Social organizations in Nicaragua suspend operations due to the Ortega Foreign Agents Act | international
The Foreign Agents Law, one of the four systems Approved by the Nicaraguan Parliament To silence dissent, it advanced into a few civil society organizations that continued to operate in the country following closures and confiscations ordered by Daniel Ortega’s government as of 2018, when the social and political crisis erupted. In less than 24 hours, two prominent organizations announced the closure of their operations, rejecting this legislation that seeks to impose controls and restrictions on organizations that promote respect for human rights, freedom of expression and the press.
The first to reject this Thursday the official ultimatum to “register as a foreign agent” was the Ben Nicaragua Group, a group of writers, poets and journalists who promote freedom of expression. “Although our goals and our work respond to humanitarian and liberal ideals, we realize that this association will force the state to require us to register as foreign agents and fulfill monthly requirements that do not correspond to the reality of our borders,” said award-winning author Gioconda Bailey, Nicaragua’s chief of staff.
The Foreign Agents Law prohibits international funding and donations to civil society, human rights NGOs, journalists, and especially opponents to limit political organizing activities. In recent weeks, the Interior Ministry issued a series of notifications to register as foreign agents under penalty of sanctions. At the same time, those who registered will have to report their operations every month, something that has been interpreted as a means of political control and espionage.
“The argument for preserving sovereignty and national security that is invoked in this law is unacceptable, because it is already guaranteed under other laws, in the national legal framework.” Violetta Barrios de Chamorro FoundationWhich promotes freedom of the press, which Operations are also suspended.
He added, “This is a clear manipulation that seeks to paralyze the work of organizations that the government considers violating its guidelines, in clear violation of universal human rights, freedom of thought and publication, democracy and the rule of law.” Founded by Christiana Chamorro, daughter of former President Violetta Barrios de Chamorro and national hero Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, who was assassinated by the Somoza dictatorship in 1978.
Ethics and Transparency (EyT), An electoral monitoring body, also refused registration as a “foreign agent.” For this part, Standing Committee for Human Rights (CPDH) They decide to register, but are informed that every time they reach the registration window, new requirements are required from them, which makes it impossible to complete the process.
Anna Elisa Martinez, director of the Violetta Foundation, criticized, “This law is another tool designed to persecute and crush those of us who resist the families’ determination and submission to which they want to subjugate us in an arbitrary way that transcends constitutional limits.”
Although the regulations are in their legislative stage excluded from being international media correspondents with “foreign agents”, in recent weeks journalists have received a notice of registration through local banks.
The law affects both legal and natural persons. Give five days for registration, and if the call is ignored, “the competent authority will impose fines.” “You can request the revocation of legal personality to the relevant case in the case of legal persons. All this without prejudice to criminal responsibilities for carrying out acts threatening the sovereign security of the nation, which are determined by the judicial authority,” as stated in Article 15 of The legislation.
The refusal to register also allows “the competent authority to prevent the implementation of activities, and with prior judicial permission, the funds and assets of a natural or legal person who refuses to comply with the law may interfere.”
The Violetta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation and 60 other civil society organizations have filed challenges of unconstitutionality. However, the Supreme Court of Justice, controlled by Ortega. Ignore complaints. “By submitting to this Foreign Agents Act, we are giving up our Nicaraguan citizenship, and we will never do that,” said Christiana Chamorro.
Demolition of the confiscated NGO buildings
At the same time that this law was approved, the Ortega government officially announced the de facto seizure of NGOs and press newsrooms that had intervened by the police in December 2018, when it granted possession of the property to the Ministry of Health (MINSA). On January 29th, it was Nicaragua Center for Human Rights (Cenidh) It condemned the demolition of its headquarters in Managua. Also write secretThe publication, directed by journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro, began to be dismantled under the pretext of establishing a “Mother’s House”.
Since 2007, when he came to power, Daniel Ortega has identified one of his most important political opponents in civil society. This is why she always wanted to take control of NGOs, but it never progressed like with this FARA, sociologist Elvira Quadra emphasized. The law criminalizes the basic right to organize and participate with citizens. It is true that the law will limit these organizations, but it will not stop them. They don’t need legal status to work. “
Poet Gioconda Bailey told EL PAÍS that although civil society has been legally dismantled, “Ortega’s decision to end it strengthens it.” The writer said: “It will strengthen the will of those of us, to rediscover ourselves and use all our creativity and love to continue undermining the walls that his cruel dictatorship wants to besiege us behind.” “This law and all those days only show that they realize that their strength can only continue by trying to destroy the energy behind the rejection that inspires their government,” Al-Shaer said.