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Nicaragua Needs More Justice, Less Impunity

“In the new Nicaragua we so long for, we must ensure that justice becomes a habit and that impunity disappears.”

One April 22nd, in the year 2002, Nicaraguan police arrested Byron Jerez, today an elected representative in Nicaragua’s National Assembly, charging him with alleged acts of corruption. After 13 different trials, the charges were overridden (this is not the same as being declared innocent).

Fourteen years later, in 2016, Byron Jerez becomes the only representative elected by the Alliance for the Republic (APRE), a political party Nicaraguans call a “mosquito party” or “bloodsucker,” because it played the FSLN’s game during the last fraudulent elections characterized by abstentionism.

Repairing the Damage

Once again, Byron Jerez, the former head of Nicaragua’s tax collection system during the administration of his sidekick —ex-president and also, ex-inmate Arnoldo Alemán—, made out like a bandit. He not only returned to the political arena, he also returned to the game of feeding on state coffers, the same ones you and I keep afloat.

Jerez and his buddy Alemán were accused of rerouting state funds to set up companies so they could benefit personally with money that could have been used to build schools and health centers, buy medicines, build roads, and meet an infinite number of Nicaragua’s other needs. But no, they redirected the money, they helped themselves to it, and they never paid for their crimes. They did not serve out jail sentences and they never payed back the damage they caused to Nicaragua. Instead, they waltzed right back in through the front door.

There are others just like Jerez and Alemán, who also stole from the state. They didn’t pay for their crimes, either. But in their defense, today they insist that they served our country well in other moments.

Accomplice and Perpetrator

I mention this in passing because of the recent resignation of former Supreme Court Justice, Rafael Solís, (who, by the way, helped Jerez and Alemán get out of jail), and who some are now repackaging as a hero because he resigned from an institution in which he was “Ortega’s main political operative on the Supreme Court.”

Since 1997, Solís has been an accomplice and perpetrator responsible for gutting the constitution and the rule of law in Nicaragua, particularly during his 21 years in office as a supreme court judge. He may not have pulled the trigger that killed Alvarito Conrado or Gerald Vásquez, or the trigger that killed over 300 murdered by the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship. And he didn’t sign the sentence condemning young people and farmers—now political prisoners—for protesting against Ortega-Murillo. But this does not mean that he is not responsible for the wave of repression.

I think it is unbelievable that almost nine months later, after more than 300 dead, 600 political prisoners, a thousand disappeared, and a mountain of evidence on video and in audio, you realize that the State, of which you are a part, has committed crimes against humanity, has destroyed constitutional guarantees, does not respect human rights, has installed a dictatorial monarchy and that the separation of powers—our system of checks and balances—is no more.

In the future, in the new Nicaragua that we so long for, we need to unravel and clearly define the responsibilities of each and every person who has been an accomplice and perpetrator of the wave of repression, and who has helped to maintain this dictatorship. They need to be tried in court, if necessary, to stop them from regaining power and cynically laughing in our faces, again.

The victims may forgive them, if this is what heals their souls, but the society should not forgive them or forget the faces of those who have bled our people to death. This is not bitterness, nor revenge. It is called justice. It means restitution for those victimized by the state. In the new Nicaragua, that we so long for, we must ensure that JUSTICE BECOMES A HABIT and that IMPUNITY DISAPPEARS.

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