Nicaragua detains former OAS ambassador, critic of Ortega

Edgard Parrales was picked up by unidentified men near his home in Managua, his wife and a rights observer say.

A Nicaraguan citizen protests against President Ortega in Guatemala City [File: Moises Castillo/The Associated Press]

Nicaragua’s former ambassador to the Organization of American States – who has been critical of President Daniel Ortega – has been detained in Managua, according to his wife and a human rights observer.

Edgard Parrales was picked up by identified men near his home on Monday, his wife, Carmen Dolores Cordova, and Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights President Vilma Nunez said.

“They captured him at his home, they were not policemen in uniforms but two people in civilian clothes who took him away by car,” Nunez said.

Parrales had been one of just a handful of political analysts willing to openly criticise Ortega, who has been accused of a widespread crackdown on dissent, in recent months.

He had decried as “nonsensical” Ortega’s announcement of plans to withdraw from the OAS, a regional body that has accused Ortega’s government of acts of repression and of rigging elections earlier this month.

“It is not so easy to get out of the OAS,” Parrales said. “It takes two years for this to take effect, during which Nicaragua is still committed by the statutes to respect human rights.”

Jose Miguel Vivanco, executive director for the Americas division of Human Rights Watch, denounced the detention.

“Ortega’s message is clear: He is going to go after anyone who criticizes him,” Vivanco said on Twitter.

Ortega was elected to a fourth consecutive term in elections that were broadly condemned as illegitimate after seven likely challengers were arrested and jailed prior to the vote.

The OAS General Assembly voted to condemn the elections, saying they “were not free, fair or transparent, and lack democratic legitimacy”.

Twenty-five countries in the Americas voted in favour of the resolution, while seven – including Mexico – abstained. Only Nicaragua voted against it.

Ortega’s ruling Sandinista Front and its allies control the congress and all government institutions.

Ortega first served as president from 1985 to 1990, after the 1979 revolution that overthrew the Somoza family dictatorship, before returning to power in 2007.

But critics say Ortega’s rule has come to resemble the government he resisted. That was particularly on display during anti-government protests in 2018, which saw a violent crackdown by security forces and pro-government armed groups. Scores of protesters were arrested and more than 300 people were killed during the unrest, with Ortega decrying the demonstrators as “terrorists”.

The government has not commented on Parrales’s detention.

Source: News Agencies