Listen

News 88.9 KNPR
Classical 89.7 KCNV

member station

NPR
Latin America

Police In Nicaragua Detain Opposition Figure At Her Home Following A Raid

1002748510_1045550487.jpg

Cristiana Chamorro, pre-presidential candidate, gives a press conference in Nicaragua's capital, Managua, in May after the detention of two of her former employees by the national police and their retention for 90 days for alleged laundering of assets.
Inti Ocon, AFP via Getty Images

Cristiana Chamorro, pre-presidential candidate, gives a press conference in Nicaragua's capital, Managua, in May after the detention of two of her former employees by the national police and their retention for 90 days for alleged laundering of assets.

Police in Nicaragua raided the home of opposition figure Cristiana Chamorro on Wednesday and placed her under house arrest in a move viewed by critics as an attempt by the federal government to block her efforts to run for president.

Chamorro, a journalist and daughter of former President Violeta Chamorro, is widely seen as a challenger to President Daniel Ortega, who is running for a fourth consecutive term in November.

Her brother, Carlos Chamorro, confirmed the raid via social media saying police illegally raided her Managua home for more than five hours. By Wednesday evening, the police were still there and placed her under arrest "in isolation."

The raid came right before Chamorro was set to speak to reporters for a scheduled press conference, he said.

Chamorro's home confinement on Wednesday comes a day after prosecutors filed charges of money laundering against the would-be presidential candidate and requested that she be disqualified from running for office.

The Ortega government accused Chamorro of "abusive management" and "ideological falsehood" because of her role running the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation for Reconciliation and Democracy, a press freedom group.

Support comes from

Nicaragua's Interior Ministry has said it launched an investigation into the organization following alleged "inconsistencies" in financial reports the foundation filed with the government between 2015 and 2019.

Chamorro has called the charges trumped up.

She stepped down from her leadership position at the organization in January. The group was disbanded a month later following the passage of a law that would have forced the organization to register as a foreign agent because it accepts funds from international sources.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken criticized the banning of Chamorro from running for office. He said in a tweet Wednesday that "arbitrarily banning" her "reflects Ortega's fear of free and fair elections. Nicaraguans deserve real democracy."

The Ortega government has taken several steps over recent years to crack down on critics and the Chamorro family.

National police also raided the offices of Cristiana Chamorro's brother, Carlos, who is an opposition journalist. In 2018, police confiscated equipment and took over the offices of his independent news outlet Confidencial. He went into exile for a year in neighboring Costa Rica, returning in 2020.

In April 2018, following the government's attempt to revamp the nation's social security system, large-scale protests were violently shut down by Ortega. Hundreds were imprisoned, and more than 300 were killed.

Ortega was elected Nicaragua's first post-revolution president in 1979, but was defeated in 1990 by Violeta Chamorro. She held the office until 1997. Ortega returned to power in 2007 and has been reelected three times in contests shrouded in allegations of corruption and legislative manipulation.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

You won’t find a paywall here. Come as often as you like — we’re not counting. You’ve found a like-minded tribe that cherishes what a free press stands for.  If you can spend another couple of minutes making a pledge of as little as $5, you’ll feel like a superhero defending democracy for less than the cost of a month of Netflix.