(posted June 25, 10:30 p.m.)- Banished to the Costa Rican border town of La Cruz after being ousted from Nicaragua by Sandinista officials, Bolivian citizen Carlos Ariñez says he has no doubt that his “illegal deportation” is part of President Daniel Ortega’s personal and political vendetta against estranged stepdaughter Zoilamérica Ortega Murillo.
“This was an illegal deportation—a method the Sandinista government uses to target foreign human rights workers,” Ariñez told The Nicaragua Dispatch in a Skype interview at 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday night, shortly after being dumped on the other side of the Costa Rican border. Ariñez says he has Costa Rican residency.
Ariñez, who has lived in Nicaragua for four years with his partner, Zoilamérica Ortega Murillo, claims his detention and expulsion from Nicaragua tonight was an act of family vengeance. The rights worker rejects the argument made by Nicaraguan Immigration officials, who say Ariñez had overstayed his visa by 20 days.
“That’s a lie,” Ariñez says.“I went to the Immigration offices last Friday to pay the fine for overstaying my visa. I paid the fine at 10 a.m., even though they intentionally tried to slow the process.”
Ariñez says he plans to formally accuse the Nicaraguan state of abusing his rights and persecuting his partner, who on Tuesday night filed her own complaint before the Nicaraguan Commission on Human Rights (CENIDH) in Managua.
Ortega Murillo, who in 1998 accused her stepfather Daniel Ortega of repeatedly sexually abusing her since she was a little girl, told the press this evening that her parents’ government continues to persecute her and her family, most recently for expressing solidarity with senior citizens demanding the right to a partial pension. Ortega Murillo and Ariñez visited the protesting seniors last week and publically expressed their support for their cause. After that, the couple claims they were followed for several days by Sandinistas on motorcycles.
The two were finally approached today at noon in a bank parking lot by a group of four immigration officials, one of whom allegedly tried to force his way into their car, according to Ariñez. The ousted activist says one of the men was wearing his uniform unbuttoned, exposing a Sandinista Youth t-shirt underneath. The fourth man—the one who allegedly tried to force entry into the car—was dressed in civilian clothing, he said.
Ariñez was detained and quickly deported without any appeals process, prompting Ortega Murillo to blame her mother publically.
“Forty minutes ago I received a phone call from my mom telling me that this was a consequence for my actions; I blame her for this,” Ortega Murillo told reporter Wilfredo Miranda Aburto, of Confidencial.
Shortly after the accusation was published online, Ortega Murillo was forcibly removed from the property of the Immigration offices by Sandinista thugs, who reportedly broke her glasses in the process.
“This is a personal war,” Ortega Murillo told reporters after getting roughed up.
Sandinista officials defend deportation
Sandinista Immigration Director Martín Jarquín told Sandinista media outlets that Immigration officials picked up Ariñez during a “routine patrol” of Managua this afternoon. He said immigration authorities had invited Ariñez to renew his visa several weeks ago, but the Bolivian “did not comply.”
Jarquín said Ariñez was discovered by Immigration officials as they “routinely patrolled” the city this afternoon. But when the Bolivian was approached by the officers, he got into his car and offended the officials, Jarquín said.
“That is a violation; it is a crime in every country in the world and is punishable,” Jarquín said, adding that lots of Nicaraguans are deported each day from other countries.
Jarquín said Ariñez’ deportation was a routine matter. He said Immigration officials have deported 120 foreigners this year, including 16 this month.
For Ortega Murillo, 45, today’s deportation of her partner was just the latest insult. In April, Ortega Murillo accused her parents’ government of abusing its power to dissuade the Norwegian Embassy from financing the work of CEI, a Managua-based organization that promotes issues of sexual orientation and gender identity.