San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Ricans join efforts to stop Ortega's crackdown on feminists

Costa Rican women´s groups yesterday stepped up the pressure on Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega to end what a growing number of humanitarian and human rights workers worldwide are calling “political persecution” of feminists.

About 25 representatives of a coalition of local and national women´s groups, including the Costa Rican Women´s Alliance, gathered yesterday morning outside the Nicaraguan Embassy on San José´s Avenida Central to decry the government´s targeting of rights groups. They carried signs that said “Ortega dictator” and “Ortega abuser,” and compared the Sandinista leader to his erstwhile nemesis, dictator Anastasio Somoza.

Inside the embassy, activists delivered a letter addressed to Ortega and Chief Prosecutor Centeno Gómez, accusing them of conducting “a campaign of persecution and slander” that targets feminists and women´s organizations.

After unofficial allegations against feminists of money laundering and other crimes, police raided the Autonomous Women´s Movement´s (MAM) offices last week.

MAM joins a list of other non-governmental organizations, including OXFAM, on the government´s radar screen.

The investigations and raids have fueled an outcry throughout Latin America and garnered complaints from France´s Socialist Party earlier this week.

“It´s gotten to the point that anyone who protests Ortega is (treated by the state as) his enemy,” Ana Hernández, a protestor from the Costa Rican Women´s Alliance, said. “His actions contradict what he said when he was campaigning for president. Now he´s behaving more like Somoza.”

See Friday´s Nica Times, an eight-page publication of The Tico Times, for more on this story.

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