Orteguista police puts into practice “razzia”, according to the GIEI

The repression and illegal detentions of the Police in Nicaragua has intensified.

The repression and illegal detentions of the Police in Nicaragua has intensified.

The Grupo Interdisciplinario de Expertos Independientes (GIEI) – Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts – found that the Policia Orteguista (PO) carried out a fascist policy of mass and indiscriminate detention of men, women, and adolescents known as “razzia”.

The repression and illegal detentions of the Police in Nicaragua has intensified. La Prensa / ÓSCAR NAVARRETE

“Razzia” was borrowed via French and Italian with origin from Algerian Arabic ġāziya ‘raid’ and it may refer to police raids rounding up many people.

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In Nicaragua, police “razzia” is characterized by massive surprises attacks whose objective is the detain and intimidate.

“They are put into practice in systems of dynasties and authoritarianism contrary to democratic systems”, explained lawyer Nelson Cortez.

“In addition, these police abuses violate fundamental rights such as free movement, the presumption of innocence, among others,” added the lawyer.

The GIEI recalled in its report that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) stated that “raids are incompatible with respect for fundamental rights, among others, of the presumption of innocence, of the existence of a judicial order to detain – except in the hypothesis of flagrancy- and the obligation to notify those responsible for minors. ”

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Abuse of apparent legality

Orteguista Police during the first two months (April and May) of civic protest in Nicaragua abused the alleged commission of the criminal offense of “public scandal” to justify the detention of more than six hundred people, mostly young people, who participated in marches and protests against the regime of Daniel Ortega.

The use of this legal figure allowed to “justify” the arrests on account of presumed commission in flagrancy, without the need of a court order or communication to the Public Ministry, indicates the latest report of GIEI.

The referral of faults to the courts is the power of the police, therefore none of the people arrested was the subject of a police accusation, the GIEI clarifies in its report.

The report notes, “The arrests of the blue and white (police), as they are recognized to the opponents of Ortega, also affected dozens of adolescents who were deprived of their liberty in this context, without respecting the 24 hours of detention. The situation of the detainees was further aggravated by the ineffectiveness of the appeal for personal exhibition and judicial control of such abusive practices.”

According to relatives of political prisoners, the Court of Appeals assigned them up to three judges that did not fulfill their legal obligation, even assigning them to lawyers already deceased.

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According to the Comisión de la Verdad, Justicia y Paz (Truth, Justice and Peace Commission), between April 18 and May 30, 2018, there were 690 detentions linked to the protests: 491 in April and 199 in May.

In conclusion, says the GIEI report, “it is evident that there was a practice of police raids linked to the exercise of social protest. This is clear if they are observed together: the mass of arrests, the coincidence between the dates of registration of most of these arrests and the date on which collective demonstrations were held, and the use of the lack of scandal public as justification.”

“The initial pattern of arrests in the use of public scandal to justify showed a difference that was seen starting in July and August, which consists in the selective detention of student leaders, peasants and other social referents, or people who have participated in protests, whom is accused judicially and remains in prison,” affirms the GIEI.

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Nicaragua Adopts the Cuban – Venezuelan Model

In early October 2018, Daniel Ortega’s regime installed a state of siege via a Police decree prohibiting civic marches. The OAS Inter-American Commission for Human Rights warned at the time that Ortega instituted a de facto State of Emergency. He had essentially suspended constitutional rights such as the freedom of assembly and mobilization, free speech, and a free press.

The goal of the state of siege was to wipe out the independent civic protest and to suppress and divide the opposition. Further, they aimed to impose a false normality through repression. With this, they hoped to coopt the large business leaders and reestablish the regime’s political and economic alliances.

Nevertheless, looking at the facts, Ortega instead deepened his national and international isolation. In addition, for two consecutive years he aggravated the economic recession and the social crisis. This continued until the negligent management of the Coronavirus health crisis brought him an unexpected political invoice. The mismanaged public health crisis wore down the credibility of his leadership, even among the members of his own party.

The regime now announces the imposition of new punitive laws. There’s a push to allow the use of life sentences for certain crimes. There’s a new law to regulate supposed “foreign agents”, and a “cybercrimes” law, better known as the “Gag law”. With these, the regime is recognizing the failure of the police state. The repression never succeeded in squashing the civic protests. Even without massive demonstrations, the spirit of the resistance remains intact.  Despite the National Coalition’s stumbles and the lack of a united national front, today the resistance is greater and better organized. It now has a presence in all of the country’s municipalities.

