It has been eight months of civic rebellion, 240 days in which all peaceful alternatives for a political resolution have been exhausted. Most citizens are desperately crying for democracy, peace and justice — but Ortega has demonstrated that he does not want to step down and does not want to find a solution to the crisis.
This week, at least five human rights organizations were declared illegal by the National Assembly (which Ortega controls) and, immediately, police were sent to loot the groups’ offices.
The Ortega regime not only is trying to intimidate the media, but regular citizens as well. Levis Rugama Artola, a 21-year-old law student who participated in protests, has been imprisoned since late August, accused of terrorism — absurd charges that the government has obviously not been able to prove.
Artola’s family this week denounced his being held in solitary confinement for singing the national anthem. The family also said that prison guards have also refused to give him food as a punishment.
All these horrific crimes haven’t been officially investigated. These stories of terror would seem enough to generate worldwide condemnation against Ortega and support for the people of Nicaragua. But as the experience of Venezuela has shown, international organizations and other governments have been slow to act against repressive regimes in Latin America — and the story seems to be repeating itself.
The United States has taken some important steps, including the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act that was approved this week by Congress, a bill that would place conditions on the “approval of loans to the Ortega regime by international financial institutions,” and expand the Magnistky sanctions on people close to the regime (including Rosario Murillo, the vice president and first lady). The United Nations, however, seems to believe that democracy and the lives of thousands can be defended with press releases.
But only concrete actions can stop a dictator such as Ortega, a man who possesses an unquenchable thirst for power and is capable of anything to keep it.