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How Washington and soft power NGOs manipulated Nicaragua’s death toll to drive regime change and sanctions

Did Nicaragua’s Sandinista government really kill 300+ peaceful protesters? A forensic analysis of the death toll exposes the claim as a dangerous lie.

by Max Blumenthal

Part 3 - How anti-Sandinista “human rights” NGOs and Washington cooked the books

Hendrix found that the three main self-proclaimed human rights groups in Nicaragua had removed the contexts of the deaths they recorded in order to conflate every unnatural death that occurred across the country between April 19 and June 25 with killings by Nicaraguan pro-government forces.

He found that seven categories of deaths were included in the human rights reports. All categories except for one were totally unrelated to government violence.

They are as follows:

Duplicated names
Deaths unrelated to protests
People murdered by the opposition
Opposition activists, including those involved in the violent tranques
Innocent bystanders
Names without significant data to determine the cause of death
Deaths omitted from each list

According to Hendrix, reports by CENIDH, CIDH, and ANPDH were padded with the deaths of “victims of traffic accidents, altercations between gangs, murders by robbery, those killed by accidental firing of a firearm and even more absurdly, a suicide.

CIDH’s study includes a whopping nine duplicated names, while all three organizations larded their reports with 97 deaths that were unrelated to the protests. The causes of 77 deaths recorded in the three reports remain unknown.

While the Nicaraguan opposition has howled about genocide-level massacres of students, Hendrix found in his own research that out of the approximately 60 deaths among anti-Sandinista elements at the hands of government-aligned forces, only 16 or 17 were actual students.

Most shockingly, Hendrix’s forensic research demonstrated that the opposition killed at least the same number of Sandinista supporters and police officers as they lost at the hands of the government. This fact flies directly in the face of the US-centric narrative of a dictator mowing down peaceful protesters.

It would be easy for anyone familiar with the situation that unfolded on the ground over the past three months to see why so many had been killed on the Sandinista side.

In late April, Ortega ordered his police forces to stay in their stations as a condition of the national dialogue he initiated with the opposition. The order meant that for about 55 days, Sandinista supporters were left to fend off a national crusade of lethal blood vengeance. Countless citizens were beaten or faced property destruction at the hands of the opposition solely because they belonged to the Sandinista front.

Among the killings of Sandinistas detailed in Hendrix’s report was a 25 month old baby, the child of Gabriella Maria Aguirre, who died on June 13 in Masatepe of bronchoaspiration when her ambulance was held up at an opposition roadblock.

Meanwhile, in cities like Masaya and Jinotepe, police found themselves under virtual siege, cut off for weeks from regular food and medical supplies, and wound up waging a pitched battle with the opposition militants that had encircled them.

The deaths of those within opposition ranks who were killed by accident or as a result of fratricidal violence has also been decontextualized in these reports, and are therefore unacknowledged by Washington and international legal bodies. They include Guatemalan journalist Eduardo Spiegler, who was crushed by a “tree of life” street decoration toppled by opposition protesters as he was covering their spree of vandalism.

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