Last Sunday, when she felt that her arrest was imminent, the Nicaraguan dissident Suyén Barahona took her phone and recorded a message: “If you are watching this video, it is because the police have kidnapped me and raided my house as they have done with other social leaders. , politicians, defenders and also with the more than 120 political prisoners ”, said the activist, belonging to the center-left group Unamos. Shortly after, the video in which he called on the population to resist and turn outrage into action was circulating on the networks. Like her, in recent days, at least 16 people, including opposition presidential candidates, historic Sandinista guerrillas, activists,NGO members and businessmen have been detained in Nicaragua during the latest attack by the Government of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo.
The arrests, strongly condemned by the international community, are part of the latest wave of repression with which the presidential couple intends to silence the opposition and perpetuate themselves in power with less than five months to go until the questioned general elections in Nicaragua, on 7 November, in which Ortega seeks his third consecutive reelection. Following the mass mobilizations against the government in 2018, the protests were criminalized, leaving more than 300 dead, tens of thousands of exiles and hundreds of political prisoners, disappeared and tortured. That is why now, the dissidents raise their voices with small acts of peaceful resistance, such as the videos that several of the detainees have recorded when they felt that they could be the next victims of the hunt. "What Ortega refuses to accept is that,no matter how much I try to extinguish it, this flame of rebellion for freedom will remain alive, "wrote opposition candidate Juan Sebastián Chamorro shortly before being arrested. “As much as they want to shut us up, arrest us, or censor us, it is an entire country that wants change, a new Nicaragua; an entire country will no longer be able to imprison it to curb its desire for freedom ”.
Cleaning up opponents of the electoral process: the new repressive modality of Ortega and Murillo
Ortega unleashes fierce political persecution in Nicaragua to stay in power
Daniel Ortega's most symbolic coup in Nicaragua
In this new onslaught against everything that sounds like opposition, the Ortega regime has as allies several laws made to its measure and the police under its control. For the latest arrests they have resorted mainly to Law 1055, approved by the National Assembly controlled by Ortega, and which he is using to drown his critics and persecute the opposition. The norm defines as “traitors to the homeland” and disqualifies from popularly elected positions those who the Government considers, among other things, that “incite foreign interference in internal affairs, request military interventions and organize themselves with financing from foreign powers” .
In addition, an investigation for alleged money laundering that the Government opened against the opposition presidential candidate Cristiana Chamorro - currently under house arrest - is being used to intimidate journalists and the media.
In recent weeks, more than twenty communicators have been called to testify or have been charged in this case.
These are the victims of the latest hunt for the Nicaraguan presidential couple:
was the first great target of Ortega and Murillo in this new attack against the opposition. On June 2, the police violently broke into her home in Managua when a press conference was beginning to denounce that the ruling party had blocked her option to run as a presidential candidate and left her under house arrest. This
journalist by profession and vice president of the newspaper
, is the daughter of former president Violeta Barrios (1990-1997) - who defeated the current president at the polls in 1990 - and of the journalist Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, assassinated in 1978 by the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza, and had managed to rise as the main opposition candidate for the November elections.
Cristiana Chamorro offers a press conference on May 31 in Managua.
INTI OCON / AFP
To remove Chamorro from the political contest, the Ortega government resorted to an accusation by the Prosecutor's Office for alleged money laundering that was opened to the Violeta Barrios Foundation, a leading NGO for the defense and promotion of press freedom in Nicaragua, which she ran.
The organization closed its operations last February to avoid being subject to the Foreign Agents Law enacted by the Government, which criminalizes donations and financing of the media.
On the day of her arrest, a Managua judge justified the search warrant by stating that the candidate was “accused of the crimes of abusive management, ideological falsehood in real competition with the crime of laundering money, property and assets, to the detriment of the State of Nicaragua and Nicaraguan society ”. The Public Ministry also requested that she be disqualified from public office. According to her brother, the also journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro, Cristiana is fine and is receiving “decent treatment”, but she is “anxious” to be able to defend herself against the charges against her.
The second detainee in this new crusade by Ortega and Murillo against their potential opponents in the November elections was
, a 67-year-old professor and diplomat who between 2007 and 2009 was the Sandinista government's ambassador in Washington.
The former ally of the president was arrested on June 5 at the Augusto Sandino International Airport in Managua, when he was returning from a trip to the United States under Law 1055 on the defense of the rights of the people to independence, sovereignty and self-determination. for peace.
Arturo Cruz during the presentation of his registration as a candidate last April in Managua.
Jorge Torres / EFE
Two days later, on June 7, his home was raided and two members of his team were arrested and released the following day.
Cruz's arrest was made on the grounds that there are “strong indications that he has attacked Nicaraguan society and the rights of the people,” although the Police did not specify what they are.
