Son of ex-president Chamorro detained in Nicaragua

Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, a journalist, former opposition lawmaker and son of ex-president Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, has been arrested on charges of undermining Nicaragua’s sovereignty, the National Police said Saturday.

Chamorro is just the latest opposition figure to be detained five months ahead of a presidential election in which President Daniel Ortega will likely seek re-election.

In raids that began on June 2, security and paramilitary forces have arrested at least 20 opposition figures, including five leading presidential candidates — one of whom is Chamorro’s sister Cristiana Chamorro, a favorite to face Ortega in November’s poll — as well as journalists, businessmen and a banker.

Pedro Joaquin Chamorro was arrested late Friday and faces charges of “inciting foreign interference,” “asking for interference” and “applauding” sanctions against Nicaragua, the National Police said in a statement.

The charges are based on a law initiated by Ortega’s government and approved by the legislature in December purportedly to defend Nicaragua’s sovereignty — a measure widely criticized as a means of freezing out challengers and silencing opponents.

Chamorro’s brother — journalist and magazine director Carlos Fernando Chamorro — announced on June 21 that he was forced to leave the country due to the government’s political persecution.

Violeta Chamorro, president from 1990 to 1997, has been at home for two years suffering from various ailments. She is 91.

A firebrand Marxist in his younger days, Ortega led his Sandinistas in 1979 as they toppled a corrupt autocratic regime — a move that drew popular applause at the time — and seized control of the country.

He ruled until 1990, returned to power in 2007 and has twice won re-election. His vice president is his wife, Rosario Murillo.

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