Rafael Estrada: «Zaragoza has been a preferred destination for Nicaraguans».

Author: Marcos Díaz

This Wednesday, the president of Nicaraguans for Security and Prosperity was in Zaragoza, a city that congregates a large part of Nicaraguans in Spain, to meet these Nicaraguan compatriots and give gifts to them.

—What situation is Nicaragua currently experiencing?

—Unfortunately, Nicaragua continues to experience the repression of dictator Daniel Ortega. We continue to suffer human rights violations, and hold political prisoners. The families, apart from going through the difficulties of having their children in prison, are also besieged by hired killers and by the police. As for the economy, unfortunately and as a product of this socio-political crisis, it has collapsed. Tourism, for example, has been affected in a very serious way and we continue without the right to demonstrate, as the Nicaraguan Constitution allows.

«Is that right being respected right now?»

—Citizens cannot go out into the streets to protest, it is not even possible to organize a group, even if it is on private property and in a peaceful environment. Whenever a demonstration is attempted, the paramilitaries arrive and the people end up in jail, they beat them… and beyond that, they continue with the murders. Two weeks ago there was an attack on the Mayagna community and there were about six people killed in cold blood and 10 are missing, so they are supposed to be dead too. The police are no longer just, now they are hitmen paid by Ortega.

– Are human rights violated?

-Yes. It is important that the international community is clear on this. The crisis continues, people continue to suffer, the way in which Daniel Ortega handles the situation in relation to those who do not think like him or dare to disobey is by throwing them in jail, exiling them or having them killed.

—Now elections are approaching…

Yes, in 2021 we have them scheduled. The hopes are that we will succeed in having free and fair elections. That each vote counts and that we are not victims of electoral fraud again. We hope that, in these elections, the sanctions that the US is imposing, for example, will put pressure on Ortega and that he will allow international institutions to be present to guarantee that the results are true.

—A few days ago they lifted the embargo on the newspaper ‘La Prensa’ …

It is part of the campaign to manipulate the opinion of the international community. There were two newspapers in Nicaragua, El nuevo Diario and La Prensa. The first went bankrupt and had to close. For La Prensa, I understand that they had to remove half of the employees. Now, due to pressure, they finally released the material – they shipped out their ink and paper – but that does not change the situation in Nicaragua. There is still no freedom of the press. One of the Channel 10 reporters was attacked because he was doing a story on a picket of students, who were carrying the Nicaraguan flag. That is another absurd thing, it is such a perverse attitude that carrying the Nicaraguan flag is an offense to the Government of Daniel Ortega. I think it is the only country in the world that has such a perverse attitude.

«Is the government offended by the flag of its own country?»

—The flag of the Sandinista party is red and black, while that of the entire country is blue and white, which is the one that offends the dictator.

—It is also striking that Zaragoza congregates a good part of the Nicaraguans in Spain, what is it due to?

-That is very interesting. On several occasions I have been asked the same thing, why Zaragoza? It is a beautiful city, obviously, like other cities in Spain. Now, we assume that the Nicaraguan community in Zaragoza has been active and organized quite well, and that has attracted other Nicaraguans who are forced to leave their country because of the dictatorship. It has been a preferred destination for Nicaraguans for some reason. In Spain there are more than 30,000 and the greatest concentration – which exceeds 7,000, according to the latest INE data – is here in Zaragoza.

«What are you going to do on this visit?»
—I am here on behalf of the foundation, to meet with Nicaraguan compatriots exiled in Spain and learn more about them: what needs do they have, how can we support them… now we have begun a pilot project in which we select 20 families with children who have economic needs. We are going to support these families and see how else we can serve the exiled Nicaraguan community

—What would the country need to solve its problems?

—Nicaragua has an opportunity to achieve democracy. The people do enjoy a rule of law with totally apolitical institutions that serve the people. It is achievable if we manage to have free and fair elections, but we need pressure from the international community. The EU announced sanctions against Daniel Ortega’s government, but they have not been implemented. We hope they will pursue this. The same in the US, with the Nica act, which has not been fully implemented. But we are confident that if all that pressure is applied, the Ortega government will have no choice but to facilitate free and fair elections, with outside observers who can come to guarantee it.

Read the original article in Spanish here