There is no end to the crisis in Nicaragua: the socialist regime remains intransigent. Meanwhile, more and more opposition members seek protection in neighboring countries because of death threats.
Now environmentalist Monica Lopez has also arrived in Costa Rica. The Central American country is increasingly becoming a refuge for opposition politicians and human rights activists threatened by government-affiliated paramilitary gangs in Nicaragua.
"As a family, we had to take immediate action," Lopez said Monday. Their lives are in danger. In a video, the environmental activist blamed the Sandinista government of President Daniel Ortega for her forced escape. They have received death threats. He said there was information that she had become the target of contract killers.
Government critics threatened
Lopez most recently worked, among other things, as a legal advisor to a small farmers' movement opposed to the construction of the billion-dollar Nicaragua Canal project. She is the daughter of former Sandinista guerrilla fighter and later Ortega critic Monica Baltodano.
Before that, the leader of the campesino movement, who had previously reported on serious human rights violations by the Ortega government, had already fled to Costa Rica. She had also been massively threatened. Environmentalists and farmers accuse the government of expropriating land for purely economic reasons. In addition, the planned Nicaragua Canal is an ecological disaster.
Meanwhile, the Nicaraguan bishops renewed their criticism of the regime: In view of the prevailing violence, Nicaragua will have no future with Ortega, said the Secretary General of the Bishops' Conference and Bishop of Esteli Juan Abelardo Mata Guevara.
Activists report "blacklisting"
Repression in the country continues to increase, according to reports from human rights organizations. Activists post videos online purporting to show arbitrary and brutal arrests of government opponents. There are reportedly "blacklists" to systematically isolate, arrest or even kill government critics.
International journalists are arrested and deported. On top of that, the Nicaraguan justice system is cracking down on demonstrators with draconian punishments. The whereabouts of a group of arrested students is unknown; there are reports of torture and sexual assault in the detention centers.
Opposition calls for dialogue
The opposition reacts with unity. Last week, more than 40 organizations signed a joint pact. They ask the government to return to the so-called table of the National Dialogue. The talks should be continued under international observation, they demanded.
The Human Rights Commission of the Organization of American States recently sharply criticized the conditions in Nicaragua; in the meantime, the Ortega government refuses to communicate with the OAS.
Protests against government
The current crisis in Nicaragua had ignited in mid-April over a pension reform that has since been withdrawn. Subsequently, the protests were directed against restrictions on freedom of the press and freedom of opinion, as well as against state violence. Now civil society representatives are calling for President Ortega's immediate resignation.
The rejects this and instead blames the opposition for the outbreaks of violence. Since the beginning of the protests, more than 300 people have died and thousands have been injured. Catholic Church accuses government of serious human rights violations. Ortega, meanwhile, accused the bishops of plotting a coup against him.