Political Persecution of Critics of Daniel Ortega Increases

The Nicaraguan president, Daniel Ortega, continues the political persecution of political opponents.

Daniel Ortega, President of Nicaragua

Photo: New Life

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: Aumenta la persecución política a críticos de Daniel Ortega

Daniel Ortega, the dictator of Nicaragua, increases the political persecution against the opposition. While the regimes of Cuba and Venezuela steal the international attention of the big media, political freedoms in Nicaragua are increasingly reduced exponentially.

The most recent attack orchestrated by the presidency was to "steal" the only 5 mayoralties that were part of the opposition in the national territory. According to information from the Nicaraguan press, the 5 mayors were captured and replaced by officials close to the Government. The aggravating fact is that the procedure takes place 4 months before the regional elections in Nicaragua, where citizens will elect the rulers of the 153 municipalities of the country.

Among the "captured" mayoralties, that of the municipality of Pantasma stands out, an opposition stronghold where Sandinismo has never governed before, which represents a symbolic blow to the locals as well as to the opponents.

"All the legitimately elected mayors under the banner of Citizens for Freedom (CxL) have been taken over by the regime," denounced the opposition leader and president of the CxL, Kitty Monterrey on her Twitter account.

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The ruling party argues that since 2021 the opposition party Citizens for Freedom was outlawed before the presidential elections that gave Ortega the victory for the fifth time, the fourth in a row. This political persecution has served to receive several criticisms from the international community that has ignored the last elections and considers Nicaragua far from being a democratic system.

Persecution of NGOs

In addition to blindly persecuting politicians, the Ortega government has another favorite victim: Non-Governmental Organizations. Since 2018, the forced closure of 879 NGOs in the Central American country has been reported.

But this has not been the only attack on democracy by the Sandinista regime in the last week. Recently, the government of Daniel Ortega also ordered the closure of 80 feminist NGOs in the country, 27 since June of this year. Canceling the legal personality implies the confiscation of the offices, occupation of assets and criminalization of its members, as protested by the NGO IM - Defensoras.

NGOs have been indispensable in being able to denounce the abuses of the Sandinista government. In particular, during the 2018 protests known as the "April Rebellion", which left, according to the IACHR, at least 355 dead and more than 1,800 injured. In just 2022, the Nicaraguan government ordered the closure of 500 organizations, which the ruling party dismisses as "destabilizing" the government.

The Persecution of the Catholic Religion

Another international institution that accuses of being persecuted by the Sandinista regime is the Catholic Church itself. A few days ago, the Nicaraguan Institute of Telecommunications and Post Office (Telcor) ordered the end of the broadcast of the Catholic Channel of the Diocese of Matagalpa . In this way, this is already the second Catholic channel vetoed by the Government in less than 2 months, as reported by TV Merce.

"We have been notified by the management of Telecable (subscription television) that, due to guidance from Telcor, the Catholic Channel of the Diocese of Matagalpa is removed from the programming grid of said company in Matagalpa and Jinotega (north)", TV has indicated. Mercy in a statement.

The first Catholic channel sanctioned by Ortega and Telcor was Channel 51, owned by the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua. On May 20, authorities ordered the channel's closure, just after Rolando Álvarez, bishop of the Matagalpa diocese, reported being a victim of police persecution. On May 20, Telcor also ordered the elimination of Channel 51, Canal Católico, owned by the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua. The closure of Channel 51 occurred after Álvarez began a day of fasting, prayer, and indefinite exorcism until the siege ended.

Álvarez himself has been considered a critical voice of the Ortega regime within the country. The religious had indicated that the president wanted "a mute church", but that "if the church were silent, the stones would scream".

The level of tension between the Catholic Church and Ortega has been rising for years. Last year, the Nicaraguan president even branded opponents and bishops as "terrorists" escalating the speech against any critic.

The Nicaraguan lawyer, Molina Montenegro, compiled a report called "Nicaragua: A Persecuted Church? (2018-2022)" 190 attacks against the Catholic Church, under the mandate of Daniel Ortega and his wife and Vice President Rosario Murillo.

Political Prisoners in Nicaragua, a Problem of Serious Proportions

The capture of the 5 mayors of CxL over the weekend adds to the already more than 180 political prisoners in Nicaragua under the Ortega regime. Most of these were arrested last year during the electoral contest.

Several human rights organizations recently warned of irregularities in the trials of Félix Maradiaga, Juan Sebastián Chamorro, Violeta Granera, and José Adán Aguerri, opposition political leaders who have been detained since 2021 and who today face 13-year sentences (Violeta Granera was sentenced to 8 years) for alleged crimes of "conspiracy to undermine national integrity".