3 dead in post-electoral violence in Nicaragua

Nueva Guinea vows to hold the line against alleged electoral theft by the FSLN

As soldiers and riot police continue to occupy various towns in northern Nicaragua, a group of sympathizers from the Independent Liberal Party (PLI) walked silently in procession to the cemetery of Ciudad Darío this afternoon to bury Vidal Obando, one of three people killed yesterday in post-electoral violence in Matagalpa and Nueva Segovia.

Obando, 56, reportedly died from head injuries after being bludgeoned by an unidentified assailant during a post-electoral street protest in Ciudad Darío, Matagalpa. Fellow PLI activist Juan López, 40, was shot and killed in the street nearby.

Not so fast: Police grab a protester in La Paz Centro (photo/ Diana Ulloa/ Confidencial)

The two men’s deaths has heighted tensions that started after the PLI accused the ruling Sandinista Front of rigging the vote and stealing the election in the municipalities of Ciudad Darío and Matiguás. PLI campaign organizer Santiago Aburto says he has the official voting records from those two municipalities proving the PLI won. He claims the vote tally was manipulated afterwards by the ruling party and the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE).

Aburto, a former radio journalist and PLI congressman, says his party will file an official appeal before the CSE next week, but has no faith that the same magistrates will reverse their decision.

“On Sunday, all the remaining spaces for democracy were closed—now there is no going back,” Aburto told The Nicaragua Dispatch. “Now the people will have to decide whether to hang their heads before the tyranny, or start a different type of democratic struggle that I don’t want to mention right now.”

Up in smoke: PLI vandals burn a government backhoe in La Paz Centro (photo/ Diana Ulloa/ Confidencial)

The members of the PLI weren’t the only victims of post-electoral violence.

Five police officers suffered injuries from rocks, mortars and gunfire during street fighting in Jinotega and Matagalpa.

In the municipality of El Jícaro, Nueva Segovia, Sandinista Youth member Ariel Francisco Reyes was attacked in the street and died after sustaining injuries to his neck.

In Altagracia, Ometepe—the “Oasis of Peace”—three police officers and one Sandinista party member were injured when PLI activists attacked the police station. In the municipality of San Nicolás, Estelí, the mayor’s office was attacked and partially destroyed by PLI supporters who accused the Sandinistas of stealing that poll.

27 were arrested in León (photo/ Diana Ulloa/ Confidencial)

The most chaotic scene of the day was in the municipality of La Paz Centro, León, where the CSE’s announcement of a Sandinista victory triggered a riotous bout of street fighting and vandalism that lasted into the night.

A mob of PLI sympathizers torched municipal government vehicles, the old train station, the market and the fire station. Sandinistas retaliated by looting and destroying the PLI’s campaign headquarters. Riot police stepped in to crack skulls and arrest 27 people.

“The National Police lament and condemn the violence that has occurred and is willing to investigate and clarify each one of the acts and indentify those who were responsible in each case to bring them to justice according to law,” the National Police said in a statement last night.

Holding the line in Nueva Guinea

Perhaps the tensest region of the country at the moment is in the rural agricultural municipality of Nueva Guinea, in the South Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAS).

There are currently 4,000 members of the opposition Liberal Constitutional Party (PLC) occupying the streets of the town, surrounded by some 200 riot police in a tense standoff.

Nueva Guinea

On Monday afternoon, the Sandinista-controlled Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) announced the PLC won the poll in Nueva Guinea and would maintain control of the mayor’s office. It was one of only two municipalities won by the PLC.

But last night there was an apparent reversal of that decision as the CSE awarded the municipality to the Sandinista Front. Riot police were sent in to surround the city. Even then, the Sandinistas didn’t come out of their houses to protest, according to PLC mayor Denis Obando.

“Even the Sandinistas know they didn’t win,” Obando told The Nicaragua Dispatch today in a phone interview. “They tried to steal the vote the regular way by failing to accredit poll watchers, excluding participation and the ‘raton loco,’ but when that didn’t work, they tried to cut the transmission of the vote count to Managua.”

CSE president Roberto Rivas admitted during his preliminary vote count that transmission of vote data had been cut with Nueva Guinea.

Obando says he has the official vote tallies from all voting precincts in Nueva Guinea, and they show that he won reelection by a vote count of 10,854 for the PLC to 7,740 for the Sandinista Front.

He says the Sandinistas tried to pad their vote count afterwards by adding stray numbers to their copy of the vote tallies, turning 20 votes into 200, and 60 votes into 160. By the end, the Sandinistas claimed to have won 10,930 votes, beating the PLC by less than 100 ballots.

Curiously enough, the CSE has not posted any results for Nueva Guinea on its webpage.

Obando insists the Sandinistas won’t be allowed to steal his municipality. The opposition is going to hold the line in Nueva Guinea, he vows.

“There is no way they can reverse this on us,” Obando said. “If the riot police attack, it will be a disaster. Nueva Guinea is a complicated place. We are very belligerent here. This was the heart of the contra corridor and we have the bad habit of resolving our problems in an inappropriate way.”


  • Kristin

    One edit to the article, it was actually the PLC party, not the PLI that destroyed the alcalde in San Nicolás. We live here, right next to the alcalde in fact, and heard everything that happened on Sunday night.

    • Tim Rogers

      Thank you for the clarification

    • J&K von Mosch

      2008-09 we lived in the nearby village of Las Puertas/Guingajopa. We care deeply about the people PLC, Liberal or Sandinista. Can you tell more about how San Nicolas is doing and what is happening. Thanks for your post.

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  • EnKay

    Edit: The last paragraph attributed to Obando (the mayor from Nueva Guinea) says Nueva Segovia instead.

    • Tim Rogers

      Good catch. fixed. thanks

  • http://www.alphabiker.com Tio Pere

    Ask anyone over 40 in that area. Contras overran the same Piri bases again and again. La Fonseca, El Verdun, La Yolaina, El Serrano, Los Angeles, El Korral. That’s the thing about standing up to thugs. Once you do it once, gets to be habit forming. :-)

  • CJ

    Tim, at the botton it says Nueva Segovia. I think it’s a typo.

    I hope they don’t give in!

    • Tim Rogers

      It was a typo. Fixed. thanks

  • http://thebigmozey.com John Wilson

    Typical of revolutionaries – they almost always turn out to be as bad or worse than those they over throw.
    Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
    It is a shame the humans cannot treat other humans humanely once they are in control of the government – Russia, China, Nicaragua, Bolivia, most countries in Africa.
    Ortega ought to look at what he fought for – seems quite different than what he is doing now. “For the people” always gets lost in the translation once the revolutionary smells the sweet odor of control and power.
    It’s a shame – Nicaragua has such potential to be a star in Central America.
    Best of luck with freedom, y’all.

  • http://somosnicas.net Carlos Pérez

    The results for Nueva Guinea are posted in Chontales page at the CSE’s website.

  • peter spiess

    Richie Havens: Freedom…
    Bob Dylan: It’s a hard rain, that’s gonna fall…
    Peter Gabriel: Red Rain…

  • peter spiess

    Election-day is pay-day.
    Problems are to be sorted-out –
    not to be beaten-down…

  • J&K von Mosch

    During ’08-’09 we lived in the nearby communities of Las Puertas/Guingajopa. Many of our friends were PLC and Sandinista. We cared about all of them very much. We are so sad to hear of the damage & violence. Can you post more specific to your area about what is happening. Thanks for the specific info.

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