Full text of statement published by Sandinista party showing brutal crackdowns carried out by police and ‘Cuba-sponsored militias’ against local leaders
Nicaraguan exiles blame Ortega’s regime for attacks and threats, as he secures fifth term in office
New York Times counts or verifies 235 dead since Ortega returned to power in 2007
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Nicaragua’s exiles, critical of Nicaragua’s Marxist leader Daniel Ortega and his authoritarian government, warned on Monday that a violent repression of dissent threatens a potential return to civil war.
Around 20 local residents in Nicaragua’s eastern Granada province held a news conference in Panama, presenting new documents documenting 35 separate incidents of repression allegedly carried out by government forces and “Cuba-sponsored militias”.
“The vast majority of people who are detained [in Granada] do not get a court hearing and end up in political jails or temporary custody,” said an imprisoned woman whose name was on the list of participants, known as a Clamas de Estados). “They either serve their sentences or disappear.”
Residents in Granada have reportedly been attacked by a shadowy criminal gang known as the Zetas, thought to be associated with a CIA-backed paramilitary taskforce under the watch of Gen Manuel Noriega.
The massacre of a number of protesters by a “kidnapping squad” last July led to a poll boycott that the opposition claims cost it the presidency. Ortega, who has ruled since 1979, won 66% of the vote while his centrist coalition led by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) won 71%.
Opposition lawmakers reported that more than 1,000 polling stations across the country were closed after midnight, failing to open on the morning of polling day.
Days before the vote, police forces assaulted and detained dozens of people in what opposition leader Fabio Gadea, of the Liberal Constitutionalist party, claimed was a “tactic to arrest voters”.
Hundreds of people protested in the Nicaraguan capital, Managua, on Sunday, with one injury reported, but security forces beat protesters in Granada and the west of the country, he said.
“We have been victims of repression and will never accept the lies and atrocities of the FSLN. No political party or president can be above the law,” Gadea said.
His party is a rival of the FSLN, which is allied with the socialist-led government of Venezuela, but is critical of Ortega’s leadership of Latin America.
Carmen López Moya, a fellow at Freedom House’s Latin America programme, said recent threats to remove the Sandinista flag from Granada hotels justified the use of the words “crime against humanity” in reports on Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
“The attacks on civic groups and government authorities are part of the government’s strategy of trying to scare people against expressing their opinions, especially in terms of their opposition to the government,” she said.
“The fact that people are fleeing the country on boats suggests an official attempt to go out and kill people in the resort area.”
UN human rights experts urged Nicaraguan authorities to investigate reports of violations during the campaign leading up to the elections, including the use of excessive force.
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“Reports of imminent death – that the right to life is potentially in danger – are very serious and must be investigated,” Sarah Colborne, chair of the group, told reporters in Geneva.