Daniel Ortega tightens control as Nicaragua prepares for elections

Two decades ago, Violeta Chamorro defeated Daniel Ortega in the Nicaraguan election. This month, Ortega arrested Chamorro’s daughter amid unprecedented pressure on opposition figures to pave the way for her fourth consecutive term.

The veteran strong one by one chose his goals ahead of the November vote. On June 2, Ortega arrested four of the president’s four leaders, a senior businessman and two opposition leaders. An arrest warrant has also been issued for the chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce.

“It is clear that he is clearing the field without any significant opposition,” said Jose Miguel Vivanco, executive director of Human Rights Watch in the United States.

The first to be seen in Ortega was Christiana Chamorro, whose mother defeated the Sandinista insurgency in the 1990 election. Accused of money laundering, which he denies, he is under house arrest.

Next was Arturo Cruz, the former ambassador to the United States. He was arrested shortly after arriving at Managua airport under a treason law passed by Ortega late last year. battery of repressive measures It is intended to neutralize the opposition as a result of the protests that took place in 2018, during which about 450 people were killed.

Then came Felix Madariaga and Juan Sebastian Chamorro, Christiana’s cousin, both of whom were accused of inciting foreign interference in their internal affairs.

All four were potential candidates in the November 7 election, in which Ortega, 75, who first came to power after the Sandinista revolution that ousted US-backed dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979, is seeking a five-year term. He ruled from 1989 to 1990, and has ruled without interruption since 2007.

Also arrested were opposition activist Violeta Grranera, former Foreign Minister Jose Palley and former head of the largest business lobby, Josep Adan Agueri. Amcham leader Mario Arana, the former head of the central bank, is hiding.

«Daniel Ortega is someone who will do everything to maintain power. “He has no restrictions on repression,” said Bianca Agger, Nicaragua’s ombudsman.

An adviser who asked not to be named to protect those who worked with him in Nicaragua called Ortega’s tactics “partial cancellation of the election.” Or as ag ager said. “What you see is Daniel Ortega, who will never run in an election that he will lose.”

Indeed, Ortega redoubled his oversight of the electorate in May, placing the responsibility for leading the vote on his FSLN party. He refused to allow observers to ban opposition parties.

Ortega’s increasingly impudent tactics are unlikely to spread in the face of widespread fear. Masked gunmen opened fire on protesters in 2018 և Since that day, Ortega has tightened his grip on the earth. As one of the locals says. “He controls everything.”

Ortega tightens control over Nicaragua in 2018 over armed crackdown on protests © Inti Ocon / AFP Getty Images

Activists and regional political leaders hoped the United States would encourage it. Nicaragua has been embroiled in what former US National Security Adviser John on Bolton called Cuba և Venezuela’s “trio of dictatorship”, yet Ortega enjoys ignoring the years և of the US և international community. “, so he was able to dare. “Without an examination,” said Maria Bozmoski at the Atlantic Council Research Center.

Despite US sanctions against high-ranking Allied officials, including his wife, Rosario Murillo, the regime’s vice president, and some of his children, Ortega blew his nose in Washington.

Cristiana Chamorro was arrested while US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was attending a regional meeting in Costa Rica. The others were arrested while Vice President Kamala Harris was in Mexico.

“The only card left is the United States,” said former Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla. “Biden’s credibility is clear.”

Jul Uli Chung, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Western Hemisphere made a note in the tweets that “Nicaragua is becoming an international pariah, going further than democracy.”

The United States says it will reconsider Nicaragua’s trade entry into the United States if it fails to hold free and fair elections. But stopping it Cafta-DR Free Trade Agreement could strike back.

“Keeping Nicaragua in Kafta is like injecting a dying patient with oxygen and keeping him on oxygen,” Bozmoski said. But if Nicaragua were fired, “the people who would suffer are the half a million whose jobs depend on him.” [export-oriented] free zone. That work will strive to exist. ”

Chinchilla called on creditors to “turn off the taps”, while Vivanco called on “an avalanche of targeted sanctions against key officials” to heat up the Ortega regime.

But a veteran U.S. diplomat said that even if it worked, it risked “further impoverishing a region where we are trying to do something” and could lead to greater migration from Central America.

More than 100,000 Nicaraguan people fled to Costa Rica during the 2018 protests, but the numbers that reached the US border, although still low, have recently increased slightly, the diplomat added.

Ortega’s control over the country, including the army and police, protects him, but the situation remains volatile.

“I’m not sure what will happen,” he said. “But I’m sure it ‘s not over yet.”

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