Nicaragua's regime headed for Daniel Ortega has ordered the arrest of opposition presidential hopeful Medardo Mairena late Monday.
The former Sandinista guerrilla leader, who is said to be running for reelection in November, has also placed student leader Lesther Alemán in custody, it was reported.
With the new detentions, the total number of opposition leaders jailed so far since May 28 has reached 21, in addition to 5 others who have no political relevance but are linked in one way or another to them.
Mairena, leader of Nicaragua's peasant movement, is the sixth opposition presidential candidate under arrest in a country which is going through an unprecedented social, political and human rights crisis since April 18, 2018.
Apart from Mairena, Nicaraguan authorities have arrested opposition presidential hopefuls Cristiana Chamorro, Arturo Cruz, Félix Maradiaga, Juan Sebastián Chamorro and Miguel Mora, who are being investigated for alleged treason.
Julie Chung, US Acting Undersecretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Tuesday condemned the new arrests and highlighted that these moves showed Ortega feared “any opposition.”
Meanwhile, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) President Antonia Urrejola posted on her Twitter account that every day the possibility of Nicaragua having free and fair elections seemed to be further away as “the persecution of all dissident voices does not stop.”
Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary-General Luis Almagro has said that the inter-American and international community have the responsibility to protect democracy in Nicaragua, condemned the tyranny of the Ortega government, demanded actions in accordance with the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and called for the release of the new detainees.
Nicaraguan opposition party Alianza Ciudadanos por la Libertad (CxL) vowed not to give up in their efforts to remove Ortega from power through electoral and peaceful means. We must continue. It does not matter what happens to us. They will have to arrest 6 million Nicaraguans, CxL legal representative Carmela Rogers, known as Kitty Monterrey, said at a press conference.
Two of the six arrested presidential candidates belong to CxL: Arturo Cruz and Juan Sebastián Chamorro, while three of the other four had approached that coalition.
The best form of resistance is to keep going, continued Rogers, for whom the electoral route is the only way to put an end to the socio-political crisis that erupted in April 2018.
Ortega, who returned to power in 2007 after coordinating a Governing Board from 1979 to 1984 after overthrowing dictator Anastasio Somoza and later presided over the country for the first time between 1985 and 1990, has accused opposition leaders of trying to overthrow him with the support of the United States and has branded them as criminals.
Ortega will be seeking reelection on November 7 for yet another five years.