Managua, Nicaragua – Nicaraguan police placed a seventh presidential contender under house arrest on Saturday, meaning almost everyone who challenged President Daniel Ortega in the November 7 election is now in custody.
Opposition leader Nol Vidouré was placed in police custody at his home on Saturday, as was political commentator Jaime Arellano. Arellano was called in for questioning in relation to a comment he wrote criticizing an Ortega speech.
Vidourre was one of the Citizens for Liberty Alliance’s potential presidential candidates. The conservative coalition announced that it had chosen scar Sovalbarro as its candidate, the leader of the US-backed Contra rebellion that fought the Sandinists in the 1980s. It was not clear whether Sovalbarro had accepted the nomination.
Half a dozen other potential candidates have been arrested in the crackdown that started about two months ago. Along with this, about two dozen journalists and opposition activists have been detained.
Almost all were arrested under sedition laws that Ortega used against political rivals. Most face vague charges of crimes against the state. Ortega alleged that the country’s April 2018 street protests were part of an organized coup attempt with foreign backing.
Another possible candidate, Christiana Chamorro, is also under house arrest. Most of those arrested in a crackdown that began in late May are being held in undisclosed locations with no access to lawyers or family visits. These include Medardo Myrena, Felix Maradiaga and Miguel Mora.
Probable candidates Juan Sebastian Chamorro and Arturo Cruz were also arrested.
Candidates will have to register by August 2.
Lester Alleman, a former student leader who returned to Nicaragua after deportation but is in safe homes, has also been detained. And several prominent Sandinist revolutionaries who fought alongside Ortega in 1979 have also been imprisoned by him.
Those currently arrested include 65-year-old Dora Maria Tellez, a former guerrilla commander who later split from Ortega and became the leader of the Sandinista renewal movement. Another jailed former Sandinista guerrilla and renewal movement leader Hugo Torres is 73.
The other is Victor Hugo Tinoco, leader of the political movement Unamos. He is a former Assistant Secretary of State and former Ambassador to the United Nations.
Ortega, 75, is running for the fourth time in a row in the November 7 elections.