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Friday, July 12, 2024

Nicaraguan President Accuses Brother of Treason Over 1992 Medal

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega stated this Tuesday that his brother and former army chief, Humberto Ortega, who according to exiled opposition members is under house arrest, committed an act of “treason against the homeland” by decorating a U.S. military officer in 1992.

Referring to Humberto Ortega as “the army chief at that time,” without naming him, the Nicaraguan president described the decoration as an “act of subservience” and a “national disgrace.”

“This inconceivable action is classified as a national disgrace by awarding a Yankee military officer a medal of such relevance and significance, and it evidently constitutes an act of subservience and treason against the homeland,” Ortega said.

This statement comes a week after Nicaraguan police installed a medical unit in the house of Humberto Ortega, a government critic, a measure interpreted as house arrest by exiled opposition members.

The measure was announced by the Nicaraguan police in a statement days after the former army chief said in a press interview that Daniel Ortega, 78, lacks successors and his power will not withstand his eventual death.

Ortega’s government has stripped more than 300 opponents and critics of their nationality, sending them into exile, accusing them of being “traitors” and “sellouts.”

A constitutional reform approved in February 2023 and ratified this year established that people convicted of “treason against the homeland” would lose their nationality.

He had already sold his soul to the devil

Retired General Humberto Ortega, army chief from 1979 to 1995, awarded the “Camilo Ortega” medal in 1992 to U.S. military attaché Dennis Quinn, named after the younger brother who died fighting dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1978.

According to President Ortega, “the army chief at that time committed the sacrilege of awarding that order,” which reports from that time indicated was in recognition of a respectful relationship.

“The army chief had already sold his soul to the devil” in the 1990s, he added, nullifying the decoration with a decree he read at the event in Managua. The Ortega brothers have been estranged due to political differences since the 1990s.

The Controversial Interview

In an interview with the Infobae portal, published on May 19, General Ortega predicted that his brother’s circle would not be able to stay in power when he dies.

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

According to exiled press media, after the interview was published, police visited the general’s house, south of Managua, and seized cell phones and computers. The government has not commented on these reports.

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 revolution’s victory in 1979, Humberto Ortega became the head of the Sandinista People’s Army while Daniel took control of the government, first under a government junta and then personally.

Humberto continued to lead the armed institution – which changed its name to the Nicaraguan Army – until 1995 after Daniel’s electoral defeat in 1990 to opposition candidate Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, who governed for almost seven years.

Daniel Ortega returned to power in 2007 and has been re-elected successively in elections questioned by the international community. His wife is the powerful Vice President Rosario Murillo.

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