Rival sentenced to jail, Nicaraguan president prepares to be re-elected

Dolly Mora’s hopes of holding fair presidential elections in Nicaragua were quickly dashed in the summer, and under a new treason law, a potential challenger to long-time president Daniel Ortega was arrested. . The police also detained two of her friends, who are opposition activists still in prison.

The 29-year-old leader of the University of Nicaragua, a youth political movement, does not intend to vote in Sunday’s elections. There will be five little-known candidates competing with Ortega instead of seven detained or under house arrest. Candidate. In recent days, she has been promoting #MiCandidatoEstaPreso on social media, which means “my candidate is imprisoned”.

“We don’t think there is anything else to do,” Mora said in an interview in a Central American country, not willing to disclose her location. “Ortega completely buried this process. It is impossible for citizens to participate and decide.”

Dolly Mora, the student leader and friend of the detained student leader Max Jerez, told the media about his detention in July.

Dolly Mora, the student leader and friend of the detained student leader Max Jerez, told the media about his detention in Managua on July 6. Jerez was one of five opponents of the government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega arrested on July 5. According to human rights organizations and trade unions, the number of detainees increased four months before the election. 26.

(AFP/Getty Images)

Ortega, 75, is preparing to maintain control of the country in an election condemned as illegal by the United States and human rights organizations. Experts predict that his re-election will plunge the country into a deeper level of international isolation, exacerbate its economic crisis and increase its surge in refugee numbers.

Cynthia Arnson, director of the Wilson Center’s Latin American Program, said: “All the major opposition leaders have been put in jail, which makes them feel a deep compromise.” “It’s hard to even call it an election.”

The Sandinista government of Ortega, a former Marxist guerrilla who has been president since 2007, passed laws that stifle freedom of speech, arrest journalists and civic leaders, and suppress political dissidents. Many people were arrested under a 2020 law that provided a comprehensive definition of “traitors”, including those who “undermined independence, sovereignty, and self-determination.”

A member of the special police force guards the ballot box in Managua.

On Monday, a member of the Special Police Force guarded the ballot box at a distribution center of the Supreme Electoral Commission of Managua.

(Osvaldo Rivas/AFP/Getty Images)

Despite the targeted sanctions imposed by Washington and the European Union on Ortega’s allies and family members, as well as condemnation from the Organization of American States (OAS), a regional agency, the repression continues. On Wednesday, the U.S. Congress passed the Renasse Act, which calls for a review of whether Nicaragua should be allowed to remain in the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

Ortega defended the wave of arrests by saying that the detainees were “The conspiring criminal Endanger national security. At a meeting of the Organization of American States in recent days, a Nicaraguan official accused the country’s critics of being “coup leaders” and trying to “undermine the stability of national sovereignty.”

Ortega came to power for the first time after overthrowing the US-backed dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979 with other Sandinista revolutionaries. In the 1980s, before his party, the Sandinista National Liberation Front, he served as president. Fiasco 1990.

Hilary Francis, a Nicaraguan historian at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom, said that since returning to the presidency, Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo (Rosario Murillo) Together served as “spreading authoritarianism.”

In 2014, his party received the support of the military and promoted the passage of a constitutional amendment that allowed Ortega to run for re-election indefinitely. In 2018, the national police and pro-government armed groups suppressed large-scale protests More than 300 people died.

A motorcyclist rides the banner of Daniel Ortega and his wife.

On Tuesday, a motorcyclist drove past the flags of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his wife and campaign partner Rosario Murillo. They were placed in a mobile clinic in Masaya.

(Osvaldo Rivas/AFP/Getty Images)

In addition to the 2020 law that defines “traitors” in general terms, other laws that have recently been criticized for obstructing fair elections include requiring people who obtain funds or “valuable items” from abroad to register as “foreign agents” and abstain. Running for office, another criminalizes the spread of “false” information. These “false” information will cause “popular panic, fear, and pain.”

At the same time, Ortega’s family and allies have accumulated substantial control over the country’s media landscape, and have obtained ownership or management of TV channels, radio stations, and online news sites. According to Reuters. On Monday, Facebook announced that it had deleted more than 1,000 Facebook and Instagram accounts with false personal information, which were allegedly operated by the Nicaraguan government and its ruling party to manipulate public discourse.

