Anti-corruption watchdog demands action on Rivas

Ethics & Transparency says the Sandinistas’ nationwide cleanliness campaign should start with cleaning-out the corruption in the Ortega administration

Anti-corruption watchdog Ethics & Transparency is calling on President Daniel Ortega to address the apparent privileges and alleged illegal tax exonerations given to Nicaragua’s fleshy electoral boss, Roberto Rivas.

Roberto Courtney, executive director of Ethics & Transparency, said if the Ortega administration is suddenly so keen on “living pretty,” it can start by cleaning up the mess in its own administration.

What, me worry? Roberto Rivas (photo/ Tim Rogers)

“It is impossible to aspire to ‘live pretty’ while corruption and impunity continue in this country,” Courtney said during a press conference on Tuesday.

“Daniel Ortega and his administration need to speak out and act in this case of inequality before the law and customs fraud involving the president of the Supreme Electoral Council,” Courtney said.

So far, neither President Ortega nor anyone else in his administration has addressed the latest scandal uncovered last week by the daily La Prensa, which reported that the rapacious Rivas avoided import taxes on the 14 luxury vehicles he brought into the country in 2009. Rivas has not issued any statements in his defense.

Courtney says the government’s silence sets a dangerous precedent in Nicaragua. By failing to denounce or correct cases of corruption and tax evasion, the Ortega administration is essentially “giving the green light” to others who also decide they’d rather not pay taxes, Courtney charged.

The offense is even more appalling given the fact that Rivas is one of the best paid “public servants” in the country, Courtney said.

He said regardless of what the rest of the citizenry thinks about Ethics & Transparency’s criticism of the past few elections, all Nicaraguans should feel “deeply offended” every time government functionaries are given “additional and illegal privileges.”

If the government is serious about its national cleanup campaign, Courtney charged, it needs to “put thieves behind bars where they belong.”


  • Jon Cloke

    The government of Nicaragua should certainly do something about Rivas, but it isn’t really fair to land the responsibility on Ortega for the actions of Rivas, is it? Corruption in Nicaragua is inter-governmental, and if there’s been one constant on the Nicaraguan electoral landscape since the 1990s it’s been Rivas, suffocating electoral democracy like a toxic blanket whilst making corrupt use of the privileges of his office…

  • Carlos Briones

    It is a fait accompli to ask Ortega to fix the CSE when this very cloak is what gives him legality. It is Rivas’ CSE that stepped out and approved Ortegas electoral win – fully knowing Ortega was, under the Constitution, prevented from running for a third term. It is, as it has been, evident that Ortega offered and Rivas accepted many perks that include, without limitation, complete control of the CSE budget and other discretionary expending, blanket immunity from any wrongdoing, and an extra layer of protection from Sandinista prosecutors and judges. I wish Mr. Courtney luck in his wishful thinking that any of his efforts to “expose” who is largely a well documented degenerate will suddently have a moral attack and change course to clean up his “cabinet” of thieves and incompetents.