Nicaraguan police arrested on Saturday (5) the second presidential candidate in less than a week. Politician Arturo Cruz, 67, opposed to the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega, was arrested at Managua airport on his return from the United States, accused of undermining “Nicaraguan society and the rights of the people” , according to the prosecution.
Last Thursday (2), another pre-candidate, Cristiana Chamorro, was placed under house arrest.
Two months ago, Arturo Cruz presented his candidacy for the presidential election of November 7 by the right-wing Citizen Alliance for Freedom (CLX).
Police said they “will refer the Charged Person to the appropriate authorities for trial and determination of his criminal responsibilities.”
Cruz was Nicaraguan Ambassador to the United States between 2007 and 2009, under the Sandinista government of Ortega.
After resigning from his post, he resumed his academic activities at the Instituto Centroamericano de Administración de Empresas. This Saturday, he returned from the USA to his country, without being informed of the reason for his trip.
According to the Nicaraguan police, Cruz is the subject of an investigation for offenses covered by the law for the defense of the rights and sovereignty of peoples, approved in December.
The law punishes those who “incite foreign interference in internal affairs, demand military intervention, organize themselves with funding from foreign powers to commit acts of terrorism and destabilization”.
The day before his arrest, Cruz had warned on Twitter that he was considering withdrawing from the poll and the authorities “to continue the dance of inhibitions and miss other candidates”. “The logic is that this server is not participating in the process,” he wrote.
For the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH), the capture of Cruz responds to a “perverse strategy” of the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega to inhibit his political enemies.
“This is not about criminal investigations, but about political persecution,” he said.
“Under Ortega, Nicaragua is becoming an international pariah and moving further and further away from democracy,” US State Department Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Julie Chung wrote on Twitter. “United States calls for immediate release [de Cruz]”she added.
On June 2, another presidential candidate was arrested and placed under house arrest: Cristiana Chamorro, daughter of former president Violeta Barrios de Chamorro.
The government has asked the prosecution to investigate Chamorro for alleged money laundering through the foundation that bears her mother’s name, an accusation the candidate sees as “a joke” to get her out of the race. electoral.
“If anything happens to Cristiana Chamorro and Arturo Cruz, I will be the first to ensure that this administration eliminates Nicaragua from the DR-CAFTA free trade agreement [entre EUA, América Central e República Dominicana] and any other economic benefit, ”US MP Elvira Salazar wrote on Twitter.
Relatives of Chamorro, 67, said she was incommunicado at her home and under police surveillance. In her case, the state media claim that the foundation she headed serves the United States as an anti-government propaganda apparatus.
According to the polls, Chamorro is the most supported opponent and would be second in the preference of voters, behind Ortega, in power since 2007 and who has not yet formalized his candidacy for a fourth term.
The electoral tribunal, made up of magistrates linked to the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN, left), has already dismissed the Democratic Restoration Party (PRD, evangelical) and the Conservative Party (PC, right), l one of the oldest in the country. , of the dispute. .