Nicaragua's Parliament Thursday stripped five Non Government Organisations from their legal status on the grounds that a report from the Ministry of the Interior said they were part of a group behind the failed coup attempt against President Daniel Ortega, to bring the total number of NGOs to have received the same treatment over the past two weeks to nine.
The measure was taken in the midst of a socio-political crisis that left hundreds dead in protests against Ortega's government since April.
Most of the organisations affected ere led by former Ortega supporters. Thursday's five are:
1. The Communication Research Center (Cinco), founded and directed by the journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro, son of former president Violeta Barrios (1990-1997), and a former director himself of the newspaper Barricada, the official organ of the Sandinista National Liberation Front ( FSLN) in its first regime (1979-1990).
2. The Popol Na Foundation, chaired by Mónica Baltodano, a former Sandinista guerrilla fighter against the Somoza dictatorship, who was a part of Ortega's first Sandinista government, and later became a deputy when the FSLN was not ruling the country. She also supported Ortega when he was accused of rape by his stepdaughter Zoilamérica Narváez.
3. The Institute for the Development of Democracy (Ipade), headed by Jaime Wheelock, one of the former nine commanders of the Sandinista revolution.
4. The environmentalist Fundación del Río, who warned Nicaraguan society about the real size of the Indio Maiz reserve fire last April, which burned some 5,945 hectares of virgin forest, prior to the sociopolitical crisis in which the country is submerged.
5. The Segovias Leadership Institute, which defends the rights of women and promotes development in the north of Nicaragua.
According to the Ministry of the Interior, these organisations have failed to fulfill their legal obligations and their statutes by having denatured their legal personality... altering public order... taking actions to destabilize the country... and affecting citizen security... facilitating funds for the commission of terrorist acts.
All these allegations have been rejected by each organisation, which produced their accounting books for scrutiny.
The Sandinista legislators pointed out to these NGOs to act as political parties, who request sanctions against the government abroad.
These organisations at some point defended the Sandinista ideology and if they continued to defend the regime, they would not be decapitated, said the opposition Liberal MP Miguel Rosales, who denounced a legislative guillotine in Nicaragua.
The Sandinista deputy José Antonio Zepeda said that it is not about any political revenge, but just failure to comply with their statutes and their objectives.
Two of the previously affected NGOs were the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh), led by activist Vilma Núñez, and the Center for Information and Health Advisory Services (CISA), whose director, Ana Quiros, was expelled from Nicaragua. The other two affected were the Institute of Strategic Studies and Public Policies (Ieepp) and Hagamos Democracia, whose directors, the scholar Félix Maradiaga and the politician Luciano García, respectively, had to flee into exile due to state persecution.
Vilma Núñez made an urgent call this Thursday to stop an unwarranted police raid into her offices. We are in a dangerous and serious situation, sge claimed in a Whatsapp message to journalist friends.