President Daniel Ortega and his immediate family — his wife and Vice President Rosario Murillo, several of their children, daughters-in-law, ex-daughters-in-law and other relatives — receive more than two million Córdoba’s a month, equivalent to US $67,500, in wages and salaries, according to an investigation by CONFIDENCIAL, based on the official records of the Nicaraguan Social Security Institute (INSS) until 2018 and an analysis of records of the Mercantile Registry of Managua.
The information, which only shows data for six of the nine children of the presidential couple, records the salaries reported to Social Security and includes as a source of the same public entities in at least eight cases, not including the president and the vice president. The rest of the registered salaries are derived from private companies belonging to the Ortega Murillo family’s business network.
The data reveals that Rafael Ortega Murillo and his ex-wife Yadira Leets Marín received $13,000 together, from Inversiones Zanzíbar and the Distribuidora Nicaragüense de Petróleo (DNP), respectively. That amount is greater than what the presidential couple received from the treasury, which was $8,300 in the same period.
The average salary of the presidential couple exceeds the salaries approved by the president to regulate the public service since February 2007. According to the Official Gazette number 34 of February 16th, Ortega set a salary for the president of $3,200 dollars and $3,100 for the position of vice president, something that is not the case as reflected until 2018 when Ortega received $4,200 dollars and Murillo $4,000.
Juan Carlos Ortega Murillo receives $5,884 dollars from TN8 TV and $2,912 dollars from Difuso, for a total of $8,796. His wife Xiomara Blandino Artola, Miss Nicaragua 2007, gets her payment of $4,900 from TN8. Between them they receive $13,700.
Juan Carlos and Difuso were sanctioned by the United States in July 2020, along with Jose Jorge Mojica Mejía, another of the presidential family’s trusted operators who appears on the intricate map of the companies under family command.
CONFIDENCIAL tried to obtain a statement from the Presidency and from Juan Carlos Ortega Murillo, but did not get a response.
Juan Carlos Ortega Murillo’s ex-wife, Idania Castillo Arcia, also receives salaries from Difuso and the state-owned Cinemateca Nacional, of which she is a director, amounting to $3,678 per month.
Meanwhile, Camila, Luciana, Maurice and Daniel Edmundo Ortega Murillo, run the television businesses. Camila, Luciana, and Maurice run Viva Nicaragua Canal 13 and Daniel Edmundo has Canal 4. Their salaries reported to the INSS come from RGB Media, a private company publicly associated with Maurice.
Karen Santamaría, wife of Laureano; Mara Stotti, wife of Daniel Edmundo; Blanca Díaz, wife of Maurice and daughter of National Police Chief, Francisco Diaz; and Katherine Argeñal, wife of Carlos Enrique “Tino”, are four of Ortega and Murillo’s daughters-in-law who also work in different state institutions. This despite the Probity Law for Public Servants disqualifying them from exercising those functions. This law establishes that in all the powers and institutions of the State and its dependencies, persons who are related within the fourth degree of blood kinship and second-degree kinship with the authority making the appointment and with the person from whom this authority emanates, may not be appointed.
In this case, the daughters-in-law of Ortega and Murillo are of the first degree of kinship. To this is added that the presidential couple holds a power that goes beyond their respective offices and encompasses decision-making within the entire state apparatus.
A specialist in integrity and probity issues, who asked to protect his identity, explains that the Civil Service and Administrative Career Law, is also violated. It states that officials must be elected by merit. In this case we see a “network of nepotism”, since brothers of the daughters-in-law of Ortega and Murillo also appear as public servants in the Executive Branch. He observes that it follows not only a logic of hiring the family and giving jobs to relatives, but of protecting the interests of the presidential couple.
Laws 438 and 476 are also violated when the sons of Ortega and Murillo exercise public functions as presidential advisers and ministers since they have a first-degree blood relationship of consanguinity and there are no considerations of capabilities or merits.