Monday, January 16, 2012

Military Hitmen for hire?

Was the Honduran military paid to kill a Nicaraguan citizen?

That's what Nicaragua's La Prensa claims.

When Daniel Ortega announced that he would seek an unprecedented third term as Nicaragua's President, it raised all sorts of anger among the community of former Contra members who fought the Sandinistas in a civil war back in the 1980s with CIA and US military backing (look up Iran-Contra).

First to declare his opposition was Jose Gabriel Garmendia who in July 2010 announced he was organizing an armed rebellion against Ortega during a ceremony in Matagalpa to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Contra disarmament. Known as Comandante Jahob, he was known as a charismatic and brave commander among the rural anti-Sandinista population.

In late January 2011, he released a recording noting that:
It is aberrant that Daniel Ortega is doing what he wants with the constitution of Nicaragua.

In the recording he stated he had enough people, with an organized command structure. He called on ex-president Arnoldo Aleman and Fabbio Gadea, the two candidates opposing Ortega in the election, to set aside their political aspirations and unite against Ortega. Garmendia continued:
The worst thing that could happen is the re-election of Daniel Ortega and that re-election should not be possible

Ortega had managed to get the largely Sandinista Party Nicaraguan Congress to change the constitution to allow he to run for a third term. Ortega dismissed Garmendia's threats as those of a common criminal affiliated with the drug runners and coup-conspiring officers of the Honduran military.

Two weeks later, Garmendia lay dead in the mountains. He was either shot by Nicaraguan soldiers or intelligence officers (according to Nicaraguan media) or killed by a jealous farmer in the region (according to an official Police investigation).

A second group, the Fuerza Democrática Comandante 380 (FDC 380, a reference to former Contra Enrique Bermudez who was known as Comandante 3-80), is headed by Santos Guadalupe Joya Borge, known as Comandante Pablo Negro. It was organized in April, 2011. In November, 2011, the FDC announced it was an
"armed organization in defense of the democracy, liberty, and human rights which had been cut by the dictatorial regime of Daniel Ortega"

Early in January this year rumors began to circulate in the Nicaraguan press that the FDC was organizing in Honduras, probably in the El Paraiso province where the Contras had been based in the 1980s. Then they called El Paraiso "New Nicaragua" and terrorized the local Honduran population. The Honduran military announced they would check into that on January 9, and that they would be coordinating with the Nicaraguan military, who might know more about it than they did.

However, the FDC had already announced on January 7 that Comandante Pablo Negro had been captured by the Honduran military or police, two days before the Honduran military said they'd go looking for him.

They already had him when they announced they'd go looking for him.

Indeed the Nicaraguan press on the 8th of January said that the Honduran security forces were paid $2 million to pick Joya up. This is also what Roberto Petray, President of the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights, told the press.

On Thursday, Joya's lifeless body was found in Honduras, 300 meters from the border (and the border crossing of ) in El Paraiso Department. He had been shot twice. His family, who arrived in Tegucigalpa to collect the body on Friday, said that he had been captured by four Honduran soldiers in El Paraiso. A silver Toyota pickup with four different soldiers came from the direction of the Nicaraguan border to pick him up and return him to Nicaragua the same day, January 7.

He never made it.

The Honduran police spokesperson denies that the Honduran police know anything about the capture of Joya Santos. The legal coordinator for the Nicaraguan Human Rights Center (CENIDH), Gonzalo Carrión. said it would by international standards fall to Honduras to do the due diligence to investigate Joya's death.

The Nicaraguan Police have opened an investigation into this citizen's death in Honduras, but indicated they will wait for Honduras to say what it knows before proceeding. They report the Honduran medical examiner will perform an autopsy tonight both to securely identify the body, and to determine the official cause of death.

There's not even a hint of an investigation mentioned in the Honduran press.

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