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Annex

Comment on Monopolising death: Or how to frame a government by inflating a
list of the dead
Notes on Enrique Hendrix’s critique of the reports of the Nicaraguan Human Rights Centre
(CENIDH), Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and Nicaraguan Association
for Human Rights (ANPDH) on fatalities in the 2018 Nicaraguan conflict.
Initial version: August 31, 2018. Final version: October 28, 2018

1. Introduction

Those who are trying to work out what has actually happened in Nicaragua since April 19, 2018,
the first day of deaths in the conflict between the country’s government and opposition protesters
over proposed reforms to the Nicaraguan Institute of Social Security (INSS), have access to a
range of sources. However, these sources give different numbers for fatalities, imply different
interpretations of the course of events since the protests began and are in conflict among
themselves.

On August 7, the Nicaraguan National Police gave a figure of 197 for the number of fatalities
between April 19 and July 25. This was the lowest figure provided by agencies monitoring the
conflict. The figures given by other agencies as of August 31 were:

 Truth, Justice and Peace Commission (CVJP)1 of the Nicaraguan National Assembly: 265
(April 18-July 31) and 269 (April 18-August 15)2

 Permanent Human Rights Commission 300 (CPDH)3: 300 (April 19-July 30)

 Nicaraguan Human Rights Centre (CENIDH)4: 306 (April 19-August 8)

 Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)5: 317 (April 19-July 30)

 Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights (ANPDH)6: 448 (April 19-July 25)

In addition, on July 30, the web-based daily Confidencial published a list of 301 deaths certified
by CENIDH for the period April 18-July 30. The May 29 Amnesty International report Shoot to
Kill: Nicaragua’s Strategy to Repress Protest has a figure of 51 fatalities for the period April 19
to May 12 but provides no list despite discussing some individual cases.

In more detail:
1 On May 6, the Nicaraguan National Assembly created the CVJP to investigate casualties arising from the
protests that began on April 18. See this account [in English] from Telesur) and this Wikipedia entry.
2 The downloads of CVJP reports can be found at the bottom right of the opening page of the site.
3 The CPDH was set up in 1977, during the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza. It is funded by the National
Endowment for Democracy and operates this Facebook page.
4 The CENIDH was founded by former Sandinista Vilma Núñez in 1990. Further details here and here [in
English]. It operates this web site.
5 The IACHR is the autonomus human rights commission of the Organisation of American States (OEA). See here
for more detail. It operates this web site [in Spanish, English, Portuguese and French].
6 The ANPDH was founded in Miami in 1986 and was funded by the US Congress as part of its backing of the
contra opposition to the Sandinista revolution. See this critique in Envio of the ANPDH of the time. See here for
more detail. The ANPDH operates this Facebook page.

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a) The National Police report consists of presentations by date, locality, gender, age and
occupation of victim for the 197 deaths attributed to what is calls "coup-promoting
terrorism". For the same period 253 other deaths are ascribed to common homicide, traffic
accidents and other causes, and are classified in the same way. The report claims that
these deaths with no relation to the conflict "were manipulated by the coup-promoters and
their allied organisations to degrade, slander and damage the image of our Government".
The National Police report does not supply a list of individual victims.

b) The CVJP’s reports until August 32 classified the 222 deaths that it had reported by July 4
according to the same criteria as the National Police report, but added data as to number
of deaths per month, circumstances in which the 222 deaths took place and cause of death
for the 81 victims who had received an autopsy at the Institute of Legal Medicine (IML)
by July 4. They also contained other information on injuries, material damage and
estimations of the economic cost of the conflict. The CVJP reports did not supply a list of
individual victims until its August 15 report, which published a comparison between its
list and those of the IACHR and the ANPDH. (According to the CVJP, as reported on the
web site Rebelión, the CENIDH refused it any collaboration.)

The CVJP’s October 15 Segundo Informe Preliminar («Second Preliminary Report»)
updated these figures to cover its figure of 269 fatalities, with circumstances of death
provided for 116 autopsies carried out by the IML. The report also classifies fatalities by
gender, age, date of death and circumstances, with the following more detailed
breakdowns of circumstances: at the initial demonstrations against the INSS reforms; at
roadblocks; at the May 30 March of the Mothers; in attacks on private property and police
stations; and by cause of death such as fire, torture and murder. It also provides separate
statistics for women and children victims of the conflict.

One category provided is «murdered by armed oppositionists», but no figures are given
for fatalities attributable to the National Police, paramilitaries or other supporters of the
government.

c) The CPDH report presents its figure of 300 deaths broken down by age, gender, locality
and period (by day and by month), but does not supply a list of individual victims.

d) The list of 448 in the ANPDH’s August 26 preliminary report includes 162 cases that are
classified as under investigation, three where classification of the state of investigation is
described as "not applicable" and 49 where the names of the victims are unknown. That
is, fatalities actually accounted for by the ANPDH amount to 234 (448 –162 – 3 – 49).

e) The CENIDH list of total fatalities has to be compiled from the five separate reports that it
has published since April 19. This was done in the Confidential list of July 30.

2. The Hendrix analysis

Previously, on July 8, the Blog Against Manipulation had published a critical analysis of the
statistics on the conflict as presented by the CENIDH, ANPDH and IACHR up until June 25. Its
title is Monopolio de la muerte o de cómo inflar una lista de muertos contra un gobierno and on
July 15 an English translation entitled Monopolising death: Or how to frame a government by
inflating a list of the dead. It is henceforward referred to as the Hendrix analysis and all

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references are to the PDF of this English version, which updates some material in the Spanish
original.7

The Hendrix analysis concludes (pp. 38-39):
The three lists [CENIDH, IACHR and ANPDH] up until June 25 offer an accumulated total of 293 dead
citizens.

