Two media firms and several non-governmental organizations (NGO) on Wednesday said that their offices apparently were confiscated by the government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, with placards posted at the properties reading: “Property of the Health Ministry.”
The offices in most cases were closed by the government following the 2018 protests against Ortega and have been occupied by police since then.
The signs appeared outside the television station 100% Noticias and the magazine Confidencial, as well at the offices of NGOs Popol Na, Center for Health Information and Advisory Services, and the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights.
The signs indicated that the properties would be used as maternal welfare or drug treatment centers.
Journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro, owner of the building where Confidencial had its offices, said that “the regime is officially practicing confiscation, in violation of Nicaragua’s constitution.”
“We have lived in a state of total illegality for two years, and today Ortega has confirmed there is no rule of law in Nicaragua,” Chamorro said.
Miguel Mora, the director of 100% Noticias, wrote on his social media accounts that “in practice, this is bald-faced robbery. No expropriation order exists ... there has been no legal ruling about the property of 100% Noticias.”
At least 325 people were killed in anti-government protests in 2018, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
Starting in April 2018, Nicaragua’s economy was devastated by nearly five months of unrest initially sparked by cuts to social security benefits, but which quickly evolved into calls for Ortega to step down and allow early elections.
Media firms and NGOs accused by Ortega of supporting the protests were raided by police, and in some cases shuttered.
On Monday, the Nicaraguan Congress approved a law that would essentially ban opposition candidates from running in next year’s presidential election.
The law gives Ortega the power to unilaterally declare citizens “terrorists” or coup-mongers, classify them as “traitors to the homeland” and ban them from running as candidates.
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