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Nicaragua: 94 dissidents stripped of citizenship

February 16, 2023

A court under President Daniel Ortega has revoked the citizenship of 94 Nicaraguans, claiming that they were "carrying out criminal acts" against the peace and independence of the country.

Hundred people protest in the Obelisk of Guatemala City, Guatemala, on 19 July 2018, against the Government of Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo.
Since massive street demonstrations erupted against Ortega’s rule in 2018, the president has used heavily armed paramilitary squads to thwart dissent and jailed all major opposition figuresImage: Esteban Biba/imago/Agencia EFE

Nicaragua's government on Wednesday stripped the citizenship of 94 dissidents, according to a resolution read out by a judge.

The decision came after the government freed a separate group of over 200 political prisoners and expelled them to the United States last week in a surprise prisoner release.

Most of the freed prisoners were prominent critics of the government who were persecuted in President Daniel Ortega's clampdown on dissent in recent years. They were also stripped of their citizenship.

The chief of Managua's court of appeals, Ernesto Rodriguez Mejia, read Wednesday's resolution, declaring the 94 exiled dissidents to be "fugitives from justice."

"The accused executed and continue carrying out criminal acts to the detriment of peace, sovereignty, independence and self-determination of the Nicaraguan people," he said, adding that they fomented economic sabotage of the Ortega government by calling for boycotts.

"Due to these facts, the accused can no longer be considered Nicaraguan citizens," the judge added.

Who does the decision affect?

The action largely affects some exiled Nicaraguans, but also some still residing in the Central American country.

Sergio Ramirez, known to be the nation's most lauded living author, who once held the post of vice president under Ortega, is among the dissidents.

The government also revoked the nationality of leading human rights activist Vilma Nunez, journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro and Catholic bishop Silvio Baez. 

"I am Nicaraguan by the grace of God... if they think they're going to bring me to my knees, they are tangled. Long live Nicaragua!" Alvaro Navarro, a journalist stripped of his citizenship, said in a tweet.

Since massive street demonstrations erupted against Ortega's rule in 2018, the president has used heavily armed paramilitary squads to thwart dissent and jailed all major opposition figures.

The Central America office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights voiced its "alarm" over the move.

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms the new wave of violations of [human rights] and call on the state to immediately cease persecution and reprisal" against dissidents and human rights defenders, the office said in a statement on Twitter.

dvv/fb (AFP, Reuters)