After GIEI Publishes Scathing Report, Ortega-Murillo Regime Retaliates Against Critics

Artwork by General Jocose

Art by General Jocote

The Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI, by its Spanish acronym), released a scathing report, stating categorically that “according to the available information, it can be concluded that the State of Nicaragua has engaged in conducts that must be considered crimes against humanity, in accordance to international law.”  (GIEI, 2018, p. 228). The Experts found sufficient information documenting the following specific crimes against humanity:

  1. Murder
  2. Incarceration or other serious serious restriction of physical freedom
  3. Persecution
  4. Rape
  5. Torture
  6. Forced disappearance.

Crimes against humanity have no statute of limitations; they are not subject to amnesty, according to international law, they can be tried by any court on any state, in addition to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

GIEI’s findings are available through a comprehensive multimedia website, in Spanish. Some of the most jarring content are videos focusing on specific cases, such as the murder of Moroni Lopez.

Citizen video provided important inputs for GIEI’s work, as they allowed the experts to document the brutality of the repression, as well as instances of official misconduct. For example, videos show how the Orteguista authorities failed to adequately secure and process crime scenes. In one case, the murder of Franco Alexander Valdivia Machado and two other men in Esteli, the crime scene was “washed” before it could be processed (see video, at 3m30sec mark). Valdivia’s family has been denied access to any investigative materials, autopsy reports, or documents about their Franco Valdivia’s death.

Another video compilation shows police actions against the civilian population. This includes the “disproportionate” use of force and the deployment of weapons of war. “The police shot short range against protesters, using AK47, AR15’s and Dragunov rifles. These weapons are for military use only, and they are classified as weapons of war, which cannot, under any circumstances, be used by police to block a protest.”

GIEI concluded that what happened in Nicaragua “was decided and approved by the highest authorities in the country, including the president of the republic,” based on the following:

the pervasiveness of the events, the use of public resources, the participation of practically everyone in the National Police, of which the president is commander in chief — the highest rank within the command structure — the public discourse that disqualified and demonized protesters, the political and institutional support from the highest office of the executive, carried out through numerous actions, including promotions of high ranking police chiefs, granted as the violence was ongoing, the lack of investigation of public and notorious events of use of lethal weapons against protesters, even as the number of people murdered or gravely wounded was clear and known. All of these circumstances allow the conclusion that, without a doubt, there was a plan crimes that was defined within the highest spheres of government in order to commit crimes (GIEI, 2018, p. 115).

Within hours of the release of the report, the regime retaliated against some of its harshest critics. Telcor, the telecommunications regulator, ordered the popular news channel 100% Noticias off the air. Its director, Miguel Mora, was abducted, the station was surrounded by police and paramilitaries, who then raided it and dismantled the master control to take it definitely off the air. However, 100%Noticias’ website and social media accounts are still active and reporting, as of this writing. No reporters are being allowed near the scene, tweeted Frances Robles, of the New York Times.

In addition to 100%Noticias, local media reported that the television stations 10, 9, and 11 were taken off the air. These stations are part of Albavision, owned by Angel Gonzalez. The news program Accion 10 has the largest audience in the country.

As of this writing, local journalists and media have confirmed the abductions of Lucia Pineda Ubau and Veronica Chavez, both journalists at 100% Noticias, and of Joseph Hernandez, a driver for the television station.

Chavez, who is married to Miguel Mora, was later released. Mora and Pineda’s whereabouts are unknown.

The Interamerican Human Rights Commission denounced the arbitrary detentions of all three journalists and the closure of 100% Noticias. Mora and Chavez were granted precautionary measures, which technically protect them under international law. In praxis, the regime has ignored precautionary measures repeatedly.

As of this writing, the news of the raid and detentions are already on the wire services, like the AP, and international news outlets, like El Pais. Local journalists are also warning about the proliferation of rumors and fake reports through social media.

This is a developing story, but here is what I think might happen. Mr. Mora is more than likely to be railroaded by the Ortega Murillo judiciary. On December 5, Ortega sympathizers filed complaints against Mora with the prosecutor’s office. “They accuse him of “promoting and inciting hatred, violence, and death.” Today, a new round of accusers joined the original law suits, as reported by Orteguista television station TN8, which characterized the filings as “a carousel of crimes against the victims of terrorism, for which [Mora] will have to answer to the justice of the Central American country.

In other words, the regime has already set the stage for the trial of Miguel Mora. Lucia Pineda, though there are no accusations against her, is also likely to be engulfed in the proceedings, as managing editor at 100%Noticias.

Nowadays, in Nicaragua, every international action generates a swift and abusive retaliatory response.