Nicaraguan gov’t continues investigation of NGOs

October 10, 2008

MANAGUA – Two more non-governmental organizations were called before the state Prosecutor´s Office yesterday as part of an ongoing investigation that rights groups and civil society are calling “political persecution.”

Swedish development organization Forum Syd and the Civil Coordinator, a civil society umbrella group, were ordered yesterday to present their financial records to the Prosecutor´s Office in an investigation that has already led to raids and citation of other non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Police raided the Center for Communication Investigation (CINCO), headed by renowned journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro, and the Autonomous Women´s Movement (MAM), confiscating files and computers from both buildings.

Oxfam Great Britain and the International Republican Institute have also been cited in the probe and, like Syd and the Civil Coordinator, have asked for extensions to get their books in order.

The official Sandinista news media are hailing the government´s actions as a crackdown on corruption, money laundering and other “illegal” activities promoted by the “oligarchic” sectors of society that they claim NGOs represent.

So far, no formal accusations have been filed.

Armando Juárez, head investigator for the Prosecutor´s Office, told The Nica Times yesterday that the NGOs are being looked into for “suspicious behavior,” but he denied that the investigation represented political persecution.

Gonzalo Carrión, a top lawyer for the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights, says the government is looking for ways to “create crimes” against organizations that have taken a critical position against the administration of President Daniel Ortega.

Ortega, meanwhile, seems to be trying to make the issue about class.

“The oligarchy thinks they have impunity; they did before but not anymore,” Ortega said during a speech Monday night.

Meanwhile, members of Ortega´s Councils of Citizen Power, or CPCs, rallied outside the Prosecutor´s Office in support of its investigation.

Holding up pictures of political opposition leaders as well as Chamorro and feminist leaders Sofía Montenegro and Azalia Solís, the CPCs chanted against corruption and clashed yesterday afternoon with a group of university students who showed up to protest Ortega.

Most CPC protesters interviewed yesterday by The Nica Times interviewed were unable to identify the people on the signs they were accusing of corruption.

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