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The Dangerous Hate Speech of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo in Nicaragua

The rulers are giving the green light to a fanatical minority. It amounts to permission to insult insult, assault, and even kill.

Carlos F. Chamorro

16 de marzo 2021


In the last few weeks, President Daniel Ortega and VP Rosario Murillo have intensified their hate speech. This is a style they’ve fostered for over a decade. From their seat of power, they rail against the citizens who demand a democratic change in Nicaragua. With increasing frequency, the rulers utilize all the country’s media to do this. They abusively order their words to be broadcast simultaneously over all the radio and television networks. They then preach hatred, intolerance and violence.

The official discourse is based on categorizing “the others” as “enemies”, a stigmatization based only on lies and cynicism.  For that reason, some feel that Ortega and Murillo’s daily dogma isn’t important, because it has no credibility.

Most likely, the majority of Nicaraguans turn off their radio and television broadcasts and pay no heed to the lie. Still, the hate speech of the rulers is very dangerous for our national coexistence. Among their party members, it legitimizes the exercise of violence, assuring impunity.

Every time Ortega and Murillo dispense virulent threats, they’re giving a fanatical minority the green light for violence. They’re granting a license to insult, attack, persecute, torture and even kill any citizen demanding freedom and justice in Nicaragua.

That’s what occurred in La Trinidadlast July 19th. Jorge Luis Rugama was killed by a bullet to the head from a Sandinista fanatic. He was shot for yelling: “Long live a free Nicaragua!”

When the aggressor, Abner Pineda, was brought before the court, the judge cited PTSD as a mitigating factor. He declared that Pineda, who worked at the Esteli mayor’s office, was suffering from psychological trauma from the 2018 citizen protests. In addition, the judge cited the fact that “He [Pineda] was in a state of inebriation”, as an extenuating circumstance.  That murder, which went unpunished, forms part of Ortega’s and Murillo’s harvest of hate.

Ortega’s latest speech was on the occasion of International Women’s Day on March 8th. The Sandinista strongman has been accused of being a recalcitrant violator of the rights of girls and women. On this occasion, he mocked his victims by clamoring for the eradication of machismo.

Ortega blithely alleged that there’s free expression in Nicaragua although his government persecutes journalists and censors independent media.  His regime has confiscated the installations of media outlets Confidencial and 100% Noticias. They’ve even criminalized the patriotic act of waving the national flag.

On March 3rd, Sergio Beteta, 30, was declared guilty of the supposed crimes of possessing arms and drugs. The charges were shamelessly fabricated by the D.A.’s office and the police. His only “crime” was to burn the FSLN flag and wave the blue-and-white one, in a solitary protest. He did this in full view of journalists and passers-by. Despite the evidence in his favor, the Ortega prosecutor is now asking for a sentence of sixteen years in prison. Beteta is clearly being punished for exercising his right to free expression.

The discourse used by Ortega and Murillo also promotes hatred and confrontation between poor and rich. In the name of the dispossessed and the “rabble”, the Comandante thunders against the millionaires and the oligarchs. Yet, in Nicaragua everybody knows that the presidential family is among the country’s super rich. His family’s capital, kept well outside the margins of public scrutiny, doesn’t originate from their legitimate business ventures. It comes from burglarizing the poor, which is the true definition of corruption. It also comes from diverting over 4 billion dollars of Venezuelan foreign aid into their private businesses.

To justify the repression and state of siege, Ortega alleges that his government has been the victim of an attempted coup. However, none of the international human rights commissions found any indication of this supposed conspiracy during the April 2018 protests.

The only thing they’ve documented are denunciations of crimes against humanity that cry out to be investigated. These include the assassinations, torture, and extrajudicial executions attributed to the regime’s hitmen.

The rampant violence, persecution, imprisonment, and exile during nearly three years of repression and siege, provokes fear. Despite this, the Ortega-Murillo regime has never been able to break the morale and dignity of a single political prisoner. From their prison cells, they continue clamoring for change though free elections.

That fact alone certifies the political and moral defeat of the regime. It proclaims the failure of Ortega and Murillo’s policy of hate speech. But it doesn’t diminish its danger. Especially in a polarized society, where perpetrators of violence have always been protected by the power of arms and impunity.

For that reason, we respectfully urge the bishops from the Episcopal Conference – the moral leadership of the Catholic Church – to renew their demands. We urge them to call for an end to the leaders’ violence-promoting hate speech before there are more victims.

We appeal to the dignity of the public servants, both civil and military. It’s time they say “Enough!” to Ortega and Murillo’s hate. A Nicaraguan should never again be killed for yelling: “Long live a Free Nicaragua!” No more citizens should be sent to prison for waving the national flag.

We demand that the opposition candidates for president join forces with the relatives of the repression’s victims. We urge them to add their voices to the campaign for liberty for the political prisoners and justice for those killed.

Finally, we call on the large business leaders to demand the suspension of the police state and electoral reform.  Only in a free election can Nicaraguans decide if we want another five years of Ortega and Murillo preaching hate and violence. Or, if we want to assume the job of rebuilding the country in democracy.


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Carlos F. Chamorro

Carlos F. Chamorro

Periodista nicaragüense, exiliado en Costa Rica. Fundador y director de Confidencial y Esta Semana. Miembro del Consejo Rector de la Fundación Gabo. Ha sido Knight Fellow en la Universidad de Stanford (1997-1998) y profesor visitante en la Maestría de Periodismo de la Universidad de Berkeley, California (1998-1999). En mayo 2009, obtuvo el Premio a la Libertad de Expresión en Iberoamérica, de Casa América Cataluña (España). En octubre de 2010 recibió el Premio Maria Moors Cabot de la Escuela de Periodismo de la Universidad de Columbia en Nueva York. En 2021 obtuvo el Premio Ortega y Gasset por su trayectoria periodística.