NicaNotes: Why 222 Nicaraguan Criminals Were Deported and Why They and Others Lost Their Citizenship

By the Nicaragua Solidarity Coalition

[The Nicaragua Solidarity Coalition is an international coalition of organizations and individuals who support Nicaragua’s sovereignty. Its purpose is to share with the public accurate information about Nicaragua and to counter misinformation and lies about the country that are published in the media. Writings are based on personal experiences in Nicaragua as well as an understanding of its history and current conditions. The Coalition welcomes others to join.]

The major US media have been less than truthful about the 222 released prisoners, formerly Nicaraguan, who traveled to Washington by agreement with the US government, in a plane provided by the US, on February 9.

What the media should focus on is that, as in the 1980s with Reagan’s Contra war, the United States has been trying to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nicaragua. These 222 received US monies directly or indirectly, through nonprofits or businesses, to manage US aggressions against the State of Nicaragua. Many of them conspired with the US embassy in Managua. Most  of them were involved in the 2018 US-directed coup attempt that left 253 people dead, hundreds of Sandinistas tortured and traumatized, and billions of dollars of damage to the economy. They were planning further actions in the run-up to Nicaragua’s 2021 elections when they were arrested.  Details follow, to substantiate these claims.

The media should be telling the US public how their tax dollars are used for lies and violence and the overthrow of democratically elected governments – as happened in numerous countries in Latin America since World War II beginning with Guatemala in 1954.

These persons, who may be accurately regarded as US agents, received money directly or indirectly from the United States to wage acts of extreme violence during the coup attempt, largely ignored by the international media. Nicaragua gave an amnesty in June 2019 to hundreds of those found guilty of crimes, with the caveat that no further crimes be committed. But after the coup attempt, these 222 continued to direct destabilization actions, or they financed and managed actions with money from US taxpayers.

In total, 316 people have been deprived of Nicaraguan citizenship because of their treacherous crimes. International bodies such as the UN refugee agency claim that this is illegal because the action was taken on “arbitrary grounds,” completely ignoring the evidence of what they had done. Deprivation of citizenship exists in most national legal systems including the US and UK. For example, the UK government has deprived 767 people of British citizenship since 2010 and taken away UK passports in 94 other cases. In the US, committing an act of treason can be grounds for losing citizenship.

Where did the US money come from and what was it used for?

Money from agencies funded by the US government was used in three main ways:
To finance media terrorism;
To create so-called NGOs or nonprofits which, for example, trained young people to overthrow their own government;
To create or sustain so-called “human rights” organizations.

Funds were directed through US agencies like the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and others. USAID alone provided US$315,009,297 from 2014 to 2021; the biggest years, of course, were 2017 and 2018 with a total of US$100 million to nonprofits and “human rights” organizations. In May 2018, during the attempted coup, Tom Ricker of the Quixote Center described 55 NED grants awarded between 2014 and 2017, totaling US$4.2 million, “as part of a U.S. government-funded campaign to provide a coordinated strategy and media voice for opposition groups in Nicaragua.”

Media terrorism refers to outright lies, fake news, and news distortion, including millions of fake messages through social media, to incite and maintain the coup attempt and to foment assassinations and hate crimes.  These crimes included torture, murder and actual burning of Sandinistas; arson of Sandinistas’ homes; and destruction of dozens of public buildings like schools, health centers, and city halls. Since 2007, when the Sandinistas returned to the presidency, the US helped create and fund media not just to disinform Nicaraguans but to fool US citizens.

This funding helped create a subversive front of Nicaragua-based newspapers, television stations, radio stations, websites, news agencies, and social media pages, whose sole purpose was and is to attack the Sandinista government, while pretending to be “independent.”

The US corporate media reprinted the false propaganda narrative created by this media front in Nicaragua. Thus, the news that most people in the US get about Nicaragua is effectively created and paid for by Washington.

Setting up NGOs or nonprofits. A complementary use of US funding was to set up NGOs and “think tanks,” which provided incomes for opposition figures, promoted their views and “research,” and enabled creation of training schemes aimed at young Nicaraguans.

Kenneth Wollack, now chairman of the state-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED), bragged to the US Congress on June 14, 2018, that these US-funded bodies had trained 8,000 young Nicaraguans to take part in the uprising. Yorlis Luna has described in detail the indoctrination process. An article for Global Americans gave details of the NED “laying the groundwork for insurrection” in Nicaragua in 2018.

“Human rights” organizations have been set up or paid for by the US in Nicaragua since the 1980s. A country of just 6.3 million people has four human rights organizations – all funded by the US and one even founded by the US government in the ‘80s to cover up for the Contra. Their function is not to deal in general with human rights, but to create and sustain an image of “human rights violations” by the Sandinista government, feeding false or distorted information to the media and to international bodies such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

US money continues to fund their propaganda work, even when done from other countries. For example, prior to the 2021 Nicaragua Presidential elections, NED allocated US$1,664,321 for Nicaraguans and their organizations in Costa Rica to continue lying about the government.

