Nicaragua’s ambassador to the Organization of American States has launched an extraordinary verbal attack on the authoritarian government he is charged with representing, castigating the “indefensible” dictatorship of Daniel Ortega for its human rights abuses and to democracy.
In it, the Nicaraguan diplomat said he was speaking “on behalf of the 177 political prisoners and more than 350 people who have lost their lives” since the failed 2018 uprising against Ortega and his vice president and married Rosario Murillo.
“It’s not easy to denounce my country’s dictatorship, but to continue in silence and defend the indefensible is impossible,” said McFields, a former journalist who is the son of Nicaraguan poet David McFields.
“I have to speak, despite the fear. I must speak out even though my future and that of my family are uncertain. I have to speak, otherwise the stones themselves will speak for me,” added the ambassador, who was appointed by Ortega late last year.
The public revolt came two days after Cristiana Chamorro, the jailed opposition politician who was tipped to challenge Ortega for power in last November’s election, was sentenced to eight years in prison for what his supporters call false accusations of financial crimes.
Chamorro is one of dozens of opposition figures who were jailed ahead of this vote, in a fierce crackdown on Ortega’s political rivals. With his enemies in jail or in exile, the former revolutionary hero got five more years in power in an election that US President Joe Biden called an undemocratic “pantomime”.
This means the 76-year-old Sandinista, who has ruled continuously since being elected in 2006, could lead the Central American country until he is 80.
Ortega’s ambassador painted a bleak picture of the situation in Nicaragua under his strongman’s leadership. “Since 2018, Nicaragua has become the only country in Central America – and probably in Latin America… where there are no printed newspapers, where there is no freedom to even publish a tweet or comment on social media… [and] there are no human rights organisations.
“One hundred and seventy thousand Nicaraguans have fled the country and more are fleeing right now,” McFields added, before insisting there was hope. “There are people inside and outside the government who are fed up with this dictatorship and its actions.”
Nicaraguan Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims McFields did not represent Ortega’s government and argued that his comments therefore lacked “validity”. However, it wasn’t until Monday that the website of a government-backed group led by one of Ortega and Murillo’s children had described it as Nicaraguan Ambassador to the OAS.