Democracy ALERT: 50+ democracy advocates were arrested overnight in Nicaragua

May 8, 2023

On the night of May 3, the Nicaraguan government sent police units to arrest democracy advocates who have been critical of President Daniel Ortega, accusing them of fomenting “conspiracy,” “treason,” and “spreading fake news.” Nicaraguan civil society organizations report that at least 57 people were arbitrarily detained, including human rights defenders, journalists, attorneys, and Campesino leaders. The list of people includes journalist William Aragón, and Mary Cruz Bermúdez, mother of Richard Pavón Bermúdez, who was the first student killed in the 2018 protests.

The arrests were conducted in 11 of the 15 regions of Nicaragua. After being arrested directly from their homes, Nicaraguan democracy advocates were taken to different courthouses in the capital city of Managua for their preliminary hearings, held by judges aligned with the Ortega regime. Within hours of being taken from their homes, democracy advocates were released under conditional parole. In addition to having a chilling effect on civil society, this operation represents a clear attack on fundamental rights and freedoms, violating due process and furthering the oppression of independent voices in Nicaragua.

Since 2018 when peaceful demonstrations erupted across Nicaragua to challenge unpopular reforms to the social security system, Daniel Ortega has harassed and attacked opposition leaders and independent voices critical of his regime. The mass arrests on May 3 is another attempt by the regime to suppress any kind of democratic opposition in Nicaragua, taking place just a few months after the Nicaraguan government expelled 222 former political prisoners and stripped 94 democracy advocates of their citizenship.

The World Movement stands in solidarity with Nicaraguan democracy advocates and calls on the international community to:

  • Condemn Daniel Ortega’s harassment and aggression toward independent voices in Nicaragua;
  • Join Nicaraguan civil society in demanding respect for the safety and integrity of democracy advocates in the country; and,
  • Provide financial and legal support to civil society leaders who are being targeted by Ortega’s regime.