The rest of this briefing paper provides short histories of some of the key people among the Nicaraguans deprived of citizenship.

Who is Cristiana Chamorro and what did she do?

Cristiana Chamorro is part of the famous family of oligarchs that count seven members as previous presidents and own various media outlets including La Prensa, funded since the 1980s by the US. Cristiana is the daughter of former president Violeta Barrios de Chamorro who was handpicked by the US as the candidate in the 1990 elections. In that election, the voters yielded to tremendous pressure from the US, which had signaled continuing support for the Contra war against the Sandinista government. Violeta won and the Sandinistas turned over the presidency in a peaceful transition. This led to 17 years under three neoliberal governments, run by and for the oligarchy and also favoring US corporations.

Cristiana Chamorro on President George H.W. Bush’s right
and her mother Violeta Barrios de Chamorro on his left.

Cristiana Chamorro adheres to the same neoliberal ideology. She was the director of the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation, one of the recipients and main distributors of US money in Nicaragua. On June 2, 2021, journalist William Grigsby revealed US documents which show that the US openly channeled US$16.7 million for the coup attempt through the Chamorro Foundation. This article has a table showing these funds, leading up to the attempted coup and during it. There is also a detailed schedule of known funding from US agencies, which highlights in particular funding that went to the Chamorros.

Briefly: From the USAID alone, the Chamorro Foundation received and channeled US$7.14 million from 2014 to 2021 (the year of Nicaragua’s most recent presidential elections). The foundation also received money from other US institutions such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which spent US$4.2 million in the four years leading up to the 2018 coup attempt on media and other organizations in Nicaragua. European states also gave millions to the foundation: for example, in 2020 alone, it received €831,527 (more than $1 million USD) from the Spanish Agency of Cooperation for International Development. (Note that these funding organizations previously published details of their programs in Nicaragua on their websites, but often now hide them.)

The foundation’s main purpose was to channel funds to some 25 opposition media outlets, several owned by the Chamorro family itself. For example, Confidencial and Esta Semana, both owned by Cristiana Chamorro’s brother Carlos Fernando who is also under investigation, received about US$2 million. The Nicaraguan Prosecutor’s Office asserted that the funds were mostly designated for a program called Media for Nicaragua, but that in practice the money was spent for purposes not within the foundation’s scope.

Cristiana Chamorro and her other brother, Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, a member of the foundation board, were found guilty of money laundering and other crimes in March 2022. From the time she was arrested until she was released on February 9, Cristiana was allowed to serve her time in her mansion.

Cristiana closed the Chamorro Foundation in February of 2021, saying she didn’t want to comply with the Nicaragua “Foreign Agents” law because the US had audited their accounting and said it was all fine. Her statement offended many Nicaraguans, who objected publicly, asking which nation she was governed by.  Under the new Nicaraguan law, organizations receiving foreign funding must now report on the use of the funding – similar to many other nations, including the US and UK. The main reason for any government’s requiring nonprofits to register is to ensure they are not receiving foreign government money for political purposes – exactly what was happening in practice in Nicaragua before its new law took effect.

According to journalist William Grigsby and Liberal Party news analyst Enrique Quiñones, there was still some US$7 million in the Chamorro Foundation account when she closed it, and this money appeared soon afterward in three of her personal bank accounts. More is explained here.

Cristiana Chamorro was presented by US thinktanks such as The Dialogue as the likely next president of Nicaragua in the 2021 elections (here she is jokingly referred to as “President Cristiana”) and was recently described in the New York Times as a “leading contender” for the presidency. These are false representations. She has little political experience and was not a member of a political party; only political parties can nominate presidential candidates. Moreover, she denied wanting to run for election in 2021 and only changed her mind when her arrest for money laundering appeared imminent.

Who is Carlos Fernando Chamorro and what did he do?

Cristiana’s brother Carlos Fernando has his own media empire including the very slick online Confidencial and various expensive television programs. US money through the Chamorro Foundation supported part of these family businesses.  His thinktank CINCO also received funds from the foundation, such as US$153,000 documented and shown here in September 2018:

Confidencial describes itself as an “independent” media outlet, but this is untrue. Confidencial’s framework of taking on Ortega with “uncommon valor” is funded, at least in part, by the National Endowment for Democracy. In 2014, for example, its holding company INVERMEDIA received a $60,000 grant in order to “foster independent digital media in Nicaragua,” and they received an additional $175,000 in subsequent years. Supposedly, this was to “strengthen the organizational capacity” and the “social media presence” of Confidencial. Confidencial would also “establish working relations with leading civil society organizations in order to provide a media platform for coordinated action.” Coordinated action for what purpose?  This description suggests a role beyond mere “independence.”

