IACHR acused the Sandinista government of use lethal force against peaceful protesters on 2018's failed coup attempt.
Nicaragua's civil society and North American and European networks' members sent an open letter to the Organization of American States (OAS) Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in solidarity with Nicaragua's Sandinista Revolution.
July 8, 2020
IACHR President: Joel Hernadez Garcia
IACHR First Vice-President: Antonia Urrejola Noguera
IACHR Second Vice-President: Flavia Piovesan
GIEI members: Amerigo Incalcaterra, Sofia Macher, Pablo Parenti, and Claudia Paz y Paz Bailey
EAAF: Mercedes Doretti
SITU: Brad Samuels, partner
IACHR reports on events in Nicaragua
We are writing to express our concern at what we believe to be very serious shortcomings in the video documentary your organizations released on May 30th this year, about events leading to the deaths of three Nicaraguan citizens demonstrating against their government two years earlier on May 30, 2018.
While your video documentary acknowledges there is no conclusive evidence, it still argues that circumstantial evidence overwhelmingly suggests that armed police officers or Sandinista supporters indiscriminately killed those three protesters who died that day, as well as other people also shot dead in the same set of incidents. Your video documentary acknowledges that two Sandinista supporters were also shot dead in related incidents that day, but you have selectively chosen to omit any consideration of how or why they might have been killed.
Your video documentary reinforces the unjust and extremely dishonest claim by Nicaragua's political opposition, repeated, with no serious attempt at independent corroboration, by the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts organized by the Inter American Human Rights Commission of the Organization of American States, that the country's Sandinista government deliberately used disproportionate lethal force against peaceful protesters during the violent failed coup attempt between April 18 and July 17, 2018.
I'm here in Nicaragua's capital Managua to report on the 40th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution. On July 19, 1979, Nicaraguan socialists overthrew a US-backed right-wing puppet dictatorship.— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) July 18, 2019
Last night Sandinista youth held public concerts to celebrate the revolution. pic.twitter.com/U75exvQw1k
We have the following questions about this video documentary and sincerely hope you will respond and answer them in the interests of institutional transparency, democratic debate, and genuine accountability.
• Why does the video documentary mention the killing of two Sandinista supporters without noting that they were probably shot dead by armed opposition activists, completely undercutting the video documentary's claim that the opposition protesters were unarmed and peaceful? Surely it then becomes practically impossible to dismiss the probability that the three opposition protesters who are the focus of your video documentary were killed in an exchange of gunfire that began in circumstances involving conflicting versions of the events in question? Why does your video documentary systematically exclude any discussion of that fact?
• Why have you omitted from your video documentary footage, including video reports from the opposition media outlet Radio Corporación and other videos of opposition activists carrying firearms including automatic rifles and firing automatic pistols in the late afternoon of May 30, 2018, near the area from which you claim the fatal shots were fired killing the three protesters who are the focus of your documentary?
• Why does your video documentary omit to mention the wounding by gunfire in the same set of incidents covered in your documentary of20 named police officers, a fact which completely contradicts your suggestion that all the opposition protesters were unarmed and peaceful?
• Why does your video documentary portray the police and volunteer police with weapons without explaining that the reason they are heavily armed is that just two days previously, in the same area as the incidents covered by your video, one police officer was killed and five police officers wounded by armed opposition activists preventing those police officers from going to the aid of over 20 workers of Nueva Radio Ya which was under attack by armed opposition activists?
• Why does your video documentary show no footage of police use of firearms which might have been presented to show that there were antecedents for what your organizations argue were the events of May 30, 2018, despite the claim in your video documentary that your organizations have reviewed thousands of videos showing examples of police repression?
• Why does your video documentary omit to mention that various official documents, press reports, and witness testimony contradict the version of events your video documentary presents?
• Why does your video documentary omit the strong possibility of a false flag attack similar to that at Puente Llaguno in Caracas during the failed coup attempt in Venezuela in 2002, since any genuinely scientific account of the events analyzed by your video documentary would have noted such contrary hypotheses and explained why they should be discounted?
• Why does your video documentary not follow up the mention of evidence in the Knox Associates report's sound analysis of the three shootings of "a firearm discharged near the video camera. It's difficult to determine what type of firearm it is, ... It could be a semi-automatic pistol or a rifle", apparently referring to a weapon or weapons used by protesters at the demonstration?
