Nicaraguan police continue to surround the opposition of dictator Daniel Ortega, with the arrest of five other leaders this weekend, bringing the total number of detainees to at least 12, including four pre-presidential candidates.
This Saturday evening (12), Tamara Dávila, from Blue and White National Unit (Unab), was detained at her home. This Sunday, Dora María Téllez and Ana Margarita, members of the Renovating Democratic Union (Unamos) party, were arrested.
The acronym’s president, Suyen Barahona, and the vice-president, retired General Hugo Torres, were also being held on Sunday.
Police said they were all under investigation for “engaging in acts that undermine independence, sovereignty and self-determination, inciting foreign interference in internal affairs,” among other crimes. , according to a statement released after the arrests.
They were framed in the Law for the Defense of Peoples’ Rights to Independence, Sovereignty and Self-Determination for Peace, approved in December last year to punish foreign intervention with imprisonment. The crimes for which opponents are currently being investigated are part of the new legislation – which critics say is primarily aimed at attacking the opposition.
Unamos is a left-wing opposition party, made up of Sandinista dissidents – it was previously known as the Center-Left Sandinista Renewal Movement (MRS).
Among those arrested, two played an important role in the fight against Anastasio Somoza’s dictatorship in the 1970s. Téllez, 65, was one of the guerrilla front commanders and Minister of Health during the Sandinista revolution from the 1980s.
In 1995, he participated in the founding of the MRS with dissidents, now Unamos, which is part of the platform of opposition to the Ortega government, in power since 2007.
Torres, 73, is the only Sandinista guerrilla to have participated in the two largest military operations against Somoza, according to the Nicaraguan daily La Prensa: the seizure of the house of Chema Castillo and the National Palace.
The vehicle published a video left by the opponent before being arrested. “46 years ago, I risked my life to get Daniel Ortega out of prison,” he said in the recording. “But that’s the way life turns, those who embraced the principles today have betrayed them.”
The arrest of Téllez, Vigil and Torres proceeded in the same way as that of the other opponents. Riot police entered their home in the capital Managua, staying there for several hours. Dávila and Barahona were also detained at their home.
With the five opponents, there are at least 12 detained by the Ortega dictatorship, including four pre-candidates for the presidential election, scheduled for November 7.
The recent wave of repression began on June 2, when the regime placed under house arrest journalist Cristiana Chamorro, daughter of former President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro (1990-1997) and designated as the main name of the opposition during of the election.
On Saturday (5), the former ambassador Arturo Cruz, 67, also pre-candidate of the opposition, was arrested at the airport of the capital, on his return from the United States. Cruz, who served as Nicaraguan Ambassador to the United States between 2007 and 2009, presented his candidacy for election by the Right-Wing Citizen Alliance for Freedom (CLX) two months ago.
Tuesday (8), it was the turn of two other pre-candidates for the presidency of the country, Félix Maradiaga and Juan Sebastián Chamorro García. Maradiaga, 44, was arrested after testifying before the public prosecutor. The opponent’s campaign claimed that the car he was in was pulled over shortly after he left the interrogation site.
He is a pre-candidate for president of the Blue and White National Union, a group formed from protests against the regime that erupted in 2018. Due to the statements against Ortega – he even testified against the dictator during the a session of the UN Security Council. – Maradiaga saw his prison decree three years ago and had to flee the country to avoid being arrested. Upon his return in 2019, he was greeted by police at the airport, but was not detained.
The arrest of Juan Sebastián Chamorro García, cousin of Cristiana Chamorro Barrios, took place for “incitement to foreign interference in internal affairs”, “organization of acts of terrorism financed by foreign powers”, among other alleged reasons , according to a press release from the National Police.
The last three, José Adan Aguerri, Violeta Granera and José Pallais Arana, were arrested on Wednesday (9), according to information from La Prensa. Former president of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (Cosep), Aguerri was arrested and taken to a unit of the Legal Aid Directorate, known as de novo Chipote.
Pallais, political analyst and member of the National Coalition, and Granera, member of Unab, were sentenced to 90 days in prison, according to the Nicaraguan newspaper. He was taken to the same location as Aguerri while she remained under house arrest, according to a police statement.
Journalists have also been questioned by authorities in recent weeks.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) reacted to the arrests on Sunday, on its Twitter. “The IACHR recognizes these achievements in the context of an escalation of repression and criminalization against opposition leaders, who exercise their public freedoms by resorting to broad criminal categories and arbitrary attributions without evidence. “
In the publication, the organ, linked to the Organization of American States, urged Nicaragua to immediately release the detainees and to “put an end to the infringements of public freedoms and, in particular, the exercise of political rights in the country ”.