In fact, Confidencial goes well beyond the role of a right-wing media outlet. It publishes as fact the outputs of other NED and USAID funded bodies, as well as CINCO, whose “research” bears little relationship to the facts. Ever since 2018, it has completely whitewashed the involvement of opposition leaders in violence. For example, the murderer Medardo Mairena (see below), was interviewed recently in Washington by Chamorro without any hint at his crimes. Furthermore, it has encouraged writers from Confidencial and other Chamorro-controlled outlets to work for corporate international media, which then follow Confidencial’s version of events. Examples are Wilfredo Miranda, writing for Spain’s El Pais, Dora Luz Romero, working for the BBC, and Gabriela Selser, writing for the Associated Press.

More information about Chamorro’s media enterprises, CINCO thinktank, and their funding can be found here.

Carlos Fernando Chamorro had already left the country before he was charged for the crimes of laundering money, property and assets; misappropriation and improper retention of funds; and abusive management of funds.  Recently, along with 93 others, he was declared a traitor and lost his citizenship. He has never served time and has been lauded as an “independent” journalist and never discusses the funding he receives from the US and elsewhere.

Who is Manuel Orozco and what did he do?

Manuel Orozco, based in the US, is director of the Center for Migration and Stabilization of Creatíve Associates International (CAI).  CAI is a global agency that is funded by the US to “engineer political transitions” with over $2 billion in US government contracts.  Much of the funding comes from USAID; see their website for more information.  Orozco was the lead in a group of Nicaraguan agents (in this link scroll down to the week’s Briefs) which, according to the public prosecutor, included Juan Sebastián Chamorro, Felix Maradiaga and many others, that proposed and lobbied for economic sanctions against the state of Nicaragua; requested other foreign interference in internal affairs; and promoted destabilization against the democratically elected government of Nicaragua – all with foreign funding.

Orozco is one of the 94 Nicaraguans who have been deprived of citizenship for acts of treason.

To continue reading, click here.

By Nan McCurdy

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Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann House of Sovereignty Inaugurated
On Feb. 23 the National Council of Universities (CNU) inaugurated the Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann House of Sovereignty, located in Managua. It will serve to strengthen the formation, values and principles of the people of Nicaragua, according to Professor Ramona Rodriguez Perez, president of the CNU and rector of the UNAN-Managua. She added, “Today we are here to officially declare open to Nicaraguans the House of Sovereignty inspired by the chancellor of peace and dignity Father Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, an example of struggle for sovereignty and self-determination of the world’s peoples and for a more just and supportive life for all,” she said. “The House of Sovereignty is a space for study, training and research on our doctrine and practice of independence, sovereignty, dignity and national identity as key factors for the integral development of our people,” reflected the UNAN rector. (Radio La Primerisima, 23 Feb. 2023)

Nicaragua Re-elected Vice President of CEIRPP Committee
On Feb. 23 in New York, Nicaragua was re-elected Vice President of the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP). UN Secretary General António Guterres stated that “we salute the election of the new CEIRPP Board of Directors and maintain the commitment of the UN to work together to obtain a just and lasting peace for the Palestinian people. The recent escalation in violence against the Palestinian people is concerning; therefore it is imperative to demonstrate true political will to end the occupation and guarantee two independent, viable, and sovereign states that coexist in peace and respect the wellbeing of both populations.” Established in 1975, the CEIRPP defends the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to exercise their self-determination and sovereignty as well as the right of refugees to return through a just solution that results in the recognition of two states with secure and recognized borders. (Nicaragua News, 24 Feb. 2023)

Tripartite Commission Agrees on 10% Salary Increase
On Feb. 23, Minister of Labor Alba Luz Torres, trade union leaders, and private sector representatives agreed on a 10% percent increase in the minimum wage for ten economic sectors effective March 1. The leader of the CGTEN ANDEN (teacher’s union), Professor José Antonio Zepeda, emphasized that this agreement will allow workers to recover their purchasing power. “Obviously, for us as a union movement, this is always about prioritizing employment. This agreement follows that principle of tripartism, the principle through which our government establishes the active and direct participation of the workers in the decision-making process,” Zepeda added. Luis Barbosa, representative of the José Benito Escobar Workers Confederation, said that they are satisfied with the agreement since it generates stability for employers and employees. “We have accomplished the task jointly, union leaders, businesspeople, with the mediation of the Ministry of Labor in the case of free trade zones; so let’s move our country forward,” Barbosa said. (Radio La Primerisima, 23 Feb. 2023)

Agricultural Institute in Masaya will Serve 3,000 Students.
On Feb. 27, the National Technological Institute (INATEC) inaugurated the Monimbó Heróico Agricultural Technical Center which will serve more than 3,000 students. The classes will be taught daily or students can study on Saturday and/or Sunday. Loyda Barreda, executive director of INATEC, explained that the center has eight classrooms, two computer laboratories, and seven agroindustry laboratories for the processing of flour, cereals, fruits, vegetables, meat products, aquaculture, dairy products, animal feed and more.

