Nicaraguan exiles sink roots in Costa Rica as Ortega prepares for re-election By Reuters – News Couple

Nicaraguan exiles sink roots in Costa Rica as Ortega prepares for re-election By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Nicaraguan exiles in Costa Rica protest against the government of President Daniel Ortega ahead of the country’s November presidential elections in San Jose, Costa Rica, on October 24, 2021. REUTERS/Mila López/File Photo

Written by Dina Beth Solomon

ABALA, Costa Rica (Reuters) – Nicaraguans forced to flee across the country’s southern border into Costa Rica expressed a mixture of anger, pain and resignation ahead of Sunday’s elections as President Daniel Ortega is expected to extend his long rule after a crackdown on his opponents. .

Francesca Ramirez and more than 40 of her relatives belong to a diaspora that includes tens of thousands of Costa Rican exiles and could grow beyond that if Ortega tightens his grip.

She fled south three years ago with her husband and six children, fearing imprisonment for protesting Ortega’s rule. Since June, Ortega police have put opponents behind bars or under house arrest, prompting more to leave -exodus-2021-09-02.

Ramirez thought the move would be temporary. But she now lives with about 80 others south of the border in a makeshift compound of wooden houses that look increasingly permanent.

“There will be no elections tomorrow,” Ramirez, 45, said. “There will be a vote imposed by a terrorist.” She helps bring several hundred people to an anti-Ortega demonstration in the Costa Rican capital to coincide with the vote.

Ortega, a former Marxist guerrilla and Cold War opponent of the United States, argues that he is defending Nicaragua from adversaries who are plotting with foreign powers to overthrow him.

Ramirez wants international pressure to force Ortega to release political prisoners, dismantle paramilitary forces, allow exiles to return and investigate abuses by the authorities.

She said that if the United States and other world powers did not act, Nicaragua would become “a complete failure”.

On the border near the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, Carlos Cardoza, an exile in Nicaragua, 42, works as a driver.

“There is a lot of pain and resentment,” Cardoza said, referring to those killed during the 2018 crackdown on anti-Ortega protests that claimed more than 300 lives.

He said five of his six siblings also live in Costa Rica.

Ramirez, who lives on land among turkeys and chickens on a dirt road near the eastern town of Upala, said she and her family fought a plan to take their land in order to build a canal across the ocean that Ortega was defending.

Ramirez’s husband, Magdoño Lopez, calls the group of timber-floored houses “Little Nicaragua.”

It wasn’t meant to be permanent.

“When Nicaragua becomes free, the plan is to go back,” said Lopez, 55.

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