The nighttime police raids carried out by the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo in the month of May against Nicaraguans across the country are aimed at “terrorizing the entire population” and “forcing anyone they consider an opponent into exile”, say state workers interviewed by CONFIDENCIAL.
For “Cesar,” who has been working in the Judiciary for seven years, it is clear that the actions of police, judges, and prosecutors “were a planned operation in order to disarticulate any trace of protest in the country.”
“They want to put an end to the opposition and that is something we all know because they tell us during party meetings, which we are having more and more often,” details this public official.
This was also confirmed by “Dayana”, who works in a departmental office of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). “The discourse they have sold us is that it is better that all the people who might get in the way of the revolutionary process leave as soon as possible,” she says.
“They have reached a point where they prefer for the country to gradually become empty, and be left with silenced people who do not dare to raise their voices,” says this woman who has been working for the party for more than 14 years.
But, just as the persecution of those who are considered opponents has increased, “spying and pressures have increased” within the institutions, reveals “Cesar.”
An act of intimidation
The nighttime operation that targeted citizens on May 3 went after journalists, relatives of victims of the repression, and activists, and included secret accusation sessions that lasted at least twelve hours of terror. Police officers also raided the homes of the accused, with rifles in hand.
The 57 people were released, but at least 30 of them were charged with the alleged crimes of “conspiracy and undermining national integrity” and “spreading false news”. They were returned to their homes at six o'clock in the morning the following day, after opening proceedings against them in Managua and forcing them to check in daily at the police station of their respective departments.
The operation was repeated in a new manhunt, in which at least 18 people were detained and prosecuted on May 12, 13, and 14.
This new pattern of capture and express accusation “is a form of intimidation that aims to dismantle the opposition in all territorial networks of the country, but it is also a way to force people to leave the country,” says Denis, a worker of the Ministry of Health (Minsa) in Granada.
“The order is clear. They (Ortega and Murillo) want everyone who is an opponent, or who can generate any kind of protest to leave the country,” he points out.
“Denis” believes that it is “obvious” that the judicial system “continues to violate any principle of independence and it is evident that their only interest is to harm all the people they accuse.”
“None of these people have the benefit of the doubt, they are accused and immediately found guilty. Only now the order seems to be not to fill the prisons and leave them at home, but in fear”, indicates the Ministry of Health employee.
In addition, he points out that “at the same time, they are trying to convey the message that the same thing can happen to anyone who rebels, whether they are an opponent or sympathetic to the regime.”
They try to brainwash us and tell us that anyone who leaves the ranks of the State is a traitor and that we already know how we pay for treason, in a clear reference to prison or death.“Denis,” an employee at the Ministry of Health
However, the worker confesses that there are more and more desertions. “It is evident that many people have left, preferring to look bad or even losing severance pay because they can't take it anymore,” he says.
“They're going to keep chasing”
“Fatima”, a worker at the Public Prosecutor's Office in the south of the country, explains that in meetings with their superiors, they tell them that “these types of accusations are centered in Managua for now, but can be repeated in the departments.”
“They tell us that we must be ready because these people who have been prosecuted will be silenced by force if they stay in the country or they will have to leave, but they will continue to target all opponents so that they do not even try to organize,” she reveals.
“Dayana” explains that this is also repeated during party meetings. “They know that if nobody organizes in the country, they will be able to continue governing without any problem”, she says.
“Moises”, who works in the Ministry of Labor, details that in that institution, officials “want us to see people leaving the country as the lesser evil.”
“They tell us that it is better for people who do not contribute to the development of the country to leave and that this does not affect the growth of the economy because remittances are always there. It is a discourse that nobody believes, but we have to keep silent,” he says.
He points out that after the arrests, raids, cancellation of organizations, and “any other violation” of human rights “they gather us together to make us see that it is the right decision and they want to force us to say it on social networks”.
We are always being watched on social networks to see if we support one or the other. Anything we do or say that they don't like and that goes against the script of the discourse promoted by the government is a sin.”“Moises,” an employee at the Ministry of Labor
“They have them all mapped out”
This new repressive modality evidenced that “they already had them (the opposition) all mapped out”, warns activist Ivania Alvarez, who believes the entire operation was “a prepared thing.”
“For a long time, they have been mapping people who are considered opponents,” says Alvarez.
Now, police will control citizens in a different way, she says, because “it is no longer necessary for the police to go outside (the house), it is no longer necessary for the paramilitary to go and take pictures of you. You (as a citizen) are going to have to go every day to check in.”
The former executive secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Paulo Abrão, indicates that what is happening in Nicaragua should be analyzed with the understanding that the country is experiencing “State terrorism.”
“Surprise raids, express hearings or night detentions already happened in the past, only now immediate parole is being used, which is a novelty. When this 'sophistication' is pointed out, I am referring to the increase of cruelty and institutional violence in some practices normalized by the authoritarian regime", says the Brazilian lawyer.
This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by our Staff