Ortega’s Raid on the Home of Humberto Belli

June has seen nearly twenty government ordered robberies and arrests at the homes of prominent Nicaraguan opposition figures.

Humberto Belli

The night before, the police raided Belli’s home and were seeking to capture him. Expecting an attempt to arrest him, Belli had left into exile.

By Cinthya Torrez (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – A dozen hooded men, dressed in civilian clothes and armed with knives looted the house of the former board member of the Nicaraguan Foundation for Economic and Social Development (FUNIDES), Humberto Belli, early on Friday June 18.

The robbery occurred a day after the police loyal to the Ortega regime raided the house and searched for Belli to arrest him at the request of the Public Ministry, because he did not appear for a summon in the investigative process against FUNIDES.

Belli left the country overland through a blind point, reached Costa Rica and took a plane to the United States. From there, he denounced that the hooded men threatened his wife and daughter. They told them that they were going to kill them. One of the hooded men showed his penis to Belli’s daughter and told her he was going to rape her. She defended herself and “thank God” nothing happened, said Belli.

Gioconda Belli, the writer and sister of Belli, denounced that the men tied up her niece and sister-in-law and that they “practically emptied” the residence. She added that another one ordered the man who threatened her niece with abusing her not to do so. The victims overheard the hooded men say that it was “a second operation,” the first obviously having been the day before.

The robbers entered the house through a sliding door, of which only a person familiar with the house knows that they can enter through it, explained Humberto Belli, also a former Minister of Education.

The men took jewelry, watches, wallets, and other objects that Belli still does not know, since they have not yet been able to make an inventory of the losses. The assault lasted more than two hours, and when they saw that his hypertensive wife began to tremble out of fear, one of the thiefs told another that they better leave to avoid problems, Belli described.

They were two terrible nights: the first, with the police raid, was “tense and horrible” and the one on Friday “hell,” said Belli. On Thursday night, the Police arrived with violence, damaged the gate of the house and without a court order, they searched everything exhaustively. They took the computers, papers, checkbooks and everything they could; “above all objects that they thought could be related to some crime,” he commented.

The former Education Minister explained that he does not know if the robbery that began around midnight this Friday has any political implication against him. “I cannot be sure because I have no proof they were people sent by the Government, however, there is only a very strange coincidence,” he explained.

“It was an extraordinary coincidence that the day after the initial raid, that during the morning they realized that I had escaped to Miami and that I had been in a meeting with the Mayor of Doral (Miami), common criminals arrived to make that assault,” questions Belli, who has been a critic of the Ortega regime and in 2019 was captured for a few hours by riot police who repressed a march of self-organized dissidents of the regime.

Gioconda Belli also does not know if the Police were involved in the robbery. “That they would talk about a second operation, that there would be someone who told the one who tried to rape my niece not to do it… I don’t know if it is a coincidence,” said the writer, who at the same time, described the raid followed by the robbery as an unprecedented act in the country.

“Likewise, with this theft it is not possible to go to the Police to report it, because the Police no longer exists as a body that protects citizens,” added the writer.

She noted that Nicaragua is living “a reign of terror” related to the electoral process of next November. “This crossed all the existing red lines, and we are in an absolute state of defenselessness in Nicaragua,” she affirmed.

Gioconda believes that this new wave of persecutions and abuses of the Ortega regime, “seem rather, a vengeful act of someone who has all the power to overcome any legal obstacle, because in those raids there is no judicial order, there is absolutely nothing,” she said.

She assured that her brother is very concerned for the safety of his family. “He never imagined that he was going to have two exiles in his life and caused by the same person,” she said. Humberto Belli went into exile during the Sandinista Revolution of the 1980s, when Daniel Ortega was president for the first time, and returned in the 1990’s after he lost an election.

Humberto Belli was detained for a few hours in 2019, when riot police officers lashed out against an opposition march.

Humberto Belli did not expect such persecution

As part of a repressive wave of the Ortega regime against presidential candidates, opponents, former guerrillas and businessmen, the Public Ministry also initiated “investigations” against the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation under the alleged crime of money laundering, and against FUNIDES for allegedly having violated the Law to Regulate Foreign Agents.

Belli, a former board member of FUNIDES, explained that he did not expect a “vicious reaction” against him or against the members of FUNIDES, which developed as a think-tank focused on drafting socioeconomic studies. “I am a member of FUNIDES. That they acted against FUNIDES and against its members, with travel restrictions, and the freezing of bank accounts, surprised me,” he said. “These are actions that we did not expect, because FUNIDES is a very civic, technical, professional organization, dedicated to doing many socioeconomic studies, and we are really surprised”.

Read more from Nicaragua here.