The cancellation of the legal non-profit status of nine Nicaraguan NGOs* (See full list at bottom) in the past few days has nothing to do with legality. An NGO like the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH), that’s been legally constituted and has acted responsibly for twenty-eight years can’t be suddenly annulled from one day to the next.
Vilma Nunez de Escorcia, one of this country’s most upright citizens, is so courageous and professional that when the Sandinista Front was still authentic, she not only served on the Supreme Court, but was also a member of the FSLN’s Ethics Commission, among many other positions of responsibility she’s held. It’s her opposition to the government of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, dating back many years before the April 18th uprising, like that of other NGOs, that has motivated this cruel witch hunt.
But I’m writing this, in addition to expressing my rejection as a citizen of these proceedings and of the National Assembly’s docility, to draw attention to a small sampling of the kind of organizations that have been awarded their legal non-profit status by this obedient National Assembly in these last few years.
HAGAMOS DEMOCRACY (Let’s make democracy), which lost its status last week, had done the important work of disseminating the proceedings of each Parliamentary session and helping this information reach many Nicaraguans. The report, totally apolitical, allowed subscribers to find out what had been approved or discussed in the Assembly. Since beginning to read these reports, I started noting with concern the quantity of legal non-profit certifications that were constantly being awarded by the legislators to religious organizations of all kinds.
As a sampling, I have listed here the organizations that were approved on June 22, 2017. I chose the date at random from my e-mail inbox.
“PENTECOSTAL MISSION WINNING SOULS FOR CHRIST” RELIGIOUS ASSOCIATION: Request presented by Deputy Johanna del Carmen Luna Lira.
ALPHA AND OMEGA OF EVANGELICAL PASTORS ASSOCIATION FROM THE MUNICIPALITY OF MANAGUA: Request presented by Deputy Melba del Socorro Sanchez Suarez
MINISTRY OF GOODWILL AND CONQUEST RELIGIOUS ASSOCIATION: Request presented by Deputy Arturo Jose Valdez Robleto
FOUNTAIN OF LIVING WATERS ASSOCIATION: Request presented by Deputy Juan Ramon Jimenez
PROPHETIC CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST ASSOCIATION: Request presented by Deputy Justo Armando Pena Aviles
NEW BEGINNING IN CHRIST EVANGELICAL CHURCH ASSOCIATION: Request presented by Deputy Carlos Wilfredo Navarro Moreira
RELIGIOUS ASSOCIATION: HANDS OF MERCY INTERNATIONAL MINISTRY: Request presented by Deputy Filiberto Jacinto Rodriguez Lopez
ORCHARDS OF GOD EVANGELICAL CHURCHES ASSOCIATION: Request presented by Deputy Jimmy Harold Blandon Rubio
CHRISTIAN FOUNDATION FOR DEVELOPING LEADERS FOR NICARAGUA: Request presented by Deputy Carlos Wilfredo Navarro Moreira
In the many sessions that I read about in these reports, there were practically no lists that differed greatly from these. Some 80% of the legal status certifications adjudicated by the National Assembly were for religious sects or small organizations dedicated to religious preaching. Apparently, there’s no concern in the Assembly for the presence or absence of legal activities on the part of these associations authorized by our state to settle in our country in numbers highly disproportionate to the quantity of inhabitants.
The deputies’ willingness to grant legal status to these dark associations contrasts with the double edged sword being used to measure the NGOs whose labor in the country has provided education, workshops and means of employment to the population, and which for years have promoted valuable community projects or defended with professionalism our human rights. The vengeance against them is aimed at their directors, for their critical positions and their activism in favor of values that no longer exist in this government’s credo.
Instead of promoting democracy, critical thinking, intelligence and education, legal non-profit status is awarded to countless religious denominations that swarm through the country at their whim, propagating their own particular interpretations of life and God.
Surely the sect that burned Vilma Trujillo alive in Rosita, had their legal status intact.
*The nine NGOs who have had their legal status cancelled in recent days are: Hagamos Democracia [“Let’s make democracy”]; Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights, CENIDH; Institute for Strategic Studies and Public Policies IEEPP; Center of Information and Consulting Services in Health CISAS; Center for Communications Investigation CINCO; Popol Na Foundation; Institute for Democracy IPADE; Leadership Institute of the Segovias ILLP; and Fundacion del Rio [“River Foundation].