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OAS overwhelmingly votes to condemn Ortega government

Wives of opposition members fear for their safety

Local leaders meet to discuss ongoing political crisis in Nicaragua
Local leaders meet to discuss ongoing political crisis in Nicaragua

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – The ongoing crisis in Nicaragua continues as news of President Daniel Ortega detaining another political opponent over the weekend brought the number to 13.

This would include at least four presidential opponents detained since June 2. Police said they arrested the opposition leaders on charges related to a recently enacted law that classifies as treason any support for sanctions against officials in the Ortega regime. The law, passed in December, would give Ortega’s government the power to declare citizens “terrorists” or coup-mongers, classify them as “traitors to the homeland” and ban them from running as candidates.

The organization of American States held an emergency meeting on Tuesday, to discuss the situation. An overwhelming majority voted to condemn the recent arrests.

Meanwhile, opposition leaders Felix Maradiaga and Juan Sebastian Chamorro remain detained by the Ortega government.

ARCHIVO - En esta fotografa de archivo del 18 de septiembre de 2019, el activista de la oposición Nicaragüense Felix Maradiaga, en el centro, se mantiene firme mientras se canta el himno nacional durante una conferencia de prensa en Managua, Nicaragua. (AP Foto/Alfredo Zuniga, Archivo) (Copyright 2019. The Associated Press. All rights reserved) (Copyright 2019. The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Ortega and his wife Rosalia Murillo face re-election in November. U.S. officials have called the arrests a campaign of terror, and have said the region cannot stand by and wait to see who is next.

ARCHIVO - En esta fotografa de archivo del 21 de marzo de 2019, el presidente de Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, habla junto a la primera dama y la vicepresidenta Rosario Murillo durante la ceremonia de inauguracin de un paso elevado de la carretera en Managua, Nicaragua. (AP Foto/Alfredo Zuniga, Archivo) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

“We don’t know where he is,” said Victoria Cardenas, Juan Sebastian Chamorro’s wife.

On Tuesday, a Zoom meeting was held and the wives of both men said the government has not given them access. They have no information on where the men are being held, or about their condition.

Madriaga’s wife fears for their safety because torture and human rights abuses are standard in government jails.

“In Felix’s case, he was beaten and detained without an arrest warrant on June 8 and no one has seen or heard from him since. In Juan Sebastian’s case, who was also taken from his home without a warrant on June 8, has also been denied access to his family and counsel. In fact to make matters worse, now his lawyer has also disappeared,” said Jared Genser, Attorney.

Also on Tuesday, the Miami-Dade County commission passed a resolution, condemning the Ortega government for undermining democracy and human rights.

“President Ortega and the government have moved aggressively to the clear the fields of potential challengers,” said Jose “Pepe” Diaz, Miami-Dade Commissioner.


About the Authors:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba. 

Veronica Crespo writes for Local10.com and also oversees the Español section of the website. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami, where she studied broadcast journalism and Spanish.