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Nicaragua’s Continued Repression: Ortega shuts down Red Cross amidst ongoing dissent crackdown

Posted: Saturday, May 13, 2023. 1:13 pm CST.

By Breaking Belize News Staff: Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega has taken a new step in his relentless crackdown on dissent by forcing the Red Cross, a non-profit health organization, to cease its operations in the country.

In a move that has seen the administration target religious orders, charities, and civic groups, the Red Cross was ordered to shutter its operations following a vote by the country’s National Assembly. The Assembly is dominated by Ortega’s Sandinista party and a few allied parties.

Amidst an overstretched health system, the government has also ordered its Health Department to create a “new Nicaragua Red Cross”, according to The Associated Press. However, it remains unclear where funding for this new organization will come from.

The move to close the Red Cross follows accusations that the organization carried out “attacks on peace and stability” during the widespread protests of 2018. The Red Cross maintained that its operations only involved treating injured protesters.

These anti-government protests, which saw an estimated 355 people killed and as many as 2,000 injured, resulted in many protesters seeking help from the Red Cross and refuge in Catholic churches. These actions were enough to incite a government-led crusade against these organizations.

Following the new law, all Red Cross properties in the country will be seized and handed over to the government.

In other developments, the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) has condemned the escalating repression in Nicaragua, which has seen three journalists arrested since the beginning of April, leading to further chaos. The organization has called for the international community to denounce these arrests as the Ortega regime continues its persecution of media outlets and organizations not affiliated with the Sandinista Party.

Religious persecution remains rampant in Nicaragua, with the Roman Catholic Church being one of Ortega’s primary targets. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom designated Nicaragua as a “country of particular concern” (CPC) in its latest report, citing a significant increase in the persecution of the Catholic Church due to the president’s feud with the church.

The report also highlighted the Ortega regime’s campaign of harassment and severe persecution against the Catholic Church, which includes targeting clergy, eliminating Church-affiliated organizations, and imposing restrictions on religious observances. The regime has also been accused of hate speech against the Catholic Church, violating freedom of religion.


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