In a coordinated operation, Daniel Ortega’s Police accompanied by paramilitaries took over by force this Monday, July 4, the City Halls of Yalí and El Cuá, in Jinotega; Murra, in Nueva Segovia; and El Almendro, in Río San Juan. Two days before they did the same in Pantasma, Jinoega. The five municipalities were in the power of the Citizens for Freedom (CxL) party, stripped of its legal status in 2021.
Oscar Gadea Tinoco, the ousted mayor of Pantasma reported through a brief audio message that the justification for the takeover was that his party does not have legal status.
The exiled president of the CxL party, Kitty Monterrey, denounced on Twitter “the arbitrary seizure by the regime” of the mayors’ offices.
The City Halls taken over by the Ortega-Murillo regime were led by mayors: Isidro Irías Herrera, from El Cuá; Reynaldo Galeano, from El Almendro; Francisco Luis Herrera, from Murra; and Noel Moreno, from San Sebastian de Yalí and Gadea Tinoco in Pantasma.
The citizen’s organization Urnas Abiertas told Confidencial that it has sources in these municipalities, and in the case of El Almendro they explained that riot police were stationed near the town hall since the night of Sunday, July 3, and, hours later, at 2:00 a.m. they surrounded the building.
Olga Valle, from Urnas Abiertas, denounced that some workers from the occupied City Halls “remain besieged in their homes.”
She added that they have tried to learn the situation of the mayors, but “they have not been able to establish communication.”
Urnas Abiertas released images showing that in the City Halls of El Cuá and El Almendro, as happened in Pantasma, flags of the Sandinista Front were raised.
The citizen organization pointed out that, in the municipality of Murra, they have reports of a “strong police presence”, especially on the street leading up to the City Hall.
Ortega leaves CXL without mayors
With the seizure of the five City Halls, the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo culminated the takeover of the municipalities that were won with the votes by the CxL party in the municipal elections of 2017.
The political group condemned the “occupation by force” of the Town Halls and denounced “the dismissal of the five mayors legitimately elected by their municipalities.”
“We demand the cessation of intimidation against citizens and respect for the integrity of legitimate authorities and municipal officials,” CxL said through its social networks.
The threat of taking over the CxL mayoralties existed since August 2021, after that political group was stripped of its legal status by order of the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE), prior to the November 2021 voting, in which Ortega and Murillo re-elected themselves without political competition for a fourth consecutive term.
In the 2017 voting, the ruling FSLN was granted 135 City Halls and the remaining 18 were distributed between the PLC (twelve), CxL (five) and the Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance (one). However, on October 27, 2020, city council members from the Sandinista Front —protected by the Ortega Police paramilitaries— took over the Mayor’s Office of Wiwilí, Jinotega, which was in the hands of the PLC. On that occasion, the now former mayor Reyna Hernández denounced the participation of the Police and Inifom authorities.
Currently, the municipalities governed by the PLC are Bocana de Paiwas, Muelle de los Bueyes, El Tortuguero and La Cruz de Río Grande, in the South Caribbean; Mulukukú, in the North Caribbean; Camoapa and San José de los Remates, in Boaco; Santo Domingo, in Chontales; Ciudad Antigua, in Nueva Segovia, and La Trinidad, in Estelí. The ALN party runs the municipality of San Francisco de Cuapa, in Chontales.
Both of these lesser parties are tolerated by the Ortega regime in an attempt to show a resemblance of democratic elections. CxL was also tolerated until it decided to run a candidate against Ortega in the November 2021 elections. Ortega then abolished the party’s legal status and jailed the potential candidates.