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Daniel Ortega tries to annihilate the opposition with the arrest of four candidates

Presidential aspirants Cristiana Chamorro, Arturo Cruz, Félix Maradiaga and Sebastián Chamorro were arrested in the course of a week in an unprecedented persecution by the Ortega regime

TODAY NICARAGUA – In an unprecedented persecution, the Daniel Ortega regime detained four presidential candidates in one week, a move that is part of the Ortega’s strategy to annihilate the opposition five months before the November 7 elections.

Ortega regime undertook a hunt for presidential candidates and opponents

Félix Maradiaga and Sebastián Chamorro García were arrested this Tuesday, June 8, while Cristiana Chamorro has been under house arrest since last Wednesday (June 2) and three days later the Ortega police arrested Arturo Cruz at the Managua airport on his return from the United States, arrested for attempting “against Nicaraguan society and the rights of the people.”

The arrest of Chamorro García – Cristiana’s cousin – occurred at almost 8 pm on charges of “inciting foreign interference in internal affairs, organizing with financing from foreign powers to carry out acts of terrorism,” among others, according to a press release from the National Police.

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Maradiaga and Chamorro García are being investigated for carrying out acts against sovereignty, terrorism and applauding sanctions and acts that undermine independence, inciting foreign interference in internal affairs and requesting military interventions, the statement detailed.

Félix Maradiaga upon his departure from the Prosecutor’s Office, minutes before being arrested. Photo: EFE | Confidencial

According to La Prensa, Chamorro García was arrested after a raid on his home. In addition, they assure that after the police actions, his wife, Victoria Cárdenas, is missing.

The charges under the Ley de Defensa de los Derechos del Pueblo, a la Independencia, a la Soberanía y Autodeterminación para la Paz (Law for the Defense of the Rights of the People, Independence, Sovereignty and Self-determination for Peace), approved in December at the initiative of the Ortega government.

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Maradiaga was arrested Tuesday, June 8, after going to testify to the Prosecutor’s Office. Upon leaving, after four hours of interviews, Maradiaga spoke with journalists and confirmed the start of an investigation against him. Minutes later, he was beaten and arrested along with his driver, Miguel Lumbí Hondoy, according to his lawyer, Roger Reyes.

In his case, the Public Ministry is also investigating another cause: “seriously” failing to comply with and “having distorted” the aims and objectives of the Institute for Strategic Studies and Public Policies (IEEPP).

This organization was closed at the end of 2018 by Parliament, along with other organizations critical of the government.

Lawyers for the candidates Arturo Cruz (in the photo) and Cristiana Chamorro have not yet been able to communicate with their clients, who are still incommunicado.

Ortega a dictator

After Maradiaga’s arrest on Tuesday, the United States Department of State affirmed that the “arbitrary” arrest of a third opponent in Nicaragua demonstrated that Ortega is a “dictator.”

“The arrest of Maradiaga, the third opposition leader detained in 10 days, confirms without a doubt that Ortega is a dictator,” the head of US diplomacy for the Americas, Julie Chung, said on Twitter.

“The international community has no choice but to treat him as such,” she noted.

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Tuesday night, Violeta Granera, a member of the Unidad Nacional Azul y Blanco party, was also arrested, as well as José Adán Aguerri, a member of the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy (ACJD) and former president of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (Cosep).

Multiple accusations

The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh) condemned Maradiaga’s arrest and denounced that the authorities are using “a new repressive model: summoning those they consider political enemies without saying why, interviewing them, letting them leave the Prosecutor’s Office and then arresting them on the way to home or already inside”.

Vice President (and Ortega’s wife) Rosario Murillo warned in an address to media related to the government – without referring to the criminal cases against opponents – that “justice is late, but it arrives” after mentioning that the advances of her government were “violated” by selfish people, alluding to the 2018 protests.

The first lady also complained that money entered the country that “fattened the portfolio of a few who also promised to kill (…) how much we would have done with what they have stolen … This bunch of thieves, not only thieves, but also terrorists, criminals, how much would we have advanced against poverty”.

Maradiaga, 44, was the candidate of the non-parliamentary opposition bloc Unidad Nacional (UNAB), made up of civil society organizations that supported the massive protests that in 2018 demanded the resignation of Ortega and that resulted in 328 deaths and thousands of exiles, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

Chamorro García, meanwhile, is a 50-year-old economist who was a member of the ACJD, the government’s counterpart in the dialogue after those demonstrations.

Ortega, 75, who has been in power for the last 14 years, faces sanctions from the United States and the European Union, which demand political changes and the holding of free and fair elections.

“I have nothing to hide,” Maradiaga said before his arrest, and denied that he had requested sanctions against the country, but against “people who have committed crimes against humanity” and human rights violations.

In addition to the arrest of the candidates, which according to local laws would exclude them from the elections, the electoral court eliminated the Democratic Restoration Party (PRD) and the Conservative Party (PC), the oldest in the country.

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