Tax Tensions Grow Between Nicaragua, Nation of Moskitia
MANAGUA – Leaders of the self-proclaimed Communitarian Nation of the Moskitia are accusing two historic indigenous leaders linked to the ruling Sandinista Front of trying to infiltrate their independence movement and confuse the population of the Caribbean coast.
The Miskito Indigenous Council of Elders declared the independence of the historic Mosquito Coast last month and gave the regional government of the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAS) six months to hand over power (NT, May 1).
This week, some segments of the South Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAS) joined the separatist movement, which has remained peaceful so far.
Though the government of President Daniel Ortega has not made any official statement about the aspiring nation, Oscar Hodgson, legal advisor to the Nation of the Moskitia, blames two Sandinista-affiliated indigenous leaders of trying to trick the population by organizing a small group of people who are trying to collect taxes from local businesses in the name of the separatists. He denied the Nation of the Moskitia is behind any tax-collection efforts.
He claims the agitators are acting on behalf of President Ortega, who he says “can’t personally attack us because of his position internationally.”
Ortega last year was the only president in the world to support the independence claims of the breakaway Georgian republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, making it difficult for him to now denounce the separatist aspirations in his own backyard.
Meanwhile, the Regional Council of the RAAN released a statement last week denouncing the separatists and warning local businesses that anyone trying to collect taxes without proper accreditation from the local government authorities is “a simple conman who should be reported to police for investigation.”
The separatists insist they are not taxing local businesses, though Hodgson admits they have sent a letter to the local tax authority, the DGI, instructing them to stop sending collected tax money to the “government in Managua.” On May 1, the day after they sent the letter, the National Police sent several riot police to guard the local tax offices.
Hodgson warned that the Nation of Moskitia could declare the Nicaraguan police and military “non grata” on the Caribbean coast if they resist their cause.
Since declaring their independence last month, the separatists claim their movement is growing.
“Each day we are more and more,” separatist leader Rev. Hector Williams, known as the Wihta Tara, or Great Judge of the Nation of Moskitia, told The Nica Times by phone from Bilwi. “Now the Sumo, Mayangna, Ramas and Creoles are supporting us, as well as international indigenous peoples.”
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