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Nicaraguan opposition denounces Sandinista backlash

May 13, 2011

MANAGUA – Officials from the Liberal Constitutional Party (PLC) Nicaragua’s main opposition, on Tuesday denounced before the National Assembly that its party members in the northern Caribbean region are being politically persecuted after the recent assassination of a Sandinista-linked citizen council leader.

 During a full session of Congress, legislative First Secretary Wilfredo Navarro said that following the death last week of José Aristeo Martínez, head of the Rosita municipality’s Council of Citizen Power (CPC), an organization linked to the Sandinistas, “acts of persecution have been unleashed against members of the PLC.”

“At last count, more than 25 [PLC militants] are detained without anyone allowed visits, and they’re practically disappeared, while the party structure is being subjected to acts of terror,” said Navarro, who is also the PLC’s vice president.

Navarro said his party has called for a full investigation into the CPC leader’s murder, but that the “out-of-control persecution with no intervention from judicial authorities in the region” must come to an end.

Nicaraguan daily El Nuevo Diario reported on Tuesday that during Martínez’s funeral in Rosita, combined police and military forces killed a 16-year-old boy, Otoniel Cerna Martínez, according to family members.

José Requenes, the region’s police chief, denied the Cerna family’s accusation.

Speaking at the National Assembly, PLC lawmaker Víctor Duarte said that in the municipality of Rosita, “chaos reigns,” with opposition members being jailed and families denied access to them in order to bring food and water.

The lawmaker called for the creation of a special legislative commission to work with police and the army to open an investigation and reestablish order in the region.

Martínez’s family said the CPC leader was kidnapped May 6 by a group of six assailants in San Antonio de Okonwás, a town in the northern Caribbean. His body was found the next day with six gunshot wounds.

According to official Sandinista sources, CPCs were organized four years ago to help the government comply with its mission of serving the common good, as outlined in the Nicaraguan Constitution (NT, Dec. 7, 2007).

Opposition members say CPCs are a reconstituted version of the Sandinista Defense Committees, created in the 1980s to serve as the “eyes and ears of the Sandinista Revolution.” 

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