On the 39th anniversary of the victory of the popular revolt against dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979, the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States approved a resolution condemning the Sandinista regime of Daniel Ortega and wife Rosario Murillo for its continued repression of protesters. Twenty-one nations of the Americas voted in favor of the resolution, while Nicaragua, Venezuela and the Caribbean nation of St Vincent and the Grenadines voted against. There were 7 abstentions. The resolution calls for early elections to be held by early 2019. It also calls for the Sandinista government to dismantle its armed paramilitary, which has been blamed for extrajudicial imprisonment, torture and killings. It also condemns attacks on Catholic priests and bishops.
Vice President Mike Pence tweeted his approval of the vote in the OAS.
Proud to see @OAS_official take a strong stand against state-sponsored violence in Nicaragua & vote to condemn the Ortega regime’s brutal acts of repression.Our Hemisphere is watching & raising its voice in support of the Nicaraguan people. The violence MUST END NOW #SOSNicaragua https://t.co/ShK3Ega7NR— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) July 18, 2018
Amateur video has revealed that masked persons have been deployed to assist or replace police and military in breaking up demonstrations, arresting and killing opponents of the government. Violence continues to assail the country, ever since protesters took to the streets on April 18 to protest against austerity measures imposed by the government.
On Tuesday, police and Sandinista paramilitary units (known as ‘turbas’ - mobs) seized control of the center of Masaya, a town located approximately 25 miles from Managua, the Central American nation’s capital. Clashes between security forces and protesters lasted nearly 8 hours, especially in Monimbo district, which is known for its indigenous community. Three deaths were recorded among the residents as security forces went house to house and terrorized the people in what they called “Operation Clean-up.” Wearing civilian clothes, masked men came to Masaya in pickup trucks carrying various heavy weapons, including AK-47 assault rifles, Dragunov sniper rifles, and PKM machine guns. Declaring victory over what they consider counter-revolutionary forces, the turbas raised the red and black flag of the Sandinista party over the city of Masaya.
According to locals in Masaya, government forces are persecuting young people. One woman told Civic Alliance for the Defense of Masaya, “It’s a crime to be young now. All of the mothers of Nicaragua are suffering. My grandchildren won’t come to my house because [the security forces] will arrest them.” Missionaries in the area of Masaya have recounted that Nicaraguan security forces have isolated whole districts, barring international media and observers. Security forces and the turbas are using a "terror strategy" to subdue the local population. Putting up resistance to the security forces, every citizen has become a reporter by recording video from the windows of their homes or when hidden behind a door. Video of the violence carried out by the paramilitaries has been submitted to the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights and other institutions.
Archbishop Waldemar Stanisław Sommertag -- the Vatican’s Apostolic Nuncio or resident diplomatic representative in Nicaragua -- told the media this week of his deep concern over the current "tragic moment" of Nicaragua. "With all my human and spiritual strength, I invite everyone's consciences to reach a truce and allow a rapid return to national dialogue in order to find an appropriate solution together and therefore solve the crisis.” Papal Nuncio Sommertag personally visited the parish church of Divine Mercy to see the situation after the siege first-hand. Last week, Nuncio Sommertag and Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes were among Catholic churchmen who were assaulted and injured by Sandinista mobs at a church in Managua.
Rev.Augusto Gutiérrez, a parish priest who serves the indigenous community of Monimbo, recently reported, "Four hours of attack took place with heavy weapons of war. The church is completely destroyed. What the government is doing is very unfair. It is a genocide. It has no other name." The priest issued an appeal, "In this neighborhood there are humble people, they are all indigenous and workers. The government is killing us." In a dramatic local radio interview, the priest called on the world to help his people "Don't let them die!" he said. "Please intervene!"
Student leader Bayardo Siles posted a photo on Facebook of Samuel Duarte, who was identified as a gay rights activist. According to the Facebook post, Duarte was attacked and beaten by supporters of the government. His condition and whereabouts remain unknown. Photos of Christopher Gutierrez and Nyleve Siu Pena were also posted on Siles’ Facebook account and noted as being missing. Graphic videos show young people fighting and dying, using hunting rifles and home-made mortars to resist security forces.
On Wednesday evening, members of the Sandinista turbas celebrated their victory in Masaya with live music and entertainment provided by scantily-clad female dancers.