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Human rights group boss embezzles $500,000 and flees to Costa Rica

NICARAGUANS have responded angrily after the boss of a US-sponsored human rights group was accused of embezzling $500,000 (£400,280) in donations after fleeing to Costa Rica to claim political asylum.

The theft was discovered earlier this month following a restructuring of the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights (ANPDH) after a meeting between its directors and the ultra-conservative Bishop of Esteli, Abelardo Mata.

Alvaro Leiva was removed from his post as the ANPDH executive secretary having left Nicaragua in August last year.

He decided to self-exile to the US client state of Costa Rica which granted him political asylum in October 2018.

The scandal came to light after Mr Leiva had taken the pseudo human rights organisation’s stamps to Costa Rica with him, which ANPDH bosses demanded he return.

He was also accused of stealing $500,000 of funds, falsifying reports and faking the signature of a former manager.

ANPDH received the donations between 2017 and 2019 from international groups which have been seeking regime change in countries with progressive governments in Latin America.

Much of the funds came from the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute and the Open Society.

The new board also discovered plans by Mr Leiva to establish a new NGO in Costa Rica which would be funded by the same nefarious groups.

In exchange for the donations it is alleged that the disgraced former boss of ANPDH inflated the death toll in last years violence in Nicaragua in a report to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. 

He claimed that more than 560 people were killed by the Nicaraguan police, with at least 4,500 injured and 1,300 kidnapped and disappeared.

These became the officially adopted figures used by international organisations including the Organisation of American States.

But the Sandinista government and the Truth, Justice and Peace Commission (CVJP) has insisted the ANPDH reports are false and has exposed wild inaccuracies.

Almost 48 per cent of the deaths recorded were nothing to do with the fighting and included road traffic accidents and other causes of death.

According to the CVJP, “after a rigorous process of investigation, analysis and verification, the number of deceased was determined to be 253.”

Of that total, 220 are directly linked to the conflict, 27 in crossfire and six indirectly. 140 people died as a result of the trams (barricades). 

Nicaraguans were not surprised by the developments with one source saying: “I am glad that the world will now know the truth, it is coming out at last.”

He took a swipe at the US-backed opposition and said: “It proves the only thing they are interested in is power and money, they have nothing to offer to the people of Nicaragua.”

Mr Leiva has denied the charges. He remains in Costa Rica.


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