NicaNotes: Nicaraguan President Considers Returning to the International Court of Justice

By Nan McCurdy

On October 5, the 107th anniversary of the assassination of Nicaraguan Hero Benjamin Zeledon by collaborators with US Marines invited in by Nicaraguans who wanted uncontested power, President Daniel Ortega said Nicaragua is considering the possibility of returning to the International Court of Justice. He revealed that the government has documented the actions of the US and US-funded opposition, as it did in the 1980s. In the 1980s, the Nicaraguan government documented the US war of aggression against Nicaragua, the terrorism of the US-created and financed Contras, US illegal covert actions with illegal funding as in the case of the mining of Nicaragua’s ports, then indicted the US at the International Court of Justice and won that case in 1986.

“And we … are gathering documentation, because they shouldn’t think they can be calm and happy while they continue trying to harm the people even more. We are working to document events well, just as we documented in the 1980s our lawsuit against a U.S. government that seemed invincible. We documented events well: the murdered, the wounded, the mutilated, the disabled, the bridges blown up, the fuel depots set on fire, the schools destroyed, the buildings destroyed. That is to say, the destruction of everything that was in place…for the benefit of the people; we documented all of that.”

“And once we had good documentation we went with all that data, all those figures, all that evidence, we went to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. And when we told our friends, friendly peoples or friendly governments, that we were going to take this step, there was skepticism, because it was felt the Yankees could not be beaten in the Court.”

I remember Father Miguel D´Escoto [Maryknoll priest, Minister of the Exterior in the 1980s and president of the United Nations General Assembly from September 2009 to September 2010], with all his optimism…saying: “We’ll win! We will win!” And we went to the Court, and we accused the entity responsible for those crimes, although of course there was co-responsibility involving the Nicaraguans who had collaborated, but the greatest responsibility lay in the terrorist policy of the U.S. government…. We accused them in the Court because they promoted terrorism, financed terrorism against Nicaragua, even to the point where they didn’t mind dealing with drug traffickers to finance the war against Nicaragua,” remembered Ortega. 

In journalist Gary Webb’s investigation “Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contra and the Cocaine Explosion” in the San Jose Mercury news, he uncovered the fact that in order to finance the Contra the CIA used the planes in which arms were brought to the Contra and then returned to the US with Colombian cocaine. This cocaine was then used in the Los Angeles area to make crack that spread like an epidemic killing and destroying the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in the inner-cities of the US – primarily black lives.

The US also sold weapons to Iran in a scheme to get millions to the Contra. The 1980s Iran-Contra Affair was a political scandal in which the National Security Council (NSC) became involved in secret weapons transactions and other activities that either were prohibited by the U.S. Congress or violated the stated public policy of the government. In 1986 the US sold weapons to Iran and part of the $48 million paid by Iran was diverted to the Contra. NSC staff member Oliver North and NSC head Rear Admiral John Poindexter lost their jobs and were prosecuted and convicted (though later both sentences were overturned). North said that President Reagan and Vice President Bush knew about the covert operations, but nothing happened to them.

The same year, 1986, the World Court condemned the US and ordered them to stop all acts of terrorism against Nicaragua and also ordered the US to indemnify Nicaragua. President Ortega continued: “That debt is still pending. One day, of course, yes, one day the United States will have to pay the debt it has pending with Nicaragua!” “Therefore, we have to strengthen the legal and juridical area in order to fight this battle, such that this might allow the malevolent Nicaraguans who adopt these attitudes of betrayal of their people, of betrayal of their country, to come to their senses. Because always, always, and we know this very well, the biggest problem is in the expansionist and interventionist policy of the United States.”

In reviewing history President Ortega remarked, “And history repeats itself, because who brought (William) Walker [The US mercenary brought to Nicaragua by the Liberals to help them take power from the Conservatives, but who took power and briefly became President]? Who called the invader? They were Nicaraguan politicians with no sense of loyalty, no sense of dignity…They were the same,” as those complicit in the Knox note from the US Government which forced elected President Jose Santos Zelaya to resign the presidency of Nicaragua. Benjamin Zeledon did not accept this nor the intervention of US troops and “pointed to the traitors who had backed the coup against President Zelaya. Benjamin Zeledon rose up in defense of Nicaragua and was defeating the army of traitors. Then, to avoid defeat, the traitors called in the Yankee troops. Zeledon and his troops faced an unequal battle with the American troops in Masaya, where he was killed and his body dragged through the streets.” 

