The nocturnal maneuver the Ortega regime carried out against 57 Nicaraguans on Monday, May 3 was “planned” with the objective of forcing these people – along with anyone else considered an opponent or potential protester – “to leave the country.” Among the victims of the May 3rd actions were journalists, activists, and victims of other repressive actions from a number of municipalities. Two prominent activists now in exile recently spoke on the internet television news show Esta Semana, analyzing the government’s actions and probable intentions.
In less than 12 hours, these 57 citizens were detained by the Police in their towns and taken to Managua. The Public Prosecutor’s office then charged them with the catch-all crimes of “conspiracy and undermining the national integrity,” and “spreading false news.” The Court then immediately held express preliminary hearings in which they were granted a conditional release.
“This modality indicates that they already had the action mapped out,” noted activist Ivania Alvarez. She believes these events weren’t something the regime suddenly dreamed up one night, but quite the contrary: “it’s something that was prepared.” She added: “they have had a ton of time to be pinpointing the people” they consider to be part of the opposition.
Most of the 57 people who were detained and are now on probation “were under police siege,” Alvarez emphasized. Because of that, she thinks “we’re confronting a new strategy” for repression. “It’s no longer necessary to send the police to post guard outside [the house]. It’s no longer necessary to send a member of the paramilitary to take photos of you. Instead, you [the citizen) will have to go every day,” to report to the police as part of the conditional release.
Jose Antonio Peraza, political analyst and released political prisoner, warned that the Ortega regime, “wants to impose civic death on people.” By forcing them to report to a police station or court every day, they’re limiting their possibilities of economic subsistence, a situation that in the end could force them to flee the country.
“What the regime wants to do at this juncture is try to make everyone already identified as a dissenter leave the country,” Peraza explained. In his view, that’s also part of Ortega’s cyclic process of “filling the jails, so as to always have a cushion of prisoners with which he can threaten people.”
“They’re going to starve people to death”
Meanwhile, Ivania Alvarez affirmed that with this new “cruel and pitiless” strategy, the regime is “going to starve people to death,” since teachers, lawyers, students or workers in the Free Trade Zones simply “aren’t going to be able to go to work.”
Employers “don’t want” to be linked to these people who are under political persecution, so that this situation “also stigmatizes them.” “Now that you’re someone being persecuted, no one in the whole country wants to give you work, no one wants to visit you at home, no one wants to be close to your family,” activist commented.
On the other hand, Alvarez said, the regime is “becoming more specialized in their surveillance methods.” One sample of this is that the list of political prisoners went from 37 people in March to over 60 at the end of April. Now, these 57 people detained, legally charged, and put on probation May 3, should be added to the list.
“Between those tied up in court processes and those in jail, we’re now counting between 120 and 130 political prisoners, the activist specified.
Jose Antonio Peraza believes that this new form of repression reflects “the dictatorship’s great fear that the population could return to massive demonstrations. The regime “knows that May 30 [Mother’s Day in Nicaragua] is coming around again, and that this is a very meaningful time due to the events that took place in April and May of 2018. As a result, this is a preventive action,” Peraza added.
“Silent” resistance in the country
Nonetheless, the arrest of so many people in just one night demonstrates that “it’s not true that there’s no civic resistance,” Peraza pointed out. He believes that this civic resistance is present nearly all over the country, although in a “silent” form.
The political expert knows that “silent resistance” also remains within the ranks of the regime. He recalled that when he was a prisoner in the El Chipote jail, some police confided that they weren’t in agreement with what was happening and manifested a certain discomfort with the way the institution was being conducted.
“In Nicaragua there’s always been that general dynamic, where the repressive organs submit to the dictator or the repressor of the moment. However, there’s discontent. We can’t put all members of the Police and the repressive organs in one basket. There are differences, and there’s discontent,” Peraza insisted.
In addition to the “internal resistance,” the political analyst assured, “we’re in intense conversations” in exile, seeking a solution to Nicaragua’s socio-political crisis. “At some point, that connection will have to exist, in order to begin the process of democratic transition.”