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LatinNews Daily Report - 26 June 2013

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Disobedient FSLN deputy fired in Nicaragua

Development: On 25 June Edwin Castro, the head of President Daniel Ortega’s ruling Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) bench in the 92-seat unicameral legislature, presented a supreme electoral court (CSE) resolution sacking FSLN Deputy Xochilt Ocampo.

Significance: Castro failed to explain the CSE’s decision. Like other state institutions, the CSE is controlled by Ortega and opposition deputies from the Bancada Democrática Nicaragüense (BDN) were quick to note that Ocampo was the sole FSLN deputy (out of 62) who voted against the government bill granting the Hong Kong head-quartered HKND Group a concession to build and operate the proposed new inter-oceanic canal project (‘Gran Canal’). Ocampo’s expulsion, which according to the opposition breaches the organic law of the legislature, underlines Ortega’s intolerance of dissent.

Key points:

  • Ocampo, 29, who was serving her second term as an FSLN legislator, will be replaced by her substitute, Johana Luna Lia. The 2006 organic law of the legislature (Art. 24) states that deputies can only be removed from their seat by: death, resignation, a prison conviction, for abandoning their duties over a 60-day period or for receiving payment from other State institutions.
  • Ortega’s crackdown on internal dissenters coincides with allegations that the president has again moved to persecute his estranged stepdaughter, Zoilamérica Ortega Murillo, who in 1998 controversially alleged that he had sexually abused her when she was a minor. Yesterday Ortega Murillo’s partner, Carlos Ariñez, a Bolivian human rights activist, was deported from Nicaragua, where he had been living for the past four years. The move came after the two had publicly sided with senior citizens demanding pension rights from the Instituto Nicaragüense de Seguridad Social (INSS). Officially, Ariñez was deported for not having his paperwork in order, but Ortega Murillo told reporters that she had received a phone call from her mother, First Lady Rosario Murillo, who reportedly told her that “these were the consequences” for her actions. Ortega Murillo plans to file a complaint before the Nicaraguan centre for human rights, Centro Nicaragüense de Derechos Humanos (Cenidh).
  • Separately yesterday, the Ortega government and the senior citizens grouped under the Unidad Nacional del Adulto Mayor (Unam) signed a six-point agreement to end the protests. The government refused Unam’s demands for a partial pension, reiterating a lack of funds, but agreed to concessions like eye tests and measures to expedite the monthly distribution of their ‘solidarity bonus’; a monthly cash stipend of C$1000 (US$40) for those without pensions launched by the Ortega government in 2010 with Venezuelan cooperation.