Nicaragua police detain government opponent
MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — Nicaraguan police on Wednesday raided the home of Cristiana Chamorro, a potential presidential candidate and daughter of former President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, one day after formally filing money laundering charges against the journalist.
Her brother, Carlos Fernando Chamorro, director of the independent news outlet Confidencial, confirmed the raid via Twitter and said his sister had been detained. He later reported that she was under house arrest and that police remained in her home.
The judicial system said in a statement that a judge had issued search and detention orders for 67-year-old Cristiana Chamorro Wednesday.
A court also granted a request from prosecutors to bar Chamorro from running in the Nov. 7 elections or holding public office, citing the charges against her. It was the latest in a series of moves against potential rivals to President Daniel Ortega.
Vilma Nuñez, president of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights, said that police had “violently” entered Chamorro’s home south of the capital.
The police raided the home 15 minutes before Chamorro was scheduled to give a news conference. She was expected to challenge President Daniel Ortega for the presidency.
Chamorro has said the allegations were trumped up to keep her out of the race.
In late May, national police raided the offices of the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation for Reconciliation and Democracy, the nongovernmental group named after her mother and led by Chamorro until recently. They also raided the offices of the Confidencial.
The Nicaraguan government has said Chamorro is under investigation for alleged financial irregularities related to the foundation.
In January, she stepped down from her role at the foundation. A month later, it closed its operations in Nicaragua after passage of a “foreign agents” law designed to track foreign funding of organizations operating in the country.
Nicaragua’s Supreme Electoral Council and congress have been narrowing the space for maneuver for the country’s opposition. In May, the council cancelled the legal status of the Democratic Restoration Party, which was expected to potentially be a vehicle for an opposition coalition bid against Ortega.
Cristiana Chamorro’s mother beat Ortega to win the presidency in 1990 and served until 1997.
Her husband, Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, had run his family newspaper La Prensa and was jailed and forced into exile multiple times by the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza. He was eventually assassinated in 1978. Cristiana Chamorro is the vice president of La Prensa.