General Augusto C. Sandino followed Zeledon’s legacy. “And history repeats itself because Zeledón was murdered by … Nicaraguan traitors who are at the service of the Yankees. And twenty years after Zeledon’s murder, when Sandino expelled the Yankee troops, who fulfills the order to assassinate Sandino? A Nicaraguan: Somoza, who ambushes Sandino right after dinner with the president [Juan Bautista Sacasa] to sign a final peace accord. Peace had been signed! But they don’t respect any agreement, they talk about dialogue, but they have always behaved the same…They sign agreements, and in the end they don’t abide by the agreements…You can’t believe anything they say!” exclaimed President Ortega.

The Nicaraguan president then referred to the current opposition politicians who recently went to Washington to ask for more sanctions against Nicaragua. “And history repeats itself again, we see the parade of the traitors, the increase in flights to the US and funding for them such that they are continually traveling to ask for more aggression against the Nicaraguan people… And they take photos with the US government representatives, and they show the photos here and boast that they are the ones chosen by the Yankee to be the future rulers of Nicaragua,” he said.

“And the opposition financing comes from the taxes of the American people.” Ortega described how the opposition is focused on giving the impression in the US that there is not peace or stability in Nicaragua. “That is the image they are selling. If a crime is committed here, it is immediately attributed to the government despite the fact that Nicaragua is the safest country with the lowest homicide rate in the region; but the manipulation is crude and loaded with fury and evil,” he said.

“The traitors did not disappear, the empire is feeding them; they send them resources through programs that say they are programs to promote culture, to promote education,” but “they are programs to promote hatred. The money is supposed to be for good things for the people, but even the religious nongovernmental organizations use the money otherwise and even ask for tax exemptions for everything, and that must be reviewed very well.”

The president also said that the sanctions requested by the opposition from the US, “do nothing more than affect first of all the poorest, do nothing more than affect employment,” asking “who were the ones who sent thousands of workers into unemployment last year?”, pointing to private companies that called for a coup d’état and demanded their workers go to protest marches on pain of being fired.

“When they could not [overthrow the government], nor will they be able to, then what did they do? They did enormous damage to the economy. They committed crimes! Crimes provoking the death of Nicaraguans, crimes provoking enormous damage to the economy. If there is someone that should be taken to the International Criminal Court, it is the criminals who promoted these crimes!”

At one point in his speech, President Daniel Ortega recalled the position of the then Bishop of León of 1912, Monsignor Simeón Pereira y Castellón, who despite having had differences with the anti-clerical government of Zelaya, opposed the U.S. intervention in Nicaragua, and sent a letter to Cardinal James Gibbons, then Archbishop of Baltimore, asking him to speak with the authorities of his country to prevent US troops being sent.

“We see clearly how the US throws punches everywhere, they throw punches in Central America with the migratory issue; they insult our peoples. They have insulted our peoples, simply because we don’t have the white skin and all the prototype defined by Hitler as the perfect race!” The President added “unfortunately there is a racist currently governing the United States, who curses the Mesoamericans, our Mexican brothers, our Guatemalan brothers, Salvadorans, Hondurans, everyone! All the evils are here he says.” He continued, “How is it that a powerful nation like the United States instead doesn’t try to earn the respect of our peoples, of our Latin American and Caribbean governments with a respectful treatment? With aggressions, with interventions, with threats, with sanctions, what respect is going to be gained?”

