The government of leftist President Daniel Ortega, brushing off criticism from the U.S. and human rights groups, expanded its intimidation campaign against regime opponents ahead of November’s elections, arresting a prominent opposition figure and surrounding the home of another government critic Sunday.
Already, several potential candidates for the Nov. 7 vote have been detained by security forces. On Saturday, the Ortega government arrested a leading figure of one opposition party, Tamara Davila, even though she was not expected to be on the ballot this fall.
Ms. Davila was active in Unamos, an opposition group made up of former members of the leftist Sandinistas — where Mr. Ortega got his own start in politics in the 1980s, though the movement has turned against the increasingly authoritarian president.
Ms. Davila also took a very public role in popular mass protests in 2018 that shook the government and sparked a harsh repression campaign.
On Sunday, police surrounded the house of another leading opposition, Dora Maria Tellez, the Associated Press reported, Ms. Telez is also a well-known former Sandinista militant who has become a critic of the president.
Even before the weekend’s action, four prospective presidential candidates had been arrested this year, including Felix Maradiaga of the opposition coalition Blue and White National Unity, and Sebastian Chamorro, a former director of the opposition coalition Civic Alliance.
The Biden administration last week condemned the arrests and sanctioned several members of the Ortega government for failing to implement electoral reforms called for by the Organization of American States and the U.N.’s Human Rights Council.
The U.S. “holds President Ortega, and those who carry out his authoritarian orders, responsible for their safety and well-being,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said last week. “The regime’s repressive actions … have sent independent journalists, activists, and student leaders into hiding for fear of reprisals.”