However, as this report points out that, that figure by no means implies total responsibility on the part of
the government. By contextualizing each case, they can be segregated in the following way:

 Deaths Not Directly Related to the Protests: 51 citizens
 Murdered by the Opposition: 60 citizens
 Demonstrators (protesters, opposition activists, people operating roadblocks...): 59 citizens
 Bystanders (not involved in the protests): 46 citizens
 Names with insufficient information to determine context of deaths: 77 citizens.
TOTAL: 293

As is clear from this untangling of the data, the human rights organizations have monopolized the deaths
of citizens and share the same variables so as to inflate the lists of the dead. Looking at the way the lists
are configured, the average inflation rate is 53% as regards the real number of victims of the protests.
That percentage can be disaggregated as follows: 3% repeated names; 20% deaths not directly related to
the protests; and 30% cases with incomplete, imprecise or non-existent data.The formula one might use
to define the estimate quantity increasing a list of dead people would be as follows:

RVP + RN + DNDR + IIND = Inflated list of deaths blamed on the government

Where,

RVP = Real victims of the protests (Demonstrators + People murdered by the opposition + Bystanders
not involved in the protests)
RN = Repeated names (RVP * 03%)
DNDR = Deaths not directly related to the protests (RVP * 20%)
IIND = Names with incomplete, imprecise or non-existent data (RVP * 30%)

The need to increase the deaths and include them in the context of the protests is related to the specific
objective of stoking people’s emotions so as to create discord and delegitimize the government.

The equation is used so as to obtain a speculative number and on that basis to inflate the list of people
dead using numbers readily manipulated according to the criteria of each organization.

...and that is how one inflates a list of the dead so as to discredit a government.

The Hendrix analysis has been cited as supporting the Nicaraguan government’s view of the
events following April 18 as a "soft coup" organised by the forces of the right, as in this account
by US journalist Max Blumenthal of his July 25 interview with Nicaraguan president Daniel
Ortega. For their part the CENIDH, IACHR and ANPDH are held to be complicit in this
operation, guilty of manipulating the data so as to mask this reality. In the words of Ortega to
CNN en Español interviewer Andres Oppenheimer on July 28:
This is raw, untreated data that has not been verified. These are simply reports that they’ve been
receiving and which they keep adding up, adding up.

7 A previous comment on the blog called Contradicciones en la lista de muertos dictada por el M19A en la
primera mesa de diálogo, Detalles por cada víctima, segunda mentira ("Contradictions in the list of deaths read
out by the 19th of April Movement at the first [national] dialogue session. Details for each victim, according to
lie") also questions the credibility of the initial death list presented by the Nicaraguan student movement.

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Ortega said of Paulo Abrao, the IACHR executive secretary who ascribed 90% of deaths to the
police and other pro-government forces:
He’s lying, he lies and he lies every day. He reaches conclusions simply on the basis of what he hears.

A Blog Against Manipulation editor’s footnote to Hendrix’s original Spanish text (not included in
the PDF versions of the text) makes this assessment of the quality of the three human rights’
organisations casualty lists:
A constant in the publication of these lists is the bad faith evidenced in: the lack of rigour in their
elaboration, as evidenced by the repetition of names and the absence of a distinction between direct
victims belonging to the Sandinistas and the forces of order, and those belonging to members of the
opposition, as well as the inclusion of a number of cases that cannot be related to political crimes, and a
further large number of cases lacking documentation.

The remarkable lack of professionalism in the preparation of these lists is evidenced by the lack of
substantive supporting evidence, such as death certificates, forensic reports, on-site survey reports,
sworn testimony, ballistic reports, and other documentary evidence that would be required in any normal
legal process.

Only half of the cases have any degree of confirmation that would allow the conclusion that they were a
direct consequence of the clashes. In addition, the circumstances surrounding each event are so sketchy
as to make proof of the direct cause of death impossible. For example: it is clear that several of the
opposition's deaths were the result of executions carried out within the realm of its own activities.

Only through a detailed and documented investigation as required by legal norms can a reliable list be
drawn up with anything like the validity needed to support charges of a political or criminal nature
(translation by DN).

This comment assesses the validity of such criticisms by reviewing Hendrix’s analysis of the
CENIDH, IACDH and ANPDH lists. It is based on investigation of Hendrix’s own list
(henceforward called the Hendrix list), which has been downloaded from this link provided in his
document.

3. Method of Hendrix analysis

The Hendrix list is composed of 293 names and, to establish the context of fatalities, seeks "to
identify the full name, photo, age, profession, place of death, reason for death, context,
observations and the sources for each case". It covers deaths that took place between April 19 and
June 25.

Hendrix does not specify how exactly his list was compiled but on the basis of his criticisms of
the CENIDH, IACHR and ANPDH lists the method adopted looks to have been to take the
numbers of fatalities as indicated by the CENIDH (167 in its three reports up to June 18), IACHR
(212 as of June 19) and ANPDH (285 as of June 25), amalgamate them, and then adjust that
single list by:

a) Removing duplicated names (four in the case of the CENIDH list, nine in the case of the
IACHR list and two in the case of the ANPDH list) and;

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b) Adding the names of fatalities omitted from these lists (24 in the case of CENIDH, 16 in the
case of the IACHR and five in the case of the ANPDH). In the case of the CENIDH list’s 24
missing fatalities, Hendrix comments:
[T]hey are excluded for unknown reasons, which hints at the organization’s lack of capacity to
investigate. Of these 16 citizens [number given in original Spanish text], 15 were murdered by the
opposition and one was not involved.

Hendrix does not give sources for these omitted fatalities and he leaves some names out of his
amalgamated list8, but most of the names were the subject of official media statements by the
National Police and/or reported in pro-government media.

Hendrix next analyses each list of the three human rights organisations, classifying the names of
fatalities into six categories: (1) Repeated names (2) Deaths not directly related to protests (3)
People murdered by the opposition (4) Protesters (protesters, opponents, opposition activists
operating roadblocks...) (5) Bystanders (uninvolved in the protests), and (6) Names with
insufficient data to determine the context of the death.

A seventh category covers the names of fatalities left out of each list, but this data is not included
in the statistical analysis that Hendrix undertakes.

The media and official sources mainly (but not only) used to classify the fatalities are the
National Police, the generally anti-government media The Press (La Prensa), The New
Newspaper (El Nuevo Diario), Confidential (Confidential), 100% News (100% Noticias), Today!
(Hoy!) What Happened Nicaragua (Q'hubo Nicaragua) and the pro-government media 19 Digital
(El 19 Digital), The New Radio Ya (Nueva Ya), Channel TN8 (TN8 TV) and the Voice of
Sandinism (La Voz del Sandinismo).

