Nicaragua orders closure of 15 more NGOs

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — Nicaragua’s legislature ordered the closure of 15 more non-governmental organizations Thursday, bringing to 45 the number whose permits to operate in the country have been cancelled in the last month.

The groups affected include the Mejía Godoy Foundation, linked tp popular folk singers Carlos and Luis Enrique Mejía Godoy. The singers have been in exile since mass demonstrations against President Daniel Ortega’s regime in 2018 were brutally repressed.

The country’s legislature is dominated by Ortega’s Sandinista party. Nicaragua is scheduled to hold national elections Nov. 7. and Ortega is seeking a fourth consecutive term.

Over the past three months, Ortega’s government has arrested nearly three dozen opposition figures, including seven potential challengers for the presidency.

The legislature said the order — which cancels the groups’ legal existence in Nicaragua — was motivated by the failure of the NGOs to fully report their activities to the government.

Ortega’s regime has accused civic groups, opposition leaders and media outlets of everything from treason to money laundering. In 2018, the government closed 10 other NGOs, bringing the total so far to 55.

Among the groups no longer allowed to operate were three women’s advocacy and rights organizations that worked with rural women.

They also included Christian Medical Action, The Nicaraguan Federation of Non-governmental Organizations, and the Nicaraguan Network for Democracy and Local Development.

Several other humanitarian, development and pro-democracy groups will also have to close under the order.

Ortega’s moves to silence the opposition has drawn condemnation from the United States and the European Union, among others.