World Bulletin / News Desk
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega on Monday denied allegations that he controls paramilitary groups that have reportedly been working with police to attack protesters as calls grow for his resignation both in and outside the country.
Against the backdrop of more than three months of protests and violent repression, Ortega gave an interview to U.S. news channel Fox News while shunning local media.
During the pre-recorded interview on “Special Report” hosted by Bret Baier, Ortega denied any involvement in the repression of protesters and even denied there was any repression.
“The turmoil stopped a week ago,” he said.
Seated in front of a wall of Nicaraguan flags, he pinned the violence in the country on anti-government militias.
“They launched these attacks against state organizations, against the police and against loyal Sandinista families. They blocked the country, arresting and torturing citizens,” he said.
Although there is much evidence that paramilitary and police forces have been working hand in hand, Ortega strongly rejected any link to the paramilitaries, saying they had been armed by “political organizations”, of which he singled out the Liberal Party and “others who have refused to take part in the electoral process”. He also pointed to “United States organizations”.
The Nicaraguan president denied a series of events that have been well documented by citizens, journalists and non-governmental organizations during the last three months.
He denied there had been any attacks during the protests, arguing that all of the demonstrations had been “peaceful”.
Ortega also denied reports that his forces shot dead two students earlier this month in a 15-hour siege of a Managua church where about 200 students had sought refuge from sustained fire from pro-government forces.
“Not a single Nicaraguan has died in a church,” he said.
He also rejected claims that members of the church had been persecuted although attacks on priests were reported on July 9 in the town of Diriamba. In a speech on July 19, Ortega had called church members “coup fomenters”.
Ortega also reiterated that he would not step down before the term of his mandate. Civil society, church, the private sector and many international organizations have been unsuccessfully pressuring him to allow early elections.
“I have heard about the issue of early elections, but that would create instability and insecurity and only make things worse,” he said as the country enters its fourth month of turmoil.
Ortega then sent a message to the American people and its president: “We are a small country with a fragile economy, but we deserve respect.”
“Typical Ortega. No interview to the independent press of Nicaragua in 11 years, but now he goes to Fox News to speak directly to [President Donald] Trump to try and avoid harsher financial sanctions. This is his personal SOS,” independent journalist Eduardo Marenco said on Twitter.
Human rights organizations have reported the seizure and arbitrary detention of hundreds of people in a crackdown in recent days. The Permanent Commission of Human Rights (CPDH) reported Monday that it had received alerts of 150 seized and as many detained.
Nicaraguan Human Rights Association (ANPDH) President Alvaro Leiva Sanchez indicated the organization had received more than 700 reports of protesters being taken from their homes by armed forces loyal to the government in less than 24 hours.
“Reports keep coming in, so I cannot give an exact figure. This is a completely disproportionate action of repression from the government. The situation is apocalyptic,” Leiva Sanchez told Anadolu Agency by phone.
Last Mod: 24 Temmuz 2018, 09:50