The Sandinista Front’s audacious municipal power grab escalated Monday afternoon when riot police and Sandinista sympathizers stormed the municipal building of Boaco and forcibly removed elected mayor Hugo Barquero.
The forced removal of Barquero came on the one-year anniversary of the June 28, 2009 coup in Honduras, which was strongly condemned by the Sandinistas.
“They hit me and dragged me out of the mayor’s office,” Barquero told The Nica Times by phone, shortly afterwards. “This is completely illegal, completely illegitimate and unconstitutional.”
Barquero, a Liberal Party dissident allied with opposition leader Eduardo Montealegre, was stripped of his office last week by a questionable resolution passed by the Sandinista-controlled city council – a move the opposition claims is totally illegal.
Barquero, who defeated the Sandinista candidate (name) by 3,000 votes in the 2008 municipal elections, said the Sandinistas had tried to get him to support President Daniel Ortega´s re-election efforts next year. When Barquero refused, he was removed from office by the dubious city council resolution and replaced by Ortega supporter Juan Obando.
In the past few months, the Sandinistas have used their considerable resources to buy the loyalty of 56 opposition city council officials and six mayors, all of whom now pledge allegiance to Ortega’s party, the FSLN. The ruling party also has forcibly removed four additional mayors through legally questionable city council resolutions (NT, June 18).
The opposition has likened removal of elected mayors to a coup d´état on the municipal level. Barquero, meanwhile, claims he’s not done fighting even though he’s been physically removed from office. He’s calling for a nationwide march on Boaco Wednesday.
Read the July 2 print or digital edition of The Nica Times for more on this story.