The weakening of democratic institutions and the concentration of power in Nicaragua has occurred gradually since President Daniel Ortega assumed his second term in 2007. This weakening has been consolidated in recent years, since the human rights crisis that began in 2018, with the brutal state repression of the protests. In 2021, in the context of an electoral process that is clearly not very transparent, without freedoms and without real competition, the persecution against the political opposition intensified and the arbitrary arrest and criminalization of some 30 leaders and defenders and defenders, and journalists; among them 7 pre-candidates and presidential pre-candidates.
After elections whose legitimacy was widely questioned by local, regional and international actors, Nicaraguan authorities denounced the OAS Charter and announced their withdrawal from the organization. Despite the fact that such decisions, according to the applicable international standards, will not have concrete effects for two years.
This signal from the Government is disturbing because it implies the prolongation of a human rights crisis that affects the country for more than three years and is one more attempt to perpetuate impunity for, among others, the murder of at least 355 people, the imprisonment arbitrary of more than 1614, of which more than 150 are still in prison, serious and multiple complaints of mistreatment and even torture and sexual harassment; as well as the exile of more than 103 thousand people, according to data collected by the IACHR in its uninterrupted monitoring work.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has been present since the beginning of this crisis in the country, since its visit between May 17 and 21, 2018, then with the installation of the Interdisciplinary Group of Experts and Independent Experts (GIEI Nicaragua), which, based on his observation on the ground, reported that acts were committed in Nicaragua that, according to international law, should be considered crimes against humanity.
In addition, the Special Monitoring Mechanism for Nicaragua (MESENI) is still in force and allows permanent monitoring of the human rights situation in the country, and has made it possible to document the planned deployment of various repressive stages that intend to suspend or severely limit public freedoms. . This is done through the installation of a de facto police state, which has sought to perpetuate structural impunity for serious human rights violations. This is achieved due to a growing deterioration of the institutions of a rule of law, in a country where none of the powers have independence, such as the Judiciary, the national human rights institution, the Public Ministry and the Supreme Electoral Council. .
In this context, the denunciation of the OAS Charter and the announcement of the organization’s withdrawal are seen by some actors as a movement by state authorities to avoid exit dialogues from the crisis and condemnation and international sanctions, envisioning a way out in which truth, justice and reparation to the victims are not assured and without a “never again”. If that were the objective of the Government, it is appropriate to remember that this, in addition to being contrary to international law, does not produce stable results or sustainable institutional arrangements.
The persistent memory of the victims of human rights violations, in addition to constituting mandatory standards for all the countries of our region, was impossible to silence in all compared experiences. The systematic efforts of some officialisms in recent decades to produce “negotiated” solutions and superficial “reconciliations”, after past systematic abuses, did not prevent the demands of the victims and their families, whose pain has forced them to be protagonists. social and political, sneak into all cultural and institutional spaces. These lawsuits continue to hold the guilty to account, they continue to confront the societies of America with their traumas and teach the historical lesson that memory, truth and justice are the only viable way to face the future, that it is not possible bargaining for impunity.
The supposed plan will then not prosper, because the obligation of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-repetition has become a set of current rules of international law and particularly in the American System, precisely because they are the result of reflection on our own continental history in the Americas, about our pain, about our tragedies. And that history, those pains, those traumas and that reflection have the strength and summon enough solidarity to prevail, sooner or later, in bargaining for impunity.
Today, after Nicaragua officially presented its notification of denunciation of the OAS Charter, I want to make a special call for the cessation of torture and the isolation in prison of women political prisoners, who have been in solitary confinement for more than five months. , isolated in their cells, without seeing their relatives or for very short periods and, in the case of two of them, having been prevented from communicating with their daughters and sons.
The torture and isolation against the opposition prisoners imprisoned in the El Chipote prison must end immediately, particularly in the case of women who are subjected to intensified isolation. This is what the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has ordered, a few days ago, of whose mandatory order, the State of Nicaragua is in contempt. The call is also for the immediate release of the more than 150 political prisoners who are in other prisons. The call is for the end of impunity for the more than 355 murdered people, so that the Mothers of April and the families of the murdered people have full reparation.
Nicaraguan memory has recorded the words of Álvaro Conrado, a 15-year-old young man who, while distributing water to the protesters, on April 20, 2018, was mortally wounded in the neck with a firearm fired by state agents. The young man said repeatedly to those who were next to him: “it hurts to breathe, it hurts to breathe.” The pain of the victims, symbolized by Álvaro’s last words, reflect the barbarism of what happened and the powerful reasons why bargaining for impunity will not prosper.
Antonia Urrejola is president of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights IACHR
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.