The Nicaraguan private sector will hold an emergency meeting to determine their course of action, given the announcement that the National Police were prohibiting the civic mobilization the business leaders had convoked for Thursday, January 24 to demand democratization and justice for the country.
The police announcement of the prohibition was also accompanied by a series of accusations made against the business groupings. The meeting to consider the business owners’ response was announced yesterday evening, January 23, by Juan Sebastian Chamorro, executive director of the Nicaraguan Foundation for Economic and Social Development, (Funides).
In an interview with journalist Carlos F. Chamorro on the new weekly edition of the Esta Noche television program, the Funides director asserted that he couldn’t offer details on the actions under consideration. However, he did advance the information that the first thing they’d do was to “refute every single one of the false arguments that the Police have given to attribute possible and potential crimes “ to Funides, the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (COSEP), and the Nicaraguan-American Chamber of Commerce, who initiated the call to march.
Police prohibition and their arguments
As announced by the head of the Office for Public Safety, Olivio Hernandez, the National Police denied the private sector the requested permit to march because it was their policy: “not to authorize any activity that would expose people, families or property to danger; that would alter the public order and the social rights, and the right to peace of Nicaraguan families – rights that the National Police defend and protect in the country.”
Through a police note made known last September, the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo decreed that citizen demonstrations would be henceforth illegal. They established a de facto state of emergency that includes the installation of police checkpoints in strategic points of the capital and other cities of the country. It also includes patrols, round-ups and deployments for any event or declaration that could cause the population to mobilize, as they did since April 18 when the public surged onto the streets to oppose the government.
The dictatorship responded to the mobilizations with a brutal repression that to date has totaled 325 dead, over 3,000 wounded, dozens missing, over 600 political prisoners and some 60,000 Nicaraguans, including some 60 journalists, who’ve had to flee the country due to political persecution.
According to the police the business owners “acted criminally” against the Constitution, an intent – in imitation of the tone of the official discourse – to promote a supposed coup d’etat.
In the same tone, they accused the business leaders of having promoted, incited and been responsible for the barricades or roadblocks where – according to them – Nicaraguans were tortured, raped and killed. The police declared that these activities constitute “crimes that continue under investigation”, although among the political prisoners there are no members of the paramilitary or police, who were the ones most frequently cited as being responsible for the killings and abductions during the so-called “Operation Clean-up” that the dictatorship directed.
Juan Sebastian Chamorro said the police communication “is very strange” because it quotes words like “diabolical, roadblock, coup promoters” that he doesn’t feel fit in with the work of the institution. “It’s regrettable that the National Police should express themselves in this way, generating opinions that don’t correspond to them,” he complained.
Chamorro is also a member of the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy that brought together social and student leaders, organizations of civil society, the farmers’ movement and the private sector for the National Dialogue that was suspended in July. He affirmed that the private sector’s interpretation of the police prohibition is that “they [the authorities] feel that from the first days of the protests, there’s been a cohesive private sector” that’s supported the civic demonstrations, participating in marches and national strikes.
“All these actions that the private sector supported in the course of these nine months, in a coherent manner and – I repeat – together with the Nicaraguan people, have caused the unease that we’re already seeing on the part of the authorities. They’ve taken advantage of this to deny permission for the peaceful march that we’d called for the afternoon of Thursday, January 24,” said Juan Sebastian Chamorro.