One month after the arrest of the first opposition leader in Nicaragua: what is the situation in the country?

(CNN Spanish) – On June 2, just over a month ago, a Nicaraguan judge ordered the capture of Cristiana Chamorro, presidential candidate for the November elections, after accusing her of “money laundering” and “abusive management”, among others. crimes that Chamorro rejected.

The decision, announced by the Nicaraguan Public Ministry, started a wave of arrests of leaders opposed to the government of Daniel Ortega -among these five presidential candidates-, activists and businessmen for the most part have been accused of committing “acts against sovereignty. “, provided for by the controversial law 1055, approved in 2020.

A month later, the number of detainees rises to more than 20 (three were later released), according to the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh).

Several international organizations have expressed their concern about what is happening in the country. This is what we know:

Those who have been detained thus far

The presidential candidate Cristiana Chamorro, accused of money laundering during her work at the head of the Violeta Barrios foundation, and the presidential candidates Arturo Cruz, Félix Maradiaga, Juan Sebastián Chamorro, Miguel Mora Barberena and Medardo Mairena Sequeira.

The presidential candidate Cristiana Chamorro,

Opposition leaders José Pallais, José Adán Aguerri and Violeta Granera were also detained; the former deputy Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Barrios -brother of Cristiana Chamorro-, Freddy Navas López and Pedro Joaquín Mena Amador, also under Law 1055.

The Nicaraguan justice also arrested the director of Banpro Grupo Promerica Luis Alberto Rivas Anduray; former Sandinista guerrillas Dora María Téllez Argüello, Hugo Torres Jiménez and Víctor Hugo Tinoco; and the activists Tamara Dávila, Ana Margarita Vigil Guardián and Suyen Barahona.

All of them -with the exception of Cristiana Chamorro- were detained within the framework of Law 1055 of “Defense of the Rights of the People to Independence, Sovereignty and Self-determination for Peace”, which maintains: “Perform acts that undermine independence , sovereignty, and self-determination, incite foreign interference in internal affairs, request military interventions, organize with financing from foreign powers to carry out acts of terrorism and destabilization, propose and manage economic, commercial and financial operations blockades against the the country and its institutions, demand, exalt and applaud the imposition of sanctions against the State of Nicaragua and its citizens, and injure the supreme interests of the nation ”.

All the detainees, who have also been politically disqualified, have denied the charges against them.

The Cenidh also denounced the arrests of Joseph Wyman (the businesswoman and opponent Verónica Wyman and an unidentified collaborator were also transferred during the arrest to be interviewed), in addition to the former officials of the Violeta Barrios foundation, Marcos Fletes and Walter Gómez, detained in the framework of the investigation on Cristiana Chamorro but “without their locations and conditions of detention being known,” according to a statement from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Relatives of detained opponents: They attack their honor and reputation 3:52

Joseph Wydman was later released after several hours of detention. He was taken by the police to his home, where they made him and his mother sign a certificate.

Ortega seeks his fourth consecutive term

Ortega, leader of the Sandinista National Liberation Front, was the leader of the government of the Sandinista Revolution between 1979 and 1985, after he overthrew Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza. He was then elected president for the first time between 1985 and 1990, and finally returned to power in 2007 after winning the November 2006 elections.

Since then, he has remained in government and was later reelected twice, after a constitutional reform that eliminated the limits on reelection for successive terms in Nicaragua. In the last elections, in 2016, he even competed alongside his wife Rosario Murillo as a candidate for vice president.

The presidential couple have run Nicaragua since then and have had to deal with the political crisis that has affected the country since 2018, when an attempt by the government to increase labor contributions led to a wave of protests – marked by violent repression – and great instability in the Central American country.

The next presidential elections in Nicaragua, in which Ortega and Murillo will seek a fourth consecutive term, will be held on November 7

The reaction of international and human rights organizations

In mid-June, the Organization of American States (OAS) approved the resolution “Situation in Nicaragua” in which it expresses its “alarm” at the recent deterioration of the political environment in that country and demanded electoral reforms to guarantee free and transparent elections.

Bianca Jagger qualifies Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo as

Vice President Rosario Murillo with her husband, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.

The OAS resolution was approved with the support of 26 countries, with three votes against and five abstentions, including Mexico and Argentina.

The United States, which voted in favor of the declaration, expressed through Secretary of State Antony Blinken that the resolution represents “a clear message of support for the Nicaraguan people and their struggle for free elections.”

“It is time for the Ortega and Murillo regime to change course,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement published this Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, presented an update report on the situation in Nicaragua to the Human Rights Council, demanding the immediate release of the detained opponents.

Cenidh has condemned the “brutal escalation of repression and persecution against social and political leaders.” “It is evident that the Ortega Murillo regime intends to stay in power at the cost of terror”.

The Mechanism for the recognition of political prisoners in Nicaragua He says In addition, there are 134 “arbitrarily” detainees in the country since 2011, including journalists, candidates, social activists, politicians and businessmen.

IACHR: Opponents have the right to be candidates 6:57

The NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) called instead for the United Nations to play a more active role amid President Ortega’s “campaign of violence and repression.”

The response of the Nicaraguan government

The Nicaraguan government has rejected these claims as “interference”. The Chancellor, Denis Moncada, has said that Managua “will not admit interference or impositions, or that they force us to break our legal system.”

Vice President Murillo questioned the government’s critics: “In how many countries and in how many organizations have we seen how people who run over the towns, looting, stealing, are taken to justice.”

Finally, and after maintaining a long silence during the first arrests, Ortega spoke on television on June 23. “The enemies of the revolution, the enemies of the people, are shouting that poor thing, how is it possible that they are arrested, imprisoned, processed,” he said.

“Here we are not judging politicians, we are not judging candidates, here we are judging criminals who have attempted against the country, against the security of the country, against the lives of citizens, by trying again to organize another April 18, another coup of State, to provoke what they call ‘regime change’, “added Ortega.

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