• Why does your video documentary mischaracterize the location of the police confronting the protesters on the Avenida Universitaria? Video footage from May 30, 2018, places them at a road junction 175 meters from the barricade, while a map on your archive website shows the police to be even closer. A comparison of the map in your video with Google maps indicates that it is not to scale, and shows a radius of 145-215 meters, which means that the police were not in the location from which your firearms expert said the fatal shots were fired.
• Why does your video documentary only investigate the three shots supposedly responsible for killing the three protesters on whom you focus, given that Knox Associates' evidence, even though it only covers a few minutes, indicates that there were other exchanges of fire, apparently from both sides?
• In this context, why does the video ignore the admission on page 164 of the original GIEI report, of “the presence of four armed persons among the demonstrators” [GIEI “Informe sobre los hechos de violencia ocurridos entre el 18 de abril y el 30 de mayo de 2018,”], which appears to be referring to the same incident in Avenida Universitaria?
• Why is the investigation portrayed in your video documentary limited to events on the west side of the national stadium when other shootings were taking place on the east side, and these would have influenced the behavior of the police in the entire area of the stadium, especially if they were actually under fire or had recently been under fire, as they had been on May 28th?
• SITU Research and EAAF acknowledge financial support from corporate sources in the United States, including the Open Society Foundations, suggesting a strong ideological component in the production of this video. Who funded your organizations to produce it and how much money did they invest?
We look forward very much to your observations in response to our questions.
Alliance for Global Justice (U.S.) Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign Action Group (United Kingdom).
And signed by:
Blanca Segovia Sandino Arauz, Daughter of General Augusto C. Sandino, Nicaragua
Camilo Mejia, Human Rights Activist and former Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, Miami, USA
Patricia Villegas, Presidente TeleSur, Venezuela
S. Brian Willson, war veteran, author, lawyer, Granada, Nicaragua
Margaret Flowers, David Paul, Adrienne Pine, Kevin Zeese (four Protectors of the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington D.C.)
As well as by the individuals and organizations in Nicaragua, USA and Europe listed below
Adrian Martínez Rodriguez, Secretario General, Confederación de Trabajadores por Cuenta Propia de Nicaragua CTCP Nicaragua
Al Burke Editor, Nordic News Network Sweden
Alberto Martínez Vargas, Retired Nicaragua
Alexandra Valiente, Editor Internationalist 360° Canada
Andrea Pérez Espinoza, Political scientist Nicaragua
Andreia Vizeu, Educator USA
Anne Mitchell, Deputy principal (retired) U.S.
Antonio Espinoza, Confederación Sindical de Trabajadores de la Agroindustria de Nicaragua CONFEDERACIÓN AGROINDUSTRIA Nicaragua
Arnold H. Matlin, M.D., F.A.A.P., Doctor USA
Augusto Enrique Castillo Sandino, Family of General Augusto C. Sandino Nicaragua
Aurora Elena Baltodano Toledo,Solidarity activist Italy
Becca Mohally Renk, Jubilee House Community Nicaragua
Ben Norton, Writer and editor of The Grayzone USA
Calvin McCoy, Nicaragua Solidarity Ireland Ireland
Carlos José Hurtado Ordoñez, Technical assistant Nicaragua
Carlos José Martínez Hernández, Editor, Radio La Primerísima Nicaragua
Cecilia Herrero, Painter Argentina
Coleen Littlejohn, Development economist (retired) Nicaragua
Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, New York USA
Coordinamento Associazione Italia, Nicaragua Solidarity group (Milan) Italy
Courtney Childs, Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism USA
Dan Kovalik, Human rights lawyer USA
Daniel Hopewell, Director of community development NGO UK
