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Sergio Ramírez charged in Nicaragua with "inciting hatred and violence"

Action against opposition leaders in Nicaragua continues
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AFP/ INTI OCON  -   Nicaraguan writer Sergio Ramírez, the Nicaraguan Public Prosecutor's Office charged Nicaraguan writer Sergio Ramírez - a former collaborator of President Daniel Ortega - with acts that "incite hatred" and "conspiring" against sovereignty on 8 September 2021, in the context of open trials of opponents and two months before the general elections.

The writer, novelist and former vice president of Nicaragua Sergio Ramirez Mercado was accused by the Public Prosecutor's Office of "carrying out acts that encourage and incite hatred and violence", the Public Prosecutor's Office said on Wednesday.

The also 2017 Cervantes Prize winner, who was vice president during the first Sandinista government (1979-1990) and is now a critic of President Daniel Ortega, was also accused of having received, through the Luisa Mercado Foundation he heads, money from the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation, the Public Prosecutor's Office said in a statement.

The Public Prosecutor's Office requested an arrest and search warrant against Ramírez Mercado, 79, who is outside Nicaragua and had already announced that he would not return to the country to avoid government reprisals after being summoned by the Public Prosecutor's Office.

The Public Prosecutor's Office indicated that Ramírez Mercado was also accused of "carrying out acts that foment and incite hatred and violence", for having received, through the Luisa Mercado Foundation, money from the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation, "whose main members of its Board of Directors are accused of misappropriation, money laundering, and laundering of goods and assets".

Prosecutor's Office: received funds to conspire

According to the Public Prosecutor's Office, most of these funds "were intended to finance one of the main programmes of the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation, the "Media for Nicaragua Programme", but in practice they were used for other purposes that were not those of the Foundation itself".

The prosecution argued that these funds were diverted to finance "individuals and organisations that sought to destabilise the smooth running of the country's economic and social development".

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AFP/MARVIN RECINOS - Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega speaks to supporters during the government's "Walk for Security and Peace" in Managua. - The United States on 8 June 2021 called on the world to treat Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega as a "dictator" following the arrest of a third opposition candidate.

"Actions that fall under the criminal offence of conspiracy to undermine national integrity, in competition with the crime of money laundering, property and assets, as defined in articles 282, 410 and 412 of the Penal Code, to the detriment of Nicaraguan society and the State of the Republic of Nicaragua," it added.

In their report, the authorities of the Public Prosecutor's Office did not identify the judicial authority before which they presented the accusation against the Nicaraguan writer.

Luisa Mercado Foundation

Ramírez Mercado presides over the organisation Fundación Luisa Mercado, named after his mother, a teacher for generations, which is dedicated to promoting cultural and educational development for the benefit of young people, creators and educators.

According to its website, the Luisa Mercado Foundation is a non-profit association based in the municipality of Masatepe (southeast), where Ramírez Mercado is from, and was created to promote cultural and educational development programmes.

It has a public library and offers free book loans, use of computers with internet for students, teachers and researchers, a reading club and literary workshops in poetry and narrative, and pedagogical support in study methods, reading and basic documentary writing, according to the information.

It also has a music school, from which the "Lisandro Ramírez Velásquez" orchestra was born, according to the review offered by Ramírez Mercado, also winner of the Alfaguara Novel Prize in 1998 and the Ibero-American "José Donoso" Literature Prize in 2011.

'Terrorists' on trial, says Ortega

The night before last, President Ortega called opponents who are being held for alleged treason "terrorists", and Nicaraguan bishops and priests critical of his government "demons in cassocks" and "satanists".

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AFP/ RAFAEL TROBAT - In this file photo taken on 08 November 2006 of then presidential candidate for the Sandinista National Liberation Front Daniel Ortega (above) and his wife Rosario Murillo showing the V sign in Managua. - Nicaragua's first couple, President Daniel Ortega and his wife Vice President Rosario Murillo, are now in their 70s, but show no sign of being ready to leave power.

According to the president, his opponents "were preparing to repeat history (of April 2018) and justice is being done, that's all, justice is being done against the terrorists".

In the context of the electoral process, the Nicaraguan authorities have arrested and/or sent to trial 36 opposition leaders and independent professionals, including seven who announced their intentions to run for the presidency in the November elections, in which Ortega is seeking re-election.

In the November elections, Ortega, a former Sandinista guerrilla who is about to turn 76 and who returned to power in 2007 after leading a government junta from 1979 to 1984 and first presiding over the country from 1985 to 1990, is seeking his fifth term, fourth in a row, and second with his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo.