TODAY NICARAGUA – The Nicaraguan government increased the police and judicial siege against the opposition and independent media, seeking, according to human rights organizations, to pave the way for the reelection in November of Daniel Ortega, who has not yet officially announced his candidacy.
Presidential candidate Cristiana Chamorro, with possibilities to face an almost certain Ortega candidacy, was unexpectedly linked by the Ministry of the Interior (Interior) to money laundering crimes, an accusation that could leave her out of the electoral race.
“Ortega has ordered the manufacture of ‘evidence’ against the Foundation that proudly bears the name of my mother (former president) Violeta Barrios de Chamorro,” Cristiana said on Twitter.
The opposition and journalist was summoned by the Ministry of the Interior to answer for alleged “inconsistencies in the financial reports” of the foundation that she directed between 2015 and 2019, an organization that promotes freedom of expression.
The foundation “seriously breached its obligations to the regulatory body (…) and clear evidence of money laundering was obtained, so the case has been referred to the Public Ministry [Prosecutor’s Office]” for investigation, says a government note. .
In Nicaragua, any person under tax investigation is prohibited from participating in positions subject to election.
“Surely it is a process not only to inhibit me, but to prevent Nicaraguans from being able to vote in freedom (…) this is part of the entire process that the dictatorship is mounting to prevent having that right,” he said. Chamorro, 67, after almost four hours in government offices.
The foundation, like many other organizations in Nicaragua, had to close operations in February affected by a law approved by Congress, with a pro-government majority, which requires reporting income from external sources and declaring itself as a foreign agent.
Cristiana Chamorro, who is not a member of any party, has 13.3% citizen support, according to a poll in January by the Cid Gallup. This places her above other candidates for the presidential chair.
After the failed attempt at unity in the opposition, her eyes were focused on her to lead a candidacy that faces Ortega, in power since 2007 and who, according to her adversaries, will seek a fourth consecutive term.
The pre-candidates Felix Maradiaga and Juan Sebastián Chamorro were also under siege.
“I tried to get out in my vehicle but two (police) patrols blocked my path, so I decided to walk and the agents proceeded to hit me with their clubs without giving me an explanation and forcibly returned me to the house,” Maradiaga said.
Opposing media raided
Meanwhile, the police raided the offices of the opposition digital media Confidencial and Esta Semana, whose director is Carlos Fernando Chamorro, Cristiana’s brother, and temporarily detained some journalists who were covering the incidents, including an AFP video reporter.
“They are not going to shut us up, they can steal other television cameras, other accessories, they can occupy a room where we had made some productions, but we will continue to report, they will not shut up our journalists,” wrote Carlos Fernando Chamorro on Twitter.
Read more: Nicaragua: “The Truth is Under Assault”
The government accuses these media of having promoted the demonstrations calling for Ortega’s departure in 2018, and in which more than 300 people died.
The Sandinista government has been sanctioned by the United States, which accuses it of corruption and human rights violations during the repression of opposition protests. Ortega maintains that these demonstrations constituted a failed coup d’état promoted by Washington.
Likewise, this week, the electoral court, akin to the government of the leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), removed from circulation an opposition bloc led by the Democratic Restoration Party (PRD), as well as the Conservative Party (PC), the oldest in the country.
Stealing the elections
“Ortega is intensifying his repression against civil society, the press and the opposition. His objective is clear: to prevent any criticism and steal the presidential elections of November 2021 ”, said the director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), José Miguel Vivanco.
For the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh), the government’s actions “have no limits and show the state of terror to which the country is subjected.”
Meanwhile, the opposition bloc National Coalition described the events as “serious violations of human and political rights (…) this is a sign of the weakness of a regime that remains in power by arms and that blocks any attempt at elections. free, competitive and transparent “.
The Unión Democrática Renovadora (Unamos) said in a statement that the government intends to instill fear and despair “in the population that has already made the decision to” be free and to conquer democracy, which is inalienable and cannot be postponed. ”