Fearing for their lives, 60,000 people have fled Nicaragua

Hundreds of Nicaraguans who took to the streets over the last eight months to protest President Daniel Ortega's corrupt government have been forced into hiding and, in some cases, to flee the country for their own safety. It's the end result of the Nicaraguan government's crackdown against protesters who voiced their outrage over Ortega's plans to gut the nation's social security system.

From The New York Times:

...many people in this desperately poor Central American nation now live in a bleak new reality. They have exchanged their routine lives as lawyers, engineering majors, radio broadcasters and merchants for one of ever-changing safe houses, encrypted messaging apps and pseudonyms.

They are hiding from an increasingly authoritarian state that is methodically tracking down those who participated in the large-scale and often violent protests against the government of President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo.

“They are hunting us like deer,” said Roberto Carlos Membreño Briceño, 31, a former legal clerk for a Nicaraguan Supreme Court justice, who gave up his law license and fled this year after his bosses saw a photo of him at a protest. He now lives in hiding on a ranch in Costa Rica with 50 strangers, including a ballet dancer who goes by code name “The Eagle.”

Instead of listening to the concerned voices of his constituents, Ortega, paranoid, autocratic shitbird that he is, declared that the uprising had nothing to do with anything he was doing. Rather, the protesters were in the street, acting on behalf of "well-financed political parties" who wanted to toss him and his cronies out on their ass as part of a coup. Read the rest

Nicaragua moves to silence independent media and NGOs critical of government

Since protests over changes to Nicaragua's social security system began last April, over 300 people have been killed and, at a minimum, 500 people have been incarcerated for their part in calling out Presidential Daniel Ortega's corrupt self-serving bullshit. There's a lot to be angry about in the Central American nation.

Non governmental organizations have been doing what they can to bring the wrongs committed by the Nicaraguan government to light. In a bid to shut NGO cake holes, Ortega and his cronies have begun to strip the outfits of their legal status.

From the Associated Press:

Nicaraguan police have raided the offices of five nongovernmental organizations and an independent media outlet, alleging that they participated in seeking the government’s overthrow.

The raids were the latest strong-arm actions taken by the government of President Daniel Ortega. Since popular street protests destabilized his government in April, Ortega has reconsolidated power and methodically pursued perceived enemies.

Police on Thursday forced open doors and carried off documents and computers from the Nicaragua Center for Human Rights, Segovias Leadership Institute, River Foundation, the Center for Communication Research and the Foundation for Municipal Promotion and Development.

The Nicaraguan government and police have had much to say about the raids or the closures of the NGOs--when you're rolling with a dictatorship, you're not accountable to anyone...until the people rise up en masse to topple your government, I guess. Oh, and that 'independent media outlet?' It was called Confidencial: a joint that produces a website and two news programs. Read the rest

Bolton unveils extreme foreign policy changes in Central & South America days after autocrat Bolsonaro takes power in Brazil

Hey you know what happens when a superpower declares that it's going to take steps that will allow it to dictate the internal policies of other nations?

I'll give you a hint: nothing good. Read the rest

Nicaragua outlaws its citizens' right to protest

We haven't talked about Nicaragua for a while. But things still aren't going well down there, so let's get back on that shit.

According to the Financial Times, Nicaragua's national police released a statement on Friday that declared demonstrations--of which, in Nicaragua, there are many--to be illegal. The day after making this declaration, riot police were employed to break up a gaggle of protesters prepping for a march. It's just another step down the country's short, bloody road into becoming a fascist, autocratic state.