 

Briefs

By Nan McCurdy

October 9, 2019

Nicaragua’s Ambassador to the OAS Demands Fair Play on Human Rights
Nicaragua’s Ambassador to the OAS Ruth Tapia once again rejected the bias, subjectivity and double standards that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights continues to use in the treatment of human rights in Latin America. During an extraordinary session of the OAS, Tapia demanded a serious reflection on the direction taken by the IACHR and the visible shortcomings in its actions that have resulted in deteriorated relationships with the member states. She pointed out that the commemoration of the sixtieth anniversary of the creation of this commission represents a good opportunity for the organization to acquire its real and true functional autonomy and not continue to be utilized for the political agendas of some states like the US that are not even party to the American Convention on Human Rights. (Radiolaprimerisima, 10/3/19)

Nicaragua Rated Third in Gender Equality in the World by the United Nations
UN Women, a United Nations organization dedicated to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment released a list of the 10 countries with the best gender balance in the world. Nicaragua ranked third. Vice President Rosario Murillo emphasized October 4 that this is a triumph for Nicaraguan women. “We are heroic, we are hard-working, we are intelligent, we are capable and we are recognized in the world as women protagonists of our rights in Nicaragua,” she said. According to data from the UN Women in Politics map and the Inter-Parliamentary Union 2019 women represented 24.3% of all legislators and 20.7% of government ministers in January 2019.  Read report here: https://www.iknowpolitics.org/en/learn/knowledge-resources/here-are-most-gender-balanced-cabinets-world-today (El19Digital 10/4/19)

El Nuevo Diario Discontinues Publication
On Sept. 27, the corporate board of the newspaper El Nuevo Diario announced that it was discontinuing publication “due to economic, technical, and logistical difficulties that make its functioning unsustainable.” END, as it was known, was founded in 1980 by Xavier Chamorro and Danilo Aguirre breaking with the political line of the Chamorro family newspaper, La Prensa. In 2011, the paper was bought by Ramiro Ortiz and the financial group Banpro Promerica. Informe Pastran quotes an informed source as saying, “El Nuevo Diario had an economic deficit ever since the owners bought it (in a bankrupt condition). It did not show a profit in any year; the sale of ads diminished and the owners (Banpro) financed the deficit. They couldn’t achieve profitability and for business reasons they closed.”

Opposition media outlets, including La Prensa and Confidential, quoted PEN International as saying that the paper was ceasing publication due to 15 months of government limitations on its importation of paper, ink and other essential products. However, Informe Pastran stated that the owners closed the paper suddenly to avoid a criminal indictment against ARDISA, the press under the same ownership, for printing materials for the group FUNIDES that called for a campaign of violence against the government, violating articles of the Penal Code. (El Nuevo Diario, 9/27/19; Informe Pastran, 9/27/19; Confidencial, 9/27/19; La Prensa, 9/27/19)

Private Enterprise Blocking Convention 190 to Prevent Violence and Harassment
On October 7 the country’s trade unions denounced the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (COSEP) for obstructing the ratification of Convention 190 of the International Labor Organization, which seeks to prevent violence and harassment in the workplace. Trade union leader Pedro Ortega read a statement in which he said that COSEP and the Federation of Private Entities of Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic, of which COSEP is a member, should not be working to frustrate the efforts of workers together with the government in Nicaragua to prevent harassment and violence. Nicaragua would be the second country in Latin America to ratify the convention. (Radiolaprimerisima, 10/7/19)

Nicaragua’s International Reserves Grow
Central Bank of Nicaragua (BCN) President Ovidio Reyes said on October 7 that with the growth of international reserves, among other data, the country is undergoing a process of financial stabilization. Reserves grew from US$2.127 billion in March 2019 to US$2.255 billion on September 30, 2019. Reyes noted that if you add some US$500 million held by private banks, the country is able to face any unforeseen event. Reyes also said the BCN has lowered interest rates from eight to six percent, and he does not rule out a similar measure by private banks. He said that this is due to the accumulation of liquidity and low demand for credit in addition to an international downward trend in rates. Asked about the recent announcement of the start of operations in Nicaragua by the Honduran bank Atlántida, he commented that it is a fairly solid financial house with a long tradition in Honduras and has been preparing to enter the market for two years. (Radiolaprimerisima, 10/7/19)

