Rafael Solis, magistrate on the Nicaraguan Supreme Court and loyal political operator in the judicial system for Daniel Ortega, resigned his position within that State power, as well as his membership in the Sandinista Front (FSLN).
Solis made his startling announcement in a letter made public on Thursday, addressed to Ortega, Murillo, and the president of the National Assembly, Gustavo Porras.
“I present my immediate and irrevocable resignation from this moment on as magistrate of the Supreme Court of Justice, and all political positions including militancy in the FSLN. This resignation is independent of the decision taken by the National Assembly to accept it or not, even though there are only three months left to conclude my term. However, I prefer to do it now, to avoid having applied to me that article of the Constitution that establishes that public officials elected by the National Assembly must continue in office if new appointments aren’t made, including even the Magistrates when their terms expire, which is what I think will happen in April,” wrote Solis.
In a letter dated January 8, Solis explains that his decision is due to Ortega and Murillo’s handling of the political crisis in the country. This crisis, according to the OAS’ Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, has left at least 325 dead, more than 2000 wounded, 550 imprisoned and prosecuted, the dismissal of 300 doctors and other health professionals, and the expulsion of at least 144 students from the UNAN university.
Rafael Solis, who now refers to himself as an “ex-magistrate”, says that since April 18th he considered resigning on three separate occasions, but that “I always had the hope that through a National Dialogue of whatever nature, including more active participants and mediators, the Government presided over by you (Ortega and Murillo) could correct the serious errors committed throughout this period.”
The National Dialogue began in mid-May, with the Episcopal Conference as guarantor. However, although the dictator agreed at first to negotiate, during the few days that the process lasted his representatives assumed a posture of boycotting the negotiations. In the end, the dialogue was suspended due to the Ortega government’s closedmindedness when presented with a democratization agenda proposed by the bishops.
“The year 2018 ended and none of that happened; rather the opposite – the government has been hardening its positions, bringing about an almost total international isolation. I sincerely do not see the slightest possibility that now, in 2019, a true new national dialogue will return to bring peace, justice and reconciliation to our country,” explains Solís.
The judge explains in the letter that on April 17th he was in Mexico to treat a back problem. From that country, he followed the events that ended in the worst political crisis experienced by Nicaragua in the last 40 years, including the worst massacre in national history in times of peace.
The letter is a harsh critique of the way in which Ortega and Murillo have handled the crisis:
“The reality is that, beyond the number of deaths that troubled me so greatly because of the pain of their mothers and other family members, and which may be more or less than the 325 indicated, and that in their great majority were from the sector opposed to the government and under circumstances that in some cases can be considered murders according to the IACHR and the Interdisciplinary Group of International Experts (GIEI); and even beyond the more than 500 prisoners considered political by the opposition and in the great majority by me as well, I always believed that good sense and the sanity would take over and you would proceed to a political negotiation that allowed early elections and some of the other points raised by the opposition.
“However, reality has proven to be the opposite: a State of Terror with the excessive use of para-police forces or even the Police itself with weapons of war, has sown fear in our country. There is no longer any right that is respected, with the inevitable consequences of the installation and consolidation of a dictatorship with characteristics of an absolute monarchy of two kings that have made all the Powers of the State disappear, reducing the Judicial Branch, to which I belong, to its minimal expression.”
Solís affirms that the magistrates of the Supreme Court can revert the arbitrary decisions made by Ortega, mainly in relation to the dozens of political prisoners who have been prosecuted and sentenced in arbitrary trials.
However, he notes that “it is extremely difficult with the State of Terror imposed, for some of them to dare do it in the future, and I myself will be outside the Judicial Power and probably outside Nicaragua for a while. I do not therefore have the right to demand they do so, and therefore these sentences will surely be ratified and I hope they are not imprisoned for a long time (the majority are sentenced to 30 years).”
Rafael Solis was one of the most eloquent political spokesmen of the FSLN. He remains a magistrate of the Supreme Court covered by the decree issued in January 2010 by President Daniel Ortega. He was one of the executors of the constitutional reforms that allowed Ortega to perpetuate himself in power.
Attorney “Payo” Solís was Ortega’s political operator in the Supreme Court. In January 2009, the Court issued a ruling that freed former President Arnoldo Aleman from a 20-year sentence for fraud against the state, in exchange for the latter guaranteeing Ortega control of the National Assembly.
At the end of that year, the Constitutional Chamber, of which Judge Solís was a member, issued a judicial ruling that guaranteed Ortega the possibility of re-election, despite the fact that the Constitution prohibited continuous re-election. In an interview, Judge Solis said he owed respect to the Constitution, “which does not mean that I’m going to confront the Party,” from which he now resigns.
It remains to be seen how the dictatorship of Ortega will react to the resignation of one of its loyalists. Solís was one of the most pragmatic voices within the circle of advisers surrounding Ortega. The same Solis, who knows his former partner very well, has no hope of a change in the authoritarian drift of the dictator. This was made clear in his letter.
“Hopefully a miracle will happen and you will reflect, and resume the path of the National Dialogue and the true reconciliation of the country, but the history of Nicaragua has taught us something different and in this case history will be repeated, and if you continue to sow winds you will reap the whirlwind, until it reaches an end that by force will be inevitable,”wrote Solís, who accompanies the letter with a copy of his ID.