Nicaragua’s top cop: police abuse is not ‘generalized’

Two transit officials behind bars after shooting a motorcyclist in the back for failing pull over for not wearing his helmet

Amid a growing grumble of citizen outrage over recent incidents of police brutality, National Police Chief Aminta Granera is asking Nicaraguans to not judge the entire force by the abuses committed by a few bad cops.

“These are not the values or principles that we teach our police,” Granera told local media today, after two transit officials were put behind bars this morning for shooting a motorcyclist in the back after he failed to pull over for a traffic stop.

Granera said that recent reports of police abuse are “exceptional cases,” and that “generalizing would be totally unfair to the thousands of police officers who every day put their lives on the line to protect the lives and security of Nicaraguans.”

Granera did, however, call the recent murder of the motorcyclist “deeply painful” and “shameful.”

Officers Luis Escobar and Jorge Javier Sánchez are behind bars awaiting trial after gunning down 32-year-old Marcos Antonio Castillo after he failed to pull over, allegedly for not wearing his helmet. But Castillo’s helmet wouldn’t have protected him from a gunshot to the back.

The two transit officers then reportedly threatened witnesses and who ran to Castillo’s aid and tried to put him in a taxi to bring him to the hospital. Castillo bled to death on the street as the cops stood around with their bellies hanging out.

Castillo’s death has caused outrage among friends and family, who are accusing the two cops of murder.

Chief Granera said she is going to visit the family and ask for forgiveness on behalf of the National Police. She said the police will respond with firmness so that such abuse is not repeated.

“This is not the police force we want, and this is not the police force that Nicaragua has,” Granera said.

 Rights activist denounces police beat down in Madriz

The López killing is not the only reported case of police brutality this week. In the northern department of Madriz, democracy watchdog “Hagamos Democracia” is denouncing an act of alleged police abuse against civic activist Blinia del Carmen López, who is accusing three officers of forcibly entering her property and beating her early Sunday morning.

López, 23, says she opened the door of her house at 1:30 a.m. to let her in her brother, who she says often spends the evening loitering about on street corners with his friends. López, an outspoken rights activist and opposition party member, says three passing police officers threatened to arrest her brother as he entered the house.

López says she told the officers to leave him alone because he wasn’t doing anything illegal. At that point, she claims, the female officer lunged at her and attacked her in the doorway of her house. She says the female cop hit her several times and threw her on the floor. The other two officers then reportedly entered the courtyard of the house and fired their guns in the air, according to López’s police report, filed the next day.

As the officers left her house, the female cop allegedly threatened López’s life by saying, “Careful you don’t talk to the press about what happened, or your life will be in danger.”

López, however, is talking to everyone who will listen. She has already filed a complaint with the officers’ superior in Totogalpa and sought help from the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) and Hagamos Democracia.

“This was political,” López told The Nicaragua Dispatch in a phone interview today from Somoto. “The police know who I am and what party I belong to. And here everything is politicized, so the people don’t denounced police abuse because they are afraid.”

López claims police abuse is rampant in Totogalpa, but she says no one complains because they are all afraid of reprisal.

Hagamos Democracia is demanding an investigation.

“Due to the various recent instances where police in various parts of the country have acted openly violent, Hagamos Democracia demands a thorough investigation,” the group said in a statement.

The police have not commented on López’s case.

Despite their recent public relations problems, the National Police still enjoys a high level of approval among the population, mostly those who identify as Sandinistas. According to public opinion poll released earlier this month by M&R Consultants, 73% of the population says they have confidence in the police, while 26% doesn’t.

López is in the 26-percent camp.

“We can’t live in fear of the police,” she says. “Lots of people are afraid to denounce abuse, but I am not afraid to break the silence.”

  • Erik Jota

    There are a lot of things I’d love to write right now, but allow me to say just this: ME CORAZÓN POLICE. Especially those tránsito guys and girls. They…are… the…best.

  • John Shepard

    Are there any updates on the Ortega security detail accused of raping the young girl? Will they go to trial?

