Daniel Ortega’s communist regime in Nicaragua is responsible for “gross human rights violations” and continues to act with impunity amid a widespread popular uprising, a report the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Organization of American States (OAS) revealed Tuesday.
At a discussion organized by The Wilson Center’s Latin American Program and the Seattle International Foundation, the report’s authors, Claudia Paz y Paz and Amerigo Incalcaterra, explained that the Ortega regime was primarily responsible for the brutality and violence that has killed hundreds of civilians.
“They were not isolated events,” said Paz y Paz. “They were not the initiative of a police officer. They had to be actions ordered and coordinated from the highest level of the hierarchy, which, in Nicaragua, is attributed to the president of the republic. Daniel Ortega has the direct command of the national police in Nicaragua.”
“For us, the State of Nicaragua has systematically violated its duty of due diligence regarding the investigation of cases of violent deaths that occurred between April 18 and May 30,” she continued. “The justice system, then, has acted as one more piece of the scheme of human rights violations by seeking impunity for these serious crimes, and also through the criminalization of citizens who have participated in the protests.”
Incalcaterra pointed to acts committed by the regime amounting to “crimes against humanity,” adding that state security forces and loyal Sandinista gangs continue to control the streets where protests typically take place.
“We mainly focused on the deaths, and we tried to see how these acts of violence had been carried out, and thus we were able to, in some way, determine certain behaviors of the state, which the report clearly states,” he explained. “There is behavior that, according to international human rights law and international criminal law, amounts to crimes against humanity.”
“This is a government that has systematically prohibited the light or public way for peaceful protests,” he continued. “Controlling the streets is something very strong within the Sandinista regime.”
In addition to flagrant violence against civilians, the regime has also stepped up its repression of potential political opposition, targeting institutions such as the media, universities, and the Catholic Church.
The Trump administration has responded to the ongoing crisis in the country by sanctioning leading regime officials, including Ortega and First Lady Rosario Murillo, banning American entities from dealing with them while freezing all of their U.S.-based assets.