university autonomy, freedom of expression and the press, or the work of the NGOs whose legal rights to operate was cancelled without discussion.
Fifteen universities have lost their right to operate since the beginning of last year, among them the Polytechnical University, a bastion of the student movement. Those houses of higher learning formed one of the focal points of the 2018 protests. Because of that, the regime aimed its fury at them. In addition, more than 3,200 non-profit organizations have been closed down, and thirty others have voluntarily asked to be dissolved.
No less detestable is the spitefulness with which the regime has taken on its war against the Catholic Church, impeding religious processions, closing houses of worship and organizations dedicated to the Catholic faith, and imprisoning priests and bishops.
A group of UN human rights experts found the Ortega-Murillo couple responsible for extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detentions, tortures and sexual violence during their 15 year in power. True to the style of other Latin American socialist tyrannies, they’ve moved to squash any shadow of opposition and destroy the division of powers.
Editorial published in the Costa Rican newspaper “La Nación”.
This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by Havana Times.