The Nicaraguan government announced Friday that it had confiscated property belonging to 222 opponents who were forced into exile in February after being imprisoned by the regime of President Daniel Ortega.
Among those taken from prison and forced to board a flight to the United States on February 9 were seven former presidential candidates, lawyers, rights activists, journalists and former members of the Sandinista guerrilla movement.
The judicial system wrote in a statement that the opposition figures had been declared “traitors to the homeland.” They are also being stripped of their citizenship, measures that have been criticized as an example of banishment, in violation of international standards.
The statement affirms that the dissidents lost their rights to their properties and any participation in companies in NIcaragua, after being convicted of “committing acts against the sovereignty, independence and self-determination of the nation.” Those trials were often rushed and completed within hours within the prison walls.
Tamara Dávila, one of the 222 exiled opponents, said that the confiscation “is completely illegal from any point of view.”
“In political terms, this just shows that the regime is in decline and has to resort to robbery to show strength,” he said.
In February, the Ortega regime canceled the citizenship of 94 political opponents, including writers Sergio Ramírez and Gioconda Belli, who are in exile but were not among those who flew to the United States.
Thousands have fled into exile since Nicaraguan security forces violently suppressed mass anti-government protests in 2018. Ortega says the protests were a foreign-backed coup attempt, aimed at overthrowing him and encouraging foreign nations to apply sanctions to members of his family and government.
In the run-up to Ortega’s re-election in November 2021, Nicaraguan authorities arrested seven potential opposition presidential candidates to clear the field. The government has also shut down hundreds of nongovernmental groups that Ortega accused of taking foreign funds and using them to destabilize his government.
Spain has offered their citizenship to the 222 exiles, while the United States granted the Nicaraguans a two-year temporary protection.