Ortega’s Thugs Start Civil War In Nicaragua
| By Eddy Acevedo.
On April 20, 2010, the opposition to the Sandinista government found itself under siege by members of the Frente Sandinista Liberaction Nacional (FSLN). Opposition leaders were kept from entering the building by FSLN mobs where the Assembly was to be held. As a result, leaders decided to reconvene their session at a nearby Holiday Inn in Managua. In an attempt to cancel the Assembly once again, the FSLN leaders bused supporters, surrounded the building, and began shooting mortars at the hotel. The following day, the same FSLN sympathizers surrounded the offices of the Nicaraguan political party Bancada Democrática Nicaragüense. The leader of the party Eduardo Montealegre and 17 of his colleagues of the National Assembly were held hostage by the FSLN street rioters. Many of the FSLN sympathizers are gang members and drug traffickers that are supported financially by the Ortega government. It is critical that the U.S. government increase its concern regarding the recent rise of violent attacks funded and orchestrated by Daniel Ortega as a means to threaten and terrorize his opposition.
While the National Assembly was inevitably disbanded by the FSLN, opposition leaders were able to reach several fundamental decisions. For example, the deputies reached a quorum of 47 votes to call session to order and voted to send legislation to overturn Ortega’s decree to committee to prevent Ortega from lengthening the federal judge’s term on the Supreme Court. The opposition standing up against the Ortega government is a critical step in ensuring that the Nicaraguan constitution remains intact. However, President Ortega has still been able to control the Supreme Court by garnishing rulings in his favor that would expand his power and disregard the Constitution. According to the Nicaraguan Constitution, the legislative branch appoints judges to the Supreme Court, not the President. In January, Ortega issued a decree to extend the length of terms for judges on the Supreme Court without legislative approval. This week, Supreme Court judges Armengol Cuadra and Rafael Solis refused to step down from their post even though their term had expired. Their refusal has further ignited altercations between the opposition and FSLN sympathizers and may eventually lead to more organized acts of violence. Furthermore, the national police have been grossly ineffective at protecting civilians and government officials during recent months, particularly during these times of increasing violent political protests.
If the police are not going to protect the citizens, opposition leaders must demand safety for their constituents. Strong leadership in Nicaragua is desperately needed to overcome its adversities. In 2005, former President Enrique Bolaños stepped out of the Presidential palace and confronted a similar violent situation as that which took place in Managua this past week. He was ridiculed and harassed by FSLN members, but still had the courage to confront them face to face. Latin American history has proven that in order to implement significant changes in oppressive government regimes, the people must unite and protest. Nicaraguans should follow in the footsteps of the Venezuelan people who protested against Hugo Chavez in a national strike in 2002. Citizens must go out in the streets and vocalize their outrage against the increasing violence and constitutional violations of Ortega’s regime. By organizing strikes and shutting down the country peacefully, they will demonstrate that the government must end the bloodshed. Furthermore, international efforts by the United States and Latin America must provide opposition leaders the support they need in order to combat the destructive actions by the Ortega government. The Organization of American States (OAS) and the Department of State must support the efforts of the Nicaraguan people advocating for the protection of democracy in their country. The Secretary General of the OAS, Jose Miguel Insulza, and Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Arturo Valenzuela, must condemn the actions of Ortega and call for peace. The Member states of the OAS need to invoke the Inter-American Democratic Charter in order to protect democracy in the western hemisphere. The OAS and the State Department ignored the violence by the same FSLN thugs in Nicaragua in November of 2009 after the municipal elections. Let us hope that they do not make the same mistake again. Presidents in Central America must also call an emergency meeting of the Central American Integration System (SICA), just as Ortega did last year to foster support for Zelaya to discuss the problem in Nicaragua. International pressure is fundamental in stopping Ortega from continuing to rip the country and its citizens apart.
Intimidation and threats cannot be tolerated and the United States needs to advocate for the continuation of a strong democratic government in Nicaragua. I personally commend and thank Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen for hearing the cries of the Nicaraguan people and representing those who need a voice in Washington. The Congresswoman commented on the recent attack in Managua and stated, “Nicaragua’s Ortega sent his thugs out in full attack mode yesterday. His target? Democracy in Nicaragua. We cannot allow power-hungry tyrants to hold the region hostage again.” In addition, the Congresswoman has sent a letter to Secretary Valenzuela proclaiming that, “It is clear that Daniel Ortega has no intention of allowing his tyrannical ambitions to be challenged, even if it is at the expense of the security of the people of Nicaragua and the stability of their democracy. However, it is incumbent upon the United States to ensure that our position is clear: we stand on the side of the people of Nicaragua, on the side of fundamental freedoms, and on the side of democracy.” The Nicaraguan people must provide the voice and the international community should provide the support in order to curb Ortega’s democracy threatening regime. How many people have to die or be injured for Congress, the White House, and the international community to notice the horrific incidents occurring in Nicaragua? The United States and Latin America can no longer stand aside while the horrific acts that are occurring in Nicaragua are so disturbingly evident and happening in their own backyard.
Eddy Acevedo currently serves as the Federal Affairs Coordinator of Miami-Dade County’s DC Office. Miami-Dade County is the 9th largest county in the United States and is considered the Gateway to the Americas. Mr. Acevedo advocates for the County’s priorities with Congress and the White House. In 2005, he worked as Senior Legislative Assistant to Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18), Ranking Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
S: Courtesy The Americano