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Nicaragua’s Ortega puts dissident brother under home ‘medical care’

Humberto Ortega, brother and critic of President Daniel Ortega, once headed Nicaragua's army
Humberto Ortega, brother and critic of President Daniel Ortega, once headed Nicaragua's army - Copyright AFP/File -
Humberto Ortega, brother and critic of President Daniel Ortega, once headed Nicaragua's army - Copyright AFP/File -

Nicaraguan police have set up a “medical care unit” at the house of President Daniel Ortega’s brother, in a move interpreted by the exiled opposition as placing him under house arrest.

Humberto Ortega, 77, gave a media interview over the weekend in which he said his brother lacked a successor, and that his circle of power would collapse in the event of his death.

On Tuesday, a police statement announced a “specialized medical care unit has been installed to care for the ailments that have afflicted and continue to afflict General Ortega.”

Exiled opposition media described the move as “house arrest” disguised as permanent medical care.

Citing sources close to the former army chief, they said police had visited Humberto Ortega’s house after the interview was published, and stripped him of his cell phones and computers.

The two brothers were both guerrillas in the Sandinista movement that initially took power in 1979 after toppling the US-backed Somoza family dictatorship.

After the movement’s triumph, Humberto headed up the army, while Daniel headed the junta, and was later elected president from 1985 to 1990.

Ortega returned to power in 2007, and has since engaged in increasingly authoritarian practices, quashing presidential term limits and seizing control of all branches of the state.

Nicaragua has jailed hundreds of real and perceived opponents since then and shuttered more than 3,500 religious and other non-governmental organizations.

The Ortega brothers became estranged in the 90s due to political differences.

In the interview with the Infobae website, Humberto said that “without Daniel there is no one… Daniel is the only historical leader who still retains the credits of that fight.”

“In Daniel’s absence, it would be very fragile to sustain everything that he has managed to sustain until now with great effort and with enormous complexities.”

In the interview, Humberto also mentioned he has heart problems, and the police said private doctors had been sent to evaluate his health.

AFP
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