Nicaragua government arrests another prominent opponent


MANAGUA, Nicaragua — The government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has arrested another child of former leader Violeta Chamorro, the woman who once defeated him for the presidency, in the runup to elections this year.

Former Congressman Pedro Joaquin Chamorro Barrios was arrested late Friday, accused of acts against “the sovereignty and independence” of Nicaragua, according to authorities.

He is the brother of presidential aspirant Cristiana Chamorro, who has been under house arrest since June 2, and journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro, who recently announced he had left the country to avoid arrest.

The siblings are children of Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Cardenal, whose 1978 assassination made him a martyr of the struggle against dictator Anastasio Somoza, who was overthrown by the Sandinista forces led by Ortega in 1979.

Chamorro Cardenal’s widow Violeta, who is now 90, went on to defeat Ortega in elections in 1990 and served until 1997.

Ortega, now 75, was elected back into the presidency in 2006 and is seeking his fourth consecutive term.

The arrest of Chamorro Barrios, a former congressman, means at least 21 people linked to the opposition have been arrested in the past four weeks, accused of crimes ranging from terrorism to money laundering to treason.

They include five potential candidates in the Nov. 7 presidential election, two former deputy foreign ministers, two former Sandinista guerrilla chiefs, a banker, a businessman and several leaders of opposition groups.

A police statement said Chamorro Barrios is suspected of “proposing and promoting economic, commercial and financial blockades against the country and its institutions.”

Carlos Fernando Chamorro said in a message via Twitter that police “kidnapped” his brother and “to fabricate alleged crimes … against citizens who demand free elections.”

Chamorro Barrios is part of the Citizens for Liberty opposition group that has registered to participate in the upcoming elections. Two of the other detainees were officially contending for its presidential nomination.

On Thursday, relatives of 16 Nicaraguan opposition figures held a news conference to demand the government let them see their loved ones, know where they are and how they are doing.

The families said during a virtual news conference that they believe most if not all of the prisoners are in the infamous El Chipote prison in Managua, where many of those detained for participating in street protests against the government in 2018 were taken.

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