Cristiana Chamorro Rejects “Money Laundering” Accusation
Opposition presidential hopeful assures that her candidacy stands. “I remain firm at this time with my proposal to serve Nicaragua,” she said.
By Cinthya Torrez (Confidencial)
HAVANA TIMES – The accusations of the Ministry of the Interior (MIGOB) against the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation, alleging “clear signs of money laundering,” after supposed inconsistencies found in the NGO financial reports are the “set-up” for a “macabre and terrible” action, denounced the former president of the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation (FVBCh) and presidential hopeful, Cristiana Chamorro. She assures that they seek to incriminate her “in something that is completely false.”
“Surely it is a process not only to disqualify me as a presidential candidate, but also to prevent Nicaraguans from going to vote in freedom,” Chamorro affirmed.
The former president of FVBCh, which suspended its operations in February of this year due to the obstacles of the Foreign Agents Regulation Law, appeared at the MIGOB facilities on Thursday, May 20, after receiving a citation, only 40 minutes before the deadline established was met, ten o´clock in the morning.
For three hours MIGOB officials interrogated Chamorro about accounting information related to the organization and told her that they had 24 hours to present documents that respond to the alleged “inconsistencies” found by the Ministry of the Interior.
Chamorro requested an extension to organize all the information requested, but it was denied. The team that attended her said: “there is no extension. we give you 24 hours.” I told them that it was impossible,” she said. Besides Chamorro, who was prevented from entering in the company of her lawyer, MIGOB also summoned Walter Antonio Gomez Silva, financial administrator, and Marco Antonio Fletes Casco, general accountant of the Foundation, who later entered.
“The accusation about the crime of money laundering is part of the monstrosity assembled by this regime to prevent citizens from working for Nicaragua. And ultimately, to prevent Nicaraguans from being able to vote freely on November 7th,” expressed Chamorro outside MIGOB, guarded by approximately a dozen riot police.
MIGOB wrote of the citation of the former director of the Foundation and other members of the organization through a statement released in media outlets loyal to the Ortega regime.
Simultaneously, Ortega’s police cordoned off a plaza on the Carretera Sur highway, where the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation had operated, and one of the towers in the Invercasa corporate center. At the latter, it raided, without justification or legal arguments, the recording studio of the Esta Semana and Esta Noche programs, directed by journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro.
Also on Thursday, the Ministry of the Interior sent an “urgent” citation to Chamorro to attend an interview on Friday, at 9 o´clock in the morning, for the crime of money laundering, property and assets. The candidate assured, through her Twitter account, that she would attend “to expose this charade.”
“The ‘Violeta Barrios de Chamorro for Reconciliation and Democracy’ Foundation seriously breached its obligations before the Regulatory Entity and from the analysis of the financial statements for the period 2015-2019, whereby clear evidence of money laundering was obtained; consequently, the Ministry of the Interior has informed the Public Ministry for the corresponding investigation,” the MIGOB statement reads.
“MIGOB officials gave me a notice at the door of my house to present myself at 10:00 am. I received it personally at 9:24,” reads the tweet, shared by Chamorro, reporting on the hasty summons on Thursday.
This new action by the regime against Chamorro, an independent presidential candidate, who is popular among Nicaraguans, according to public opinion polls, occurs after the Supreme Electoral Council stripped the Partido Restauración Democrática (PRD) of its legal status. That party would have been the electoral vehicle in which the National Coalition hoped to consolidate the opposition vote in the November 7 elections. Likewise, the Electoral Council took away the legal status from the Conservative Party.
Presidential candidacy still viable
Chamorro confirmed, after the MIGOB citation, that she keeps her independent presidential candidature viable. “I continue firm at this time with my proposal to serve Nicaragua,” she expressed. Her proposal has been to represent a united opposition to defeat the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship is defeated at the ballot box.
The action of the Ortega regime against Cristiana Chamorro was questioned by the other opposition presidential hopefuls, who expressed solidarity through different messages: “It’s a despicable act by the criminal dictatorship. They accuse of crimes that they themselves commit,” said Juan Sebastián Chamorro. For his part, Felix Maradiaga, called on the opposition candidates to take to the streets.
“Let’s go to the streets. Let’s not expose the rest of the people. Let’s go as candidates. Let’s make a call to the streets,” he said in a video.
For her part, former guerrilla and opponent of the regime, Dora María Tellez, pointed out on her Twitter account that the citation to Chamorro is a way to disqualify a candidate that the Ortega regime fears.
“He eliminated parties and now he attempts to disqualify a candidate that without a doubt, they fear especially. Accelerating the blatant fraud,” said Tellez.
FVBCh did not submit to the Foreign Agents Law
The Violeta Barrios Foundation announced on February 5th the suspension of its operations. They argued “we will not submit” to the Foreign Agents Law, which was approved by the Ortega regime along with four other laws, which violate various rights of Nicaraguans.
At that time, they explained that the Foundation did not accept “the alleged imposition of registering as a foreign agent, established in an unconstitutional law, violating all principles of freedom of association.”
“They are staging a legal monstrosity”
This is “an opportunity to know we have to unite to achieve fair electoral conditions and a single candidacy that can defeat the dictatorship,” said Cristiana Chamorro after spending almost three hours of questioning at the Public Ministry on Friday. She attended to comply with the legal summons that she received on Thursday. She added that “they are staging a legal monstrosity” by accusing her of money laundering.
Chamorro said they only voiced “they were beginning an investigation” and did not give her explanations about the details of the case or how long the investigation will last. “They act outside the law” and “do what they want.” In response to their questions, “I told them to go to the Ministry of the Interior to verify everything, I told them where the documents are.”
In a statement published later, the daughter of Violeta Barrios de Chamorro and Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, reiterated that “everything is a charade.” She added that the accusation made against her is slanderous and directed “for political purposes” to affect her candidacy and “seriously damage democracy.”