Daniel Ortega complains about international sanctions against his Government whenever he can. This time he did it before Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton, US journalists from The Grayzone portal. In a broad interview granted by the President and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, Ortega said the Nica Act “is already being applied.”
“We know the Nica Act was approved by Congress in the first phase; only one congressman opposed it, Vicente Gonzalez, he was the only one and we know how it was approved in the Senate…,” Ortega told reporters who consider themselves to be from the left. “From that moment on, the administration is applying it, in fact the representative of the US Treasury and international organizations have a clear line: to obstruct to block.”
Blumenthal is a journalist associated with the US left and is described as a close friend of authoritarian regimes, as is the case of Ortega, that of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, and that of the Castros in Cuba. It is not the first time Blumenthal has arrived in Nicaragua. During 2018, amid the height of the socio-political crisis, the journalist served as an informal spokesperson for the narrative of Ortega and Murillo. In the ranks of the Government, they present Blumenthal as the “journalist who uncovered how the United States financed a failed coup attempt.”
Ortega appealed to international law to avoid Washington’s punishment in particular, although his regime has also been reprimanded by Canada.
Freedom of expression and religion?
In the statements that Ortega made to Blumenthal and his companions who participated in the conversation held at the El Carmen presidential bunker, the Sandinista leader lied openly ensuring that there is total “freedom of expression and religious freedom” in Nicaragua.
“Here there is the most absolute religious freedom and there is the most absolute freedom of expression,” said Ortega, when journalists asked him why he invited the ultra-right-wing pastor Ralph Drollinger to the 40th anniversary of the Sandinista revolution, who appeared in Managua as the “bible teacher” of President Donald Trump.
“There is a report, which you should know, in which we are accused of not allowing expression here. The pastor (Drollinger) could have said anything there (in the Plaza), we did not tell him the speech he was going to deliver, just to say whatever he wanted,” said Ortega in reference to a report by the State Department on the persecution that the regime has unleashed against the Catholic church.
Currently, there is a state of exception in Nicaragua under which marches and demonstrations of any group except those who sympathize with the government are prohibited. In addition, the regime keeps Confidential and 100% News media confiscated, as well as practices systematic harassment of independent journalists.
However, Ortega said the interview he gave to Blumenthal was proof of freedom of expression in Nicaragua.
Ortega also lied when saying that he does not move in an armored car. An investigation by Confidencial showed in 2015 that the president bought an armored Mercedes Benz in which he is transported.
“I have suffered several attacks. But I have not used an armored car, rather when I visit other countries, they put us armored cars. My armored car is Christ, the people are the ones who take care of me,” said Ortega who is surrounded by an entire police contingent whenever he goes out in the streets with his armored Mercedes Benz.