On the basis of his classifications Hendrix finds that fatalities not directly related to the protests
and names with insufficient data to determine the context of death (categories 2 and 6) account
for 19% (33 names) of the CENIDH list, 30% (64 names) of the IACHR list and 42% (120
names) of the ANPDH list. Deaths of bystanders (category 5) are respectively 21% (35 names),
18% (37 names) and 16% (45 names).

As a result, in Hendrix’s amalgamated list of 293 names (with duplications omitted and adding in
most of the fatalities left out of the CENIDH, IACHR and ANPDH lists), only 119 deaths (41%)
are directly due to the conflict, with these fatalities suffered half and half by the opposition (59)
and supporters of the government (60). The other 174 deaths (59%) are either of bystanders, of
persons unrelated to the conflict or their cause cannot be determined.

4. Problems with Hendrix’s attributions of cause of death

At the heart of the dispute over what has happened in Nicaragua are two conflicting versions of
events. For supporters of the government, they amounted to a coup against a democratically
elected administration9, a coup successfully defeated by July 19 with the minimum possible use
of force. For the opposition, the events amounted to a revolt against an autocratic government

8 This are the names: Cándida Rosa Herrera Rizo indicated as a name omitted from the CENIDH list (see pp. 11-
13); Carlos Manuel Sandino Hernández, indicated as a name omitted from the ANPDH list (see pp. 36-37); and
Kevin José Cruz Ruiz, Francisco Ponce Flores and Humberto José Reyes Almanza, indicated as names missing
from all three lists, including the IACHR list (see pp. 24-25). Francisco Ponce Flores is called Francisco Flores
Ponce on the list of omissions from the ANPDH.

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determined to suppress peaceful protest: the use of police and para-police forces to crush the
movement amounted to repression in which military-grade weaponry was used to kill, injure and
intimidate opponents.

In this context, the decisions as to which categories to use to classify fatalities and the grounds on
which to assign fatalities to any specific category have to be taken carefully and the reasons for
any particular choice specified.

Firstly, because in many cases responsibility for a death is disputed and as a result whether a
particular fatality is related to the conflict can also also be disputed; secondly, because the deaths
of persons classified as bystanders could be the result of actions by either side in the conflict; and
thirdly because it is often a matter of debate whether available data is sufficient to determine the
cause of death.

Reading all the sources given by Hendrix as background for his decisions on classifying fatalities
shows that his assignment of specific cases to his five categories can reasonably be questioned.
The Excel file supporting this statement adds a column (Column R) to Hendrix’s file and includes
there quotations from the sources provided that could justify a different classification of cause of
death. This file is available here. Section 5, "Method of reclassification", provides more detail.

In this section, attributions of cause of death in this comment that differ from Hendrix’s original
attributions are divided into three groups: (4.1) Fatalities potentially attributable to the action of
the National Police, para-police groups and other supporters of the Nicaraguan government such
as the Sandinista Youth; (4.2) Fatalities attributed by Hendrix to Category 2 («deaths not directly
related to the protests»), Category 3 ("people murdered by the opposition"), Category 4
("protesters") and Category 5 ("bystanders") and that are prima facie unclear and/or disputed and
should be re-assigned to Category 6 ("names with insufficient data"), and; (4.3) one further re-
attribution.

4.1 Fatalities potentially attributable to the action of the National Police, para-police groups and
other supporters of the Nicaraguan government such as the Sandinista Youth

 In Hendrix’s list of 51 fatalities not directly related to the protests (Category 2), four were
believed by the immediate family and/or neighbours and/or eyewitnesses to have been
caused by the National Police or other supporters of the government such the Sandinista
Youth (JS) or council employees in FSLN-run councils.10

 In Hendrix’s list of 60 "people murdered by the opposition" (Category 3), nine of the
fatalities were believed by the immediate family and/or neighbours and/or eyewitnesses to
have been caused by the National Police or other supporters of the government.11

9 In 2016, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) won 72.44% of the vote in the presidential elections
and 66.46% of the vote in the legislative elections. In 2017 the FSLN-led coalition United Alliance, Nicaragua
Triumphs won 75.88% of the vote. Further detail on Nicaraguan election results can be found here [in English].
A CENIDH monitoring report on the 2017 municipal election can be found here.
10 These are case numbers 71, 113, 114 and 284. Details are shown in Column R of the Excel file with the
background coloured in pale blue ("Azul clásico").
11 These are case numbers 10, 11, 32, 110, 111, 116, 129, 168 and 274.

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 In Hendrix’s 46 "bystander" fatalities (Category 5), 29 were believed by the immediate
family and/or neighbours to have been caused by the National Police or other supporters
of the government.12

 In Hendrix’s list of 77 names with insufficient data for attribution of cause of death
(Category 6), nine were (a) believed by the immediate family and/or neighbours and/or
eyewitnesses to have been caused by the National Police or other supporters of the
government and/or (b) were killed by military-grade weapons or in contexts in which
other victims are classified by Hendrix himself as attributable to the National Police
and/or pro-government groups.13

Adding these 51 names to Hendrix’s original estimate of 59 fatalities on the side of the protesters
(Category 4) changes the distribution of fatalities as shown in Table 1.

TABLE 1. Changes in distribution of fatalities after allowing for opinion of family
and/or neighbours of victim and witnesses

Hendrix
number
adjusted for
family/
neighbour
Category Hendrix number opinion Difference

(Category 2) Deaths not directly related to protests 51 (17.4%) 47 (16.0%) -4

(Category 3) People murdered by the opposition 60 (20.5%) 51 (17.4%) -9

(Category 4) Protesters (protesters, opponents,
59 (20.1%) 110 (37.5%) +51
opposition activists operating roadblocks...)

(Category 5) Bystanders (uninvolved in the protests) 46 (15.7%) 17 (5.8%) -29

(Category 6) Names with insufficient data to
77 (26.3%) 68 (23.5%) -9
determine the cause of the death

TOTAL 293 293 0

4.2 Fatalities attributed by Hendrix to Category 2, ("deaths not directly related to protests"),
Category 3 ("people murdered by the opposition"), Category 5 ("bystanders") and Category 4
("protesters") that are prima facie unclear and/or disputed and should hence be re-assigned to
Category 6 ("names with insufficient data")
 In Hendrix’s list of 51 fatalities not directly related to the conflict (Category 2), the cause
and/or context of death in 19 instances is not clear enough to rule out any connection with
the conflict.14

12 These are case numbers 1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 44, 45, 74, 80, 81, 106, 107, 120, 121, 125, 162, 220, 237, 238, 239, 240,
241, 242, 250, 259, 272, 273, 275 and 290.
13 These are case numbers 40, 42, 49, 57, 143, 145, 165, 214 and 276.