  • Verkehrssünder

    Three experiences: small village in SE Nicaragua, Nov. 2011. People protest against fraude in their poll station. Police comes quickly and arrests protesters instead of the cheating election officials.

    Out of 3 police officers who stop me because of a traffic rule violation (yellow line, changing lines too soon after the having passed a crossing etc.) 2 “want to help me” and save me all the hassle with getting back the license, if I would help them, too, with some cordobux.

    Calling the police at 11 p.m., because in the suburbana, when crossing San Judas, some people broke doors and gate to steal the zinc roof of a temporarily empty house. Answer: “After 10 we don’t leave for that zone.”

  • carlos

    Everytime I am there visiting, i usually get pulled over in my rent a car by the police and then are shaken down for money. Every single time. but no one ever publishes that on newspapers in nicaragua. And they ask you in dollars!

  • http://improvingpolice.wordpress.com Police Chief David Couper

    Misconduct by police hurts everyone — especially police. To find out why check out my blog and book at http://improvingpolice.wordpress.com.

  • Car

    the policia nacional does have fairly decent investigative talents. they are, however, as corrupt as most other latin american police organizations. from pushing motorists into paying bribes for non-existent traffic infractions, to essentially doing nothing in response to many legitimate quality of life complaints. what they need is a large and serious internal affairs dept to start a crapload of sting operations and jail the offenders. yeah, like that’s ever gonna happen!

  • cecilia

    la policia de nicaragua es la mas basura la peor de centroamerica

  • cecilia

    Escriba me de su comentario al correo tgomory@telus.net
    gracias, Than you so much God bless your good acts

  • cecilia

    Manana esta Sra juez se estara dando el tacaso de decir que su trabajo y el de sus colegas corruptos es eficiente, esta senora viaja manana 11 de noviembre hacia los Estados Unidos de Norte America supongo a entregarles a los organismos de hapoyo a la mujer un parte del trabajo corructo que realiza ella en conjunto con la policia, la comisaria de la mujer, los fiscales y los medicos corructos que se prestan a este jueguito de la caseria de las brujas de harlem, les pido a estas organizaciones internacionales antes de dar un centavo que en nombre de todos esos comdenados injustamente a que se den una vuelta por las carceles de nicaragua y que investiguen con sus abogados de todos estos casos fabricados por esta juez y por otros jueces y fiscales, Sra jues sepa que jues solo hay uno Dios asi lo dijo el humilde carpintero, ciudadanos condenados arrepientanse que Dios los perdonara y los resucitara en el ultimo dia pero esa juez sino se vuelve de sus pasos corructos la condenara como a pilato que sabiendo que Jesus era inocente lo entrego en manos de los judios para que lo clavaran en un madero de tormento. Dios es bueno y grande en bondad amorosa

  • cecilia

    te pido que pongas el primer comentario que hice, ten un poco de etica profecional, no le escondas al mundo la realidad y en este caso al pueblo nicaraguense le e sacado copias a todos los comentarios que e hecho en tu pagina de nicaragua dispacth, personalmente platicare contigo y medare cuenta quien sos y para que tenes esta pagina cual es tu objetivo cual es tu propocito de editar lo que a ti te gusta. no olvides que hay o existen personas con capasidades mentales muy geniales,

    • Tim Rogers

      Your other comment was deleted for libel. If you have issues you want to discuss, go for it. But if you have a feud with another individual, this isn’t the place for it

  • cecilia

    notengo ningun problema con nadie, pero al pueblo de nicaragua y al mundo no hay que esconder les nombres de los verdaderos delicuentes, ahora si queres prueba de lo que escribo, mete te a la modelo y ahi te daras cuenta de la realidad de lo que pasa con esos pobres reos, en nicaragua se violan los derechos humanos no te hagas el buey

  • Nospam Sonny

    Acaso no saben que estamos viviendo bajo una dictadura? Quién se atrevería a oponer al ‘Somocismo sin Somoza’ del siglo XXI utilizando métodos pacíficos?