Nicaragua’s foreign minister said on Friday that a report by the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) about deadly political crisis in the country was slanted against the government.
“Nicaragua completely rejects the IACHR report as it is subjective, prejudiced and entirely biased,” Denis Moncada said during a meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) Permanent Council in Washington.
Moncada added the “report deliberately omits all the armed attacks, sieges, harassment and kidnappings” by protesters.
He challenged one of the most critical conclusions of the report regarding the existence of an “organized” violence against protesters involving the police, anti-riot squads, alleged paramilitary groups and pro-government vigilantes.
“We reiterate that the repression of social movements and the arbitrary use of force are not state policies,” the foreign minister said.
Moncada said that the report is part of a series of efforts to spur a “coup d’etat” in Nicaragua and force President Daniel Ortega to step down.
Addressing the Organization of American States (OAS), Moncada said: “The report analyzes the social protests that occurred April 18, which did not result in any deaths.
“However, the media, manipulating information, published fake news about the death of a university student in the Central American University, which never happened. This information served as a detonator for the events that occurred from April 19 onward.
“Groups interested in the destabilization and rupture of the country’s constitutional order, oblivious to any social claim, fueled riots from that day on, which became ravages, fires and looting.
“The Nicaraguan state expresses categorically its position regarding the events that the ICHR analyzes, which are not within the framework of social protests, rather… an attempt at constitutional and institutional rupture to change… the legitimately elected government.”
Moncada went on to say that contrary to claims the protests were peaceful, from April 19 onward protesters began to use violent force, which resulted in numerous deaths.
The 97-page report, which was presented on Friday, summarizes the findings of a commission delegation that visited Nicaragua from May 17-21.
The report holds Ortega’s government responsible for serious human rights violations.
By June 19, according to the OAS report, 212 people have been killed and 1,337 have been injured during anti-government protests.
The unrest dates from April 18, when violent protests began against a controversial plan to overhaul the pension system.
Though the government abandoned the plan, protests continued and opponents began demanding the resignation of Ortega, now in the 11th year of his current tenure as president.
He previously governed the Central American nation from 1979-1990 after leading the Sandinista revolution that overthrew US-backed autocrat Anastasio Somoza.
Ortega, 72, was re-elected in 2016 with more than 70% of the vote.