Nicaraguan authorities on Thursday ordered the capture of a former Nicaraguan government official and a businessman as the government’s crackdown continued to expand beyond leaders of the political opposition.
The office of the Nicaraguan attorney general said in a statement that arrest orders were issued for Humberto Belli, who served as Nicaraguan minister of education in the administration of former Nicaraguan president Violeta Chamorro, and Gerardo Baltodano, owner of coffee distributor Cafe Soluble, for not appearing to provide statements as scheduled.
Baltodano is the brother of Alvaro Baltodano, who formerly served in Nicarguan President Daniel Ortega’s administration as director for the state-run Free Trade Zone Corp.
Belli and Gerardo Baltodano had served on the board of the non-governmental Nicaraguan Foundation for Economic and Social Development, which is also under investigation.
Former foundation executive director Juan Sebastian Chamorro was arrested earlier this month on charges of crimes against the state.
Earlier on Thursday, prosecutors announced that a judge had ordered the freezing of the bank accounts of Belli and Gerardo Baltodano, among others with links to the foundation, and prohibited them from leaving the country.
They are being investigated for alleged “financial operations derived from illicit activities.”
Gioconda Belli wrote on Twitter that police had searched her brother’s home on that day.
In the past few weeks, authorities have arrested 16 people, including 13 leading members of the political opposition, two former employees of the Violeta Chamorro Foundation and Production Bank president Luis Rivas Anduray.
Among them were also four people who had announced that they were considering running in the upcoming Nicaraguan presidential election scheduled for Nov. 7.
Ortega has announced that he would run for a fourth consecutive term.
The US government has stepped up sanctions against Ortega’s inner circle, and on Wednesday, the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States approved a resolution condemning the arrests and calling for the prisoners’ immediate release.
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