The latest report from the Urnas Abiertas citizen observatory indicates that the lawyer for the presidential candidate was able to visit him in the El Chipote prison on June 9 and that he had not been beaten.
In addition, a court rejected an appeal presented by his defense and indicated that there is a judicial decision to have him detained for 90 days, according to the candidate's team.
"Wanting democracy and freedom for Nicaragua is not treason," they wrote on their Twitter account.
you know well what it is to be accused by Daniel Ortega. In 2018, during the unprecedented social protests that demanded the president's departure from power, he was indicted for "terrorism" and financing from drug trafficking, two allegations that were never proven. But a brutal beating received by the opponent in the city of León and an arrest warrant against him forced him to temporarily exile the country. This June 8, before going to the Public Ministry to testify in the framework of an investigation for violating Law 1055, and seeing the open hunt against opposition leaders, he recorded a video to publish in case of being arrested. "My hands and my conscience are clean as are those of the more than 130 political prisoners who resist from the dungeons simply to think differently," he said in the recording,in which he is smiling and calm. "Let us not fall for the provocations of a regime that is desperate because it is terrified of it, it is afraid of the sovereign will of the citizenry and does not want to submit to a free and fair electoral process, not even to an electoral process rigged under its own authority. rules".
Opposition candidate Félix Maradiaga testifies to the media on June 7 in Managua.Jorge Torres / EFE
After testifying for three hours, the 44-year-old academic was arrested along with his driver and his lawyer, who were released hours later. He remains deprived of liberty. According to the Urnas Abiertas report, the candidate "was informed that he was under investigation" without accusation or arrest warrant and "was physically attacked during detention." Two houses of the opponent as well as those of two members of his team were raided. Maradiaga is also accused by the Interior Ministry of failing to comply with his obligations as the legal representative of the Fundación Libertad, which he founded. According to a statement from the Public Ministry, on June 9 the request for judicial detention for 90 days against him was admitted. In the video he recorded before his arrest, he asked "not to lose the battle of hope",not fall into provocations of "violence by a dictatorship that only knows how to use weapons to impose its will" and have "an iron faith that one day Nicaragua will be free."
Former Vice Minister of Finance
Juan Sebastián Chamorro,
Presidential candidate to be detained by the Ortega government, he was arrested on June 8 during a search of his home and sent to the El Chipote prison.
The following day, he was summoned to testify before the Public Ministry for his work at the head of the Nicaraguan Foundation for Economic and Social Development (Funides), an independent think tank that he directed between 2014 and 2019. Like Maradiaga, Chamorro also recorded a video to publish if the same thing happened to him as other opponents.
"Sometimes, in the fight to obtain definitive freedom, you have to lose it temporarily," he says in the message.
“This is a good fight, for good causes.
Let's not let a criminal dictatorship take away our rights anymore ”.
Juan Sebastián Chamorro hugs his niece Margarita Hurtado after being released from prison in Managua on December 30, 2019.CARLOS HERRERA / Reuters
As happened with two other opposition candidates, the Ortega police detained Chamorro by law 1055 under the accusation of "inciting foreign interference in internal affairs." Three days later, the Public Ministry reported that his judicial detention for 90 days had been approved for "the possible commission of illegal acts through Funides and for having strong indications that he has attacked Nicaraguan society," without specifying which ones. However, in the video he recorded before his arrest, he warns that he will never accept a charge of treason "and much less of a dictatorship that has sold Nicaragua." 50 years old and nephew of former President Violenta Barrios,Chamorro wrote on his campaign website after the arrest of Arturo Cruz that this type of repressive actions "are part of the crooked script with which Daniel Ortega wants to end the opposition" and force a victory in the November elections driven by a great abstention. But he warned that this "macabre plan" is "strengthening ties of solidarity between opponents."
Sandinista “heroes” who fought against Somoza
After that of Cristiana Chamorro, probably the most mediated arrest of this new attack against opposition figures has been that of the former guerrilla
Dora María Téllez
Commander Two of the Sandinista revolution, who is now 65 years old.
A companion of Ortega's struggle against the Anastasio Somoza dictatorship, the considered heroine of the Sandinista revolution was arrested on Sunday with activist Ana Margarita Vigil at her home, on the outskirts of Managua.
According to sources from the women's family, more than 60 police officers from a special squad participated in the arrest and it was "totally violent."
Former Nicaraguan guerrilla and historian Dora María Téllez, in Managua, in a file photo Carlos Herrera
That same day, two other old comrades in arms of the current Nicaraguan president were arrested who, with the becoming authoritarian of his government, became opponents of his regime:
Víctor Hugo Tinoco, who was a Sandinista vice foreign minister, and Hugo Torres
The three were arrested by Law 1055, accused of inciting a foreign intervention in Nicaragua to destabilize the Government.