Daniel Shaw, Professor USA
Declan McKenna. Nicaragua Solidarity Ireland Ireland
Diana Bohn, USA
Domingo Francisco Peréz Zapata, Secretario General, Unión Nacional de Empleados Públicos de Nicaragua UNE Nicaragua
Dr Francisco Dominguez, University professor UK
Dr. Agustín Velloso Santisteban, University professor Spain
Edgardo Garcia General Secretary, Asociación de Trabajadores del Campo Nicaragua
Eleanor Lanigan, Cuba Support Group, Ireland
Enrique Castillo Delgado, Technician, husband of Blanca Segovia Sandino Arauz Nicaragua
Erika Takeo, Coordinator, Friends of the ATC Nicaragua
Evile Umaña,, Secretaria General, Central de Trabajadores de Salud de Nicaragua FETSALUD Nicaragua
Executive Committee, Sao Paulo Forum, Washington D.C. Maryland y Virginia, USA
Fausto Torrez, Secretary of International Relations, Asociación de Trabajadores del Campo Nicaragua
Fredy Franco, Secretario General, Federación de Profesionales Docentes de la Educación Superior FEPDES-ATD Nicaragua
Friends of Latin America, Solidarity organization USA
Gimmi Maria Cristini, Solidarity activist Italy
Herman van de Velde, Pedagogue / retired academic Nicaragua
Janet Pavone, Painter UK
Jennifer Atlee, Friendship Office of the Americas USA
Jeremy Cerna, Writer Germany
John Perry, Housing and migration researcher Nicaragua
Jon Barrenechea, Film marketing executive UK
Jorge Capelán, Journalist Nicaragua
José Angel Bermudez, Secretario Ejecutivo, Frente Nacional de los Trabajadores FNT Nicaragua
Judith Bello, Antiwar activist USA
Julio César Castillo Sandino, Family of General Augusto C. Sandino Nicaragua
Karen Sharpe, Editor, France
Lauren Smith, Independent journalist USA
Leonardo Flores, Political analyst USA
Les Blough, Journalist Venezuela
Lisa Klein, Student Germany
Lucy Pagoad,a Teacher USA
Luis Adolfo Barboza Chavarría, Secretario general, Confederación Sindical de Trabajadores José Benito Escobar, CST-JBE Nicaragua
Madeliene Kießling Klein, Retired Germany
Magda Lanuza, Community worker and writer Nicaragua
Maria de los Angeles Obando Medina, Secretario general Confederación de Trabajadores de la Pesca de Nicaragua, CONFEPESCA Nicaragua
Maritza Castillo, Nicaraguan activist Nicaragua
Maritza Espinales, Secretaria General, Federación de Sindicatos de Trabajadores Universitarios FESITUN Nicaragua
Mark Mayer, Solidarity activist USA
Martin Mowforth, Environmental Network for Central America. UK
Martin Roger, Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign UK
Max Blumenthal, Writer and editor of The Grayzone USA
Michael Boudreau, Compas de Nicaragua Nicaragua
Miguel Mairena, United Methodist missionary Mexico
Mike Woodard, Jubilee House Community Nicaragua
Mitchel Cohen, Author USA
Nan McCurdy, United Methodist Missionary Mexico
Nora Mitchell McCurdy, Researcher Nicaragua
Paul Richard Harris, Journalist, Canada
Paul Peulevé Baker, Ode to Earth coordinator Nicaragua
Professor Jose Antonio Zepeda, Secretario General, Confederación de Trabajadores de la Educación de Nicaragua CGTEN-ANDEN Nicaragua
Professor Michel Chossudovsky, Founder and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization Canada
Richard Kohn, Ph.D University professor USA
Richard Lanigan Physician/chiropractor UK
Richard Luckemeier, P.E. Water utility engineer USA
Rita Jill Clark-Gollub, Translator USA
Robert Navan,, Nicaragua Solidarity Ireland, Ireland
Roger Stoll, Writer USA
Sandra Edith Baltodano Gutierrez Solidarity activist Italy
Scott Hagaman, Physician USA
Sofía M Clark, Political researcher Nicaragua
Stansfield Smith, Writer USA
Stephen Sefton,Community worker and writer Nicaragua
Susan Lagos, Retired teacher, Friends of the ATC, activist, translator Nicaragua
Walter Ramiro Castillo Sandino, Family of General Augusto C. Sandino Nicaragua
William Camacaro, Venezuela Solidarity activist USA
William Grigsby Vado,Presidente Asociación de Profesionales de la Radiodifusión Nicaragüense (APRANIC) y Director General Radio La Primerísima Nicaragua
Zoltan Tiroler, Swedish-Cuban Friendship Association Sweden