Cristiana Chamorro, accused of money laundering by the government and arrested Wednesday, June 2, main opponent of the Nicaraguan head of state Daniel Ortega, is under house arrest. “After more than five hours of police presence at the home of my sister Cristiana Chamorro, pre-presidential candidate, at 5.15 am [23h15 GMT] riot police place her under house arrest, in solitary confinement. His house is still occupied by the police, ”his brother Carlos Fernando Chamorro wrote on Twitter. Police violently entered the grounds of Cristiana Chamorro’s residence in southeast Managua, where they were preparing to give a press conference, Arelia Barba, her assistant, told Agence France-Presse. . Friends and relatives tried to come to the home but the heavy police presence prevented them from entering, also pushing back the journalists in a muscular manner.
The 67-year-old journalist aims to defeat Daniel Ortega at the polls, as did her mother, Violeta Chamorro 31 years ago. But the rising star of the opposition has been targeted for several weeks by a judicial investigation for money laundering which she denounced as a “macabre farce” mounted by the authorities to prevent her from being a candidate for the presidential election of the November 7. “Arbitrarily forbidding opposition leader Cristiana Chamorro (to be a candidate) reflects Ortega’s fear of free and fair elections,” denounced on Twitter the head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken, from the Costa Rica where he is visiting. “Nicaraguans deserve a real democracy,” he added.
A “new attack on democracy”
Not a member of a party, the journalist announced her intention to seek the nomination of the opposition for the presidential election where Daniel Ortega, in power since 2007, is expected to run for a fourth consecutive term. Nicaraguan justice announced Wednesday in a press release that a court in Managua had ordered “the intervention (of the police at the home) and the arrest of Cristiana Chamorro, accused of the offenses of misleading management, ideological falsehood with a view to to commit the crime of laundering money, property and assets, to the detriment of the State of Nicaragua and Nicaraguan society ”.
Tuesday evening, the Nicaraguan public prosecutor had indicted the opponent by asking that she be prohibited from running for any mandate, considering that the pre-candidate for the presidential election “no longer fully enjoys her civil and political rights because she is involved in criminal proceedings ”. Lawyers have denounced an “illegal” procedure in the absence of a resolution from the Supreme Electoral Council.The General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) denounced “this new attack on democracy” which “makes it even more impossible to hold free, fair and transparent elections in the country” and “delegitimizes the electoral process before even that it does not take place ”. According to the OAS press release, “Nicaragua is heading for the worst possible elections.” The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh) considered that this arrest warrant was an “outrage against human rights”.
EU could take sanctions
Spanish MEP José Ramon Bauza called it a “very serious attack on democracy” and called on EU diplomat Josep Borrell for the EU to consider immediate sanctions against the government Ortega. Cristiana Chamorro headed the Foundation for the Defense of Press Freedom which bears her mother’s name and in whose accounts the prosecution ensures that there are “inconsistencies” for the period 2015-2019. The Foundation, seen as a bastion of freedom of expression, provided support to independent journalists and media.
Cristiana Chamorro decided to suspend her activities in February because she refused to submit to a new law obliging any natural or legal person who receives funds from another country to declare themselves a “foreign agent” with the Ministry of Interior. The opponent enjoys the popularity of her mother Violeta, whom she surprisingly resembles. She can also count on the support of her powerful family, a member of the Nicaraguan oligarchy and whose name is intimately linked to the country’s political history, and owner of a press group.
Cristiana Chamorro is also the daughter of Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, a hero of the fight against the Somoza dictatorship. His assassination in January 1987 had led to the start of the insurgency against the regime.