Journalists, former commander leave Nicaragua amid wave of arrests

Managua, 22 Jun (EFE).- Two journalists and a former revolutionary commander left Nicaragua amid a wave of arrests of opposition figures less than five months before elections, in which President Daniel Ortega seeks reelection for another five years.

Carlos Fernando Chamorro, winner of a prestigious Ortega y Gasset Journalism Award and one of the most critical voices of the government, said Tuesday he has had to go into exile for the second time in the last three years following anti-government protests that erupted over controversial social security reforms and which the government described as a failed coup attempt.

“My wife Desirée Elizondo and I left Nicaragua to protect our freedom,” the journalist wrote on Twitter after denouncing a police raid the previous day on his home, where he was no longer staying.

On Tuesday, another Nicaraguan journalist, Sergio Marín Cornavaca, director of La Mesa Redonda, also announced his departure into exile due to “direct threats” from the Sandinista government.

Former guerrilla Luis Carrión, one of the main leaders of the armed Sandinista revolution that in 1979 overthrew the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza Debayle, also left the country “to continue the fight for democracy in Nicaragua and the freedom of all political prisoners,” according to a message he posted on Twitter.

Both Carrion, who was deputy interior minister between 1979 and 1990 and the two journalists left the country after five opposition presidential candidates were arrested.

Two former deputy foreign ministers, two former Sandinista guerrillas, a former business leader, a banker, four activists, a former first lady and former lawmaker, a sports reporter and two former NGO workers have also been detained.

All the detainees, with the exception of the NGO workers, reject the Ortega government and describe the president as a “dictator.”

The United States on Tuesday called for the immediate release of the detained opponents, especially the presidential hopefuls.

US President Joe Biden’s administration has imposed several rounds of economic sanctions on high-ranking Nicaraguan officials, including some of Ortega’s immediate family members and his wife and vice president, Rosario Murillo.

Meanwhile, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, told the UN Human Rights Council that the situation in Nicaragua was quickly deteriorating, which she warned makes it impossible for citizens to choose freely in the November elections.

The National Police, led by Francisco Díaz, who is related to Ortega through their children’s marriage, is arresting opponents based on a law passed in December that classifies them as traitors and disqualifies them from running for public office.

Ortega, 75, who returned to power in 2007 and has governed since 2017 together with his wife, is running for the presidency for the eighth time. The leader is in his second term as president. EFE


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