The regime of communist dictator Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua executed a wave of nationwide police raids on Wednesday evening, arresting at least 57 citizens including dissidents, journalists, and human rights activists.
The Ortega regime reportedly accused the victims of “conspiracy to undermine national integrity,” an infraction expected to lead to charges on the crimes of treason and “spreading fake news.”
The detainees, all arrested during nighttime police raids, were reportedly transported to a court in the capital city of Managua, where they underwent mass express hearings. Some of the detainees were released under the condition that they periodically report with local authorities.
Monitoreo Azul y Blanco (Blue and White Monitoring), an NGO that tracks human rights violations in Nicaragua, reported that it had registered 57 arrests – 22 women and 35 men – in the raids as of Thursday. The organization noted that, due to a lack of information and the Ortega regime’s repression, the number of arrests could be higher.
Nicaraguan Yonarqui Martínez told the local outlet Artículo 66 on Thursday that Nicaraguan police showed most of the detainees their respective social media posts that the regime is using to accuse them of “spreading false news.” Martínez also denounced that the detainees were not allowed to exercise their rights to do process as they could not choose their lawyers.
“That the detainees were transferred in the early hours of the morning before a judge and a massive hearing was held is something we have never seen in the history of Nicaragua,” she continued. “It is a complete legal aberration.”
Martínez also explained to the Nicaraguan newspaper La Prensa that police searched the detainees’ residences, seizing their cellphones, computers, money, jewelry, and other belongings.
Nicaraguan journalist William Aragón, who was among the detainees, recounted to La Prensa how he was captured at his residence in Estelí and taken to Managua in a minibus alongside two other detainees.
“There were more than 250 vans there that had taken people from all over, because there were a lot of people there, they took me there, while I was there they took me to a judge. They took me to a person from Somoto who had been arrested and there the judge said that there was an informative hearing,” Martínez said. “The Public Prosecutor’s Office spoke and accused me of sedition, spreading fake news, exposing people to danger and an assault against the government. Then they told us to sign a document where we had to show up every day.”
Martīnez asserted that he explained to the judge that he no longer lives in Somoto, but in Estelí, and traveling every day between both cities for his daily presentation would cost him 120 Nicaraguan córdobas per day ($3.28), to which the judge responded that he “should be grateful he won’t be imprisoned.”
The arrest of at least 57 dissidents is Ortega’s latest escalation against political dissidents, adding to the repression tied to his ongoing “war” against the nation’s Catholic Church and the Vatican. The human rights situation in Nicaragua has dramatically deteriorated since the April 2018 protests, in which thousands of Nicaraguans flocked to the streets calling for freedom and the end of communism. Ortega responded to the protests with mass arrests and an outburst of state violence.
On Wednesday, Ortega ordered the shutdown of Enlace Nicaragua, a Catholic television channel that denounced the electoral fraud committed by Ortega during the sham 2021 general elections. Ortega also ordered the forced closure of five of the nation’s universities during 2023 so far, with three of them being closed down in April.
In February, the Ortega regime banished 222 political prisoners to the United States, stripping them of their nationality and rendering them stateless while seizing all of their assets in Nicaraguan territory.
Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.
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