On Tuesday (8), the authoritarian regime that controls Nicaragua arrested the pre-candidate for president Felix Maradiaga — the third opposition leader to be detained by the authorities in less than a week.
The next presidential election is scheduled for November 7, but the expectation is that the vote will only serve to confirm another term for the dictator Daniel Ortega, who has increased the persecution of opponents.
Maradiaga, 44, was arrested after giving testimony to the Public Ministry. His campaign claimed that the car he was in was detained shortly after leaving the interrogation site.
According to a statement released by the police, he is being investigated for a series of crimes against the regime, including terrorism, in “actions that compromise independence, sovereignty and self-determination, for inciting foreign interference in internal affairs and for calling for military intervention ”.
Shortly before his arrest, the opponent had told reporters that the charges against him are politically motivated. “What we have been doing is fighting together with the people of Nicaragua, and that is what we will continue to do,” said the center-left politician.
He is a pre-candidate for president by the Blue and White National Union, a group formed from protests against the regime that erupted in 2018. For his statements against Ortega — he even testified against the dictator at a session of the Security Council of the UN —, Maradiaga had his prison decreed three years ago and had to flee the country to avoid being arrested. Upon returning in 2019, he was met by police officers at the airport, but was not detained.
The crimes for which the opponent is currently being investigated are part of a new sovereignty law passed by the regime in December last year — and which, according to its critics, has as its main objective to attack the opposition.
On Saturday (5), former ambassador Arturo Cruz, 67, also a pre-candidate for the opposition, was arrested at the airport in the capital, Managua, on his way back from the United States.
Like Maradiaga, he was included in the new law, accused of undermining “Nicaraguan society and the rights of the people”, according to the Public Ministry. A judge later ordered him to be detained for the next three months while investigations continued.
Cruz, who was Nicaragua’s ambassador to the US between 2007 and 2009, two months ago presented his candidacy for elections by the right-wing Citizen Alliance for Freedom (CLX).
Before her arrest, the regime had already placed under house arrest last Wednesday (2) journalist Cristiana Chamorro — who is the daughter of former president Violeta Barrios de Chamorro (1990-1997) and named as the main opposition name in the election.
Vice-president of one of the biggest newspapers in the Central American country, La Prensa, Chamorro is accused of mismanagement, misrepresentation and laundering of money, goods and assets. The arrest warrant was issued by a judge from Managua, following a request from the Public Ministry.
She came under investigation after the Ministry of Interior accused her of irregularities in the administration of the foundation that bears her mother’s name (FVBCH) — the organization is dedicated to defending freedom of expression.
In 1990, Violeta Barrios defeated Daniel Ortega at the polls when he sought re-election after his first term (1985-1990).
Cristiana Chamorro, who is not affiliated with any party, has 21% of voting intentions, behind only Ortega (30%), according to a survey by the Cid Gallup Institute released last week.
The dictator returned to power after winning the 2007 presidential election and, little by little, was eroding democracy in the country. He ended a large part of the independent press, arrested opponents and, in 2014, ended the limit of one re-election, opening the way to eternalize power.