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Calls grow for strike in Nicaragua after opposition leader detained

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By Reuters
Calls grow for strike in Nicaragua after opposition leader detained
Calls grow for strike in Nicaragua after opposition leader detained   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021

By Ismael Lopez

MANAGUA – A group representing Nicaraguan political prisoners and the mothers of those killed protesting President Daniel Ortega’s authoritarian government called Thursday for a national strike after the house arrest of opposition leader Cristiana Chamorro.

Nicaraguan police stormed into Chamorro’s home on Wednesday, dramatically escalating a political battle ahead of November elections in which veteran leftist Ortega is seeking to maintain his tight grip on power.

“A national strike is better than a bullet,” said Grethel Gomez, standing in front of Chamorro’s house, where the family members of political prisoners came to show their solidarity with the 66-year-old detained politician.

Nicaragua’s government did not respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this week, the attorney general – a staunch Ortega ally – formally sought Chamorro’s disqualification from holding public office due to the criminal investigation launched against her, and a judge immediately signed off. She has been accused by prosecutors of money laundering and a lesser citation of misrepresentation, charges she has denied.

While Chamorro can appeal the disqualification, a reversal is unlikely due to Ortega’s influence over the courts.

Prohibiting Chamorro from running drew condemnation from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who described it as an assault on free and fair elections.

Chamorro had recently emerged as a possible unity candidate who could possibly rally a fractured opposition in the November vote to defeat Ortega, the 75-year-old leftist who has been in power since 2007 and aims to be re-elected in November for the third consecutive time, after ruling in the 1980s.

She comes from a storied political lineage.

Chamorro is the daughter of Violeta Chamorro, who was elected Nicaragua’s president in 1990, ousting Ortega after his first stint in power, and her father was Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, assassinated in 1978 after leading for decades the pro-democracy opposition to the Somoza dictatorship.