On Monday, January 13, the Nicaraguan government announced that it would be demonstrating their advances in human rights by comparing Sandinista President Daniel Ortega with the Somoza dictatorship, which they defeated in 1979.
The comparison across a gap of more than 40 years forms part of a “Plan for Reconciliation and Human Rights” that the government plans to carry out amid the worst socio-political crisis since the eighties.
“We’re going to work to strengthen in peoples’ thinking what the historic evolution has been in Nicaragua, and how in the Somoza era, human rights didn’t exist,” stated Sandinista deputy Carlos Emilio Lopez who’s in charge of the plan.
The governments of Somoza and of Ortega are the two regimes in Nicaragua’s recent history that have been most often denounced for human rights violations.
The human rights violations committed by a government based on authoritarianism, abuse of power, persecution of opponents and the imposition of a family dynasty in the presidency are among the causes of the fall of dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle in July 1979.
These same reasons sparked a popular rebellion against Ortega in April 2018; unlike Somoza, however, Ortega wasn’t facing an armed uprising.
Humanitarian organizations such as the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh) or the Permanent Human Rights Commission (CPDH) maintain that the Ortega government has been the more violent of the two, since while Somoza confronted an armed guerrilla movement, in the last two years of the Sandinista government at least 328 people have died although no such armed conflict exists.
Ortega, who recognizes only 200 deaths, insists that his government was defending itself from a failed attempt at a “Coup d’Etat”.
Lopez explained that “the people of Nicaragua”, as the government calls the Sandinistas “are going to mobilize in an informational campaign, a national campaign to promote awareness about everything having to do with a culture of human rights.”
The Nicaraguan government has also been accused by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of carrying out extra-judicial executions, torture and sexual abuse among other “crimes against humanity”.
The Nicaraguan government’s plan to compare Ortega with Somoza coincides with the warning that the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation issued three days earlier, noting that the human rights situation in Nicaragua has backtracked 42 years since the Sandinistas returned to power in 2007.
The current government model has caused Canada and the United States to impose international economic sanctions against some twenty-one of Ortega’s relatives, close allies and businesses.
A special commission of the Organization of American States announced in 2019, that in Nicaragua the Constitutional order has broken down.