The regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo linked the writer Sergio Ramírez this Tuesday to the alleged case of money laundering that the Nicaraguan Prosecutor’s Office maintains in the investigative stage against the presidential candidate Cristiana Chamorro and the defunct Violeta Barrios Foundation that she directed. The novelist and winner of the Cervantes Prize was summoned as a witness for an interview.
“I come to comply. More, I don’t know, ”said the writer before entering the national headquarters of the Public Ministry. The institution summoned him as the legal representative of the Luisa Mercado Foundation, a non-profit association that operates in Masatepe, Ramírez’s hometown, and that promotes cultural and educational development among young people.
The citation of the award-winning writer was surprising because, so far, the case against Cristiana Chamorro has only involved nearly twenty people, mostly journalists and independent media. Ramírez attended the appointment on Tuesday afternoon accompanied by his lawyer.
Upon exiting the summons, the writer gave details of his testimony. “The Luisa Mercado Foundation has a very large cultural program, which is well known: Central America Counts, in which more than 500 writers from Latin America, Spain and the world have participated. Among the funding sources we have had the support of the Violeta Foundation. The Prosecutor’s Office asked me about this support that we have received for several years. Agreements that I have signed as the legal representative of the Luisa Mercado Foundation. It is a relationship strictly adhering to Nicaraguan law, conducted with absolute transparency, ”said Ramírez. “Nicaragua is experiencing very turbulent political times in this electoral framework. It is what is in sight. All of this is closely related, “said the writer at the end of his interview with the Prosecutor’s Office.
Ramírez, who was Ortega’s vice president during the Sandinista revolution, has been one of the most renowned critics of the Sandinista president for a few years. The author of the novel Margarita, is beautiful to the sea He has always denounced the human rights violations and the authoritarian excesses of the Ortega-Murillos. In 2018, upon receiving the Cervantes Prize, he dedicated his speech to the Nicaraguans killed in the streets for demanding justice and democracy.
Ortega and Murillo take over the reins
The Government of Ortega and Murillo has directly taken the reins of the investigation of alleged money laundering against Cristiana Chamorro, the best-valued presidential candidate in the polls. On May 29, the Communication and Citizenship Council, led by Vice President Rosario Murillo herself, issued a statement confirming the violent arrests of which were victims Walter Gómez and Marcos Fletes, former administrator and former accountant respectively of the Violeta Foundation, who were indicted along with Chamorro for alleged inconsistencies in the financial reports of the organization.
The government statement – which left the Prosecutor’s Office as the entity in charge of the case aside – reported that they extended the investigation period to 90 days against Gómez and Fletes, for which they were imprisoned, without their lawyers and their relatives have been able to see them. “They are kidnapped”, has insisted Cristiana Chamorro, accused of three more crimes apart from money laundering: ideological falsehood, improper management and illegal or improper acts.
The Sandinista regime released with the former workers of the Violeta Foundation the reforms to Law 1060 of the Criminal Procedure Code, approved on February 3 of this year, which extended the period of preventive detention, which was 48 hours and is now “no less to 15 days and not more than 90 days ”. This is one of the punitive laws promoted by the ruling party since the previous year to corner opponents and annul procedural guarantees.
The arrests of Gómez and Fletes put the country on edge last Friday night. The former accountant was first detained by armed civilians when he was intercepted leaving a house and ended up gunned down on the floor. Later, the house of former administrator Gómez was searched without a court order, according to his relatives. The men are imprisoned in the Judicial Assistance Directorate (DAJ), in the feared cells of El Chipote, where, according to national and international human rights organizations, torture and ill-treatment are carried out to force statements.
Less than 24 hours after the arrests, relatives and lawyers of the former workers came to the DAJ to hear from them. But the doors were closed and no one has attended to them until the publication of this article. Weeks before being arrested, Gómez and Fletes denounced harassment and persecution by the police and civilians related to the ruling party.
Investigation transferred to police
The investigation against Cristiana Chamorro and the foundation she directed (and which closed last February to avoid submitting to the Foreign Agents Law) has now been going on for three weeks, but prosecutors have not yet managed to open a criminal case. According to judicial sources who spoke with EL PAÍS, the prosecutors in charge have not been able to specify evidence of the alleged crime.
In fact, before the capture of Gómez y Fletes, the media Divergent revealed that the Government would transfer part of the investigation to the DAJ so that the police could take charge of the interrogations. “They are evaluating that the Directorate of Judicial Aid undertakes the investigation, because the prosecutors are slow and cannot find evidence to make an accusation,” the publication reviewed, emphasizing the coercion that implies that a police accused of repression, and that responds blindly to the presidential couple.
While the case acquires more police overtones, in the Prosecutor’s Office the parade of witnesses linked to the case of alleged money laundering continues, among them a collaborator of this media in Nicaragua, the photojournalist Carlos Herrera. Other workers of the defunct Violeta Foundation, Lourdes Arróliga and Guillermo Medrano, as well as the Managua correspondent for the Univision network, María Lilly Delgado, are being investigated. The accounts of Cristiana Chamorro, Arróliga and Medrano have been frozen and bank secrecy has been lifted.
United States: no evidence of money laundering
Government propaganda has sharpened its guns against the USAID agency, one of the Violeta Foundation cooperators, and they have made it clear “that the case is political.” “Where are they getting a good part of that money from? From the United States, a foreign power that meddles in Nicaraguan affairs. Of course, he is political for that reason, ”said official journalist William Grigsby.
However, the US State Department denied that there were any indications of money laundering: “As part of its regular supervision, USAID has conducted several audits of our program with the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation. We have not found evidence of money laundering or instances in which the Foundation diverted USAID funds for other purposes ”.
“The United States reiterates that it is deeply concerned, as is the entire international community, by the recent actions taken against opposition political parties and candidates, as well as against independent media,” the State Department added.
Cristiana Chamorro has repeatedly stated that this “fabricated” case seeks not only to silence journalism, but to inhibit her presidential candidacy, as it is one of the most popular. He insists that the Ortega-Murillos are terrified of the specter of electoral defeat that his mother, former President Violeta Barrios, gave Ortega in 1990. “It is a revenge by Daniel Ortega against my mother’s legacy. He wants to prevent Nicaraguans from voting and there is no transfer to democracy, “he insisted.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.