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Right-wing coup or popular revolt? The April 2018 Nicaraguan uprising examined

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

November 16, 2018 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — This document investigates the causes of the student protests that broke out on April 18 against the Nicaraguan government’s decree changing the regulations governing the country’s Institute for Social Security (INSS). The subsequent conflict has to date claimed at least 269 lives.

 

The research focuses on the period from April 18 to April 30 because what actually happened in these first days of the conflict is key to reaching a conclusion about which of two opposing accounts of its cause is most believable. The first account is that of the Nicaraguan government. This is that the events amounted to an attempt at a right-wing coup against a democratically elected administration , a coup successfully defeated with the minimum possible use of force. The INSS changes were merely a pretext for launching the coup attempt. For the opposition, by contrast, the events amounted to a revolt against a regime that suppressed protest with violence: police and paramilitary forces using military-grade weaponry were deployed to crush peaceful demonstrations that in reaction to state repression escalated into a popular uprising for justice and democracy.

 

In this document this difference is called the "core issue in dispute", so as to distinguish it clearly from the many other questions on which there are conflicting points of view between the Nicaraguan government, the opposition and the human rights organisations that have investigated the events. These events include atrocities and attacks on property that have been broadcast on the mainstream media and the social networks. They have been used as evidence by both sides of the conflict and by their supporters, nationally and internationally.

 

It is imperative to determine the causes of these events, which followed upon the clashes of late April, but this document does not consider them. That is because the most important issue of all is how the conflict, which has produced so much pain, suffering and loss, actually started. Who bears the ultimate responsibility?

 

The method of research used is to present and investigate the Nicaraguan government’s version of events as completely as possible, making use of its own documents, which criticise the methods and findings of Nicaraguan and international human rights organisations, as well as the media interviews given by President Daniel Ortega between July 23 and September 3.

 

In addition, an Annex comments on the work Monopolising death: Or how to frame a government by inflating a list of the dead, a critique by Enrique Hendrix of three human rights' agencies accounting of deaths in the conflict.

 

Any position expressed here is open to being changed in the light of an authoritative on-the-ground investigation of events, such as the investigation of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI in its Spanish initials) into the September 2014 murder of the 43 Mexican high school students. On June 15, the Nicaraguan government, as part of the National Dialogue with the opposition forces organised in the Civic Alliance , invited the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to send such a GIEI to Nicaragua. It also accepted the presence in Nicaragua of an IAHCR Special Monitoring Mechanism on Nicaragua (MESEMI).

 

The acceptance by President Ortega and Vice-President Rosario Murillo of investigation and monitoring by international human rights agencies was one of the the Nicaraguan bishops’ four preconditions for mediating the National Dialogue between the government and the students and other opposition forces. Both these bodies are now operating, but said on August 15 that they were experiencing lack of co-operation from the Nicaraguan authorities.

 

In addition, on August 31 the Nicaraguan government ended the mission of the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights (OHCHR) delegation in Nicaragua after the release of its report critising the action of the Nicaraguan state in the face of the protests.

 

The rest of this document is structured as follows. Part 2 reviews the main events in the conflict from April 18 to April 30. Part 3 presents the viewpoint of the Nicaraguan government on these events. Part 4 assesses the evidence as to the validity of the Nicaraguan government viewpoint. Part 5 draws conclusions. Part 6 makes some concluding remarks. As noted, the Annex comments on Monopolising death: Or how to frame a government by inflating a list of the dead (see link above). The Sources list the main works consulted. The sources of audiovisual and some documentary material consulted is provided via the links in the text. Translations from Spanish are by the author. English language sources are marked [in English] in the text.

 

Read or download the report and annex below

 

29-10-18 Nicaraguan Conflict (Final) by fredfuentes on Scribd

 

Nicaragua: Comments on Enrique Hendrix Research by fredfuentes on Scribd

 

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