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 In Hendrix’s list of a definite 60 "people murdered by the opposition" (Category 3), the
cause and/or context of death in 18 instances is unclear and/or disputed.15

 In Hendrix’s list of a definite 59 "protester" victims (Category 4), the cause and/or context
of death in two instances is unclear and/or disputed.16

 In Hendrix’s list of a definite 46 "bystander" fatalities (Category 5), the cause and/or
context of death in 16 instances is unclear and/or disputed.17

Adding these 55 names to Category 6 («insufficient data to determine cause of death») further
changes the distribution of fatalities as shown in Table 2.

TABLE 2. Changes in distribution of fatalities after re-assigment of unclear and/or
disputed cases

(2) (3)

(1) adjusted for (2) adjusted for
family/neighbour unclear/disputed Difference
Category (1) Hendrix number opinion cases (3) – (2)

(Category 2) Deaths not
51 (17.4%) 47 (16.0%) 28 (9.6%) -19
directly related to protests

(Category 3) People
60 (20.5%) 51 (17.4%) 33 (11.3%) -18
murdered by the opposition

(Category 4) Protesters
(protesters, opponents,
59 (20.1%) 110 (37.5%) 108 (36.9%) -2
opposition activists
operating roadblocks...)

(Category 5) Bystanders
46 (15.7%) 17 (5.8%) 1 (0.3%) -16
(uninvolved in the protests)

(Category 6) Names with
insufficient data to
77 (26.3%) 68 (23.5%) 123 (42.0%) +54
determine the cause of the
death

TOTALS 293 293 293 0

4.3. Further re-attributions

The following re-attributions can also be reasonably made:

14 These are case numbers 65, 66, 75, 76, 78, 83, 90, 118, 119, 158, 169, 182, 184, 207, 234, 265, 266, 282 and
285. They are shown on Column R of the Excel file with the background coloured in Grey 3.
15 These are case numbers 3, 9, 46, 61, 89, 127, 132, 150, 154, 160, 161, 174, 200, 201, 202, 203, 219 and 251.
16 These are case numbers 13 and 34.
17 These are case numbers 4, 29, 30, 39, 56, 60, 69, 85, 86, 101, 126, 153, 171, 173, 199 and 252.

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 Alejandro Estrada Vega (Case 67) is classified as a "bystander" to the conflict but there is
a prima facie case for his reclassification as a possible victim of opposition forces.

The result of this reclassification is shown in Table 3, which shows the total changes in re-
allocation of fatalities. The re-assignment of case 67 increases the number in Category 3 by one
(to 34), while reducing that in Category 5 by one (to zero).

TABLE 3. Differences between the two classifications of fatalities

Number of
Category Hendrix number Comment Difference

(Category 2) Deaths not directly related to
51 (17.4%) 28 (9.6%) -23
protests

(Category 3) People murdered by the
60 (20.5%) 34 (11.6%) -26
opposition

(Category 4) Protesters (protesters,
opponents, opposition activists operating 59 (20.1%) 108 (36.9%) +48
roadblocks...)

(Category 5) Bystanders (uninvolved in the
46 (15.7%) 0 (0%) -46
protests)

(Category 6) Names with insufficient data to
77 (26.3%) 123 (42.0%) +47
determine the cause of the death

TOTALS 293 293 0

5. Method of reclassification

These figures have been derived by the following method:

a) The Hendrix Excel file, including his elimination of duplicated names and inclusion of
omissions in the CENIDH, IACHR and ANPDH lists, is accepted as accurate for the purposes of
analysis. It is not changed except to:

 Remove the photos of the victims to allow easier management of the file

 Update Column N (original Column O) to show cases where the CENIDH subsequently
recognised fatalities that were not on its initial lists, as confirmed by their appearance on
the July 30 Confidential "Fallecidos" list. This shows as a "NO/SI" entry in this column
or as a (NO) or (SI) entry after Hendrix’s N/A entry for all cases after the CENIDH cut-
off date of June 18.

 Add any extra media sources accessed in bold to Column M ("Fuentes").

b) Hendrix’s five operational categories (2 to 6) are accepted as the basis for the initial
classification of fatalities (excluding Categories 1, duplicated names, and 7, omissions, both of
which Hendrix’s list adjusts for). In the Excel file these categories are colour-coded as follows:

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 (Category 2) Deaths not directly related to protests: Pale green ("Verde 10")

 (Category 3) People murdered by the opposition: Magenta ("Magenta 1")

 (Category 4) Protesters (protesters, opponents, opposition activists operating
roadblocks...): Pale blue ("Azul clásico")

 (Category 5) Bystanders (uninvolved in the protests): Orange ("Naraja 10")

 (Category 6) Names with insufficient data to determine the context of the death: Grey
("Gris 3")

c) To reach a classification decision according to this method, the following procedure was
followed:

 All sources given in Hendrix’s file were read

 Where sources were provided from only from one side of conflict (pro-government or
pro-opposition) a search was made for possible coverage by sources aligned with the
other side. Where these were found--on 17 occasions--they were added to the Hendrix file
Column M ("Fuentes") in bold.

Where no such coverage could be found, the sources as given in Hendrix were accepted as the
only available. (This may not be the case, but resources do not exist to pursue possible sources of
further information.)

6. Criteria for reclassification

a) Where the family and/or neighbours of a fatality and/or other witnesses state or imply by their
actions that he or she was the victim of the action of pro-government forces (National Police,
para-police or paramilitaries, Sandinista Youth etc) and no evidence to the contrary is provided
by official sources (National Police and/or Institute of Legal Medicine) or these are silent on the
fatality in question, this is regarded as prima facie evidence of possible responsibility of the pro-
government side and the fatality is reclassified in Category 4.