"These are desperate claws from a regime that feels dying, that has no legal basis, nor any justification from the institutional and legal point of view to remain in power beyond November," Torres, 73, denounced in a video when his home was being besieged and his arrest was imminent.
"46 years ago I risked my life to get Daniel Ortega and other fellow political prisoners out of jail (...) But that's how life turns out, those who once embraced principles today have betrayed them," he says in the recording. .
Activists who have led citizen resistance in recent years such as
, from the Blue and White National Unity (UNAB),
, from the center-left opposition group Unamos, the old Sandinista Renewal Movement.
In this new attack, the former minister and economist
has also been arrested
who is also a leader of the opposition National Coalition.
The Public Ministry reported that everyone will remain in jail for 90 days while the investigation is being carried out for "attacking Nicaraguan society and the rights of the people," according to Law 1055.
Tamara Dávila (left) and Violeta Granera during an internal election of the opposition Blue and White Unit (UNAB) in a file photo.Jorge Torres / EFE
“We continue in the fight.
This is part of the process to get out of Daniel Ortega.
Nobody here cracks down.
Daniel Ortega is leaving.
We are going to get him out, "said Ana María Vigil in a video recorded while her house was surrounded by police and before an" imminent raid. "
Shortly before the police broke into his home, Suyén Barahona also recorded a message calling her compatriots to hope.
“A free homeland to live in: that has been the struggle of these three years for freedom and justice.
So that no other generation has to live what we have suffered with this dictatorship ”, says the activist.
“We are the majority.
The Ortega-Murillos are a minority, ”he adds.
Perhaps the most surprising onslaught in this new phase of repression is the one carried out against businessmen, who for more than a decade and until 2018 had an implicit non-aggression pact with the Sandinista government by which the private sector allowed them to act. their breadth in exchange for their business not being touched, a scheme known as the "consensus model."
The imposition of the social security reform, which provoked the protests that year, also generated a fracture between the ruling party and the business class because the legislation imposed the employer to pay higher fees.
José Adán Aguerri at Cosep headquarters in Managua, in a file photo Carlos Herrera
In May of that year,
José Adán Aguerri
, who was president of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (Cosep) for 11 years, joined the dialogue with the Government with the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, of the opposition side. The well-known businessman, who left the presidency of Cosep last year, was arrested on June 8, also by Law 1055, the same charge that was attributed to
Luis Rivas Anduray
, executive president of the Production Bank (Banpro), who he was arrested last Wednesday in Managua.
Unlike Aguerri, Anduray was not involved in politics.
In addition, a Managua judge imposed immigration withholding and the freezing of bank accounts on 13 former directors of the Nicaraguan Foundation for Economic and Social Development (Funides), a think tank linked to the private sector, which publishes analyzes on the economic situation of the country.
Journalists, writers and NGO workers
In addition to the explicit hunt against opposition leaders, dozens of Nicaraguan journalists have paraded through the courts in recent weeks to testify before the Public Ministry for alleged money laundering, the same legal basis for which Cristiana Chamorro is being investigated and for which More than twenty reporters, photographers, publication directors and writers have been summoned to give their testimony, among them the
Fabián Medina, one of the information heads of the newspaper La Prensa, attends an interview with the prosecutor's office on June 10 in Managua.Jorge Torres / EFE
"What I see is an attempt to intimidate journalism through what we do, criminalizing, as if we do it is a crime," criticized
, head of information for the daily
after testifying as a witness on June 10. As reported by the Efe agency, the journalist said that the prosecutor who interviewed him "insisted a lot" in his sources and warned him that what he wrote in his column "is a crime", because he did not show facts, but opinions. Although the majority of journalists have only been cited as witnesses, some have been "charged", such as the Nicaraguan correspondent for the Hispanic network Univision Noticias,
María Lilly Delgado.
The only thing I have done is train journalists and that is not a crime, "he said after an immigration withholding was imposed on him.
"I am a reporter, I am in Nicaragua and they will not silence me," he insisted.
In addition, for six months, Nicaraguan journalists have to do their job under the threat of the Special Cybercrime Law (1042), promoted by Sandinismo and which provides between one and ten years in prison for anyone who the ruling party considers to publish news false.
Organizations that defend press freedom have called it the 'gag law' and believe that it seeks to silence independent media journalists and any citizen who publishes critical information on their social networks.
On the other hand, two former employees of the Violeta Chamorro Foundation,
, the financial administrator, and
, an accountant for the defunct NGO, were arrested on May 28 as part of the open case against the organization led by Cristiana Chamorro. The presidential candidate, now also under house arrest, considered that measure a "legal monstrosity" and defended the innocence of her collaborators.