Nicaragua Present at Paris Tourism Fair
The Nicaraguan Institute of Tourism represented by Co-Minister Anasha Campbell was present the first week of October in Paris at the 41st IFTM Top Resa 2019 Tourism Fair. From Nicaragua, DeTour, Oro Travel, Nicaragua Descanso and Holiday Inn, and colleagues from the Nicaraguan Embassy in France also participated. See photos here.  https://www.el19digital.com/articulos/ver/titulo:94804-promueven-a-nicaragua-como-destino-en-la-feria-internacional-de-turismo-top-resa (El19Digital, 10/2/19)

New Poll finds High Approval for Ortega and FSLN
Despite the intense national and international media campaign against Nicaragua, in a new survey of Borge & Associates, President Daniel Ortega receives 57% approval and Vice President Rosario Murillo a 47.6% approval rating, surpassing the opposition by a longshot. If the elections were held today, President Daniel Ortega would overtake the opposition by up to 25 points. As for political sympathies, 60% would not vote for either the Civic Alliance or Blue and White National Unity (UNAB), and if these two groups joined Citizens for Liberty (CXL), 68% would not vote for them. All three are opposition groups. Meanwhile, the FSLN as a party has a sympathy of 40.6%; the PLC 4.3%; the rest 2.8%; without party, 48.3%. Electoral experts from different countries believe that when a presidential candidate, two years before the elections, has not even obtained a third of the voters, he/she will not achieve it in the following 24 months and consequently another candidate must be sought.  Historically, in Nicaragua, the FSLN usually gets at least 14% of the votes of those without a party. (Radiolaprimerisima, 10/2/19)

“Mascot” Remembered 41 Years after Murder by National Guard
October 5 marked 41 years since Somoza’s National guard vilely murdered the child Manuel de Jesus Rivera known as “The Mascot.” There was a tribute to “The Mascot” in Carazo with cultural activities, games and horseback rides for children. Not yet 13 when he was killed, Manuel worked in the Diriamba market as a basket loader, truck unloader and shoe-shiner.  He was famous for his collaboration with the FSLN. The son of coffee-pickers, he was small for his age but strong and decisive and charismatic, winning over the market women who would give him food. Among activities in his memory were flower offerings in the Diriamba park named for him. (Radiolaprimerisima, 10/4/19)

Fairtrade Finland Supports Small-Scale Producers
The Nicaragua Ministry of Family Economy (MEFFCA) and the Finnish organization FAIRTRADE FINLAND, are supporting small-scale producers in their efforts to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change, and to strengthen their advocacy capabilities in the face of environmental challenges. FAIRTRADE FINLAND Coordinator, Maija Seppüalla, said, “The Program is implemented as part of the activities of the Latin American and Caribbean Coordinator of Small Producers and Fair-Trade Workers (CLAC), of which Nicaragua is a partner.” (Nicaragua News, 10/2/19)

Prevention of Human Trafficking
A series of workshops on “Prevention and Protection of Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Victims” were held in during the month of September. Organized by the Nicaragua Tourism Board (INTUR) and the National Police with the support of Save the Children, the purpose of these workshops was to train tourism entrepreneurs in the application of Law 896 against Human Trafficking as well as the Children and Adolescents Code. The workshops also promoted adherence to the Code of Conduct for the tourism sector and urged tourism entrepreneurs to continue working under the guidelines of the shared social responsibility model promoted by the Nicaragua Government. The application and adherence to the Code of Conduct is a mandatory requirement to obtain the Operation License granted by INTUR. (Nicaragua News, 10/1/19)

Vice President Laments Deaths of Women
October 2 Vice President Rosario Murillo said that from January to October 1, 2019, 17 femicides were registered, three fewer than in the same period last year. “There is a disaster that we are facing every day and it is the scourge of crimes against women’s lives, crimes that represent a lack of respect for women. In Nicaragua we have lower numbers than in the rest of Central America, but that is no consolation – this crime against humanity, against women, should not exist. The government of Nicaragua is working to prevent these crimes against women. We have set up a commission precisely to anticipate, to detect situations that could lead to men killing women. It is difficult, because this happens in the homes, but we have to work and we always ask for the support of the pastors, of the churches, who know the relationships of couples, if there is violence between the couples, who alert us to be able to work with the Family Ministry and try to prevent these murders,” the Vice President stated.  (Radiolaprimerisima, El19Digital, 10/2/19)