Examples: Juan Carlos Aróliga Báez (Case 284), from Category 2 to Category 4; Marlon José
Orozco Largaespada (Case 110), from Category 3 to Category 4; Darwin Manuel Urbina (Case
1), from Category 5 to Category 4; Eduardo Antonio Sánchez Flores (Case 57), from Category 6
to Category 4.

b) Where the family and/or neighbours of a fatality and/or other witnesses state or imply by their
actions that he or she was the victim of the action of opposition protesters and defenders of
roadblocks (tranques) and no evidence to the contrary is provided by these sources or they are
silent on the fatality in question, this is accepted as prima facie evidence of possible
responsibility of the opposition side and the fatality is reclassified in Category 3.

Example: Alejandro Estrada Vega (Case 67), from Category 5 to Category 3.

c) Where sources state that only pro-government forces were active in an area and a fatality
results, this circumstantial evidence is regarded as prima facie evidence of possible responsibility
of the pro-government side and the fatality is reclassified in Category 4.

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Examples: Edwin Bismarck Gómez Gómez (Case 45), from Category 5 to Category 4; José
Daniel Sánchez López (case 40), from Category 6 to Category 4.

d) Where sources state that only opposition forces were active in an area and a fatality results,
this circumstantial evidence is regarded as prima facie evidence of possible responsibility of the
opposition side and the fatality is reclassified in Category 3.

Example: None

e) Where the cause and context of events is disputed by the two sides to the conflict, the fatality is
usually re-classified in Category 6 («names with insufficient data to determine the cause of
death»). However, where family, neighbour, witness and media sources claim that the
responsibility is of pro-government forces (National Police, paramilitaries, parapolice etc) and
National Police and pro-government media only assert otherwise without providing evidence, the
case is re-assigned to Category 4.

Examples: Jaime José Reyes Téllez (Case 71), from Category 2 to Category 4; Jorge Gastón
Palacios Vargas (Case 111), from Category 3 to Category 4); Heriberto Antonio Rodríguez
Mercado (Case 74), from Category 5 to Category 4.

In three cases the evidence in favour of re-classification as probable victims of pro-government
forces is regarded as particularly strong, despite the claims of pro-government sources. These
cases are:

 Apolonio Díaz Delgadillo and Jimmy Jaime Paiz Barahona (Cases 10 and 11), burned to
death during the April 20 attack on Radio Dario in León. The incident as described by La
Prensa is judged to outweigh the doubts expressed in the comment on it in the Blog
Against Manipulation.

 Heriberto Antonio Rodríguez Mercado (Case 74). Although a Sandinista, a close friend
believes he was the victim of police or para-police.

f) All other cases are assigned to Category 6.

Examples: José Alfredo Leiva Chavarría (Case 75), from Category 2 to Category 6; Richard
Antonio Pavón Hernández (Case 3), from Category 3 to Category 6; Hammer Joel García Salinas
(Case 34), from Category 4 to Category 6; Marcos Antonio Samorio Anderson (Case 30), from
Category 5 to Category 6.

7. Validity of the re-classification

What weight can be given to the numbers resulting from these reclassifications, given that they
differ markedly from Hendrix’s figures?

The figures (and Hendrix’s, by the same token) reflect an assessment of probability. This, by
definition, does not constitute certainty. However, in the situation of conflict in Nicaragua, where
few cases have yet come to trial18 and official institutions such as the National Police are seen by
the opposition as major actors in the conflict and the legal system is suspected of lack of
18 According to the August 15 CVJP report, only six cases were under investigation at that point in time. The most
prominent trail at the time of writing was that of two men charged with the murder of journalist Angel Gahona
(case 32). On August 27, they were found guilty of the crime, but eyewitnesses, including Gahona’s partner,
continue to believe they were framed.

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impartiality, the closest that it is possible to come to certainty is in those cases where there is no
disagreement between the parties over cause and context of death. All other cases either require
some assessment of likelihood or defy assessment because of conflicting evidence or insufficient
information.

In the many disputed cases where the evidence available is also incomplete, the judgement of
likelihood has to be based on specific criteria such as those provided in Sections 5 and 6. This
contrasts with Hendrix’s method, where the assignment of cases to categories is not explicitly
justified.

The result of any reclassfication will therefore be sensitive to the criteria applied, creating a wide
span of possible distributions. This is demonstrated in Section 9.

The re-classification done here leads to the elimination of Category 5 ("bystanders"). This is
because bystander fatalities will have either been due to the action of pro-government parties or
that of the opposition, be unrelated or be unable to be classified due to conflicting evidence or
lack of information. Hence the figure for Category 5 fatalities after reclassification is zero. Of
Hendrix’s 46 bystander fatalities, one is re-assigned to Category 3 (likely victim of opposition
activity), 29 are re-assigned to Category 4 (protester deaths) on the basis of
family/neighbour/witness opinion and 16 are re-assigned to Category 6 (unclear).

This raises the importance issue of criteria for choosing categories, treated in the next section.

8. Introducing neutral categories

Hendrix’s terms for categories are not neutral. Fatalities on the Nicaraguan government side are
called "people murdered by the opposition", but the fatalities of the opposition are not called
"people murdered by the government" but "protesters (protesters, opponents, opposition activists
operating roadblocks...)".

Hendrix’s terminology also introduces a potential confusion by classifying protester fatalities
according to which side of the conflict they support (the protest movement against the
government) and pro-government fatalities by which side is responsible for deaths (i.e.
"murdered by the opposition").

The effort to classify fatalities should use a neutral terminology. It should also categorise
according to those potentially responsible for fatalities (including fatalities within their own side
of the conflict) and it should at the same time eliminate the category of bystanders. This approach
would give four categories:

1. Fatalities attributable to (victims of) actions of National Police and other forces
supporting the Nicaraguan government (shorthand, Fatalities Attributable to Government
Supporters);

2. Fatalities attributable to (victims of) actions of anti-government protesters (shorthand,
Fatalities Attributable to Opposition Supporters);

3. Fatalities with no relation to conflict (shorthand, Unrelated Fatalities);

4. Contradictory evidence or evidence insufficient to allow assignment to one of the first
three categories (shorthand, Unclear).

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The number of fatalities attributable to each category would then be (see Table 4).

