Cristiana Chamorro and two of her colleagues were arrested on “charges,” according to the U.S. State Department.
The United States on Friday called on the government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega to immediately release detained opposition leader Cristiana Chamorro and two of her comrades.
“His arrest for past charges is an abuse of his rights and represents an assault on democratic values, as well as a clear attempt to thwart free and fair elections,” said U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price.
Chamorro was placed under house arrest after his house was stormed by Nicaraguan police on June 2 in an escalating political battle ahead of the November elections, in which Ortega wants to maintain control of power.
Journalist Chamorro, 67, is considered a possible challenger for Ortega, who is expected to run for re-election in November for a third consecutive term.
Police he stormed Chamorro’s house in the capital, Managua, and after being in situ for more than five hours, she was placed “under house arrest, isolated,” her brother Carlos Fernando Chamorro had announced on Twitter.
Chamorro is the third potential opposition candidate arrested in Nicaragua, where two opposition parties have already declared themselves illegal.
Chamorro’s arrest was also condemned Friday by a leading Democratic member of Congress, California Representative Eric Swalwell.
“Instead of wasting time against democratically dissent, Ortega should work to lift his country out of the poverty and horrific violence that has caused many of his electorate to leave the country,” Swalwell said.
We condemn in the strongest possible terms the unjustified house arrest of the popular opposition candidate Cristiana Chamorro by the President of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega. My statement: pic.twitter.com/Fiw1g4IOls
– Representative Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) June 4, 2021
Swalwell called on the Biden administration to work with allies in the region “to impose consequences on Ortega for his regime’s aggressions on democratic freedom and human rights.”
A group representing Nicaraguan political prisoners and the mothers of people killed to protest Ortega’s authoritarian government have called a national strike following Chamorro’s arrest.
“A national strike is better than a bullet,” Grethel Gomez said in front of Chamorro’s house, where families of political prisoners came to show their solidarity.
Earlier this week, Nicaragua’s attorney general – Ortega’s ally – called for Chamorro’s disqualification from public office due to the criminal investigation initiated against her and a judge immediately signed.
State prosecutors have accused him of money laundering and minor misrepresentations, charges he has denied.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who met President Carlos Alvarado in neighboring Costa Rica on June 1, had criticized the actions of the Ortega regime and reaffirmed the U.S. economic sanctions against Nicaraguan officials.
“There are sanctions with a purpose, and that is to promote accountability for those who engage in human rights abuses, corruption, or undermine democracy,” Blinken said.
In Costa Rica, Antony Blinken says “Nicaragua is going in the opposite direction” Q COSTA RICAhttps://t.co/QWbd4ciQEH
– The Voice of Nicaragua (@vozdenicaragua) June 4, 2021
While Chamorro may appeal the disqualification, a reversal is unlikely to occur due to Ortega’s influence on the courts.
Chamorro, who comes from a well-known political lineage, recently emerged as a possible candidate for unity that could rally a fractured opposition in the November vote to defeat Ortega.
Chamorro is the daughter of Violeta Chamorro, who was elected president of Nicaragua in 1990, ousting Ortega after her first term in power, and her father, Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, was assassinated in 1978 after leading the pro-government opposition. democracy in the Somoza dictatorship for decades. .