Seven Nicaraguan opposition leaders detained ahead of election

In lower than every week and just some months forward of an important election, Nicaraguan police have detained seven high-profile opposition leaders, in response to official police statements.

Jose Bernard Pallais Arana was the newest to be arrested. The police stated Wednesday that Arana — the chief of Coalición Nacional social gathering — was detained for appearing “against the independence, sovereignty and auto-determination” of the nation.

The identical violation is alleged in opposition to different detained opposition leaders.

Four main opposition figures, Félix Maradiaga Blandón, Juan Sebastián Chamorro García, José Adan Aguerri and Violeta Granera had been beforehand arrested on Tuesday. Cristiana Chamorro, one other opposition politician, was positioned underneath home arrest on Thursday, and Arturo Cruz was detained on Saturday

Chamorro, Cruz, Maradiaga and Chamorro García had all introduced their intention to run in opposition to Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega within the upcoming election.

Ortega, a leftist, former revolutionary whose Sandinista rebels overthrew Nicaraguan strongman Anastasio Somoza within the Seventies, is searching for to win a fourth time period on November 7.

Ortega’s authorities has prior to now not shied away from cracking down on the opposition. When anti-government protests erupted within the nation in 2018, at the very least 322 people were killed, hundreds injured and a whole lot detained in simply 4 months. At that point, UN human rights consultants accused the federal government of human rights violations in coping with protesters.

Ortega stated the UN report was “nothing more than an instrument of the policy of death, of the policy of terror, of the policy of lying, of the policy of infamy.”

As reviews emerged on Tuesday night of the detention of opposition leaders, former Costa Rican president Laura Chinchilla wrote on Twitter, “this is the night of the long knives in the tropics.”

On Wednesday, the US imposed sanctions in opposition to senior members of Ortega’s regime, together with his daughter and the nation’s central financial institution president.

“The United States calls on President Ortega and the Nicaraguan government to immediately release presidential candidates Cristiana Chamorro, Arturo Cruz, Félix Maradiaga, Juan Sebastian Chamorro and other civil society and opposition leaders arrested in the past week, including in last night’s crackdown, which sent independent journalists and activists into hiding for fear of reprisals,” stated US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a press release saying the sanctions.

“The region and the international community must stand with the Nicaraguan people in support of their right to freely choose their government and their freedom from repression and human rights abuses,” he stated.

Accusations in opposition to the detained

Maradiaga, the primary of the three to be detained on Tuesday, was attending a gathering on the Nicaraguan Attorney General’s workplace when he, his driver and his private lawyer had been held, in response to a press release from Maradiaga’s workplace.

Maradiaga “rejected fake accusation against him and demand his immediate liberation,” his workplace added in a press release posted on Twitter hours after his arrest.

Nicaraguan businessman José Adan Aguerri pictured during an interview with Agence France-Presse in Managua on June 2, 2020.

The accusations made by the police in opposition to Maradiaga, Chamorro García, Adan Aguerri and Arana are much like those confronted by Cruz. He was arrested for committing “acts that threaten national sovereignty,” in response to the Nicaraguan National Police and Public Ministry.

According to a press release posted on Cruz’s Twitter account, the previous diplomat arrived in Nicaragua on a aircraft from the United States on Saturday morning and was detained on the Augusto Cesar Sandino Airport in Managua.

Cruz’s social gathering, the Citizens for Freedom Alliance, referred to as for his launch in a press release. “We demand the prompt release of Arturo Cruz and that his physical integrity and constitutional rights be respected,” the opposition social gathering stated.

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“He is being held incommunicado and nothing is known about his whereabouts,” a tweet from Cruz’s account learn.

Cristiana Chamorro, in the meantime, has been charged with money laundering and the mismanagement of the Violeta Barrios Foundation, a non-profit group she had chaired, in response to the Nicaraguan Public Ministry.

The Violeta Barrios Foundation has been shut down since February resulting from its violation of the Foreign Agents Regulation Law which was enacted in October 2020. The Prosecutor’s Office has requested the judicial authority to impose precautionary measures on Chamorro, together with journey restrictions and disqualification from working public workplace, it stated in a press release.

CNN has been unable to succeed in the authorized groups of Aguerri, Chamorro García, Arana and Granera for a response.

Global response

The arrests sparked outrage amongst human rights organizations and overseas leaders.

The US State Department on Friday referred to as on the Nicaraguan authorities “to immediately release opposition leader Cristiana Chamorro and her two colleagues,” calling their detention “on trumped up charges” “an abuse of their rights, and it represents an assault on democratic values as well as a clear attempt to thwart free and fair elections.”

State Department spokesperson Ned Price stated the “current conditions of repression and exclusion are not consistent with credible elections.”

Cristiana Chamorro, former director of the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation, was placed under house arrest last week.

On Tuesday, the Acting Assistant Secretary for US Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Julie Chung, stated the detentions referred to as for “an urgent international response.”

“The Ortega Regime is responsible for the welfare of detainees. They should be released immediately,” Chung tweeted.

Florida Congresswoman Rep. María Elvira Salazar additionally criticized the transfer and warned that Ortega’s regime “will face the full weight of economic sanctions if free, democratic elections with international observers do not take place.”

The Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation denounced the detentions, the group’s President and Nicaragua-born former actress Bianca Jagger stated in a press release on Twitter. She referred to as Ortega “the criminal dictator.”

Speaking to CNN Espanol on Thursday, José Miguel Vivanco, the director of Human Rights Watch’s Americas division, referred to as on the worldwide group to do extra in mild of the arrest of Chamorro.

CNN’s Gerardo Lemos and Stefano Pozzebon in Bogota, Natalie Gallon in Mexico City and Marlon Sorto, Kiarinna Parisi, Abel Alvarado and Philip Wang in Atlanta contributed reporting. Jenny Hansler, Kylie Atwood, and Nicole Gaouette contributed reporting from Washington, DC.

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