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Victoria Cardenas and Berta Valle: “There can be no elections with a kidnapped opposition”

“Our position, as opposition, should really be to tell the regime that we are not willing to play their game,” said Maradiaga's wife

Victoria Cárdenas and Berta Valle, wives of presidential aspiring candidates Juan Sebastián Chamorro and Félix Maradiaga, respectively, continue to denounce that almost 50 days after the arrest of their husbands, they have not been able to see them or be informed on their health conditions. Although both believed in the elections as a way out of the crisis in Nicaragua, today the situation “has changed” because the “opposition has been kidnapped”, admit the two women, who have toured the United States demanding solidarity for the release of political prisoners. 

“Felix and Juan believed that elections were the appropriate option for a peaceful and permanent transition in Nicaragua, so as not to be in the cycle of dictatorship, of violence, of blood.  At this moment, I can tell you… what elections? How can there be elections when the entire opposition is kidnapped?”, expressed Cardenas. 

In an interview with the Esta Semana program, she insisted that “the circumstances have changed a lot” since the beginning of the new wave of arrests that has already kidnapped 28 opposition members and that “there are no conditions for elections to be held on November 7”.

Over the weekend, the Police imposed house arrest on Noel Vidaurre, the seventh aspiring presidential candidate arrested by Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo’s regime. In addition, presidential aspirant María Asunción Moreno announced that she went into exile after denouncing the threat of imprisonment, after the Prosecutor’s Office requested her “forced conduction” to a summons and that on Saturday night, the National Police raided the house where she lived. 

“We don’t  have to wait until November 7, the registration for candidates is from 28 (July) to August 2, that is the opportunity for candidates to register, we will find out then (…) that is the hope we have, that an opposition candidate gets to register so that we can talk about elections in Nicaragua”, Cardenas stated. 

For Valle, the Nicaraguan people “had already expressed their preference for a possible election when they were asked, for example through polls, who they would vote for, or what candidate they considered could assume leadership in the country”. 

“The people have been very clear, and the candidates that the people like are either in jail or disappeared. So, to insist that there be a selection (of candidates) without any process where the popular will is considered, or the people are really given the possibility to choose, it seems to me that it is not something we would want”, she argued. 

Valle said that she understands that CxL “has it’s processes, has its own strategy”, but considers that “under these circumstances, we cannot be thinking of advancing an electoral process under conditions that the regime is imposing, and by accepting to step into that process, it is as if we are validating what they are doing”.

“I consider that our position, as opposition, should really be to tell the regime that we are not willing to play their game, and once and for all denounce and expose to the world what Daniel Ortega is doing”, she insisted. 

They had 30 meetings

Last week, both women demanded that the U.S government and the international community use “all available mechanisms of pressure”, to obtain the release of more than 146 political prisoners of the regime, among them their husbands. 

Cardenas and Valle were in Washington to participate in 30 meetings with about 100 U.S. government officials, senators, a bipartisan congressional committee and three other public events. 

“We asked the senators, the congressmen, the people we met at the White House, the decision makers, to help us free our husbands, to help us raise our voices for all the political prisoners in Nicaragua, to demand their immediate release, because in Nicaragua we cannot speak, the families cannot speak”, said Cardenas. 

Valle explained that both European and U.S. officials have told them that they have requested that the Nicaraguan State allow electoral observation on several occasions, “in order to come to the country, and I also feel a frustration on the part of the international community, upon seeing such an authoritarian and arbitrary attitude from the regime”.

“They are truly surprised, and they have told us so, they say that they have never before seen someone who wants to steal an election by putting all aspiring presidential candidates and all the opposition in jail, and that it really sees that the window of opportunity to dialogue with the regie is closing to the point that it will be very difficult to count on the opening of international observation”, lamented Maradiaga’s wife. 

Regime tries to “sow fear” in Nicaragua

For Chamorro’s wife, a “deep silence is felt” in Nicaragua, and “what the regime wants to do is to sow fear in the population”, which is why they made the decision to tour the United States to raise their voices against the constant violations of human rights. 

“We feel that there is a generalized fear in Nicaragua after the brutal repression that took place in recent days,” explained Cardenas. 

In this regard, Valle pointed out that this is why there has been an increase in immigrraton to countries such as the United States and Costa Rica once again.

This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by our staff

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