Nicaragua detains third presidential hopeful as criticism grows
Another potential challenger to Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega is arrested, prompting criticism from US diplomat.
Felix Maradiaga, a presidential hopeful with the Blue and White Alliance, gestures as he arrives at the attorney general's office on June 8 [Inti Ocon/AFP]
8 Jun 2021
Nicaraguan authorities have detained a third potential presidential candidate amid a deepening crackdown by President Daniel Ortega in the run-up to elections later this year.
Felix Maradiaga, 44, was held on Tuesday after appearing at the public ministry where prosecutors were investigating him for alleged acts against sovereignty, terrorism and backing international sanctions against the government.
Maradiaga is the leader of the Blue and White Alliance, a group that arose after widespread protests against Ortega’s rule in 2018. He testified about government repression at the United Nations Security Council that same year.
Last week, two other opposition politicians planning to run against Ortega were detained.
Cristiana Chamorro was placed under house arrest on government allegations of money laundering, while Arturo Cruz was held in pre-trial detention so prosecutors can investigate allegations of “provocation … and conspiracy to commit harm to national integrity”.
A man walks by a mural depicting Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, who is increasingly called a dictator, in Managua, Nicaragua on March 30 [File: Stringer/Reuters]
Police said Maradiaga “is being investigated for carrying out acts that undermine independence, sovereignty, and self-determination, inciting foreign interference in internal affairs, and calling for military interventions”.
He is also accused of using “financing from foreign powers to carry out acts of terrorism and destabilisation”, the police added.
These would likely make the charges against Maradiaga the most serious of those brought against Ortega’s challengers.
The charges are related to a law approved by the legislature, dominated by Ortega’s allies, in December that the lawmakers said aimed to defend Nicaragua’s “sovereignty” against hostile foreign influence.