Positive cooperation with the International Red Cross
Foreign Minister Denis Moncada met with the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Peter Maurer during the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UN). The existing cooperation agreements between Nicaragua and the ICRC, as well as new agreements were discussed during the meeting. The ICRC President highlighted the positive relationship between the Nicaraguan Government and the ICRC specifically with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX), Ministry of Health (MINSA), the National Police, Penitentiary System and the Nicaragua Armed Forces. (Nicaragua News, 10/1/19)

Opposition Member Returns to Nicaragua After a Year in the US
Lesther Aleman became well-known in Nicaragua after he yelled at President Ortega and demanded his resignation on the first day of the Dialogue in May 2018. He says he has returned to help unify the divided opposition in order to win the 2021 elections. He also told a group of at least twenty journalists on October 7 who met him at the airport that he would join the opposition group Civic Alliance. “I took up the struggle in the first days of April and that hasn’t changed. I have the same unmovable beliefs…we went to the streets to bring about change” proclaimed Aleman. In recent weeks a number of well-known opposition members have returned to Nicaragua. And some reorganized and went to Washington DC to ask for more sanctions. (La Prensa, 10/7/19)

Opposition Estelí Bishop Used False Priests to Attack the Government
A report presented October 7 by Juventud Presidente reveals that the Bishop of Estelí, Abelardo Mata, created a network of false priests to sow hatred and chaos in the country, in addition to appropriating the community churches in that area. Investigations presented in the last few days about the false priest Honduran citizen Dennis Lopez Obando, denounced by Bishop José Antonio Canales of Danlí, Honduras for fooling priests and parishioners into believing that he was a priest. Relatives of the false priest gave testimony about how he was used by Bishop Abelardo Mata.

The relatives of the false priest, residents of the municipality of Yalaguina in the department of Madriz, say that the head of the Esteli dioceses, Bishop Abelardo Mata, was the one who assigned him to ministerial positions knowing he was not a priest.

“He was very close to Bishop Mata – Mata gave him many benefits, vehicles, computers, cameras, cell phones, because he came to the house with all that, and he told us,” said Dorisel Aguirre, cousin of the false priest. Relatives also confirmed that Lopez Obando was in charge of a sect in Guatemala.

The investigation by Juventud Presidente also reveals that the members of the Renewed Ecumenical Catholic Church excommunicated in Guatemala placed themselves at the service of Bishop Mata, who magically turned them into priests without receiving the priestly orders to exercise religious services. According to the testimony of the families of Yalaguina, Bishop Mata is the ringleader of this network of false priests, to whom he has given the power to preside over Catholic communities. The cousin of the false priest confirmed that when he last returned from Guatemala he brought several young men who were part of the religious sect, but did not know where they were placed by Bishop Mata. 

The families of the Arado Quemado community in the same municipality accuse Bishop Mata of using false legal resources to appropriate the community churches. Dora del Carmen Obando, aunt of the false priest, said they would never accept that the church in that community be transferred to the name of Abelardo Mata because the church cannot be in the name of a bishop.

Bishop Mata is known for his work in favor of the opposition and against the government and now says that López Obando’s left Nicaragua due to persecution. The ecclesiastical authorities of the Diocese of Siuna confirmed that the false priest López Obando, was sent by Bishop Mata.  Bishop David Albin Zywiec Sidor of the Siuna Diocese explained “He stopped working here at the beginning of January of this year.” Bishop Sidor confirmed that López Obando worked in the parish of San Pedro del Norte, and commented that he said Mass in a strange way. Bishop Zyeic Sidor said that Mata trusted López completely. (Radiolaprimerisima, 10/4/19, 10/8/19, Juventud Presidente)