HomeNewsBriefNicaragua Latest Central American Country to Deny Paramilitary Abuse
BRIEF

Nicaragua Latest Central American Country to Deny Paramilitary Abuse

NICARAGUA / 15 AUG 2019 BY ALEX PAPADOVASSILAKIS EN

Nicaragua’s military chief has denied the presence of paramilitary groups in the embattled country, becoming the latest Central American country to do so despite clear evidence of their involvement in human rights abuses.

Speaking at an event to mark the 40th anniversary of the army’s foundation, Army Commander Julio César Avilés claimed there was no evidence of any paramilitary activity in Nicaragua, El Nuevo Diario reported.

“Under no circumstances do we accept the term paramilitary forces,” he said during the press conference, adding that the military had fallen victim to a smear campaign.

SEE ALSO: Nicaragua News and Profiles

His comments mark the first time that the army has discussed the issue of paramilitary presence in the country, according to Confidencial, after facing mounting criticism about the role of armed civilian groups in repressing anti-government protests following the outbreak of political unrest in April 2018.

Avilés’ stance mirrors that of the administration. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has denied any connection to the squads, having previously referred to paramilitary troops as “voluntary police.”

However, the United Nations and other international organizations have documented and denounced the participation of pro-government armed groups in the repression of protests. These armed battalions have been implicated in the deaths of at least 150 people since the start of political unrest, according to EFE.

InSight Crime Analysis

The Nicaraguan military's efforts to distance itself from paramilitary activity is a sign of the army's continuing allegiance to the Ortega regime. For the embattled president, support from the military and pro-government armed groups is essential for fending off the civilian uprisings which threaten his grasp on power.

With Avilés' announcement, Nicaragua has become the latest Central American country to deny atrocities committed by paramilitary groups.

Guatemala, similarly to Nicaragua, has not faced up to its paramilitary death squads. A proven leader of one of these outfits, Kamilo Rivera, was until last year the country’s deputy interior minister. During Guatemala’s 36-year civil war between 1960 and 1996, the military created civilian militia groups known as Civil Defense Patrols (Patrullas de Autodefensa Civil – PAC), which were responsible for the majority of an estimated 20,000 deaths and disappearances during the conflict, as well as over one million displaced Guatemalans.

SEE ALSO: Could Nicaragua ‘Parapolice’ Groups Turn Criminal?

Neighboring El Salvador has also been reluctant to investigate allegations that senior officers of its national police created criminal networks engaging in extrajudicial killings, sexual assault and extortion.

In Honduras, the former national police director, Juan Carlos “El Tigre” Bonilla, allegedly linked to death squads, has not been found guilty of any crimes.

Throughout the region, governments on both sides of the political spectrum have used paramilitaries as a means of repressing and intimidating armed or civilian groups which challenge their authority. In other cases, paramilitary death squads have mutated out of state security forces and facilitated the killing of Central American gang members.

In Nicaragua, bands of hooded paramilitaries have allegedly been raiding towns, firing on unarmed protesters, burning homes and kidnapping opponents. The squads have additionally been accused of using military-grade weapons to attack protestors, alongside committing extrajudicial killings, kidnappings and callous forms of torture.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COSTA RICA / 9 MAY 2011

After a border dispute which has flared up over the last few months, neighboring countries Costa Rica and Nicaragua…

COLOMBIA / 18 OCT 2012

Colombia arrested seven alleged members of a transnational drug trafficking network, one of whom had links with the man suspected…

MEXICO / 5 FEB 2019

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador hailed a massive improvement in his nation’s security, but the gains he trumpeted have…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Guatemala Social Insecurity Investigation Makes Front Page News

10 DEC 2021

InSight Crime’s latest investigation into a case of corruption within Guatemala's social security agency linked to the deaths of patients with kidney disease made waves in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…