TABLE 4. Nicaragua, possible responsiblity for fatalities, April 19-June 25

Category Number

Fatalities Attributable to Government Supporters 108 (36.9%)

Fatalities Attributable to Opposition Supporters 34 (11.6%)

Unrelated Fatalities 28 (9.6%)

Unclear 123 (42.0%)

TOTAL 293

9. Applying more restrictive criteria

The allocation of deaths to the categories in Table 4 raises the important issue of what degree of
evidence is regarded as sufficient to justify a specific allocation. For example, in this comment
the opinion of the families, neighbours and witnesses has so far been treated as sufficient to
determine the allocation.

However, it is worth testing for how the numbers in each category would change:

a) If family and neighbour opinion is treated with scepticism by assigning such cases to the
Unclear category when their opinion is contradicted by the account of the National Police
listed by Hendrix (even without supporting evidence) and;

b) If circumstantial evidence by itself as detailed under Section 5, points (c) and (d) is
regarded as insufficient to allow allocation to any category except Unclear.

By applying these criteria the only cases where the declarations of family relations and neighours
of the victim and/or of eyewitnesses would allocate a fatality would be in the absence of any
declaration to the contrary in the National Police sources listed by Hendrix. These take the form
both of National Police media statements and National Police positions published in other media.

Column T in the Excel file applies this more restrictive approach, which adds 47 cases to the
Unclear category: the results are shown in Table 5.

In this scenario:

 Fatalities attributed to government supporters fall by 42 from 108 to 6619;

 Fatalities attibutable to opposition supporters fall from 34 to 3020;

19 The extra 42 cases reassigned to Unclear from Fatalities attributed to government supporters are: 1, 5, 32, 35, 40,
42, 49, 57, 71, 80, 106, 107, 113, 114, 129, 134, 141, 145, 156,165,175, 176, 179, 181, 214, 237, 238, 239, 240,
241, 242, 250, 259, 269, 270, 272, 273, 274, 275, 276, 284, 290.
20 The extra four cases reassigned to Unclear from Fatalities attributable to opposition supporters are: 67, 70, 122
and 155

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 Unrelated fatalities fall from 28 to 2721;

 Unclear cases increase from 123 to 170.

TABLE 5. Nicaragua, possible responsiblity for fatalities, April 19-June 25, with
restrictive criteria compared to original comment criteria

Category Number Number Difference
(original (restrictive
criteria) criteria)

Fatalities Attributable to Government 108 (36.9%) 66 (22.5%) -42
Supporters

Fatalities Attributable to Opposition 34 (11.6%) 30 (10.2%) -4
Supporters

Unrelated Fatalities 28 (9.6%) 27 (9.2%) -1

Unclear 123 (42.0%) 170 (58.0%) +47

TOTAL 293 293 0

10. Conclusions

Four main conclusions can be drawn from this exercise.

10.1 The conclusion of Hendrix’s study as to an equal sharing of fatalities between the protesters
and the pro-government forces is not supported

Even when applying the restrictive criteria that classify cases as "unclear" when they are disputed
by the National Police and when only circumstancial evidence is available, fatalities attributable
to government supporters are more than twice those attributable to opposition supporters (66 to
30).

10.2 The methods used by Hendrix to derive the conclusion of essential parity between deaths on
the two sides of the conflict lack rigour

Hendrix derives his result by using four questionable devices.

Firstly, through creating the category of bystander deaths (Category 5): this alone allows 29 cases
(63% of the bystander category total of 46) to be removed from the category of fatalities
attributable to forces supporting the government. The device permits minimisation of the number
of fatalities possibly due to the action of the National Police and government supporters by
creating a classification into which such cases can be included that should prima facie be
included in Categories 2, 3, 4 or 6.

Secondly, by classifying 19 fatalities about which there is insufficient data to determine the cause
and circumstances of death as «deaths not directly related to the protests» (Category 2).

21 The extra case number reassigned from Unrelated fatalities to Unclear is: 253.

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Thirdly, through category confusion, classifying victims from the government side according to
whether they were "murdered" by the protesters and the protester victims on the basis of their
belonging to the opposition. However, in several instances (such as the April 20 attack on Radio
Dario in León) the fact that victims belonged to the pro-government side allows them to be
classified as victims of opposition activity even when there is a prima facie case for their deaths
being attributable to the activity of their own side.

Lastly, by not making explicit the criteria for assignment of cases, most visible in the low
weighting given to the opinions of the families and/or neighbours of victims.

According to the criteria used in this comment, the reassignment of cases from Hendrix’s
distribution initially amounts to 108 out of 293 cases (36.9%) and to 101 (34.5%) out of 293
cases when the restrictive criteria are applied.

10.3 The Hendrix study’s figure of a 53% "average inflation rate" as regards the real number of
victims of the protests is misleading

Hendrix says:
Looking at the way the lists are configured, the average inflation rate is 53% as regards the real number
of victims of the protests. That percentage can be disaggregated as follows: 3% repeated names; 20%
deaths not directly related to the protests; and 30% cases with incomplete, imprecise or non-existent
data.The formula one might use to define the estimate quantity increasing a list of dead people would be
as follows:

RVP + RN + DNDR + IIND = Inflated list of deaths blamed on the government

Where,

RVP = Real victims of the protests (Demonstrators + People murdered by the opposition + Bystanders
not involved in the protests)
RN = Repeated names (RVP * 03%)
DNDR = Deaths not directly related to the protests (RVP * 20%)
IIND = Names with incomplete, imprecise or non-existent data (RVP * 30%)

Hendrix’s figures are:
 Deaths Not Directly Related to the Protests: 51 citizens
 Murdered by the Opposition: 60 citizens
 Demonstrators (protesters, opposition activists, people operating roadblocks...): 59 citizens
 Bystanders (not involved in the protests): 46 citizens
 Names with insufficient information to determine context of deaths: 77 citizens.
TOTAL: 293
Hendrix’s conclusion of a 53% «average inflation rate» is thus derived by applying his formula to
his figures as follows:

RVP = 165 (1)
(59 «demonstrators» + 60 «people murdered by the opposition»)+ 46 «bystanders»)

RN («repeated names») = RVP x 0.03 = 4.95 (2)

