Amnesty International on Nicaragua – false, cynical, incompetent

Stephen Sefton, Tortilla con Sal

Like almost all big Western NGOs, Amnesty International has long served as an arm of psychological warfare promoting the foreign policy agenda of the United States and its allied governments. Its reports are soft on US allies but extremely aggressive against their targets. Like the International Federation for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch and other ideologically committed human rights organizations, Amnesty International plays a dual role. It switches seamlessly between its self-evident media propaganda role and its similarly faithless advocacy role within international legal forums, especially the UN.

In 2018, Nicaragua provided a text book example of how Western corporate and alternative media feed on phony human rights reporting and how that in turn feeds into legal frameworks like those of the Organization of American States and the UN. An independent report, “Dismissing the Truth” has already exposed Amnesty International’s dishonest, sloppy reporting on Nicaragua. By extension, the report also implicitly exposes the categorical failure of the Inter American Commission for Human Rights and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Both those bodies share Amnesty International’s culpable negligence, its betrayal of basic democratic accountability and its unscrupulous abuse of accepted norms for reporting and documentation.

By the end of the Nicaraguan opposition’s failed coup attempt in July 2018, Amnesty International and its fellow human rights organizations had a serious perception management problem. Amnesty International, for example in its first false and inaccurate report on events in April and May 2018, had falsely alleged that Nicaragua’s police deliberately killed peaceful demonstrators to repress protests. But by the end of July a total of 22 police officers had been killed by violent well-armed protestors and another 400 seriously wounded, mainly by gunfire. The difference between Amnesty International’s phony reporting and the reality of a well-organized armed coup attempt to overthrow Nicaragua’s elected government was simply undeniable.

Faber López Vivas in April 2018

However, in October 2018, Amnesty International produced an equally cynical report in which it continued to carefully ignore opposition murders and vicious woundings of police officers between April 19th and July 17th of that year. That report in October 2018 supported Nicaragua’s opposition media lies claiming that the police themselves tortured and murdered their own officers. In particular, Amnesty International gave special emphasis to its false reporting of the case of police officer Faber López Vivas who was in fact murdered by an opposition sniper on the morning of July 8th in the southern Nicaraguan city of Jinotepe.

Amnesty International’s report copied false claims by opposition media and activists that Faber López Vivas was tortured and murdered by his own comrades because he disagreed with police repression and wanted to leave the force. That testimony is based on unsustainable fabrications, widely publicized in vociferous testimony from Faber López’s mother, Fatima Vivas, and his brother, Elgin López. Amnesty International conceals that fact in its report, cloaking Fatima and Elgin as “family relatives” slyly concealing that they are both actively associated with Nicaragua’s opposition. Fatima Vivas in particular actively participated in the notorious roadblock at San Pedro de Lóvago.

This was one of various roadblocks controlled by leaders of the so-called Anti-Canal Movement like Medardo Mairena and Francisca Ramirez. From these roadblocks, on July 12th 2018, around 200 armed opposition activists traveled to Lake Nicaragua’s small port town of Morrito on July 12th 2018 where they murdered 4 police officers and a school teacher. In that case too, Nicaragua’s chronically deceitful opposition media, for example Carlos Fernando Chamorro’s “Confidencial” media outlet, desperate to cover up yet another opposition terrorist attack, floated the cruel lie that local police in Morrito themselves killed their four comrades. That lie has already been exposed in an on the spot report including extensive video testimony from eyewitnesses by Dick and Miriam Emanuelsson.

Fátima Vivas at San Pedro de Lóvago with Medardo Mairena

In the case of Faber López, “Dismissing the Truth” points out that Fatima Vivas changed her account more than once. Originally, she accepted the neutral forensic report of the Institute of Legal Medicine that Faber López died from a gunshot to the head with, as one would expect from a forensic authority, no attribution of responsibility. A few hours later, based on no evidence at all, she alleged that the lethal gunshot wound to the head was fired by a police sniper. A few hours later she changed her story again, claiming there was no gunshot to the head and that her son had been tortured to death.

Amnesty International repeats opposition claims in relation to an alleged private autopsy, without confirming the competence of the person conducting it, verifying where and when it was performed, or the provenance of the document containing the report. The alleged report has not been formally presented to any authority nor does it clearly state a cause of death. Amnesty International presents no eye-witness testimony. Instead, Amnesty International has relied on testimony from Fatima Vivas and Elgin López, both opposition activists, on extremely dubious opposition social media material, on dishonest opposition media reports and on the suspicious, unverified private autopsy.

Message to Edith Valle from Fatima Vivas
admitting that her son Faber López
rejected leaving Nicaragua’s National Police

Amnesty International has zero reliable evidence for the false propaganda it published about the death of Faber López Vivas. By contrast, “Dismissing the Truth” points out that Faber López’s death by sniper fire was confirmed by eye witness accounts, both in video statements and in personal interview and by official reports from Nicaragua’s Institute of Legal Medicine’s forensic pathologist and by the Nicaraguan government to the OAS. Furthermore, a recent interview with Faber López’s bereaved partner, Edith Valle Hernandez, also demolishes the credibility of Fatima Vivas and Elgin López as honest witnesses.

Edith Valle confirms that, contrary to Amnesty International’s false allegations, Faber López rejected his mother’s support for the opposition and at no point considered leaving the police, much less requesting to leave the force, as Amnesty International’s report falsely claims. Edith Valle also confirms that she received phone calls and text messages from Faber López both late on the night before he died and in the very early hours of the morning of the day he was shot dead. Edith Valle’s testimony makes nonsense of the deceitful claims by Faber López’ mother that Faber López was murdered by his own comrades.

Basic reporting and documentation procedures obliged Amnesty International to seek out witnesses to corroborate the testimony of Fatima Vivas and Elgin López. But Amnesty International’s staff did not do so, because, clearly, they could hardly care less. For them, responsible cross checking and meticulous verification are irrelevant to Amnesty International’s overriding priority, namely producing glib, false propaganda to smear and discredit US target governments, in this case Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. When, as in this case, Amnesty International’s reports themselves abuse grieving victims of horrific crimes committed by US proxy non-State actors which Amnesty International is anxious to cover up, so much the worse for those victims.

Amnesty International could easily have contacted Edith Valle. Fatima Vivas and Elgin López both had her number and regularly harassed her via mobile phone. According to Edith Valle, Elgin López also tried to suborn her to testify against the Nicaraguan police in which she serves. Amnesty International even stooped to repeating the slur against Edith Valle that she was not really Faber López’s partner. In fact at the time of his death, Faber López had been living with Edith Valle for over three years and had a loving relationship with her children from a previous relationship.

The case of Faber López is important because Amnesty International gave great prominence to it in their report of October 2018, calling it a possible ‘extrajudicial execution’ by the government.  As time goes by, every headline case Amnesty International highlighted through 2018 in its reports on Nicaragua turns out to have been based on fabrications of one kind or another. Leaders of their local partner organization CENIDH have been accused, by victims of opposition crimes, of intimidating and bribing them to change their stories so as to attack the government. The case of Faber López Vivas shows how, one way or another, Amnesty International’s reporting on countries in crisis, from Palestine and Syria to Venezuela and Nicaragua, consistently and deliberately sets out to deceive its supporters and international opinion generally. Only idiots trust Amnesty International.

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