Cristiana Chamorro, who appears to be Nicaraguan head of state Daniel Ortega’s most serious contender for the November presidential election, was under house arrest on Wednesday evening, June 3, after being accused of money laundering by the government .
“After more than five hours of police presence at the home of my sister Cristiana Chamorro, presidential candidate, at 5.15 am [1 h 15 en France], riot police place it under “house arrest”, in isolation. His house is still occupied by the police ”, wrote his brother Carlos Fernando Chamorro on Twitter.
The police violently entered the grounds of Mr.me Chamorro, in the southeast of Managua, where she was about to give a press conference, said Arelia Barba, her assistant. Friends and relatives tried to come to the home but the heavy police presence prevented them from entering, also pushing back the journalists in a muscular manner.
Criminal investigation for money laundering
The 67-year-old journalist aims to defeat Daniel Ortega at the polls, as did her mother, Violeta Chamorro 31 years ago. But the rising star of the opposition has been targeted for several weeks by a judicial investigation for money laundering that she denounced as a “Macabre farce” rise in power to prevent her from being a candidate in the presidential election on November 7.
“Arbitrarily ban opposition leader Cristiana Chamorro [d’être candidate] reflects Ortega’s fear of free and fair elections ”, denounced on Twitter the head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, from Costa Rica where he is visiting. “Nicaraguans deserve a real democracy”, he added.
Non-member of a party, the journalist announced her intention to seek the nomination of the opposition for the presidential election where Mr. Ortega, in power since 2007, is expected to run for a fourth consecutive term.
Nicaraguan justice announced in a press release on Wednesday that a Managua court had ordered “The intervention [de la police au domicile] and the arrest of Cristiana Chamorro, accused of misleading management offenses, ideological falsehood with a view to committing the offense of laundering money, property and assets, to the detriment of the State of Nicaragua and Nicaraguan society ”.
On Tuesday night, the Nicaraguan prosecutor’s office had indicted the opponent, demanding that she be banned from running for any term, believing that the pre-candidate for the presidential election “No longer fully enjoys her civic and political rights because she is involved in criminal proceedings”. Lawyers denounced a procedure “Illegal” in the absence of a resolution from the Supreme Electoral Council.
The General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) denounced “This new attack on democracy” who “Makes it even more impossible to hold free, fair and transparent elections in the country” and “Delegitimizes the electoral process even before it takes place”. According to the OAS press release, “Nicaragua is heading for the worst possible elections”.
The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh) considered that this arrest warrant was a “Contempt of human rights”. Spanish MEP Jose Ramon Bauza felt it was a “Very serious attack on democracy” and called on EU foreign minister Josep Borrell for the EU to consider immediate sanctions against the Ortega government.
Popularity of his mother Violeta
Cristiana Chamorro headed the Foundation for the Defense of Press Freedom which bears the name of her mother and in whose accounts the prosecution ensures that there are “Inconsistencies” for the period 2015-2019. The Foundation, seen as a bastion of freedom of expression, provided support to independent journalists and media.
Cristiana Chamorro decided to suspend her activities in February because she refused to submit to a new law obliging any natural or legal person who receives funds from another country to declare themselves “Foreign agent” with the Ministry of the Interior.
The opponent enjoys the popularity of her mother Violeta, whom she surprisingly resembles. She can also count on the support of her powerful family, a member of the Nicaraguan oligarchy and whose name is intimately linked to the country’s political history, and owner of a press group.
Cristiana Chamorro is also the daughter of Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, a hero of the fight against the Somoza dictatorship. His assassination in January 1987 had led to the start of the insurgency against the regime.