Ortega Regime Arrests Candidate Felix Maradiaga

Opponent Félix Maradiaga upon leaving the Prosecutor’s Office, minutes before being arrested. Photo: EFE / Confidencial.

Opponent was detained after withdrawing from the Prosecutor’s Office. Later in the day another presidential candidate, Juan Sebastian Chamorro, was also suddenly arrested.

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – The Ortega regime arrested, on Tuesday, June 8, presidential candidate Felix Maradiaga after an extensive questioning he was summoned to at the Public Ministry. The Police confirmed his arrest saying “he is being investigated for acts that undermine the people’s independence,” in accordance with the Law in Defense of the Rights of the People to Independence, Sovereignty, and Self-Determination for Peace, better known as the “Guillotine Law.”

Upon leaving the Prosecutor’s Office, after a four-hour interview, Maradiaga spoke with journalists and confirmed the initiation of an investigation against him. Minutes later, he was beaten and arrested along with the driver of the vehicle, Miguel Lumbi, his lawyer Roger Reyes reported.

Maradiaga was the third presidential hopeful detained by the Ortega regime in a week. The Ortega regime arrested the presidential candidate Arturo Cruz Sequeira on Saturday, June 5. The independent candidate Cristiana Chamorro Barrios has been under house arrest, incommunicado and with a strong police occupation, since last Wednesday, June 2nd. 

[Editor’s Note: Later on Tuesday a fourth opposition presidential hopeful, Juan Sebastian Chamorro, was arrested after the Police raided his home.]

“An investigative process is being opened, I am prepared for what is coming and I will remain strong in my spirit of civic organization,” said Maradiaga shortly before his arrest.

In a statement, the Police reported that Maradiaga is being investigated “for carrying out acts that undermine independence, sovereignty and self-determination; for inciting foreign intervention in the internal affairs, request military intervention, organize with the financing of foreign powers to carry out acts of terrorism and destabilization.”

The “Guillotine Law,” approved last December, deems traitors “to the homeland”. It also establishes that citizens cannot be eligible for public office: who led or financed a coup d’état; that alter the constitutional order; that promote or instigate terrorist acts; that request military intervention; that propose or request economic blockades against the country; and “those who call for, exalt or applaud the imposition of sanctions against the State of Nicaragua and its citizens.”

Threatened before being imprisoned

Maradiaga explained, upon leaving the Prosecutor’s Office, that the interrogation was “a sum of many things” and reveled that “many questions were asked mainly about my international advocacy, a lot of emphasis on my role as an activist within the framework of the OAS, in the United Nations Security Council.”

“It was a fairly broad inquiry into my immigration record, questions about my trips around the world in the last ten years and the reasons for each one of the trips,” he explained.

The opposition candidate arrived at the Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday morning to testify under a strong police operation, without knowing what he was summoned for.

At 8:30 in the morning, the presidential candidate of the Blue and White National Unity showed up at the Prosecutor’s Office, where a group of Sandinista Front sympathizers were harassing the journalists who were giving coverage.

Before entering the Prosecutor’s Office, Maradiaga stated that, despite everything that may come upon him, the regime and the FSLN are the true minority in a nation that wants work, peace, freedom and justice.

“The regime cannot kidnap six million Nicaraguans (…) not even with a rigged electoral process is it willing to submit to the popular will,” declared Maradiaga.

Ministry of the Interior Accuses

The Public Ministry indicated, in its statement, that Maradiaga is accused “for having received a complaint from the Ministry of the Interior (MIGOB) on June 4, 2021 “against him and against the ‘Freedom Foundation or Foundation for Freedom,’ registered in MIGOB since February 26, 2013, and which is represented by Maradiaga, “for having seriously breached his obligations before the regulatory agency.”

“Also, for discovering his involvement in distorting goals and objectives for which the Strategic Studies and Public Policies Institute (IEEPP) had been established,” they mention.

The text indicates that the MIGOB “has done an analysis of the Freedom Foundation and has obtained evidence that through it and its legal representation, illegal activities could be carried out, to harm Nicaraguan society and the State of Nicaragua.”

Maradiaga’s arrest denounced

The Acting Assistant Secretary for the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Julie Chung, denounced Maradiaga’s arbitrary detention.

“The arbitrary detention of presidential candidate Félix Maradiaga—the third opposition leader arrested in ten days—confirms without a doubt that Ortega is a dictator. The international community has no choice but to treat him as such,” said the US official.

Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), demanded the immediate release of Maradiaga. “We demand the immediate release of Félix Alejandro Maradiaga, another presidential candidate imprisoned in #Nicaragua. The Ortega regime must cease the violations of the fundamental rights of its citizens and the principles of the Inter-American Democratic Charter,” said Almagro.

Another who spoke out against the fact was the presidential candidate and former director of the Civic Alliance, Juan Sebastian Chamorro. “My strongest protest at the detention of Félix, which is illegal and arbitrary. Those responsible for these abuses will be condemned in a Nicaragua in justice,” wrote Chamorro.

Chamorro at the same time also reported that he was summoned by the Public Ministry for this Wednesday, June 9 at 8:30 in the morning, in an interview about his role as director of the Nicaraguan Foundation for Development (FUNIDES), on a stage similar that led to the arrest of Maradiaga. [However, they didn’t wait. Chamorro’s house was invaded by Police on Tuesday night and Chamorro he was arrested.]

After his departure from the Public Ministry, Maradiaga told journalists that he was informed that he was “under investigation” and that the regime had reactivated the accusation against him from 2018, for which he was forced to go into exile. On that occasion, Maradiaga was accused of being part of a criminal structure that financed “the failed coup d’état,” which is how the dictatorship refers to wave of citizens protests of 2018, as well as “instigating hatred.”

Félix Maradiaga was the third opposition presidential candidate imprisoned by the Ortega regime. Photo: Nayira Valenzuela / Confidencial.

These cases were filed away by Judge Julio Cesar Arias, on July 13, 2019. Maradiaga returned to the country in September of that same year. But according to the presidential candidate, these crimes of which he was accused in 2018 were now incorporated into other crimes established in the so-called Guillotine Law that the dictatorship approved and that are part of a combo of repressive laws established to persecute opponents.

“It is clear that they opened an investigation against me in two tracks. The reopening of the 2018 accusations, which is a string of crimes, such as financing and intellectual authorship of the alleged coup d’état, the activities of the Studies and Strategies Institute (IEEPP, which was closed by the dictatorship) and also new accusations in the framework of law 1052 (Guillotine Law),” says Maradiaga, who gave those statements shortly before being arrested by police officers.

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times.