Nicaragua expels an international representative of the Red Cross

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The government of Nicaragua has expelled the representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross, a local Red Cross spokeswoman said Thursday.

Spokeswoman María Cristina Rivera said the organization had received a letter from President Daniel Ortega’s government ordering ICRC representative Thomas Ess to leave the country.

The spokeswoman said the reason for the decision was unclear and no government agency would confirm the expulsion.

The Red Cross said it would continue its humanitarian work in Nicaragua. Red Cross staff had visited protesters jailed following the 2018 protests against the government.

In a statement, the Association of Relatives of Political Prisoners called the expulsion “a new violation of human rights”.

Since mid-2021, Ortega’s government has arrested dozens of opposition figures and sentenced many to prison terms.

Earlier this month, the Ortega government ordered the expulsion of papal nuncio, Msgr. Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag.

The church said in a statement at the time that Nicaragua’s action was “serious and unwarranted”.

The nuncio had served as an official witness during the government’s talks with the opposition.

Late last year, relatives of 46 detained opposition figures asked Sommertag to intercede with Ortega, but nothing came of it.

Ortega’s government intensified its crackdown on opposition leaders ahead of last year’s presidential elections, arresting potential candidates against him as well as dozens of prominent journalists, leaders of nongovernmental organizations and other reviews.

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