The regime of Daniel Ortega has launched a new operation whose objective is to clear the roads that have been blocked by civilian protest groups throughout the country; however, the so-called “clean-up operation” seems more like a hunt for demonstrators.
The new government plan, executed by “combined forces” made up of regular police, riot police, paramilitaries, and state workers, has unleashed violent episodes which have resulted not only in the removal of barricades, but also in widespread sweeps and raids on members of the opposition, who have been arrested, tortured, and murdered.
Hoy #15DeJulio en los pueblos blancos al lado este de #Monimbó la población los filma para denunciarlos. Paramilitares orteguistas en su llamada “operación limpieza”. Siguen ensañándose en #Masaya #SOSMasaya #SOSNICACARAGUA #Nicaragua pic.twitter.com/O8S6qjYyUV
— Cristian Crespo F. (@cristiancrespoj) July 15, 2018
Yesterday, on Sunday, July 15, the actions of the government claimed the lives of at least ten people during clashes in Masaya, Niquinohomo, Diriá and Diriomo, and led to the arrest of about 15 people, according to the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights.
After “neutralizing” the protesters’ barricades, the combined forces carried out a coordinated plan to hunt down members of the opposition house by house, reported the executive secretary of the human rights association, Alvaro Leiva.
Inhabitants of Granada, where the regime’s shock troops also arrived, reported that hooded civilians entered houses threatening their occupants with firearms, breaking down doors, and kidnapping their residents.
The residents also stated that the demonstrators were beaten and tortured before being transferred into custody.
According to the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights, the so-called “clean-up operation” left some 38 fatal victims during the past weekend, which implies a significant increase in the death toll which already stood above 350 deaths since on April 18, 2018, the date on which the wave of anti-government protests began.
New attack on bishop
Last Sunday, the Nicaraguan bishop Abelardo Mata, one of the mediators and witnesses on the part of the Episcopal Conference in the national dialogue between the government and the opposition Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, was apprehended and attacked by paramilitaries when they were preparing to mount an assault on the city of Masaya.
On his Twitter account, the auxiliary bishop of Managua, Silvio Baez, denounced the attack by hooded civilians against Mata: “they fired on his vehicle, broke the glass and were trying to burn it.”
— Eliud Garmendia (@eliudgf) July 15, 2018
According to Báez, the bishop is well, but it is not the first time that men of the cloth have been attacked; individuals who are only seeking a peaceful solution to the conflict.
“From bad to worse”
Many countries have already condemned the violence perpetrated by Ortega and his state security forces, but following the most recent days of repression, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, said that the situation in Nicaragua “is really going from bad to worse.”
Borrell assured that he will speak with the ambassador of Nicaragua. But until now the government of the Central American nation has done nothing but deny the excessive repression it has unleashed, and has even tried to blame the demonstrators for the violence, so it will be necessary to exert more pressure if a change in the authoritarian regime is to be expected.
El ministro español de Asuntos Exteriores, @JosepBorrellF, aseguró este lunes que en Nicaragua "la situación va de mal en peor", tras la violencia y víctimas mortales de las últimas jornadas en el país centroamericano. #16Jul #TVVNoticias #TVVenezuela pic.twitter.com/69gkTHhL0w
— TVV Noticias (@TVVnoticias) July 16, 2018
Daniel Ortega and his wife, vice president Rosario Murillo, have grown increasingly unpopular in recent months, and have been implicated in a wide range of corruption scandals. Ortega has accumulated an astounding amount of personal wealth during his most recent stint as president, and has been accused of shameless self-enrichment and graft.
Many suspect that Murillo is currently being groomed to take over the presidency from Ortega in the future. The protesters are demanding, among other things, early elections in order to vote Ortega and Murillo out of office, but the administration has given no indication that they are considering the opposition proposal.
Nicaragua is rapidly descending down the path towards the economic chaos and political instability of its close ideological ally, Venezuela.