Daniel Ortega’s paradox: taking possession on the date the man whose family his regime persecutes was murdered

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega in a file photo. EFE / Jorge Torres

Daniel Ortega will take possession of his fourth presidential term this Monday afternoon amid a symbolic paradox: the date designated by the Political Constitution of Nicaragua for the inauguration is the anniversary of the assassination of the national hero Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Cardenal, whose family is being persecuted, confiscated and imprisoned by the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo.

On January 10, 1978, thugs hired by close friends to the dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle shot and killed the director of the newspaper La Prensa, Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, when he was heading to his work offices.

Chamorro was a strong critic of the Somoza dictatorship. From his editorials he lashed out at the regime, corruption and demanded a change of government. In his youth he participated in some minor armed adventures and on multiple occasions he was arrested for his political positions.

His death, 44 years ago, triggered massive mobilizations and fueled the insurrection promoted by the then guerrilla movement Sandinista Front (FSLN), which led, a year later, to the dictator’s flight and the installation of a government junta, among whose members was Violeta Barrios, widow of Chamorro.

Pedro Joauqin Chamorro Cardenal, director of the newspaper La Prensa for 30 years, was assassinated by hitmen on January 10, 1978. (File photo of La Prensa)
Pedro Joauqin Chamorro Cardenal, director of the newspaper La Prensa for 30 years, was assassinated by hitmen on January 10, 1978. (File photo of La Prensa)

In 1980, the revolutionary junta declared Pedro Joaquín Chamorro “Martyr of Public Liberties” and in 2012, the National Assembly, already in the government of Daniel Ortega, designated him “National Hero”.

Article 148 of the Political Constitution of Nicaragua establishes that the inauguration of the President and Vice President of the Republic will be on January 10, a date that was chosen to commemorate the assassination of the national hero.

The paradox is that Ortega will take possession of his fourth term on the date that commemorates the hero whose family his government fiercely persecutes.. Two of his sons are in prison for political reasons, also two nephews, a third son fled into exile to avoid arrest, and the newspaper of which he was director for 30 years, is being taken over by the regime militarily.

Cristiana Chamorro, daughter of Pedro Joaquín Chamorro and Violeta Barrios, has been in house arrest since June 2 of last year. She was arrested shortly after she declared her intention to compete as the opposition presidential candidate against Daniel Ortega in last November’s elections. She was the most sympathetic candidate among the population. He is accused of laundering goods and assets through the Barrios Foundation, which supported the exercise and training of journalism in Nicaragua.

Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Barrios, the eldest of Pedro Joaquín Chamorro and Violeta Barrios’s children, was arrested for the same reasons on June 28, 2021. He is being held in the prison known as El Nuevo Chipote. Shortly before his arrest, Chamorro Barrios hinted in an interview with Univision the possibility of being the presidential candidate of his party, Citizens for Freedom.

Carlos Fernando Chamorro Barrios, a renowned Nicaraguan journalist, went into exile in June due to the imminent possibility of being captured.. Indeed, in August he was accused by the Prosecutor’s Office of the crimes of “laundering of money, property and assets; misappropriation and retention; and abusive management ”.

Carlos Fernando, in exile, Pedro Joaquín and Cristiana Chamorro, prisoners of the Ortega regime.  (Photo file from La Prensa)
Carlos Fernando, in exile, Pedro Joaquín and Cristiana Chamorro, prisoners of the Ortega regime. (Photo file from La Prensa)

Juan Sebastián Chamorro García and Juan Lorenzo Holmann Chamorro, nephews of the national hero, are also political prisoners of the regime, the first for his intention to be an opposition candidate and the second, for his work in the management of the newspaper The Press. The Prosecutor’s Office accuses Juan Sebastián of “treason against the fatherland” and Juan Lorenzo of “money laundering”, which are two “legal wild cards” used by the Ortega regime to arrest opponents.

On August 13, the Police broke into the newspaper’s facilities The Press, a day after the newspaper denounced that it would stop circulating in its printed version because Customs did not allow it to remove from its warehouses the paper that it imported for publication. Since then, the newspaper building has been taken over, executives and some journalists went into exile, and the information through the web is carried out almost under clandestine conditions.

“As long as there is a typewriter, a piece of paper, a microphone, a public square, a balcony or a space to speak, even if it is in a jail cell, we will continue to denounce the immoral”Pedro Joaquín Chamorro proclaimed at the time through his editorials, a way of thinking that would be subversive today, in the Nicaragua that Daniel Ortega governs.

Or this other: “The unity of all the people, of the political, economic and social sectors, to fight for the democratization of Nicaragua, is the mandate of our history and the pressing requirement of the circumstances that the country is experiencing.”

So that Ortega will impose the presidential band today in commemoration of the murder of the man whose family and thought he persecutes, and that, according to many analysts, if he were alive, he would also be imprisoned in the dungeons of the regime.

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