The pretense given to withdraw the legal status of the Managua based Communication Research Center (CINCO) is the culmination of a long persecution that began a decade ago with the return of Daniel Ortega to power. The following is CINCO’S pronouncement issued on December 13th.
To National and International Public Opinion
The Communication Research Center (CINCO) rejects the persecution of the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship against the population and civil society organizations.
We denounce and reject the arbitrary and illegal cancellation of our legal status on December 12th by the spurious National Assembly, under orders from the dictatorial regime in Nicaragua.
This repressive action has been preceded by the imposition of a de facto state of emergency that violates the Constitution. The violations include the cancellation of the legal status of other civil society organizations, such as CENIDH, CISAS, IEEPP, “Hagamos Democracia” (Let’s do democracy), IPADE, Fundación Popol Na, Las Segovias’ Leadership Institute (ILLS) and “Fundacion del Rio.”
The pretention to eliminate CINCO is the culmination of a long persecution that began a decade ago with the return of Ortega to power and the accusation against CINCO and the Autonomous Women’s Movement (MAM) for the alleged crime of “diverting and laundering money,” for the implementation of a project, financed with funds from European governments to promote the rights of women.
In August 2008, following the orders of the Ortega Presidency, the Minister of the Interior and Deputy Prosecutor, accused us of alleged criminal offenses, without presenting any evidence. The Public Ministry, abusing its functions, and with the deployment of 40 police officers, on October 11, 2008 raided the offices of CINCO, executing a seizure of assets, based on a bizarre judicial order issued by judge Maria Concepcion Ugarte of the Second District Court of the Criminal Court of Managua.
After the illegal search of CINCO, they abusively lifted the banking secrecy of the members of its board of directors, took away 15,000 folios of accounting information and equipment. The Public Prosecutor’s Office had five months to investigate the alleged crimes and fabricate a legal case, and in the end, they concluded what everyone knew from the beginning: that there was no evidence to accuse us criminally in the courts, to justify the political persecution. However, the harassment against CINCO and other organizations that promote civil rights and democratic values, throughout the decade, did not stop.
As a non-profit organization, specialized in communication studies, culture, democracy and public opinion, CINCO has legal status granted by decree No. 247 of April 3, 1990 and has been in operation for 23 years, since January 1995, when it began operating according to the statutes published in “La Gaceta” on March 14, 1995.
In these 23 years our organization has produced more than a hundred research studies, has contributed to the development of independent media, has strengthened organizations and social movements and development of the use of social networks; free and informed public debate, as well as the observation of communication media and the study of governance in Nicaragua.
CINCO has annually fulfilled its obligations with the General Directorate of Revenue (DGI) and the Ministry of the Interior, obtaining its last Certificate of Compliance in the year 2017. Last Tuesday, December 11, 2018, the Secretary of the Board of Directors of CINCO, valid until 2020, attended a summons with the Director of Civil Associations of the Interior Ministry, who requested the presentation of accounting books and minutes for Thursday, December 13th.
However, before the Ministry of the Interior would receive and review the documents and verify the legality of CINCO, the National Assembly had already approved, in a “fast-track” procedure, the cancellation of the legal status of CINCO together with that of four other organizations, using falsehoods, and slanderous accusations.
CINCO rejects the allegations made by the Interior Ministry and the Ortega deputies, about the alleged illegality of its Board of Directors and the failure to present its financial statements. Both charges are false, and only constitute a pretext to deprive this organization of its legal status for political reasons.
We categorically reject the accusations, which without presenting evidence, impute the promotion of criminal acts to “destabilize the country” and promote a non-existent coup d’état. These are false accusations that seek to criminalize the constitutional rights of association, mobilization, freedom of the press, and freedom of expression, which citizens defend with the support of CINCO.
The truly illegal and illegitimate are the members of the Ortega controlled legislature that occupy seats as a result of successive electoral frauds. Therefore, we do not recognize any authority or legitimacy of the National Assembly, to legislate or to strip civic organizations of their legal status and confiscate their property or assets.
The only coup mongers and destabilizers, are the heads of the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship that have caused the worst massacre in national history in times of peace, as well as a political crisis that has the nation’s economy on the verge of collapse.
We demand truth and justice for the crimes committed by the dictatorship.
We demand that the repression ceases, and the release of political prisoners.
We demand the end of the persecution against independent journalists and media.
We demand the cessation of repression against civic organizations.
CINCO will continue to defend the right to freedom of expression, organization, participation and the defense of human rights, with or without legal status.
The will and decision of the people of Nicaragua will prevail against the dictatorship.
Managua, December 13th, 2018
Communication Research Center (CINCO)
Board of Directors
Sofia Montenegro Alarcon