The center will offer general technical classes on agriculture and livestock, agronomy, agroindustry, and animal husbandry, in addition to 15 courses related to the production of fruit pulp and nectar, sauces, dressings, liqueurs, among others. Monimbó Heróico is the third technological center at the service of the families of the Masaya department and is the first agricultural and livestock center promoting production, trade, and entrepreneurial and productive culture to generate more development opportunities. The government invested US$5.6 million in the Institute. See photos: (Radio La Primerisima, 27 Feb. 2023)

Students Affected by Hurricane to Receive Breakfast & Lunch
On Feb. 28, the government will launch a new program to reinforce the food supply in schools located in areas affected by hurricane Julia in October 2022. The students will have access to breakfasts and lunches during the whole week. Students around the country receive lunch five days a week. The students benefiting from the new program are in Chontales, Matagalpa, the North and South Caribbean Regions, Tola, Rivas and Central Zelaya. In related news, the Ministry of Education, in coordination with the National Council of Universities (CNU), will be giving full scholarships to high school students in the countryside who are academically excellent to study medicine, agronomy and engineering. (Radio La Primerisima, 27 Feb. 2023)

US Economic Crisis Affects Free Trade Zone Workers
The economic crisis in the United States and the war in Ukraine have impacted the Free Trade Zone textile sector forcing the temporary suspension of workers in two companies in Granada and Managua. The leader of the Confederation of Free Zone Workers, Pedro Ortega, said that, since September 2022, brands in the United States have reduced work orders in the textile industry due to inflation and the stagnant clothing trade. From January to date, some 1,500 workers have been suspended in two companies that manufacture pants. The workers have been paid their benefits in accordance with the law. “One company in Granada of Mexican capital suspended 600 workers for four months,” said Ortega. The other company, Rocedes S.A., of North American capital, suspended 1,200 workers. The companies expect that in about three months, probably by June, the situation could improve and the suspended workers would be rehired. (Radio La Primerisima, 23 Feb. 2023)

Malaria Cases Down Compared to 2022
The latest report on the epidemiological situation of the country up to February 26, highlighted a 7% decrease in cases of malaria compared to the previous week and a 43% decrease compared to the same period last year. Pneumonia cases decreased by 1% and deaths increased by 29% compared to the previous week, but with respect to last year there was a 67% decrease in deaths. During the past week there was a 1% increase in suspected cases of malaria with 48 confirmed cases detected, the same number of cases as the previous week. From the epidemiological point of view, this disease is at a plateau. The Ministry of Health report states that five positive cases of influenza were reported, the same number of cases compared to the previous week. Compared to this period last year, there has been an 85% decrease of positive cases. (Radio La Primerisima, 27 Feb. 2023)

Marathon Held in Honor of Heroes and Martyrs of Los Sabogales
On Feb. 26, more than 300 young people from the different municipalities of the department of Masaya participated in a marathon to commemorate the 45th anniversary of heroic actions of Monimbó in 1978. The route started at the San Jeronimo traffic circle and went through the streets of Masaya, concluding at the Museum of Camilo Ortega Saavedra. Prizes were awarded to the first three places. Young Daris Pérez, from Nindirí, won first place. Afterwards, hundreds of Sandinistas placed flowers at the mural of the Heroes and Martyrs of Los Sabogales, located at the Camilo Ortega Museum. On February 26, 1978, in Las Sabogales, Masaya, there was a massacre by the Somoza National Guard. “Long live the Sandinista Front!” could be heard in the midst of the machine gun fire. FSLN leader Camilo Ortega Saavedra, together with others in the struggle like Moisés Rivera and Arnoldo Quant, confronted the Somoza Guard special forces (EEBI) with few weapons. Hours later, wounded, they were captured, tortured and killed. Camilo Ortega is remembered as one of the FSLN leaders who worked for the unity of the three different tendencies of the FSLN – which occurred soon after. Camilo is known as the apostle of Unity. (Radio La Primerisima,  26 Feb. 2023)

Williamsport Little League Baseball Tournament Opens
More than 300 children and adolescents are participating in the Williamsport Little League, inaugurated on Feb. 25 by the Managua municipality. Deputy Mayor Enrique Armas said that the ball players are part of 12 sports academies in the capital. The tournament will be held for three months in Managua and in the departments. The national champions will represent Nicaragua in the Latin American championship to be held in Maracaibo, Venezuela, in July of this year. Last year, Nicaragua was the winner and played in the finals in Williamsport, Pennsylvania in August. See photos: (Radio La Primerisima, 26 Feb. 2023)