“There is a complete legal framework designed to [attack] Democracy,” said Manuel Orozco, a Nicaragua expert at the Washington, D.C.-based think tank Dialogue Americas, who was accused of conspiring with opposition leaders against the country in a Nicaragua judicial complaint this summer. “People are afraid to speak up. , Are afraid of demonstrating in the street because they will be detained. ”

Critics accused Ortega’s government of detaining the arrested without revealing their whereabouts or providing them with contact with lawyers or their families. The repression caused journalists, activists, and scholars to flee—often to the United States and neighboring Costa Rica.

Soldiers from the Nicaraguan army came to guard the ballot box.

On Monday, soldiers from the Nicaraguan army arrived at a distribution center of the Supreme Electoral Commission of Managua to guard the ballot boxes.

(Osvaldo Rivas/AFP/Getty Images)

The journalist Alberto Miranda, who fled in July, said that sports journalist Miguel Mendoza was imprisoned in June on the grounds of the comprehensive treason law of 2020, which caused widespread Fear. Many colleagues have resigned.

“We know that we are under a dictatorship and there is no constitutional guarantee,” he said. “There is no election process. It’s a circus.”

The seven potential presidential candidates arrested include Christiana Chamorro, The daughter of former President Violetta Barrios de Chamorro, was accused of money laundering and placed in House arrestThe police also detained corporate executives and former Sandinista leaders who fought alongside Ortega during the revolution.

Mónica Baltodano, a former Sandinista guerrilla commander who joined the movement at the age of 15, said that after seeing several leaders arrested, “we realized that the regime Without any restrictions, they can capture us and make us disappear.”

Bartodano fled to Costa Rica with her husband and daughter in the summer. She said that Ortega’s ideals had completely broken with those that inspired revolutionaries. She claimed that his government was “not even a left-wing dictatorship” and pointed out how he supported the ban on abortion before the 2006 presidential election.

“We are fighting for freedom, social justice and democracy because Somoza does not allow free elections,” she said. “this [party] Ortega does not fight for these ideals, it only uses its rhetoric. “

A man sits in front of a banner promoting Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega's candidacy.

On September 24, a man sat in front of a banner promoting Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s candidacy for Managua.

(Osvaldo Rivas/AFP/Getty Images)

Orozco from Inter-American Dialogue said that he expects the election to lead to a decline in Nicaragua’s foreign investment and increased immigration, and pointed out how the number of Nicaragua arrests at the US border increased sharply in the weeks following summer arrests. He used remittance data to estimate that since the 2018 protests, about 200,000 Nicaraguans have fled the country.

Tanya Mroczek-Amador runs a refugee relief center on the border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica. She said that since June, she has seen more child refugees. She said they said they wanted to reunite with their parents who had left earlier and asked their families to “keep going because they can’t see the future in Nicaragua,” she said.

Analysts predict that the election will trigger stronger action by the international community. Ryan Berg, a senior researcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, pointed out how the Organization of American States voted to suspend Nicaragua’s access to its institution.

“Countries that are willing to take action against Nicaragua-the European Union, Canada, the United States-have a feeling that they need to do more,” he said.

Elvira Cuadra, a Nicaraguan sociologist from Costa Rica, said that the tensions between the opposition movement and established parties that emerged in 2018 made it difficult for the opposition to unite. Opposition leaders said they need to find a strategy to disperse how many opposition groups are abroad.

Jesús Tefel, a 35-year-old businessman who helped lead the Blue and White National Unity Organization, said: “The first thing we need is to have a frank dialogue so that all the opposition in Nicaragua can find common ground. Career and act in a more coordinated way.” Nicaragua’s opposition movement, and fled Nicaragua with his wife and 10-year-old son.

Since the 2018 protests, the youth activist Mora has tried to keep a low profile, taking actions every few months to protect herself from retaliation. On the weekend before the arrest of her friends Max Jerez and Lesther Alemán, police were present outside the home where she shared with Jerez and another activist.

They were about to be arrested and called their family members. On the evening of July 5, the sirens began to sound and officials rushed in.

Jerez and Aleman-like presidential candidates-were charged under the treason law.

Friends urged Mora to leave the country, but she decided to stay, even if it meant being arrested and imprisoned, and said that the protests in 2018 showed that her “this generation has made a clear commitment” to change the country.

“Unfortunately, it happened,” she said. “We have two friends in prison and we will not go.”

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