Félix Maradiaga, a Nicaraguan opposition candidate, was arrested shortly after announcing his candidacy to unseat President Daniel Ortega in 2021. He is currently in the United States, calling for unity and resistance against the repressive regime in Nicaragua. The government expelled over 200 political prisoners, including Maradiaga, who had been sentenced to 13 years in prison. He describes his experience as “bittersweet,” as he was reunited with his family but also faced the trauma of exile.
Despite his situation, Maradiaga remains committed to Nicaragua and continues his activism to advocate for improved freedoms and rights in the country. He believes that the international community must mobilize on multiple fronts to address the escalating repression in Nicaragua. The Nicaraguan authorities carried out mass expulsions of over 300 people, including religious figures, in an effort to suppress dissent.
Several countries, including Spain, offered nationality to stateless people, but Maradiaga chose not to accept any of these gestures for reasons of conscience. He believes that his decision serves as a way to alert the international community about the importance of the right to nationality. Maradiaga warns that Ortega’s regime is using arbitrary tools against dissidents and is moving towards a single-party model with no limits.
He criticizes the International Monetary Fund’s endorsement of Ortega’s economic policies, which allows him to access funds to maintain his repressive machinery. Maradiaga also equates Nicaraguan gold with “blood diamonds” and criticizes the exploitation of mineral deposits. He perceives a sense of indolence in the context of Latin America and criticizes Nicaragua’s continued membership in the Central American Integration System despite breaking ties with the Organization of American States.
As a democrat, Maradiaga is open to seeking peaceful solutions to the political crisis in Nicaragua but believes that the current conditions do not allow for meaningful dialogue. He emphasizes the need for basic preconditions, such as the freedom to move around the country, for dialogue to take place. Maradiaga also believes that the situation in Nicaragua is more closed off than that of Venezuela and sees it as impossible to achieve unity similar to the one sought by the opposition in Venezuela’s upcoming presidential elections.
Despite the challenges, Maradiaga remains committed to advocating for change in Nicaragua and believes that the international community’s attention and support are crucial in addressing the crisis in the country. He emphasizes the need for resistance and unity among Nicaraguans to bring about meaningful change.
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