[Stop-traffic] US Accuses Nicaragua Immigration head of Trafficking

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] US Accuses Nicaragua Immigration head of Trafficking
From: Bruce Harris - Casa Alianza (bruce@casa-alianza.org)
Date: Wed Jan 31 2001 - 13:46:28 EST

U.S. Consul Accuses Former Nicaraguan Immigration Head of

On January 19 the U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua confirmed that it
cancelled the visa of Josť Rivas, who was fired from his post as
head of Nicaraguan Immigration, because he is suspected of
trafficking in undocumented immigrants and illegal drugs. The
Embassy said the decision had been made by the U.S. State
Department, and not by U.S. Consul General in Nicaragua Celio
Responding to a telephone inquiry, the U.S.
Information Services (USIS) said, "We do not consider the
allegations against our Consul General made by Mr. Rivas worthy
to be answered. We only wish to say that our Consul, Celio
Sandate, has acted in an appropriate manner," by canceling the
visa. The spokesperson could not comment on whether or not there
was proof of the charges made by the U.S. against Rivas, who,
during the contra war in the 1980s, fought on the side of the
U.S.-funded contras, and was known as "Commander Chepe."

Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Francisco Aguirre Sacasa said he
nothing of the cancellation of the visa until he returned to the
country on January 22. His reaction was to say that say that any
country has a right to cancel the visa of any person, and that,
"This is a problem between Mr. Rivas and the U.S. Consulate, and
I have had no contact with the U.S. Consul about this case, nor
have they asked to speak with us about the case."

Nicaraguan Judge Marvin Aguilar, President of the Supreme Court,
has asked the U.S. government to present proof of the charges
against Rivas. "With the aim of keeping healthy relations
between both the States (U.S. and Nicaragua), they should present
the evidence against this gentleman," the judge said. He said
that as long as there is no proof provided, all are considered
innocent, including Rivas. He added that if there is no proof,
Rivas is suffering an injury to his character by the U.S.
Embassy, adding that if there is no investigation and no proof is
provided, in the worst of cases, the Embassy is covering up for
someone. He urged the Nicaraguan police to investigate the
matter, "because," he said, "it is a very serious question to
call someone a drug trafficker or a trafficker in immigrants.
This cannot stay this way, in the air, it must be investigated in
order to know if it is true or false."

According to a report in the January 20 edition of the Nicaraguan
local daily El Nuevo Diario, in addition to getting Rivas fired
and canceling his visa to travel to the U.S., in a letter dated
November 20, 2000, U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua Oliver Garza
asked Aguirre to use his influence to promote the reform of
Presidential Decree No. 115-99. This decree eliminated the
requirement of visas and other restrictions for entrance to
Nicaragua for Peruvians, Ecuadorans and others, with the
exclusion of others, including Cubans, Colombians, Iranies,
Iraqis, North Koreans, Libyans, Jordanians and Chinese from the
Republic of China,

The letter said that "the trafficking of illegal immigrants has
grown to the point that Nicaragua has become the major transit
point. It is for this reason and with the purpose of diminishing
the growing trafficking of illegal immigrants, that the U.S.
Embassy respectfully solicits especially of the government of
Nicaragua that it review the facts in question as well as the
repercussions for our respective countries and that it consider
amending said law [Decree 115-99]."

The letter continued, "I would like to mention that since the
approval of Presidential Decree 115-99 in October of 1999, which
eliminates the requirement of an entrance visa for Nicaragua to
Peruvian, Ecuadoran and Dominican citizens, the number of illegal
immigrants in Nicaragua has increased considerably, as well as in
the neighboring countries of the Central American isthmus. While
most come form Peru and Ecuador, in addition, there is an
increasing number of Indians, Chinese and Dominicans who use
Nicaragua as transit point heading toward the U.S. The U.S.
Embassy believes that this Decree has contributed in a
significant way to the increasing growth of trafficking in
illegal immigrants into and through Nicaragua, of Peruvian,
Ecuadoran and Dominican citizens."

In turn, Rivas sent two letters to Sandate, advising him that he
plans to sue the U.S. diplomatic official for defamation. In the
letter dated December 5, 2000, Rivas told Sandate that he had
decided to sue him because the Consul General "offended my
and my dignity as a Nicaraguan citizen and as honest, responsible
and capable official." In the letter he told Sandate, "You,
without being the appropriate authority, and without my once
having been tried in court for these serious crimes, were clear
and open in calling me a trafficker in illegal immigrants and a
drug trafficker, without even offering any evidence of your rash
accusations." In a second letter, dated January 10, 2001, Rivas
told Sandate, "You did not provide me with the explanation I
required, injuring me again."

However, according to Pedro Pablo Camargo, author of Treaty of
International Public Law, Rivas' case may bear no fruit, since
consular officials and employees are not subject to the legal
jurisdiction of the host country. Therefore, unless Sandate
renounces his diplomatic immunity, Rivas has no legal recourse
against him.

The scandal has caused Nicaraguans in the U.S. who are
members of
the Bloc of Support for Nicaraguan Unity (BAUNIC) to write
letters to the U.S. State Department condemning Sandate's
unsubstantiated accusations and reminding the State Department
that Rivas fought against the Sandinista government as a U.S.-
supported "contra," and asking that his case be carefully
analyzed. (La Prensa, Managua, 1/24, 27/01; El Nuevo Diario,
Managua, 1/20, 27/01)

Casa Alianza/Covenant House Latin America
SJO 1039
PO Box 025216, Miami FL 33102-5216 USA

Tel. in Costa Rica: +506-253-5439 or 253-6338
Fax in Costa Rica: +506-224-5689

Home page address: http://www.casa-alianza.org

"In their little worlds in which children have their existence,
there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt,
as injustice...."

Charles Dickens, "Great Expectations"
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