The Nicaraguan Embassy in Panama is located in the La Alameda urbanization, a middle-class neighborhood in Panama City. The usual peace of the neighborhood was disrupted on Wednesday, February 7, when it was revealed that former President Ricardo Martinelli, convicted of corruption and large-scale money laundering, had sought refuge in the government of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo.
Martinelli’s employees began arriving that day with trucks and vans to unload goods at the old house, which had its roof torn off and walls and bars peeling off. according to the newspaper panama press, The former President was transported with two Nisato brand air conditioners, a 32-inch television and a 65-inch RGA brand television; A large water tank, a family-sized gas grill, and even his pet: a dog named Bruno.
Martinelli’s presence has created a diplomatic dispute between the Panamanian government and Ortega-Murillo. That same Wednesday, Managua granted political asylum to the former president and re-election candidate. “In accordance with the Convention on Asylum of 1928 and the Convention on Political Asylum of 1933, ratified by our country, and recognizing that asylum is an institution of a humanitarian nature and that all persons may live under its protection, without discrimination as to nationality, Nicaragua “decided to grant asylum to Mr. Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Berrocal, former President of the Republic of Panama,” the Sandinista Foreign Ministry indicated.
However, Panama has flatly refused asylum because they allege that Martinelli is not a politically persecuted individual, but a criminal facing more than ten years in prison and more than $19 million in fines for money laundering. The sentence has been pronounced.
Managua requested “safe conduct” from the Panamanian executive so that Martinelli could travel to Nicaragua to seek asylum. The request was rejected by Panama and the Foreign Ministry called Nicaragua’s ambassador, journalist Consuelo Sandoval Meza, to convey her rejection of the safe conduct request. “Any action, statement or communication made from diplomatic headquarters by former President Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Berrocal and bearing or influencing the domestic politics of Panama will be considered interference in the internal affairs of our country and, therefore, will generate diplomatic consequences.” Warned Panama’s Foreign Ministry.
130 passports for corrupt people and associates
While Martinelli is housed in the Nicaraguan embassy in Panama City, his case has revived a pattern of the Ortega-Murillo government: making Nicaragua a haven for corrupt people and criminals who escape justice in their native countries.
The most emblematic cases are those of two former presidents of El Salvador, Mauricio Funes and Salvador Sánchez Cerén, who are wanted for issues of misuse of public funds and corruption. Both former leaders of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) were granted asylum along with their respective families and later received Nicaraguan nationality from the presidential couple so that they could not be extradited.
Others who had recently been granted asylum and declared Nicaraguans by the Sandinista government were Abel Jair Díaz Lupien and Ricardo Leonel Cardona López, two officials very close to former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, whom the United States prosecuted. Was accused of drug trafficking. In 2018, Guatemalan Gustavo Adolfo Herrera Castillo was granted asylum in Nicaragua as he was fleeing charges from Guatemala’s defunct International Commission against Impunity (CICIG) of defrauding the Guatemalan Social Security Institution.
Ortega also granted political asylum in 2008 to Doris Torres, Martha Pérez and Lucía Moret, three guerrillas from the now-defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Former guerrilla Mario Eduardo Firmenich is another Ortega-Murillo refugee. He led the Montoneros organization in Argentina in the 1970s and was pardoned by President Carlos Menem in 1990.
According to a newspaper account secret, Ortega has “given 130 nationalities to political associates and fugitives from justice” in the past two years. Media outlets seized by the Sandinista regime report, “Many of these naturalization procedures were carried out in violation of Nicaraguan immigration laws, just as they were violated by stripping 317 Nicaraguans of their nationality and rendering them stateless.”
“Ortega is not harboring people who are at political risk, people whose rights have been violated, but he is harboring criminals who have already been convicted and who have committed crimes in their own countries Don’t want to pay to court for damages. “, criticized Luciano García, an exiled opponent and director of the organization Hagamos Democracia in Costa Rica.
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The decision to grant asylum to convicted persons or criminals is a long-standing pattern of the Sandinista Front and Ortega. 36 years ago, Italian Alessio Casimirri arrived in Nicaragua, a fugitive accused of kidnapping and murder of Prime Minister Aldo Moro in 1978. Casimirri works peacefully in Managua, specifically in Carretera Sur, where he owns a great restaurant that specializes in seafood: La Cueva del Buzo.
In the eighties, during the first Sandinista government and when the Medellin Cartel was growing, drug trafficker Pablo Escobar and his partner Carlos Lehder found refuge in Nicaragua. “They assigned me a large diplomatic protocol house as my home, into which I carried only my G3 rifle and other personal weapons, a backpack full of dollars, my powerful HF global communications radio and my Zenith radio, which I used . Listening to music during the day and keeping an eye on stations like Columbia and The Voice of Germany (Deutsche Welle) at night,” Lehder described in his book titled Life and death of the Medellín cartel, Which has just been published by Penguin Random House.
Now, as Riccardo Martinelli’s political asylum case develops, the opposition and exiled politician Félix Maradiaga believes that the practice distorts the purpose of political asylum, “which should protect people who truly believe in their ideals.” and should not serve as a refuge for those who are persecuted.” Escaped justice due to proven acts of corruption.”
“The fact that Nicaragua has become a sanctuary for individuals such as Mauricio Funes, Salvador Sanchez Ceren and Ricardo Martinelli, all of whom have been seriously accused of corruption and have been investigated under due process, is a contradiction of the principles of international law. and tarnishes the integrity of any legitimate asylum system. This irony, where criminals are welcomed while patriots are stripped of their nationality, destroys justice and equality before the law, perpetuates impunity and insults national dignity,” Maradiaga. , who had been deported a year earlier along with other 221 political prisoners. He asserted, “By providing sanctuary to criminals, Ortega betrayed his people and tarnished national dignity, cementing a legacy of complicity with criminality and impunity.”
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