Nicaraguans will head to the polls Sunday, in what the international community is calling a ‘sham’ election

Political opponents remain behind bars or on house arrest, as Nicaragua prepares for elections this Sunday

LITTLE HAVANA, Fla. – On Sunday millions of Nicaraguans will head to the polls in what the international community is calling a “sham” election, following several arrests of potential political opponents, carried out by longtime President Daniel Ortega and his wife and vice president, Rosario Murillo’s government.

On Friday, Local 10′s Hatzel Vela spoke to Berta Valle. She is the wife of Felix Maradiaga, one of the presidential candidates who remains behind bars.

FILE - In this Sept. 18, 2019 file photo, Nicaraguan opposition activist Felix Maradiaga, center, stands at attention as the national anthem is sung during a press conference in Managua, Nicaragua. Nicaraguas National Police has on Tuesday, June 8, 2021, arrested Maradiaga, a potential challenger to President Daniel Ortega, the third opposition pre-candidate for the Nov. 7 elections detained in the past week. (AP Photo/Alfredo Zuniga, File) (Copyright 2019. The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

“He was taken away from the car in a very violent way...he was beaten and he disappeared,” said Valle.

For 84 days, Maradiaga was missing, not seen by his family or his attorneys. He finally was able to see his sister and described the cruel conditions he encountered, where he was subjected to daily interrogations.

Maradiaga is one of seven presidential candidates, either being held in a jail or on house arrest.

“So how can we talk about elections when we have our candidates in prison and the only political party participating in the ballots are the Sandinista and Daniel Ortega,” said Valle.

The Nicaraguan opposition is now refusing to participate in what they are calling a fraudulent election. The government has banned massive campaign rallies under pandemic restrictions. There are no political ads on television. Even in the streets, evidence of the upcoming elections is limited to some small banners over streets and letter-size candidate posters pasted to light poles.

FILE - In this June 17, 2021 file photo, a billboard promoting President Daniel Ortega and his wife and Vice President Rosario Murillo covers a truck driving through Managua, Nicaragua. The U.S. State Department announced Monday, July 12, 2021 it is revoking the travel visas of 100 legislators, judges and prosecutors who aided the regime of President Daniel Ortega. (AP Photo/Miguel Andres, File) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The opposition is calling on the international community not to legitimize the election. They are hopeful that the Organization of American States takes action on their next meeting, on November 11.

In South Florida, members of the Nicaraguan exile community are planning their own events to protest the Ortega government.

On Sunday at 11 a.m., there will be a march from the Nicaraguan Consulate to nearby Jose Marti Park in Little Havana. At 1 p.m., a mass will be held at St. Agatha Catholic Church and from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., and a sit in is planned at Ruben Dario Park on Flagler Street and 98th Avenue.

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.