Nicaraguan human-rights activists claim the Sandinista government’s choice of a confessed pederast as its official guest of honor at tomorrow’s 33rd anniversary of the popular revolution—an event the government has dedicated to the youth of Nicaragua—is a “public insult.”
The Sandinistas’ red-carpet treatment for Belgian priest Francois Houtart, who in 2010 renounced his Nobel Peace Prize nomination after confessing to sexually abusing his 8-year-old cousin in the 1970s, is being compared to the party’s blind-eye treatment of the sexual abuse allegations filed against President Daniel Ortega in 1998 by stepdaughter Zoilamérica Narvaez Murillo.
Activists say the sight of Ortega and Houtart sharing the stage tomorrow in revolutionary revelry will only enforce the image of official impunity and the culture of silence in Nicaragua.
“It’s cynical and offensive to abuse victims and those who work for social justice for the government to give honors to an admitted sexual abuser,” says feminist leader Maria Teresa Blandon, referring to Houtart.
Blandon says it’s a “mockery” for the government to adulate a known pedophile just months after passing a new law against sexual abuse and violence against women.
The Movement against Sexual Abuse agrees. The group released a statement today “categorically rejecting” the presence of the aging Marxist priest and anti-globalization leader, who has been hailed by the Sandinista media as an “example in popular struggles and resistance movements.”
The rights group argues that the ruling party’s idolization of Houtart is another example of the Sandinistas putting political ideology before personal conduct, human rights and the law.
“We see this priest as just another on the long list of pederast clergy who have been denounced and condemned by the entire world,” the Movement against Sexual Abuse said in its release. The rights group says it “laments” that a figure whose “international prestige is so clearly eroded for the crime he committed” is being hailed by the Sandinista government as an example for the youth.
Celebrating Houtart sends the wrong message that Nicaragua is “permissive of sexual abuse,” the group charges.