In the next two weeks, the regime’s parliamentary steamroller will assure the approval of that combo of punitive laws. These impose severe jail sentences for any and all opposition, a majority who represent over three-fourths of the electorate.

However, in reality, the regime has never needed legal pretexts to repress and imprison. Almost two years ago, the police assaulted the offices of Confidencial and Esta Semana and executed a de facto confiscationThis was done without the backing of any judicial orders. Yet, despite the television censorship, they never silenced us. We continue our truth-based journalism. Meanwhile the independent press – persecuted, harassed and sometimes exiled – now enjoys much more credibility and influence than the official machinery.

The latest Cid-Gallup polls confirm that the majority of the population no longer believes the government’s lies about COVID-19. The express burials and the Ministry of Health statistics on pneumonia fatalities and COVID-19 tests speak for themselves. These facts refute the daily monologues of Vice President Rosario Murillo.  Because of that deception, every day political support for Ortega and the FSLN shrinks still more. His backing among the public employees, both civilian and military, continues eroding.

In reality, the “Gag Law” is aimed at threatening the honest and professional public servants. It is meant to keep them from leaking information to the press and the public regarding acts of political corruption.  Such acts are occurrences that the regime wishes to hide.

The “Cybercrimes Law” also threatens users of social media with jail time. However, the dictatorship will continue losing the battle for the truth in social media. They can’t control the massive exercise of free speech and the use of new information technologies now at the service of citizens.

These punitive laws aren’t a symptom of strength, but rather of the political and moral defeat of a minority regime. Why, then, does Ortega need to impose them against wind and tides?  There are at least three hypotheses to explain this imperious political necessity.  All are based on the regime’s urgency to adapt the Cuban and Venezuelan “model” of repressive authoritarianism to Nicaragua.

First, they intend to make full use of the Constitution and laws as one pillar of their repressive strategy. However, they don’t want these as guardians of rights, but as a means to criminalize democratic liberties and civic protest. Clearly, it’s not a carbon copy, but this strategy definitively reflects the Cuban and Venezuelan “model”. The regime is adapting that model to fit a dynastic family dictatorship with the aim of liquidating the democratic project in Nicaragua.

Expedited by the “Law” he’s mandating, Ortega will now be able to eliminate organizations of civil society. He will also control any eventual adversaries and political competitors, by criminalizing them as “foreign agents”. The Venezuelan experience demonstrates that despite high international political costs, the Cuban “model” can prove effective in giving the regime stability. Through this model, pure and harsh repression can be draped in a “legal” mantle. For Ortega, this translates into an incentive to accumulate political hostages and gain time.

Secondly, the regime intends to take over the agenda of justice and present itself as a punisher of “hate crimes”. The latter would now carry a sentence of life in prison. This, in the end, is merely a defensive act. It responds to the need to assure the Sandinista bases that they’re not the ones under the gaze of justice.

Those accused of true “hate crimes”, crimes against humanity, crimes with no statute of limitations, are in the regime’s inner circle. The finger points to members of the Ortega-Murillo regime who are most directly tied to the repression. However, as in the April killings and the failed official narrative of an attempted “Coup d’Etat”, Ortega will point the finger elsewhere. He’ll try to convince his followers that his own hate crimes can be attributed to the victims.

Thirdly, although the Nicaraguan Constitution proclaims political pluralism, this combo of punitive laws assures there’ll be no competitive elections. With these laws, Ortega has ratified his stance for the November 2021 elections. Given this, it’s illusory to expect some electoral opening from a regime that’s willing to play All or Nothing. Though they risk further international sanctions and a declaration of illegitimacy, they’ll be celebrating the elections with no competition and without transparency.

Will we arrive at the opening of the 2021 electoral campaign without a political reform?  The answer to this interrogative doesn’t depend on Ortega, but on the political opposition.  Ortega has already decided to radicalize his authoritarian model. Meanwhile, the opposition continues to be paralyzed. They’re discussing which electoral box is the safest, in imaginary elections in which they haven’t even been invited to participate.

Meanwhile, the national debate must center itself on determining the most effective strategy. The opposition must work on joining forces, weakening the regime, and altering the balance of power. They must thus force a political reform on the regime, one that results from national and international pressure. First, the reform, with or without Ortega, and later free elections.

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