In Nicaragua, political dissidents targeted
A noted journalist, Oxfam, and a women's organization have become enemies of the state.
Thirty years after legendary Nicaraguan newspaper publisher Pedro Joaquín Chamorro was gunned down in the streets of Managua, he's seen as a martyr for his relentless criticism of the ruling right-wing regime.Skip to next paragraph
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Today his son, Carlos Fernando Chamorro, lives under the new leftist regime that his father helped bring into power. Like his father, he's also become an investigative journalist who keeps a close eye on the government. Now Carlos says he's become the target of a similarly repressive regime.
Although Nicaragua's government has moved from the far right to the far left, it's remained consistently repressive, say its opponents. Political analysts say that the crackdown against Carlos and other critical voices is the latest step by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega's government to move the country toward a totalitarian regime by limiting political and civic participation. His tightening control over other state institutions has resulted in an "institutional dictatorship," according to dissident leader Edmundo Jarquin from the Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS).
"Ortega is oppressive like [the former Nicaraguan dictator, Anastasio] Somoza, yet with a totalitarian vision that even Somoza didn't have," says Mr. Jarquin, whose party was recently banned from participating in the November municipal elections by the Ortega-controlled Supreme Electoral Council.
The country's main business chambers have also raised serious concerns about the direction of the country.
Government prosecutors claim the state is investigating "irregular" activity. The administration denies that its efforts are political in nature and says that those who make dictatorship claims are members of the oligarchy who feel threatened by a "government of the poor."
Yet many of the names on the top of Ortega's growing list of enemies are former Sandinista leaders who supported the original revolutionary government.
Chamorro, who in the 1980s was head editor of the Sandinista government's official newspaper, Barricada, is now treated like a traitor for his investigative journalism into government corruption and his nongovernmental work as head of the Center for Communications and Investigation (CINCO).
For more than a year before the government raided the offices of CINCO on Oct. 11, Sandinista media outlets had been accusing him of everything from involvement in drug trafficking and mafia activity to money laundering and corruption, though no official charges have ever been brought against him.
In the absence of evidence, government prosecutors and police last Saturday raided his downtown office to "look for proof" of a crime, said public prosecutor Armando Juarez in a statement to the press. After breaking down the door, government agents confiscated five years' worth of bookkeeping records, files, and computers, including his personal files.