Nicaragua Nicaragua Nicaraguan exiles blame Ortega’s regime for attacks and threats, as he secures fifth term in office A Nicaraguan police officer does his best to distract a man who blocked a road in Managua to try to prevent President Daniel Ortega’s supporters from arriving at an inauguration ceremony for his fifth term. Photograph: Carlos Cruz/AFP/Getty Images
Nicaragua’s exiles have laid out a litany of accusations against the government of Daniel Ortega, saying it has treated them as “spies and traitors”.
“On this side of the border, life is a siege,” said Manuel De Vido, a former CIA operative who fled Nicaragua a year ago after witnessing a rise in death threats, “to a point where the presidents are acting on their own, like us.”
The protesters rallying in support of de Vido and others who believe Ortega was re-elected president last Sunday have condemned the use of violence against them as “unacceptable” and “terrorist”, while the US has said its refusal to recognise the vote amounted to a violation of international law.
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Forces of Ortega’s Sandinista party do not deny he won the election outright, but want a recount.
“The government has politicised all institutions,” said Aldo Lorenzana, a public official who left Nicaragua after the Sandinistas were toppled from power in 1979.
“Ortega knows what he is doing and knows that there are no other options.”
The governments of neighbouring Costa Rica and Panama have demanded that Ortega hand over responsibility for what they call state-sanctioned violence and human rights violations.
Overshadowing the scene in Managua on Monday night were women and boys guarding de Vido and his colleague Iris Alvarado, the Americans’ alleged informant, as they tried to drive them out of the capital. They had brought a banner with the photograph of the United States president, Donald Trump, at the bottom of which was printed the words: “History repeats itself.”
Alvarado said the situation in Managua and in other cities remained tense but there had been no attacks on their movement or their families.
Allan Goldenberg, an independent journalist based in Managua, said: “The government is leaving the heavy lifting to its security forces. Its pronouncements of political dialogue have no credibility.”
The massive turnout of men, women and children at the inauguration of Ortega’s fifth, five-year term was seen as evidence of the government’s popularity.
Eugenio Aleman, the first Nicaraguan president to complete his term, took power in 1979 after a rebel army formed by Sandinista rebels routed the Nicaraguan government.
He was voted out of office in 1990, ousted in a violent civil war that took years to end. Ortega returned to power in the 2006 election, and his government worked to stabilise the country and improve the lives of Nicaraguans in the years that followed.
Many Nicaraguans, however, prefer to see Ortega as a ruthless autocrat intent on entrenching his grip on power.
Even Nicaragua’s government acknowledges that it has tolerated sporadic violence from paramilitary groups or violent vandals since the election. At least a dozen people have been killed.