Nicaragua and an International Commission against Impunity
The basic program of a national coalition should include the creation of an International Commission against Corruption and Impunity in Nicaragua
An investigative piece published in Confidencial, entitled “How the Prosecutor’s Office Fabricated Cases against Demonstrators” has documented the modus operandiof the political trials, and delineated the responsibility of both the intellectual authors and those who have been the prime movers.
The chain of command begins in El Carmen, the presidential residence, with the ruling couple. It then goes through the Attorney General, Ana Julia Guido, and Douglas Vargas, the general inspector from the Attorney General’s office; the orders are then executed through Javier Morazan, the prosecutor who heads the Specialized Unit against Organized Crime (UECDO).
Through the UECDO, coordinated by Morazan, a group of Ortega-allied prosecutors were brought together to meet with the investigators from the Head of Judicial Aid of the Police in order to fabricate all the case files of the political prisoners. Between July and October of last year, they even rented hotel rooms and locales for them, with all expenses paid, including transportation and room and board, so that they could work more comfortably to fabricate the cases.
According to sources within the Attorney General’s office itself, and from former district attorneys who had resigned from this institution, once the cases were put together and the evidence falsified, the team under prosecutor Morazan took on the job of selecting and calling in other prosecutors who needed only to sign the accusatory statements and the exchange of evidence.
While some worked fabricating the cases, other limited themselves to signing the accusations, be it out of fear or because they’d been coopted. But in the end, the latter group are the ones who can be held responsible for the punishable crime they’ve fallen into. And in accordance with the same sources from within the Prosecutor’s Office, the cooking up of political trials wasn’t limited to fabricating cases and imputing non-existent crimes, but also was transformed into a machine to erase evidence that could implicate the true perpetrators of the murder of over 300 citizens.
That’s the legacy of impunity that Ortega plans to impose on Nicaragua, a plan reinforced by the collapse of all the democratic institutions that are now controlled by the State-Party-Family system.
As a result, when the political change arrives, after free elections, the new democratic government won’t only have to disarm and dismantle the paramilitary and oversee a total change in the National Police, but they will also have to change the Attorney General’s office from the ground up. The only way to realize these changes while laying the foundation for an investigation into the crimes and corruption of the dictatorship and seeking a way to create justice, is with the support of an international entity backed by the United Nations and the OAS. Otherwise, although they might lose an election, Ortega and Murillo will continue “governing from below” by making the country ungovernable.
Now that there’s a widespread conviction regarding the need to create a large national opposition coalition to go towards free elections, it’s first imperative that we begin discussing a program for this government of democratic change, one that can unite Nicaraguans. One of the essential points in that program should be the creation of an International Commission against Corruption and Impunity in Nicaragua, which could contribute to dismantling the structures inherited from the dictatorship.
We Nicaraguans must learn from the experiences of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), sponsored by the UN, and the Mission to Support Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH), created with the support of the OAS. Analyzing the efforts of the CICIG and MACCIH, with their achievements and errors, will help design an entity that responds to the particulars of the Nicaraguan crisis and the monumental tasks to be performed, after more than a decade of dictatorship.
In a report prepared by the expert Charles Call, Professor of International Pacification and Conflict Resolution at American University, he summarizes the results of the CICIG and the MACCIH: “Both missions have achieved historical audit and procedural achievements, leading past and current officials to be held accountable as never before, warning powerful elites that there will be no tolerance for impunity. CICIG has dismantled corruption networks; taking its reach to the Congress and the cabinet and prosecuting hundreds of defendants. MACCIH has backed accusations against dozens of legislators and a former first lady. Working together with specialized units of prosecutors, they have also contributed to developing the institutional capacity to combat corruption.”
The democratic transition in a post-Ortega Nicaragua cannot be based on another amnesty, but on justice without impunity. However, the long and complex process of re-foundation of all democratic institutions cannot be expected to conclude before initiating change. While a total reform is being carried out in the Office of the Prosecutor, the Police, the Justice, the Electoral Power, the Comptroller, and the Public Administration, it will be necessary to start dismantling the mafias that are embedded in the State, with the support of special international assistance and the International Commission against Corruption and Impunity in Nicaragua (CICIN).
The Nicaraguan opposition coalition needs to win the presidential and legislative elections with an overwhelming majority, to obtain an unequivocal political mandate that allows it to make a profound political change, including a total reform of the Constitution and to summon extraordinary international aid. In the end, the raison d’être of the great opposition unity goes beyond winning an election: its objective is to dismantle the structures of the dictatorship, so that once again Nicaragua becomes a Republic.