“Do not come with the story that they are candidates,” Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said in reference to the numerous opposition politicians his regime has incarcerated over the past few weeks.
Ortega insisted Wednesday that all 19 of them wanted to overthrow him and that they are neither “candidates” nor “politicians,” but “criminals” who attacked “the country's security” and planned a “second coup,” the newspaper La Prensa reported Thursday.
Ortega spoke for the first time about the recent wave of arrests, during a visit to the mausoleum of the late guerrilla Carlos Fonseca, founder of the leftist Sandinista Front.
“That is what we are pursuing, that is what is being investigated and that is what will be punished in due course,” Ortega said during the televised ceremony. He accused his opponents of being “agents of the Yankee empire,” who conspire against Nicaragua, to overthrow the government.
Up until Wednesday, there were about 19 people arrested for “inciting foreign interference” and “applauding sanctions” against the Sandinista regime, including five candidates to the Presidency, six political leaders, a banker and also three former Ortega comrades in arms, all of them over 60 years of age.
”Do not come with the story that they are candidates (...) Here we are not judging candidates or pre-candidates, but criminals who have attacked the sovereignty of the country, trying to organize another April 18, another coup to provoke what they call a regime change,” Ortega said in reference to the social upheaval of April 2018. The arrests have drawn condemnation against his government.
”We shall see when the Prosecutor's Office gives the results, how many millions (of dollars) entered for death,” added Ortega and accused “the Yankee embassy and other embassies” of having organized meetings to unite the opposition.
He pointed out that the United States is demanding the release of Nicaraguan prisoners, but has jailed the Republican sympathizers who stormed Capitol Hill on January 6.
“We are already going to ask the United States to free the 400 Americans … who came to assault the United States Congress. There they are prisoners, they are investigating them, they are judging them, they are more than 400 there and here they are crying over 20, when there are 400,” Ortega pointed out.
Among the prisoners are presidential hopefuls Cristiana Chamorro (under house arrest), Arturo Cruz, Félix Maradiaga, Juan Sebastián Chamorro and Miguel Mora, as well as former guerrilla commanders Dora María Téllez and Hugo Torres. The latter participated in an armed action in 1974 that allowed Daniel Ortega to be released from imprisonment under dictator Anastasio Somoza.