By Julieta Villar
Félix Maradiaga, president of the Foundation for the Freedom of Nicaragua, began a tour of Argentina on Aug. 30 in an effort to strengthen the fight for political and religious freedom and human rights in his country by providing documentation for legal proceedings against Nicaraguan dictator Daniel Ortega.
Maradiaga ran for president of Nicaragua in 2021 but was arrested by the regime during his campaign and spent 611 days in the dreaded El Chipote prison. Along with 221 other political prisoners, he was stripped of his Nicaraguan citizenship by the dictatorship and deported to the United States on Feb. 9 in a deal with the U.S. State Department.
Without a Nicaraguan passport, Maradiaga is traveling under a special travel document issued to him by the U.S. government.
The opposition leader’s visit is part of a strategy to consolidate international pressure against the Sandinista dictatorship in Nicaragua and is part of the criminal investigation launched in Argentina against Ortega; his wife, Rosario Murillo; and other high-ranking officials for crimes against humanity.
Maradiaga will spend time meeting with human rights organizations and experts in the field.
There he will present documentation on cases of arbitrary detention perpetrated by the regime as well as evidence of violations of human rights and religious freedom, among other crimes.
Not the only one in its history, Argentina was ruled by a military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983, notorious for human rights abuses.
Among the professionals with whom the civic leader will meet in Argentina is Darío Richarte, a lawyer and university professor who filed a complaint with the Federal National Court No. 4 in Criminal and Correctional Matters against Ortega; his wife, Murillo; and other representatives of the dictatorship.
The complaint states that they are responsible for issuing and executing orders leading to specific acts of persecution for political and/or religious reasons.
The criminal proceedings initiated by Richarte are based on the principle of universal jurisdiction, which confers jurisdiction on a nation state to try the perpetrator of a crime regardless of the place where the crime was committed and the nationality of the perpetrator or the victims.
Before beginning the tour, Maradiaga highlighted that “the fact that Argentina is one of the countries that adheres to universal jurisdiction as one of the essential components of the international criminal justice system offers a great opportunity for victims and their families who demand justice.”
The former political prisoner promised to give his “complete attention” to the efforts made by lawyers such as Richarte and other human rights organizations.
In preparation for this visit, Maradiaga also held prior conversations with members of the Argentine judiciary.
His itinerary will include a presentation at the forum “Recover the Democratic Initiative” organized by Asuntos del Sur (Southern Affairs), the Spanish newspaper El País, and the Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean, where he will present the situation in Nicaragua.
He will also meet opposition forces in Argentina, including liberal groups, and other organizations. To end his trip, he will participate in a conference at CEMA University (Center for Macroeconomic Studies of Argentina)
After the tour, he will attend the 54th Session of the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva, Switzerland, where he will make a formal complaint regarding the confiscation of the Jesuit’s Central American University and the cancellation of the legal personhood of the Society of Jesus in Nicaragua by the Ortega dictatorship.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.