DNDR («unrelated deaths») = RVP x 0.2 = 33 (3)

IIND («names with incomplete data») = RVP x 0.3 = 49.5 (4)

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Therefore, the «inflated list of deaths blamed on the government» =

165+ 4.95 + 33 + 49.5 = 252.45 (5)

Therefore, the «average inflation rate» =

(252.45 -165)/165 = 0.53 = 53% (6)

This figure is misleading for the following reasons:

Firstly, as applied to the Hendrix list the category RN is null as repetitions have been eliminated
there. Secondly, for the Hendrix list the 20% weighting of deaths not related to the protests
(DNDR) is actually 17.4% (51/293). Thirdly, the weighting of names with incomplete, imprecise
or non-existent data (IIND) is 26.3% (77/293). The «inflated list of deaths» figure should
therefore be:

165 + (165 x 0) + (165 x 0.174) + (165 x 0.263) = 237.105 (7)

And the «average inflation rate» =

(237.105 – 165)/165 = 0.437 = 43.7% (8)

Namely, 43.7%, not 53%.

However, this is not the main problem with Hendrix’s method, as becomes clear when the same
method is applied to the data as reclassified in this document. The results are:

a. For the initial redistribution

RVP = 108 + 34 + 0 = 142

The weightings are:

DNDR: 9.6% (28/293)

IIND: 42.0% (123/293)

And the «inflated list of deaths figure» is therefore

142 + (142 x 0) + (142 x 0.096) + (141 x 0.42) = 215.272 (9)

And the «average inflation rate» =

(215.372– 142)/142 = 0.527 = 51.7% (10)

b. For the scenario with restrictive criteria

RVP = 66 + 30 = 96

And the weightings are:

DNDR: 9.2% (27/293)

IIND: 58.0% (170/293)

The «inflated list of deaths figure» is therefore

96+ (96 x 0) + (96 x 0.092) + (96 x 0.58) = 160.512 (11)

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Therefore, the «average inflation rate» =

(160.512 - 96)/96 = 0.672 = 67.2% (12)

It is clear that Hendrix’s "inflation rate" figure basically reflects the ratio of unassigned
(«unsolved») to assigned («solved») cases: the smaller the ratio of «real victims of the protests»
(Hendrix’s Categories 3, 4 and 5) to unrelated fatalities and unclear cases (Catgeories 2 and 6),
the greater will be the «average inflation rate».

The figure therefore says nothing about the possible bias or lack of scruple of investigators: the
more cautious the approach to any case the greater the likelihood of it being classified as unclear
and hence the higher will be the "average inflation rate". By that token, a low "inflation rate"
could reflect a higher degree of cases "solved" by false classification and a high "inflation rate"
could reflect rigorous classification of cases as unclear until criteria are unambiguously fulfilled.

11. Final comments

11.1 The Hendrix critique does not provide conclusive evidence against the core message of the
CENIDH, IACHR and ANPDH

What bearing do the above conclusions have on Hendrix’s critique of the CENIDH, IACHR and
ANPDH reports? Hendrix scores the partiality of these reports in his introduction (pp. 1-2):
CENIDH: "The CENIDH list is not presented as a chart or a table, but as a section within each report
which is titled "Killed and wounded as a result of government repression and violence." Note that this
title irresponsibly and arbitrarily asserts that the deaths are a direct consequence of the violence on the
part of the Government."

IACHR: "This appendix [the IACHR fatalities list] is entitled: ‘List of deceased persons in Nicaragua
since the beginning of the protests (April 19 - June 19, 2018)’. Note the cynical euphemism of ‘deceased
in Nicaragua since the beginning of the protests’, that is, every person who died from April 19th to June
19th, promoting the decontextualization of the same, regardless of the causes and circumstances of the
death of each of them and as we will indicate later."

ANPDH: "[It] issued a document entitled: ‘Preliminary Report of Nicaraguan Citizens Killed in Civic
Protest as a Human Rights and Executed by Armed Groups (Paramilitary or Shock Forces) for the
period: 04/19/2018 to 6/25/2018. (66 calendar days)’. Note that the title shares the same editorial line of
the CENIDH, affirming irresponsibly and arbitrarily that all the deaths occurred in the context of ‘Civic
Protest’ and likewise attributes their deaths to ‘Executions by Armed Groups (Paramilitaries or Shock
Forces)’."

As against the three agencies’ "removal from context [of] each one of the dead and adjudging
them as victims of the ‘repression’ on the part of the government", Hendrix states that "it is
necessary to know the set of circumstances surrounding the death of each citizen to understand
whether that death has any direct or indirect relationship to the protests."

However, as has been shown above—and is clear from study of the sources provided in his Excel
file—Hendrix’s effort at contextualisation of each death does not prevent him from classifying
many in ways that are open to question because it is not clear what criteria he is applying and
why.

The overall result is that the central claim of Hendrix’s critique—that the human rights’ agencies
are part of a "campaign that, in the absence of a just cause, uses the death of every citizen as a

17
motive to manipulate the emotions of the population in order to counterpose ‘the people’ against
‘the people’"—lacks substantiation.

This is the more so because the Hendrix document does not actually confront the investigating
agencies’ basic reading of what happened after April 18. The IACHR report’s executive summary
(pp 7-8) sums up that position:
The Nicaraguan authorities have cited maintaining public order and social peace as justification for their
actions. Nonetheless, the IACHR notes that, in view of the scope of the State’s violence and the type of
strategies implemented by the State, it is obvious that there is coordinated action to control public spaces
and repress social protest and not just a few illegal acts perpetrated by a few members of the security
forces. In fact, the information received describes a pattern of state agents, mainly members of the
National Police of Nicaragua and its anti-riot brigades, parapolice forces, as well as strike groups or
mobs, acting in concert with the Police, setting into motion a repressive response aimed at deterring
society from participating in the demonstrations.

