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Special Edition: Is Nicaragua Normal?

Dear readers, This week has marked the fourth month since April 19, 2018, the day when the Nicaraguan
Central American News
Special Edition: Is Nicaragua Normal?
By Central American News • Issue #7 • View online
Dear readers,
This week has marked the fourth month since April 19, 2018, the day when the Nicaraguan government launched a violent response to demonstrations about a social security reform.
In 126 days, 322 people have been murdered as a result of lethal violence by police and paramilitary forces while hundreds more are wounded, have disappeared or are incarcerated according to OAS’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
Now that the police has stopped shooting protesters in broad daylight and barricades have been dismantled, the Ortega-Murillo regime claims the country has returned to normal. Media attention is fading. Tourism campaigns are launched.
I interviewed Álvaro Carrión, a 19-year-old Nicaraguan and former university student, on the situation of his country. For him, the government has simply changed strategy to silence its citizens.
“The repression is no longer for everyone to see. The government now knows who it wants to target to arrest, sentence and torture,“ he tells me over the phone.
Álvaro fled to the US two days after he had seen his name on the police’s black list for participating in civic protests and barricades.
Reports say that 132 citizens are charged for “murder, organized crime and terrorism” under the regime’s new anti-terrorism law. Not a single member of the national police or paramilitary groups has been detained.
 “In Nicaragua nothing is normal. The assassinations continue, the kidnappings continue, the illegal arrests continue and the torture of political prisoners continues. This is what we call state terrorism.”
In weeks to come, let’s keep Nicaragua in the news.

Headlines
⚡ Nicaragua: Thousands protest at “Nothing is Normal in Nicaragua” march ◼️ Church still wants dialogue ◼️ TV channel manager is wanted for arrest, some see this as “persecution at the institutional level” ◼️ President Ortega assigns target of US sanctions, Francisco Díaz, as National Police chief
⚡ Costa Rica: “Unprecedented” anti-Nicaraguan immigrant rally turned violent, President calls to refrain from hate ◼️ Education Ministry preparing protocol against xenophobia in schools ◼️ Gov’t will not dismantle Uber
⚡ Guatemala: Congress to consider stripping President Morales of immunity for charges of illicit party funding ◼️US to unblock $6 million for CICIG (which had been blocked by US Senator Rubio)
⚡ El Salvador: Gov’t corruption saga continues as incumbent President Sánchez Céren secretly spent $147.96 million ◼️ Gov’t opens relations with China, creating tension with the US ◼️ El Salvador officially joins Guatemala & Honduras in Customs Union
⚡ Honduras: Indigenous and Garifuna peoples reject law about prior consultation on gov’t projects ◼️ Law proposal on abolishing pre-trial arrest for penal crimes and OAS anti-corruption body is worried
⚡ Belize: Gov’t explores “open government ecosystem” to encourage transparency and contact with citizens
⚡ Panamá: Free-trade treaty with China negotiation continues ◼️ Ex-President Martinelli’s trial is postponed but will continue in the Supreme Court ◼️ Agreement with US on liquefied natural gas project ◼️ Indigenous person had to remove nasal ring to renew Panamanian ID ◼️ Panama and Colombia to strengthen border to combat drug trafficking and illegal immigration
Good Reads
📰 Laura Blume argues why the US is hypocritical in its foreign policy towards Honduras and Nicaragua, for NACLA.
📰 El Faro ranks three Salvadoran presidents on amounts embezzled: there’s a medal of gold, silver and bronze. With graphs. (in Spanish)
📰 Contracorriente reports on the Honduran women who could have been saved from femicide, had the institutions and society listened to them. (in Spanish)
For Eyes and Ears
🎧 El Faro Radio interviews two Nicaraguan students on the “normality” of Nicaragua. What is striking is how consistent Nicaraguan students’ message is across interviews.
🎧 María Hinojosa and Antonia Cereijido from LatinoUSA interview Juan Sanchez, a controversial figure who owns shelters for migrant children. This report implicitly let’s us understand the tension that may occur when Latinx journalists report fairly on the community.
Fact
In 2014, President Ortega, along with the Assembly and Supreme Court, reformed the Constitution to allow him to run and win his third presidential mandate.
Selected Artwork
Zuniga, Danilo. Amor de abuela. Acrylic on canvas. Nicaragua, 2018. This painting represents the mothers and grandmothers who have lost their children in Nicaragua's sociopolitical crisis.
Zuniga, Danilo. Amor de abuela. Acrylic on canvas. Nicaragua, 2018. This painting represents the mothers and grandmothers who have lost their children in Nicaragua's sociopolitical crisis.
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