Presidential candidate Juan Sebastian Chamorro with the Citizens for Liberty Alliance (CxL), was abducted and jailed by the Ortega regime’s police, who raided his home on Tuesday night, June 8th. Chamorro’s detention occurred the same day that another presidential candidate – Felix Maradiaga, of the National Blue and White Unity (UNAB) – was also jailed.
Chamorro was registered for the CxL Party’s internal mechanism to select their presidential candidate, while Maradiaga had begun the process of registration on May 31. Within the space of just seven days, the Ortega regime has now jailed four presidential rivals, all of them prominent members of the opposition.
Before his capture, Juan Sebastian Chamorro recorded a 72 second video. In it, he affirmed: “If you’re watching this video, it’s because I’ve been jailed or am being held incommunicado.” The video was posted on social and news media sites.
Some twelve hours before his nighttime arrest, Chamorro had received a summons to appear at the public prosecutor’s office for an “interview” the following morning, June 9th. He was fully aware that this represented a threat to his physical integrity. Another opposition candidate, Felix Maradiaga had been detained that day, as he exited the Prosecutor’s office following a similar summons. Nonetheless, the police conducted the home raid and arrested Chamorro the night before his appointed appearance.
“Sometimes, in order to definitively gain our freedom, we must temporarily lose it,” Chamorro said in his taped declaration. “This is a good struggle, for good causes. Let’s not allow a criminal dictatorship to take away our rights anymore. To my dear family, I say they shouldn’t worry, that I’ll be alright. I’m spiritually, mentally and physically prepared for whatever comes.”
He urged “all Nicaraguans to continue in this struggle, above all to defeat indifference, defeat fear.” He added that he “will never” accept “any charges of treason to his country, much less coming from a dictatorship that has sold out Nicaragua.”
“I have great hopes that freedom will come to Nicaragua, and that all of us will be able to live in peace,” Chamorro concluded.
Ortega police confirm arrests
The Ortega-directed police have confirmed Chamorro’s detention. Minutes later, they also confirmed the detention of two other opposition leaders: Jose Adan Aguerri, former president of the Superior Council of Private Industry (Cosep); and Violeta Granera, an active member of the UNAB Political Council. According to police, Aguerri was taken to the infamous El Chipote interrogation jail. Violeta Granera is being held under house arrest, incommunicado.
The police later issued a statement that Chamorro’s arrest was because “he’s being investigated under Law #1055.” That law, railroaded through Nicaragua’s National Assembly late last year, is called the “Law in Defense of the People’s Rights, Independence, Sovereignty and Self-Determination for Peace.” Chamorro is accused of “acts that undermine independence, sovereignty, and the people’s self-determination, and inciting foreign interference in internal affairs.”
In the initial confusion that followed the news of the raid on Chamorro’s home, the candidate’s sister, Ana Maria Chamorro, told a television news team that they hadn’t been able to communicate with either Chamorro or his wife, Victoria Cardenas. They only knew that three police vehicles had arrived, and that shouts were heard from inside the home when the police officials burst in.
Minutes later, the Ortega Police confirmed the arrest, which they justified stating that Chamorro had “asked for military intervention; had organized to commit acts of terrorism and destabilization; had proposed and worked for economic, commercial and financial blockades against the country, using funding from foreign powers; had uplifted and applauded the imposition of sanctions against the Nicaraguan State and its citizens; and had harmed the supreme interests of the nation.”
Chamorro is the fourth presidential candidate to be arrested by the dictatorship since June 2, when the regime ordered the house arrest of independent candidate Cristiana Chamorro Barrios. On Saturday, June 5, former diplomat and current presidential candidate Arturo Cruz was detained and jailed, upon his return from a trip to the US. On the morning of June 8, candidate Felix Maradiaga was arrested, as he left the Public Prosecutor’s office following an interrogation.
That same day, the fourth presidential candidate, Juan Sebastian Chamorro, received a summons to appear before the Prosecution the following morning, June 9. The summons stated that he’d be interviewed with regard to the “Funides case”. This referred to the Nicaraguan Foundation for Economic and Social Development (Funides), which Chamorro directed until 2018. The Prosecution offered no further details about this investigation.