“There Can’t be Elections with a Kidnapped Opposition”

Berta Valle (l) y Victoria Cardenas traveled to Washington to request more pressure for the release of the political prisoners in Nicaragua. Photo: taken from Twitter.

“Our position, from the opposition, should be to tell the regime we are not willing to play their game,” said Berta Valle, wife of Felix Maradiaga.

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – Victoria Cardenas and Berta Valle, the wives of aspiring presidential candidates Juan Sebastian Chamorro and Felix Maradiaga respectively, continue denouncing that after almost 50 days since their husbands’ arrests, they have not been able to see them, or know anything about their health.

Although they both believed in elections as a way out of Nicaragua’s crisis, today the situation “has changed” because “the opposition has been taken hostage,” declared the two women who travelled to the United States seeking solidarity for the release of political prisoners in Nicaragua.

“Felix and Juan believed that elections were the correct means to a peaceful and permanent transition in Nicaragua, to end the cycle of dictatorship, of violence and blood. But right now, I can tell you… What elections? How can there be elections with all the opposition kidnapped?” said Cardenas.

In an interview with the Esta Semana program, Cardenas noted that “the circumstances have changed a lot,” since the new wave of arrests, that already has 29 members of the opposition kidnapped. She said “conditions for holding elections on November 7th do not exist.“

This past weekend the police imposed house arrest on Noel Vidaurre, the seventh aspiring presidential candidate arrested by the Ortega-Murillo regime. Additionally, the potential candidate María Asuncion Moreno announced that she is in exile, after reporting she was threatened with imprisonment after the District Attorney’s Office requested her arrest. Then on Saturday night Ortega’s Police raided her house.

“There’s no need to wait until November 7th. We realize that the inscription for candidates is from July 28th through August 2, so this is the chance that candidates have to register. The hope we have is that an opposition candidate is able to sign up so we can actually talk about elections in Nicaragua,” said Cardenas.

Meanwhile, Berta Valle said the Nicaraguan people “have already expressed their preference regarding a possible election when they were asked, for example, in polls, who they would vote for, or which candidate do you think could assume leadership of the country.”

“The people have been quite clear, and the candidates they prefer are either under house arrest or missing. So, to insist that there will be a selection (of candidates) without any process that takes into account popular opinion, or where the people are actually given a choice, seems to me not something we want,” she argued.

Valle said she understands that Citizens for Freedom (CxL) “has its procedures, and its own strategy” but believes “under these circumstances we shouldn’t be thinking of going forward in an electoral process under the conditions that the regime is imposing. To accept going along with this process would be like supporting what they are doing.”

“I believe that our position as the opposition should be to let the regime know that we are not willing to play their game,” and that once and for all we should denounce Daniel Ortega and expose to the world what he is doing,” she asserted.

They attended 30 meetings

Last week, the two women urged the United States government and the international community to employ “all the available mechanisms of applying pressure,” to obtain the release of the more than 146 political prisoners of the Nicaraguan regime, included among them, their husbands. 

Cardenas and Valle were in Washington to participate in 30 meetings with around 100 US Government officials, senators and congresspeople, an audience with a bipartisan commission, and three public events. 

“We asked the senators, congresspersons, the people we met with in the White House, and all the decision makers, to help us free our husbands, to help us lift our voices for all the political prisoners in Nicaragua to demand their immediate release, because in Nicaragua we cannot speak. The families cannot speak,” explained Cardenas.

Valle noted that officials, both in Europe as well as the United States, told them they requested the State of Nicaragua to allow electoral observation several times [but were rejected]. “I also sense a frustration from the international community, seeing such an arbitrary and authoritarian attitude of the regime.”

“They are truly surprised, and they told us so, noting they have never before seen someone who wanted to steal an election putting all the potential opposition candidates in jail. They see any window for dialogue with the regime closing, to the point that it will be very difficult to count on an opening for international observers,” lamented Veronica Cardenas.

The regime is trying to “sow fear”

Cardenas added, “what the regime wants to do is sow fear among the population, and in Nicaragua “one senses a profound silence.” Therefore we decided to take this trip to the United States and raise our voices about the persistent human rights violations.

“We feel that in Nicaragua there is a generalized fear after all the brutal repression that has occurred recently,” said Cardenas.

Berta Valle also pointed out that the situation is leading to a renewed increase in immigration to countries like the United States and Costa Rica.

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times.