After the arrest of several opponents of the Sandinista government accused by it of “selling the motherland abroad”, Washington imposed new sanctions on four relatives of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.
On June 9, the United States imposed sanctions on four relatives of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, including his daughter, after a wave of arrests of opponents, including Washington and the United Nations demanded their immediate release.
A total of seven opponents have been arrested in recent days in Nicaragua, five months before the presidential election to be held on November 7. Most recently, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs José Pallais was arrested for “inciting foreign intervention in internal affairs”, for “having requested military interventions” and for having prepared “acts of terrorism and destabilization” , according to a press release from the presidency.
Simple opponents or “sellers of the fatherland”?
The other arrested opponents are four potential candidates for the November presidential election, political scientist Félix Madariaga, economist Juan Sebastian Chamorro, ex-diplomat Arturo Cruz and journalist Cristiana Chamorro, as well as boss of employers José Adan Aguerri and civil society activist Violeta Granera. All are accused by the Sandinista government and its supporters of belonging to “a gang wanting to sell the homeland”.
According to the police quoted by the Nicaraguan news site Nodal, Juan Sebastian Chamorro would be the subject of an investigation for having committed acts which “undermine independence, sovereignty and self-determination, incite to l ‘foreign interference in internal affairs, demand military interventions, organize themselves with funding from foreign powers to commit acts of terrorism and destabilization ”.
He is also accused of “having proposed and managed blockades of economic, commercial and financial operations against the country and its institutions, demanding, advocating and applauding the imposition of sanctions against the State of Nicaragua and its citizens, and carrying attack on the supreme interests of the nation ”. His house was searched by the police under the “Law for the Defense of the Rights of the People to Independence, Sovereignty and Self-Determination for Peace”. This law 1,055 declares as “traitors to the fatherland” those “who lead or finance a coup” or demand and applaud sanctions against the State of Nicaragua and its citizens.
The political scientist Félix Maradiaga is also the subject of an investigation by the public prosecutor for “inciting foreign interference in internal affairs”. He is accused by the Sandinista government of maintaining “close links with the leader of the Colombian paramilitaries”, former president Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010). He is also accused of having been one of the “promoters of the terrorist violence that Nicaragua suffered between April and July 2018”.
Washington calls Ortega a “dictator”
Daniel Ortega, 75, including 14 in power, could run for a fourth term in the November ballot. The first inmate in this series of arrests, Cristiana Chamorro, placed under house arrest on June 2 after her arrest on charges of money laundering, is considered her most serious rival. She is the daughter of Violeta Chamorro, who ruled the country from 1990 to 1997.
Washington said on June 8 that these arrests demonstrated that the president was a “dictator”, calling on the international community to “treat him as such”. “The United States calls on President Daniel Ortega and the government of Nicaragua to immediately release the presidential candidates,” “as well as other opposition and civil society leaders who have been arrested in the past week “, Hammered the spokesman for American diplomacy Ned Price.
A total of 28 leaders and close to power in Nicaragua are now subject to US sanctions, in addition to three organizations, including the country’s police. The Nicaraguan government reacted with a statement qualifying these sanctions as “illegal, arbitrary, coercive and unilateral measures” which it said confirms that detained opponents wish to “sell the homeland” abroad.
The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, also called for the release of the opponents as well as the “restoration of their rights”, according to his spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric.