Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega faces international criticism after four presidential activists were detained last week, prompting United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday to demand his release.
Tuesday, Juan Sebastian Chamorro Garcia was the last opposition leader arrested, just hours after Felix maradiaga was arrested.
Chamorro Garcia, the cousin of another imprisoned President is hopeful Christian Chamorro – seen as a favorite to beat Ortega in the November vote – was arrested Tuesday on charges of “promoting foreign interference in internal affairs”.
He is also accused of using “foreign currency” in preparation for “acts of violence”, according to police.
Four opposition political leaders have been detained since last week in Nicaragua, sparking controversy over Ortega’s perceived dictatorship and seeking to divert his opponents from participating in the upcoming elections.
Guterres’ spokesman told reporters Wednesday that the UN secretary-general was calling on Nicaraguan authorities to respect their international rights and liberate political leaders.
“This could weaken people’s confidence in democracy before the November general elections,” said Stephane Dujarric.
Luis Almagro, secretary-general of the Organization of American States, also on Twitter called for the release of Chamorro Garcia “and all other political prisoners in #Nicaragua”.
He added: “The oppression and oppression of the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega must stop. Nicaragua must be free and democratic.”
The release of Juan Sebastián Chamorro and all other political prisoners from #Nicaragua and that the persecution and oppression of the dictatorial dictators Daniel Ortega will end. Nicaragua should be free and democratic. https://t.co/xG8b8hb7Yw
– Luis Almagro (@ Almagro_OEA2015) June 9, 2021
Tuesday night damage
The crisis began last week when Cristiana Chamorro, a non-partisan journalist, was involved imprisonment on allegations of money laundering, which appears to be false.
Chamorro’s mother, Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, defeated Ortega in the 1990 presidential election.
Then, Saturday, 67-year-old Arturo Cruz was he was sentenced to prison before sentencing him while prosecutors investigate allegations of “harassment” and conspiracy to undermine their credibility “.
Cruz announced his candidacy two months ago with the Citizen Alliance for Freedom.
Authorities also arrested prominent businessman Jose Aguerri and human rights activist Violeta Granera on charges similar to those who paid Maradiaga and Chamorro Garcia on Tuesday night, according to police.
Former Costa Rican president Laura Chinchilla wrote that it is “the Night of the Long Knives, a tropical version”.
It is a night of long knives in hot weather
Where are the democratic presidents focusing on defending democracy?#Nicaragua
– Laura Chinchilla M. (@Laura_Ch) June 9, 2021
Maradiaga is a nominee of the UNAB opposition group that did not represent the legislature that supported Ortega-led protests that have left 328 people dead and deported since 2018, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
Chamorro Garcia and Aguerri, too, are members of the ACJD coalition who are in talks with the government to end the protests.
“It has become clear, especially in recent days, that under President Ortega, Nicaragua is becoming a global movement, moving away from democracy,” U.S. Department of Culture spokesman Ned Price told a news conference.
Penalties in the US
Earlier Wednesday, the US announced sanctions against four Nicaraguan officials who support Ortega, including the president’s daughter, accusing them of undermining democracy and violating human rights.
“President Ortega’s actions are hurting the people of Nicaragua and making the country cruel,” said Andrea Gacki, director of the Treasure department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
“The United States will continue to expose managers who continue to disregard the interests of their citizens.”
Ortega spent ten years in power after leading a coup that ousted Anastasio Somoza in 1979. He returned in 2007, winning elections in 2011 and 2016, but his recent tenure was marked by common protests.
Now 75 years old, he is accused by the opposition and NGOs of increasing violence and brutal repression of protests. He is expected to contest the by-elections in November, although he did not say how.
The European Union and the US still hold Ortega and his government.
Ortega’s wife and vice-president Rosaria Murillo on Tuesday said “justice comes too late, but it does come”, while denouncing the “gang, not only thieves but also terrorists, terrorists”.
Last month, the Nicaraguan parliament appointed a number of party lawmakers to the Electoral Commission to oversee the elections.