Daniel Ortega puts his brother under house arrest

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Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega during the 45th anniversary of the start of the final offensive of the popular insurrection, in Managua, May 28, 2024. JAIRO CAJINA / NICARAGUAN PRESIDENCY VIA AFP

Daniel Ortega first attacked students who were demonstrating in April 2018 against social security reform. Then to those who protested against the repression that followed, leaving 355 dead. He then attacked, locked up and harassed journalists, the Church, the UN, universities, doctors, diplomats, arrested presidential candidates from opposition parties, closed 3,600 NGOs and ended up expelling and strip more than 300 opponents of their nationality. He even attacked Miss Nicaragua, who had to go into exile with her family.

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In recent days, it was finally his own brother, Humberto Ortega, 77, that the 78-year-old former Sandinista guerrilla – in power between 1979 and 1990 and again since 2007 – attacked by assigning him to residence.

It must be said that the little brother did not mince his words. In an interview with online media Infobae, published on May 19, Humberto Ortega criticized the “dictatorship” established by the president. “We are heading for disaster, although things seem to be going welldid he declare. Since the 2018 crisis (…), the imposition of a police regime, which gives rise to an authoritarian tendency, does not allow democratic exercise. »

Humiliation

But what most angered the autocratic leader was his statements about his succession after his death. Humberto Ortega has in fact assured that no one, in his brother’s entourage, or among the current Sandinista leaders, would be able to fill the void left by the head of state. Not even Rosario Murillo, his wife and vice president, considered the most powerful figure in the government.

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According to the Spanish newspaper El País, which cites a Source close to the family, these statements were received as a humiliation by Rosario Murillo, 72, whose intention would be to take over from her husband with their son, Laureano Ortega Murillo. “But neither Laureano nor Rosario have the support of the historic Sandinista bases”, explains this Source to El País.

The reaction of the presidential couple was in any case immediate. The same day the interview was published, authorities confiscated Humberto Ortega’s computers and phones, according to exile media. The Nicaraguan police subsequently informed, without further details, that they had installed “a specialized medical care unit” in his home. A measure interpreted by the opposition as a house arrest.

Fighting, alongside his brothers Daniel and Camilo, against the dictatorship of the Somoza family in the 1970s, Humberto Ortega was minister of defense in the first government of Daniel Ortega, between 1979 and 1990. After the presidential victory in 1990 from his rival, Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, he was kept at the head of the army, for which his brother never forgave him. Then, in the context of the 2018 repression, Humberto Ortega expressed his opposition to his brother’s authoritarian drift and even called for the release of political prisoners, which earned him the treatment of “pawn of the American empire” by his brother.

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