The Nicaraguan Writers Center (CNE), founded by the late poet, priest and critic of the government, Ernesto Cardenal, was outlawed on Wednesday along with dozens of other NGOs, by order of the Parliament, which supports President Daniel Ortega.
The attack against the CNE is in addition to the closing of the Nicaraguan Academy of Language (ANL) a few days ago, as well as research, environmental and human rights centers.
The CNE, which once had 120 members, lost its juridical personality as well as 93 other NGOs, after the vote of 74 pro-government deputies, in a congress of 91 seats, indicated the president of the Legislative, Gustavo Porras.
Cardenal (1925-2020) founded the CNE in 1990 and had among its members the former vice-president and Nicaraguan writer Sergio Ramírez, exiled since last year in Spain after a wave of arrests of opponents in the country, prior to the elections where Ortega won a fourth consecutive term.
Nicaraguan writers such as Gioconda Belli (in exile) and Carlos Tünnermann, among others, also participated in the founding of the CNE. It promoted literary research and copyright protection.
Ramírez, winner of the 2017 Cervantes Prize and once an ally of Ortega, directed for several years the CNE’s literary magazine Hilo Azul, which published its last editions in 2020.
Its founder, Ernesto Cardenal, who participated in the struggle against the Somoza dictatorship, repeatedly criticized the “authoritarian” leadership of the government of his former comrade in struggle, President Ortega, leader of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN, left).
More than 500 civil organizations have been outlawed in Nicaragua since 2018, when massive anti-government protests erupted that left 355 dead, according to human rights bodies.
Ortega, a former guerrilla in power since 2007, has his wife, Rosario Murillo, as vice president. He accuses his opponents of wanting to overthrow him with the support of Washington, while the United States has sanctioned his government because it considers that it does not respect democracy.
With the closure of the NGOs “the objective of the Ortega-Murillo regime is to disappear the space for independent civil society”, said recently the International Federation for Human Rights.
The cancelled organizations are accused of violating the general law of regulation and control of non-profit organizations for not reporting their financial reports, and not explaining the origin of the resources they received from abroad.
According to the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, the intention of the closures is to “eliminate any possible social and political vision” contrary to the government.