Nicaragua Police Arrest Opposition Leader Cristiana Chamorro

Nicaraguan police raided the home of opposition leader Cristiana Chamorro on June 2 and placed her under house arrest, a day after formally filing money laundering charges against her.

A court in Managua ordered the arrest of Chamorro on charges of “abusive management, ideological falsehood,” and the “the laundering of money, property and assets, to the detriment of the Nicaraguan State and society.”

Live footage on local television and social media showed police storming Chamorro’s home south of Managua and forced journalists to leave who had arrived to cover a press conference.

Chamorro’s brother, Carlos, who is a journalist, said on Twitter that police continue to occupy the house five hours after the raid.

President Daniel Ortega’s government has alleged financial irregularities related to non-governmental group Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation for Reconciliation and Democracy, which is named after Chamorro’s mother, a former Nicaraguan president.

Chamorro has denounced as the allegations as a “farce” and an attempt to stop her from competing in the presidential elections in November, in which she is widely expected to enter.

Organization of American States Secretary-General Luis Almagro warned that Nicaragua was heading for the “worst possible elections.”

“Actions like this remove all political credibility from the government and the organizers of the electoral process,” Almagro said in a statement, renewing the calls for the immediate release of political prisons and the end of scare tactics against opponents.

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that “arbitrarily banning” Chamorra “reflects Ortega’s fear of free and fair elections.”

“Nicaraguans deserve real democracy,” Blinken added.

“I am not an official candidate and they intend to inhibit me. How afraid of change they are. United, Nicaragua will once again be a republic,” Chamorro said in a tweet.

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