Ortega allies threaten, as opponents are arrested, flee Nicaragua

For the second time in two years, considered one of Nicaragua’s most influential journalists, Carlos Fernando Chamorro – a former ally of President Daniel Ortega – has gone into exile. The director of the unbiased media outlet Confidential managed to slide out simply earlier than his home was raided by dozens of particular forces police on Monday evening.

Neither his sister, Cristiana Chamorro, nor his cousin, Juan Chamorro, have been as fortunate. They are two of 5 presumptive presidential candidates who’ve been put below arrest forward of elections on account of be held in November. The crackdown additionally contains no less than a dozen different high-profile opponents of President Ortega and his spouse Rosario Murillo, who can be the Vice President.

The majority are being held within the El Chipote jail in Managua – many incommunicado – below the brand new Defense of the Rights of the People to Independence, Sovereignty and Self- Determination For Peace Law. They may be held for as much as 90 days. In the case of the presumptive presidential candidates, that basically makes them ineligible to run.

“The strategy is to demoralize Nicaraguans, to delegitimize the electoral process to the point that the majority of people will abstain because there is no opposition. That is Ortega’s goal. That way he can win his fourth consecutive election without even having to resort to outright fraud, since he has cleared the road of all challengers,” Lesther Aleman advised Al Jazeera.

A line of riot police stand guard exterior the home of Cristiana Chamorro, former director of the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation and presidential pre-candidate, in Managua, on June 2, 2021 [Inti Ocon/AFP]

Aleman is a college pupil chief who helped spur an rebellion in opposition to President Ortega in April, 2018. Hundreds of individuals have been killed by police and paramilitary teams in clashes that lasted for weeks. Hundreds extra have been imprisoned. More than 107,000 Nicaraguans fled the nation, the bulk to neighbouring Costa Rica. It appeared that issues had quieted down and “gone back to normal”.

But three weeks in the past, a brand new crackdown in opposition to opponents started, and in the previous few days it has accelerated dramatically.

Vice President Rosario Murillo calls it “late justice”, accusing the imprisoned opponents of conspiring with overseas powers to undermine the pursuits of the nation.

She has supplied no proof.

“They have turned into vulgar traitors to the nation, into vulgar soldiers of fortune, paid to sow death, destruction and hatred,” stated Murillo in a radio and tv broadcast earlier this week.

William Grigsby is a detailed ally of Murillo who’s thought to be an unofficial spokesman for the federal government.

“The operation is just beginning. There will be more (arrests). The law is for everyone who betrays the nation, which is a crime,” stated Grigsby in his radio programme Without Frontiers, shortly earlier than two extra Ortega opponents have been arrested on Monday.

Juan Sebastian Chamorro, of the Civic Alliance opposition occasion, was the fifth opposition presidential pre-candidate arrested by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s authorities [Fiel: Inti Ocon/AFP]

Even “uncooperative” bankers and distinguished enterprise leaders are being arrested. For those that nonetheless bear in mind the Sandinista Revolution that overthrew Nicaragua’s former Somoza dictatorship and introduced Daniel Ortega to energy for the primary time in 1979, a few of the arrests are stunning.

Over the weekend, Hugo Torres, a retired Sandinista normal who rescued Ortega from jail within the 1970s and who served below him till the 1990s, was arrested. Hours earlier, so have been emblematic Sandinista Rebel Commander Dora Maria Tellez, and former Sandinista Deputy Foreign Minister Victor Hugo Tinoco. They belong to a gaggle of Nicaraguan revolutionaries who broke with Ortega within the 1990s and fashioned an opposition occasion, Unamos. They accuse their former comrade in arms of turning into the nation’s new dictator and of sequestering their motion, the Sandinista Front for National Liberation (FSLN).

The detentions are a message from Ortega: nobody is off-limits, no matter their revolutionary credentials.

The crackdown has alarmed the worldwide group

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has issued a brand new report expressing “a worrying and accelerating deterioration of the human rights situation. This makes it unlikely that Nicaraguans will be able to fully exercise their political rights in the elections on 7 November.”

Bachelet says that the legal guidelines getting used to justify arrests “are being used to persecute opponents”.

Earlier, Human Rights Watch issued its personal report detailing what it known as “gross physical and political rights abuses” in opposition to many opponents.

“The increasing repression in Nicaragua is reaching levels rarely seen in Latin America’s recent history. It is imperative that the international community and the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres , take firm action,” HRW Americas Director Jose Miguel Vivanco advised Al Jazeera.

Human Rights Watch requests that the Secretary General invoke Article 99 of the UN Charter. It permits him to carry the Security Council’s consideration to something that would threaten worldwide peace and safety. In this case, Vivanco argues {that a} new and much bigger migration disaster from Nicaragua may destabilize Central America, which is already affected by mass undocumented migration and violence from organized crime.

Hours later, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee accredited the Reinforcing of Nicaragua’s Adherence to Conditions for Electoral Reform (RENACER) Act. It seeks to impose new sanctions on the Nicaraguan authorities in coordination with the European Union and Canada.

It is unclear simply what sort of sanctions the invoice would apply if handed by the US Congress. Nicaragua is Central America’s poorest nation and its financial system depends almost solely on commerce with the United States. Nicaragua is a part of the US-Central American Free Trade Agreement. Until now Washington has been reluctant to take the identical hardline stance in opposition to the Ortega authorities that it has taken in opposition to his allies Cuba and Venezuela.

“It seems the US does not want to stir things up in Nicaragua, which at least doesn’t cause them as much trouble as Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, no matter how bad things are inside our country. They’re afraid of an exodus and more unwanted migrants,” Carlos Fernando Chamorro advised al Jazeera.

But some are involved that if peaceable, clear and honest elections are thwarted in November, there may very well be a massacre.

“Right now people aren’t taking to the streets, because public demonstrations are punishable by imprisonment. Social explosions require a detonator, and the next one could be the November 7th elections. If there is fraud, I cannot imagine the level of fury that will generate. We don’t want to see that scenario,” says Aleman, selecting his phrases fastidiously.

As although responding to that attainable situation, Ortega ally William Grigsby has issued this warning: “The Sandinista Front has never renounced the armed struggle. Let that be very clear. We revolutionaries have made the decision to defend our freedom with weapons, blood and our lives.”

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