Who is Behind Nicaragua’s Turmoil?

This fourth part of the debate was cut out of the original debate due to length considerations. However we present the cut segment of the debate upon the request of Mary Ellsberg. It deals with the details of an analysis of who is responsible for the death of protesters in Nicaragua. Viewers who saw the debate before August 30th, 2018 only need to view this fourth part to see the part that had originally been cut out. Viewers who saw the debate after August 30th, 2018, do not need to see part 4, since this segment is now also included in part 2, in its original location.

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Story Transcript

AARON MATE: It’s The Real News. I’m Aaron Mate.

This is a bonus part of a recent debate that I hosted here on The Real News between Max Blumenthal and Mary Ellsberg about the turmoil in Nicaragua. The initial recording was very long, so for broadcast we edited it down to make it a more reasonable length. And after it was published, Mary Ellsberg contacted us and pointed out that a section of hers was removed that she felt was important. And it’s about her questioning a forensic death toll study that was done that disputed claims that most of the deaths in Nicaragua were on the opposition side. This report claimed that actually the death toll was more even between government supporters and opposition members. So Mary Ellsberg, in this section that we are now publishing, now talks about her criticism of that report.

MARY ELLSBERG: I had already gone through the Inter-American Human Rights Commission’s paper, the first report, which was very, very detailed. And I already told you a little bit about it. They had come up with 100, almost 200 people in the first report, and then in their most recent report they talk about 317 people who had been killed during this period as a result of the, of the protests. So it could be on either side. They have received documents from the government and they have included them. So the idea that they ignore it and don’t put them in is just not true. And in my article I actually cite the pieces where they recognized what the government is- what the information the government has given them.

But a few days ago, a paper came out by somebody named Enrique Hendrix that everybody is talking about it as a forensic document. I don’t know- I think the word forensic is being used very loosely. What he did was take a bunch of names, lists of names from two of the Nicaraguan NGOs that collected data on the deaths, and then the IACHR, which is not based on the other two, as people continue to say. In fact, there are, there are complaints that were collected intended that are not in the in the IACHR list because the family didn’t want to report it or report a complaint. So these are actual formal complaints that have been lodged by family members, or by individuals who have been harmed.

So I went through it all. Basically his point is that he has made his own sort of organization of the, of the different people who have been killed, and has taken a group that he says were killed by the opposition, and they were Sandinistas. He says there are 60 of those. So about a fifth of the murders are by the opposition. About another fifth are people who are protesting, who were murdered presumably by the government, or by parapolice. There’s another 16 percent or 46 deaths of people who were bystanders, and people keep talking about- people who are just walking around or something. And another group of 17 percent of deaths that are unrelated to the protests.

And so he takes all of those out and basically says that there are 119 deaths from this list, and half of them are people who were killed by the opposition. OK? That’s the big story and that’s what everybody’s been hearing thus far. So I now have it, and I’m going to just open up my computer so I can look at a little better.

So I just went down the list. And what he does is that he classifies them himself as to how he thinks they should be considered, and gives the information he has, and then he puts which report they’re in. And then in the side he gives, he gives the media where he got his information. Now, again, this is not forensic in the sense that he didn’t speak to anybody. He didn’t do any independent investigation. He basically just reorganized it and went back over all the media, and tried to figure out in his own mind what had happened. OK?

So what I found in the first 14- and I’m happy to send this to you, Max, and to anybody else- in the first 14 I found 10 errors. And this was either because the links were not- the links that supposedly were substantiating the identification, the classification, were wrong or dead, or dealt with the wrong person, or they were incomplete. So if I looked and I found more media talk- so basically he would use the media around the bystanders. One that said, oh yeah, he was just nearby coming home. We don’t know what happened. But there’s another one that says that on his Facebook he said, you know, ‘Todo por la Patria’ with a blue and white flag on it. And all of his friends said that he was a, he was a protester. So there’s that. And then finally, he actually links to some data, some reports, where it actually said the opposite.

So in the first whole long list of people who were killed by snipers that he says are not related to, they’re not at all related to the protest, what happened there, these are all people who were standing near the protest. Either in Ciudad Sandino or in [uni]. They may or may not have been there intentionally to participate. But they were killed by the same snipers. And remember, these snipers were firing from far away and were shooting to kill individuals that were unknown.

And that’s part of the terror of this, and the whole idea was to terrify people to not participate in, in marches or in the protests because people were simply getting mowed down just for being there.