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Nicaragua’s Paramilitary Groups Receive Orders “From The Highest Level”

President Daniel Ortega and his wife and vice-president, Rosario Murillo, are turning to paramilitary groups to suppress the civic rebellion – that began two months ago, on April 18 – because they are “cornered”, according to security experts.

This pick-up truck used by the paramilitaries is registered to the Managua municipal office. Photo Uriel Morlina, La Prensa

Roberto Orozco and Roberto Cajina, both experts in security and public forces, consider that the paramilitaries respond to the orders of the Ortega government, whose administration has developed a strategy of “State terrorism”.

The last atrocity attributed to the irregular forces in conjunction with the National Police was the arson in the Carlos Marx neighborhood of Managua on Saturday morning, in which a family of six died.

The irregular groups have staged an escalation of violence in Nicaragua in recent weeks. With war rifles and mounted on vans, they patrol the neighborhoods of the country where citizens have erected tranques (barricades) to defend themselves against repression.

“The operational part of the paramilitaries is directed by officials still loyal to the party (Sandinista Front) … but the coordination comes from the highest level,” said Orozco, who for years has studied police dynamics.

The expert pointed out that public resources are being used, such as minivan & trucks, to finance and give rise to paramilitary dynamics. “That can only come from the central command of the government. It is State terrorism that pursues social domination through illicit mechanisms that cause terror, “Orozco added.

Cajina said that the National Police and its anti-riot squads do not have the “tactical or operational ability to face crowds,” as those who have mobilized in civic protest against Ortega.

“The National Police requires the ‘para policias’ (irregular groups) to do the dirty work, although the police also do dirty work. These groups are an extension of the Police and the Executive,” said Cajina in the program Esta Semana. “The paramilitary role is to create terror. They receive a payment of between 300 and 500 córdobas  (US$10 and US$15 dollars). They are mercenaries on the one hand and terrorists on the other,” the security expert revealed.

Cajina said that the National Police and its riot police do not have the “tactical or operational ability to face crowds,” as those who have mobilized in civic protest against the regime.

“The National Police requires the police officers to do the dirty work, although the police also do dirty work. These groups are an extension of the Police and the Executive, “said Cajina in the program This Week. “The paramilitary role is to create terror. They receive a payment of between 300 and 500 córdobas. They are mercenaries on the one hand and terrorists on the other, “the security expert revealed.

The Army’s Silence

Not only security experts highlight the “silence” of the military high command of the Nicaraguan Army in front of paramilitary groups. Also the citizens. According to Cajina, the military’s silence on the sociopolitical crisis in general responds to two factors: That the Army tries to “detach itself” from the Ortega-Murillo regime, and, second, that it protects its corporate interests; including investments they have in the United States.

Several social sectors are calling on the military institution to act against these paramilitary groups. If the government’s narrative is talking about “common crimes”, then why is the military not breaking these up like they did in the past with people who took up arms in the countryside again for political reasons?

“If the army has attacked and wiped out groups that took up arms again, why aren’t they doing the same thing with paramilitary forces who are carrying war weapons illegally and violating law 510 of our Arms control regulations,” Cajina asked. The expert pointed out that Daniel Ortega, as the Army’s Commander-in-Chief, has never given an order to fight against those who took up arms again in the countryside. “The Army gave this order on its own. It’s part of their annual security plan in the countryside. The question is why they aren’t giving the order to disarm the paramilitaries?”

Orozco said that the Army is in a very complicated position because it isn’t the same as the Police or Attorney General in nature, these being the ones responsible for chasing after criminals. Orozco pointed out that the Army needs to receive a constitutional order from their Commander-in-Chief, Daniel Ortega, in order to disarm the paramilitaries.

“Ortega won’t give this order. There is a conflict of interest which the army is maneuvering,” Orozco claimed. The expert stressed that if Ortega were to hypothetically give this order of disarming paramilitary groups to the military leadership, then this would be dangerous.

Dangerous because disarming them could lead to an even greater massacre, where civilians are caught in the crossfire. Orozco said that if Ortega gives a direct order to the Army, all of the responsibility will fall on his shoulders and he won’t be able to “politically play” like he has been doing with the paramilitaries, who has “washed his hands of”.

Cajina agrees with his colleague on this point: If Ortega orders the Army to suppress paramilitary groups, he would be contradicting his own discourse that these irregular groups don’t exist and function in this country, despite more than enough evidence gathered by the Nicaraguan people proving the opposite.

Police Rift

Regarding the National Police, Orozco doesn’t believe that the institution’s capacities exceed their scope, as Cajina believes they do. Rather the repressive acts by police have increased alongside the violence of paramilitaries.

“What is happening within the police force itself is what is serious. They are suffering a huge rift,” Orozco warned. There are reports that police abandoned their barracks in Diriamba, La Trinidad and San Nicolas.

“This can have serious consequences. Human rights organizations are already talking about 250 policemen who have resigned. They aren’t deserters, because deserters don’t resign,” Orozco explained. “There’s a divide in the police command which might have short-term consequences. This is their weakness today. The problem isn’t that the police are overstepping the line because of the climate of insecurity, but because they are creating this insecurity themselves alongside the paramilitary,” Orozco claimed.

Source (in Spanish): Confidencial

 

Article originally appeared on Today Nicaragua and is republished here with permission.