The IACHR notes that this pattern has been implemented with the excessive and arbitrary use of force,
including the use of lethal force, deliberately and systematically, by the above-mentioned actors. The
IACHR notices that the State responded to the demonstrations in different stages and with different
levels of intensity and that different tactics and methods of repression have been deployed against the
demonstrators, as well as against the civilian population on the streets. Based on the information
gathered by the IACHR, on April 18, 2018, the first day of the protests, the State response was first
characterized by the excessive use of force, mostly, through the use of firearms and excessive use of less
lethal weapons, such as tear gas, rubber bullets and buckshot, by the National Police and anti-riot squad,
in order to break up protests and demonstrations in different cities of the country. Because the protests
continued, from April 19 to 22 the State adopted a more aggressive repressive strategy against the
demonstrators and even against individuals who were not taking part in the protests.

According to the testimonies received during the visit, snipers were deployed as another means of
repression and evidence suggests a link of the snipers to State agents. The information received by the
IACHR from staff members of public hospitals suggests that in the period referenced above numerous
victims were treated for bullet wounds in the head, eyes, neck and the thorax, as well as in the back. The
mechanics and trajectory of the shots would indicate arbitrary use of lethal force, or extrajudicial
executions. According to the autopsy reports examined by the IACHR, projectile entry orifices, in many
instances, were located in highly lethal areas of the body, which points to lethal intent of the shots.

Instead of directly confronting this account with evidence to the contrary the Hendrix document
looks to discredit the reports by pointing to their omissions, duplications of names and
inaccuracies and inconsistencies as to detail (like age of victim), as well as by a contextualisation
of fatalities that is, as has been shown, at the very least questionable.

Prima facie evidence in support of the human rights’ agencies’ view of events—such as the
mobilisation of paramilitary forces, the very high number of casualties due to sniper fire, the low
level of official investigation of the fatalities—is also not addressed. Other important parts of the
agencies view of events also go without comment. These cover officially sanctioned kidnapping,
the biased operation of the legal system, detentions without trial, failure to carry out proper
autopsies and many other issues.

11. 2 An accurate picture of what has happened in Nicaragua since April 18 requires an agreed
list of casualties

In the absence of detailed information on the context and cause of death of each and every fatality
since April 18, all classification of responsibility for deaths is provisional and open to revision by

18
new evidence. A necessary step forward towards better information on context and cause of death
would be the provision by the Nicaraguan official agencies of a single agreed list of casualties.

In presenting the CVJP’s August 15 report comparing its list of fatalities related to the conflict to
those of the IACHR and ANPDH, member Cairo Amador, stated:
The comparison had been done taking into account the initiative of Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes
[archbishop of Managua], asking for representatives of the government, the Truth Commission [CVJP]
and national and international human rights’ organisations to come together to cross-check their data and
seek out a consensus as to the number of people who have passed away in the context of the socio-
political crisis.

This CVJP report finds that 155 of the IACHR’s list’s 212 names co-incide with its records,
while 34 are unrelated with the conflict, 13 not on the official registry of deaths and ten names
duplicated.

As for the ANPDH list of 448 names, 233 co-incide with the CVJP’s records, 105 are unrelated
with the conflict, 57 are not on the official death registry and four names are dupicated.

The CVJP report does not comment on the difference between its figure of 269 fatalities and the
National Police’s August 7 figure of 197.

Unlike the Hendrix report, the CVJP list effectively eliminates the category of "names with
insufficient data to determine the context of the death" and does not try to ascribe responsibility
for fatalities beyond supplying a short description of the circumstances in which they took place.

It also adds a note on the legal situation resulting from each fatality. In the case of the IACHR’s
list of 212 names, to date only six are the subject of legal proceedings. In the case of the
ANPDH’s 448 names, the state of any legal proceedings is not registered.

In an August 24 media release, the IACHR stated, without mentioning the CVJP report:
In response to the calling into question of its methodology by Nicaragua’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
including the number of persons who have been killed, the IACHR reiterates that the monitoring work
done through MESENI [Special Monitoring Mechanism for Nicaragua] and other available mechanisms
is carried out with extreme methodological rigor. This entails contrasting multiple information sources,
including the testimonies of victims, victims’ families, civil society organizations, the media, and official
sources. The IACHR keeps a record of its sources of information on the persons killed. As can be
verified in the annex to the Report entitled Gross Human Rights Violations in the Context of Social
Protests in Nicaragua, the IACHR has included each and every one of the fatal victims that the State
identified as reported to the Commission. In its subsequent press releases, the IACHR has continued to
incorporate the information provided by the State. However, according to the observed and verified
evidence, the vast majority of victims died as a result of State action or vigilante forces in the service of
the State.
Likewise, the numbers of deceased persons provided by the State are inconsistent. In notes sent by the
State to the IACHR between June and July 2018, the State reported 37 deaths, most of them State agents
or persons related to the government. Subsequently, in response to repeated requests for up-to-date
information, the State reported in a note dated August 7 [the National Police report] that a total of 450
people had died in Nicaragua between April 19 and July 25. This note remarked that 197 of these people
were “victims of terrorist attempts to overthrow the government” and 253 had died in “homicide
(common crime), traffic accidents, and other causes which were manipulated by people and
organizations wishing to overthrow the government of Nicaragua in order to discredit, slander, and
damage its image.” However, the report in question did not include a list of those who had died. Given

19
the inconsistencies in figures reported by the State and its questioning of the Commission’s record of
fatal victims, the IACHR reiterates the urgent need for the State of Nicaragua to provide access to
detailed information on those who have died so that it can compare and check its own figures against
those provided by the Nicaraguan authorities.

11.3 An accurate picture of what has happened in Nicaragua since April 18 requires an
independent investigation

The development of an agreed list of fatalities can only be a necessary first step in clarifying the
contexts and causes of the deaths that began on April 19. Establishing the truth will require an
independent investigation by international experts of acknowledged objectivity.

To date, however, the actions of the Nicaraguan authorities seem directed against the possibility
of that outcome. Student and social movement leaders are being arrested, publicly described as
"terrorists" and subjected to legal proceedings that look to be aimed more at criminalising social
protest and disagreement than at establishing guilt or innocence. On August 31, the Nicaraguan
government ended the mission of the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights
(OHCHR) delegation in Nicaragua after the release of its report critising the action of the
Nicaraguan state in the face of the protests.

The left, which is embroiled in debate over Nicaragua, has every interest in seeing such an
impartial and thorough investigation take place. If it proves impossible to achieve, left forces
internationally should undertake the initiative to establish their own investigation to determine the
truth.

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