International pressure mounts on Nicaragua’s Ortega over reports of human rights violations

SWEETWATER, Fla. – International pressure is mounting on Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega over a recent rise in human rights violations.

The Organization of American State’s Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued the Persons Deprived of Liberty in Nicaragua report on Wednesday.

The IACHR also requested that the Inter-American Court adopt provisional measures to protect Juan Sebastián Chamorro, José Adán Aguerri, Félix Maradiaga, and Violeta Granera “due to extreme risk” in Nicaragua.

FILE - In this June 11, 2019 file photo, Nicaraguan journalist Miguel Mora speaks to the press after his release from prison, at his home in Managua, Nicaragua. (AP Photo/Alfredo Zuiga, File) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Ortega’s administration has detained five of the presumed presidential candidates and at least 20 opposition leaders, including human rights defenders and journalists, in just a span of 20 days.

The most common accusation is that they are accepting funding from other countries to overthrow Ortega.

Human Rights Watch, an international non-governmental organization, released the Critics Under Attack report on Tuesday.

A poster promotes presidential candiate and current President Daniel Ortega on the side of a bus, in Managua, Nicaragua, Thursday, June 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Miguel Andres) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

HRW argued the detentions are part of a broader strategy by Ortega and his wife, Rosario Murillo, the country’s vice-president, ahead of the November presidential elections.

The U.S. Senate moved a step closer toward increasing targeted sanctions when the Foreign Relations Committee approved the Reinforcing Nicaragua’s Adherence to Conditions for Electoral Reform Act, also known as the RENACER bill.

A motorcyclist rides past a truck billboard promoting President Daniel Ortega and his wife and Vice President Rosario Murillo, in Managua, Nicaragua, Thursday, June 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Miguel Andres) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Sen. Bob Menendez, who introduced the bill to the Senate in March, said the U.S. needs to work with Canada and the European Union to find a solution.

“The RENACER Act recognizes the need for the U.S. government to send a clear message to the Ortega regime, which is unleashing authoritarianism in a way we have not witnessed in our hemisphere for decades,” Menendez said.

FILE PHOTO: Riot police officers armed with rifles prepare to face student protesters May 28, 2018, in Managua, Nicaragua. (AP Foto/Esteban Felix) (Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights discussed Nicaragua’s lack of accountability for serious human rights violations since 2017.

Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called on Ortega to change his course of action, free all arrested, ensure free elections, and remove restrictive legislation.

On Tuesday, Nicaraguan prosecutors accused former first lady María Fernanda Flores Lanzas of alleged crimes against the state. The wife of former Nicaraguan President Arnoldo Aleman remained under house arrest.

Data from IACHR report (Copyright 2020 by WPLG - All rights reserved.)

Afternoon report

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. 

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.