RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Nicaraguan presidential hopeful Cristiana Chamorro Barrios denounced on Wednesday, May 26, that two of her former collaborators are being harassed by “paramilitaries” in the framework of an investigation opened by the Public Prosecutor’s Office against her for alleged money laundering.
“I denounce the harassment by paramilitaries of the dictatorship (Daniel Ortega’s government) of the ex-officials of the FVBCH: Walter Gómez and Marcos Fletes. They will not intimidate anyone,” said Chamorro Barrios, daughter of former president Violeta Barrios de Chamorro (1990-1997), in a Twitter message.
Walter Antonio Gómez Silva and Marco Antonio Fletes Casco, financial administrator and general accountant of the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation, respectively, together with Chamorro Barrios, are being investigated by the Attorney General’s Office for alleged money laundering.
Chamorro Barrios said that this case is constructed by the dictatorship “out of pure calculation” and “is an attack on democracy, freedom of expression, independent journalism and the people’s right to free elections.
The Nicaraguan Public Ministry affirmed that it has found “serious financial inconsistencies” between the reports presented to the Ministry of the Interior and the amounts received by the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation, “for which reason it proceeded to initiate the investigative process to clarify the existence of the crime of money laundering”.
The investigation against the NGO “Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation for Reconciliation and Democracy” is for the alleged crime of laundering of money, goods, and assets to the detriment of the Nicaraguan society and the State of Nicaragua, at the request of the Ministry of the Interior, which filed the complaint, according to the Prosecutor’s Office.
CHAMORRO DEFENDS JOURNALISTS
For this case, the Prosecutor’s Office has called a group of journalists to testify as witnesses, including the owner of the popular radio station La Corporación and former presidential candidate, the nonagenarian Fabio Gadea, the co-owner of the channel 100% Noticias Verónica Chávez, and the correspondent of the Hispanic network Univision in Nicaragua, María Lilly Delgado.
“None of the journalists summoned by the Attorney General’s Office have committed any crime; on the contrary, they are upstanding citizens. My admiration for the aplomb with which they face the hostility of the dictatorship,” said Chamorro Barrios.
So far, the Attorney General’s Office has summoned 16 journalists for this case of alleged money laundering.
Most of the journalists cited have said that the background of the case is to silence voices critical of the Government and to affect Chamorro Barrios, who is the opposition figure with the highest probability of winning the November elections, in which President Daniel Ortega seeks yet another reelection, according to a poll by the firm CID Gallup.
Several voices, including the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights, have pointed to the case as a “raid” against critical journalism.” The Public Prosecutor’s Office said that it “will continue to carry out the necessary investigative procedures to clarify the facts.”