Nicaragua's been in turmoil since last April, as protesters took to the streets to first sound off about some pretty shitty reforms to their pension system and other important issues such as a lack of government response to imminent threats from forest fires and the nation's eroding infrastructure. As the protests fell on deaf ears, the protesters started to demand the resignation of the nation's oh-so-corrupt president, Daniel Ortega. Once this happened, it didn't take long for the peaceful protests to turn violent, thanks to the actions of the police and masked paramilitary types loyal to the Ortega government. Defenseless students were fired on whilst taking refuge from the police in a Catholic church. Academics and other individuals deemed to be a "terrorist threat" to Ortega's rule have been carted away by paramilitary units. Hundreds have died in the months since these clashes began. The Nicaraguan economy, which was never all that strong to begin with, is circling the drain as investment in the country has been scaled back in the face of its uncertain future. Read the rest

Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega: from hero to Nero

You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain. Sadly, for the people of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, once a Sandinista and a trusted emissary of change to his people, chose the latter.

It’d be flippant, under most circumstances, to use a quote pulled from a comic book movie to describe the doings of an autocratic dictator, but the desperate, comic book villain death grip that Ortega has held onto the seat of the Nicaraguan presidency these past few years makes it feel right, somehow.

Painting himself as a good fella that's simply trying to hold his country’s shit together, Ortega, the police elements loyal to his government, and the paramilitaries under his sway have been responsible for at least 450 deaths since this past April when peaceful protests broke out over the Nicaraguan government’s plans to reform the nation’s social security system. Under Ortega’s new scheme, the poorest people in a nation full of poor people would have been forced to pay more for their pensions while receiving less. The protests soon turned violent. Then, they turned deadly. Currently, Ortega, who claims that the violence in his nation has come to an end, is living behind barricades and armed guards. His people want him gone.

The Financial Times has, hands-down, the best explanation on why this is, that I’ve run across:

Juan José is digging a latrine on the small, 8m by 25m plot the government of Daniel Ortega has given him to build a house.

Read the rest

Interview: Noam Chomsky on Nicaragua's autocratic Ortega government

In an interview with Democracy Now, Noam Chomsky talks about Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega's bullshit and what responsibility the United States bears for the current state of the South American nation.

If you're interested in reading a transcript of Chomsky's comments, you'll find it, here. Read the rest

23,000 refugees have fled violence in Nicaragua

Last week, Nicaraguan president and dictator-in-training Daniel Ortega had the gall to declare that the violence and protests that have plagued his nation since April had come to an end. His nation's doing just fine! At the time that this bullshit dribbled out of his cakehole, protests against government corruption, cronyism and the government’s slow role into fascism were still ongoing. To date, approximately 300 people have died as elements of Nicaragua’s police and paramilitaries loyal to Ortega have attempted to put a bloody end to the growing voice of dissent and disgust for his administration.

Not everyone in the South American country wants a piece of this action.

According to Al Jazeera, upwards of 23,000 Nicaraguan citizens have fled to neighboring Costa Rica, seeking refugee status, due to the escalating violence surrounding the demand that Ortega step down from power and his refusal to do so.

From Al Jazeera:

William Spindler, UNHCR spokesman, told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday that an average of 200 asylum applications are being lodged every day in Costa Rica.

"Besides the 8,000 who have filed asylum claims, and the 15,000 who are waiting to do so, thousands more have arrived in Costa Rica but have not yet contacted authorities there," added Splinter.

Panama, Mexico and the United States also saw a rise in claims by Nicaraguans in the first half of this year, but the numbers in these countries are still in the low hundreds, according to the UNHCR.

Costa Rica and Nicaragua, which share a border, have bickered over land rights and environmental issues for years. Read the rest

Nicaragua's Ortega says everything's fine while protestors continue to die in the street

Are you sitting down? After months of anti-government protests, over 300 civilian deaths and, more recently, the rounding up of protesters and intellectuals who were designated as terrorists or linked to risks to Nicaragua’s sovereignty, the country’s president-cum-dictator Daniel Ortega announced today that he refuses to step down from his post. On the bright side, Ortega told Fox News (the preferred network of dictators and kleptocrats, apparently) that he has fabulous news: the violence that's plagued his nation for months is over! Just like that!

Except, it isn’t.

From CBS News:

Thousands of people marched yesterday in Nicaragua to demand that President Daniel Ortega step down. The demonstrations over proposed benefit cuts, which began three months ago, are expected to continue today.

CBS News correspondent Manuel Bojorquez reports an eerie quiet during much of the day in the capital city of Managua, as people stay home and business owners close up shop for their own safety.

But after the calm, the sounds of protest pierce the air, and the fear of bloody confrontations returns.

Within minutes of arriving in the capital, Bojorquez encountered an anti-government protest and the sound of mortar fire.

It didn’t take long for Bojorquez to find the source of the mortar fire. He spoke with a group of young men who’d DIY’d their mortars, firing them off as a warning that government forces and para-militaries were drawing near. The mortar crews provide the warning with good reason: over the past few weeks, violent attacks against protestors by loyalist paramilitaries and Nicaraguan police have intensified. Read the rest

Nicaragua: Ortega blames civilian murders he ordered on a 'coup-mongering satanic sect' (he's lying)

Attacks by paramilitary forces against civilians continue in Nicaragua, for the third consecutive month. Dictator Daniel Ortega blames a “murderous, coup-mongering satanic sect” for the months-long popular uprising against his government. Read the rest

Nicaragua sprints deeper into fascism

This past Friday, the citizens of Nicaragua declared a national strike in protest of their president, Daniel Ortega, and his oh-so corrupt government. In the city of Managua, pro-government paramilitaries and the police cornered roughly 200 protesters in a church and opened fire on the building. During the siege, the pro-Ortega forces murdered two of the unarmed protesters trapped inside of the church and wounded several others.

The Pro government El 19 called the protestors “terrorists” and “thieves”: in effect, they declared the people, brave enough to demand that a dictator return their country to them, an enemy of the people. This labelling of Nicaraguans who would dare to speak out against their government as terrorists, is kind of a thing now. According to El Nuevo Diario, Roger Martinez, a respected psychologist with a practice in the Nicaraguan city of Granada, has been given the same label. He was picked up, along with 23 others by, you guessed it, police and paramilitaries, during a national “cleanup operation.” At the time that this post was written, Martinez was still in prison. Yesterday, Dr. Blanca Cajina and Dr. Irvin Escobar, were whisked away from their lives as well. They’re the latest in the growing number of professionals and intellectuals and community leaders, to be accused of terrorism by the Ortega government. As this handy guide from the U.S. Holocaust Museum notes, cracking down on a nation's intellectuals is one of the signs that your nation is well on its way to being controlled by a fascist regime. Read the rest

As with Nicaragua, so too America

On April 18th, Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega, announced that changes would be made to the country’s social security system: workers would be forced to pay more but would receive fewer benefits, despite their increased contributions. Understandably, people were pissed. They staged peaceful demonstrations. Then came the not so peaceful ones: the outrage the nation’s citizens felt over the changes to a system they had paid into the whole of their working lives, spilled over into resentment for the Nicaraguan government as a whole.

Since then, 300 civilians have died.

On July 14th, Nicaraguan police and pro-government paramilitary types trapped a group of student protestors inside of a church and commenced firing on those inside with military-grade arms. The whole, bloody, terrifying show was captured on video and in Twitter posts from inside of the church. One young man named Gerald, was from the city of Masaya. He was in Managua, Nicaragua's capital, attending university. Gerald was shot in the head—dead at 20 years old. His last rites delivered by a priest who was trapped in the church with him. Those trapped in the church have since been allowed to go free. Its said that there is at least one other dead and several wounded as a result of the incident.

Daniel Ortega’s been in office as the President of Nicaragua for 11 years. To get there, he ran for the position from 1990 until 2007. It was with a promise to improve the lives of the poor, to end the rampant corruption that infected Nicaragua’s political elite. Read the rest

Snowden offered asylum in Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has been offered asylum in three latinamerican nations: Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua. Bolivian president Evo Morales made it clear that his country's offer was directly inspired by the grounding of his presidential jet on the way back from a meeting in Russia (the US authorities and several European nations collaborated to force a landing and search of the president's jet in Austria, on the belief that Snowden was aboard). There has been no public response from Snowden. Read the rest