Ortega closes 25 other nonprofits in Nicaragua


In the areas of social service, development and democracy building

A general view of a plenary session of the National Assembly dominated by Ortega. File photo: Presidency/Jairo Cajina

Funides, FVBCh, Ethics and Transparency, FDL Association, Cejudhcan, Fadcanic, Operación Sonrisa, APN and Ceprev among the organizations that will be banned

By confidential

HAVANA TIMES – The National Assembly approved this Thursday, March 17, the cancellation of the legal status of 25 private non-profit organizations, leaving the beneficiaries of the social projects of these organizations in limbo. The sudden action without recourse increases the list of 114 NGOs already closed on catch-all charges fabricated between November 2018 and February 2022.

Organizations and associations canceled this Thursday included: Nicaraguan Foundation for Economic and Social Development (Funides), Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation for Reconciliation and Democracy (FVBCh), Grupo Cívico Etica y Transparencia, Association Voces Vitales Nicaragua, Fundacion Libertad, March 8th Women’s Collective Association, Central American College Alumni Scholarship Fund Foundation (Fobeca), Local Development Fund Association (FDL), and Operation Sonrisa Nicaragua Association (OSN).

Also on the list: the Association of Nicaraguan Journalists (APN), the Association of the Center for Justice and Human Rights of the Atlantic Coast (Cejudhcan), the Association of the Center for the Prevention of (Ceprev), the Agora Partnerships Foundation, the Foundation for the Autonomy and Development of the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua (FADCANIC), the Alexander Von Humboldt Center for the Promotion of Territorial Development and Environmental Management and the Association of the Nicaraguan Women’s Forum.

Additionally, the Nicaraguan Youth Entrepreneurs Civic Association, Nicaraguan Harvard Club Association, Nicaraguan Human Dignity Foundation, Matagalpa Social Club, Citizen Crusade for Democracy Foundation, Kolping-Nicaragua Foundation, Institute Foundation for Observation for Democracy and Human Rights (IDH), the Association of the Christian Center for Human Rights (CCDH) and the Nicaraguan Civic Democratic Association (ACDN).

The regime’s argument

The decree—published on the National Assembly website—was presented by the vice-president of the Commission for Peace, Defense and Governance, deputy Filiberto Rodriguez; which in the explanatory memorandum indicates that, on March 15, the head of the Department for the registration and control of non-profit associations, of the Ministry of the Interior (Migob), Franya Urey Blandon, asked the Assembly to cancel the 25 associations.

According to Rodríguez, the 25 NGOs did not submit their financial statements to Migob “according to fiscal periods with a detailed breakdown of income, expenses, balance and details of donations (origin, provenance and final beneficiary)”. He claimed that such a failure violates the regulations of the Anti-Money Laundering Act and “promotes a lack of transparency in the administration of funds”.

Another of the remarks made by the deputy Rodríguez is that, allegedly, the NGOs did not report to Migob who makes up their boards of directors, the previous donations from abroad and the identity documents of their donors. Situations which, underlines the legislator, “have hindered the control and monitoring” of the regulatory entity and are supposed to demonstrate that the said NGOs “have carried out their activities outside the law and have acted against the express right”.

The arguments of Deputy Rodríguez and Migob are the same that have been used over the past three years to annul the legal status of more than a hundred organizations, foundations and civil society associations that have promoted social development, political and economic rights, democracy, education and health in Nicaragua.

However, the dissolution of these organizations occurred in a context of repression and reprisals that emerged after the 2018 protests and worsened in 2021, when the regime faced an electoral landscape where it eliminated the political competition and won his fourth consecutive term.

Leaders of previously canceled associations said they repeatedly submitted their files to Migob, but the institution refused to accept them and continued to demand new documents. Until finally, the head of Migob Civil Non-Profit Associations Registration and Supervision Department asked the National Assembly to cancel the organizations.

The final blow

In May 2021, the Ortega regime launched a witch hunt against the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation, after Cristiana Chamorro Barrios, former president of the foundation, agreed to run as an opposition presidential candidate and the polls have placed her as the most popular. candidate. Chamorro and three other NGO leaders were jailed and convicted in a political trial for the alleged crime of money laundering.

The leaders of Funides were also persecuted by the Ortega regime. In June 2021, the police raided the homes of several members of its board of directors and the prosecution summoned several of its employees to testify, because the NGO would have been the subject of an investigation. Although authorities never clarified the grounds for the investigation, former Funides director Juan Sebastian Chamorro, who was also aspiring to the presidency, was eventually convicted in a political trial for the alleged crime of conspiracy .

Meanwhile, associations like Ethics and Transparency, the Humboldt Center and the Association of Journalists of Nicaragua had lowered their media profile, in an attempt to escape the regime’s blows and be able to preserve their legal status, but in the end the the ax also fell on them.

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