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Nicaraguan Police Put General Humberto Ortega Under Watch

On Tuesday, the Nicaraguan police installed a medical unit in the home of retired general Humberto Ortega, brother of President Daniel Ortega and a critic of the government, a measure interpreted as house arrest by opposition media in exile. The measure was announced by the Nicaraguan police in a statement days after the former army chief said in a press interview that his brother lacks successors and predicted that if he dies, his inner circle will not be able to hold on to power in Nicaragua.

“A Specialized Medical Care Unit has been installed to take care of the ailments that have afflicted and afflict General Ortega. The Team of Specialists will be in permanent communication, coordination and visits,” the police said in their press release.

For its part, the exile media Artículo 66 published: “The regime of Daniel Ortega and [his wife and vice president] Rosario Murillo ordered ‘house for jail’ disguised as ‘permanent medical attention’ against the brother” of the president.

Other opposition media outlets published in exile disseminated similar versions about a house arrest of 77-year-old General Ortega. The two brothers were part of the Sandinista guerrilla that fought against the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza, the last leader of a dynasty that ruled the country with an iron fist for four decades.

After the triumph of the revolution in 1979, Humberto Ortega became head of the Sandinista People’s Army while Daniel took the reins of government, first in a collegiate manner and then unilaterally. Humberto continued at the head of the armed institution after Daniel’s electoral defeat in 1990 to opposition candidate Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, who governed until 1997. Both Ortega brothers have been estranged due to political differences since the 1990s.

Not even Somoza could

In an interview with the Infobae portal published over the weekend, General Ortega predicted that his brother’s inner circle will not be able to stay in power if he dies. “Without Daniel there is no one, because, all things considered, Daniel is the only historical leader who still retains the credits of that struggle,” said the former military chief.

“Without Daniel I see it very difficult for two or three to come together. Much less one in particular, and more difficult in the family. Children who have not had the accumulation of a political struggle. Not even Somoza could establish his son,” he added.

“With the absence of Daniel, it would be very fragile to sustain everything that until now he has managed to sustain with great effort and with enormous complexities,” Humberto Ortega concluded.

After the publication of the interview, the police visited the general’s house on Sunday night, south of Managua, and stripped him of cell phones and computers, according to sources close to the former army chief told media in exile. The retired general, who said in the interview that he suffered from heart problems, was summoned to police headquarters on Monday, according to those same sources.

Criticism of opponents

According to the police, specialists from the Ministry of Health and private “bedside” doctors “have visited and assessed today [Tuesday] the health condition of retired General Humberto Ortega Saavedra, at his home.”

“The Ministry of Health and the Cardiologist at his bedside have carried out all the necessary assessments and have found him stable in his condition as a Coronary Patient, and other ailments typical of his age and underlying diseases,” it added. Humberto Ortega continued at the head of the military force until 1995, which changed its name to the Army of Nicaragua.

The general is also critical of Nicaragua’s opposition leaders, all of them in exile, and has insisted on a dialogue to resolve the country’s political differences. 78-year-old Daniel Ortega returned to power in 2007 and has been successively re-elected in elections questioned by the international community.

Camilo Ortega, the younger brother of both, died in the guerrilla struggle against Somoza in 1978.

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