Nicaraguan Supreme Court Justice Slams His Former Ally, President Ortega

A Nicaraguan Supreme Court justice who was President Daniel Ortega’s closest legal adviser before he resigned This particular week accused the president as well as also his wife of running a brutal government which tramples on civil rights as well as also can be driving the nation to the brink of civil war.

The justice, Rafael Solis, was speaking in an interview with The brand-new York Times after his resignation on Thursday, which marked the highest-profile defection yet inside the country’s nine-month-old political crisis. Government critics said the item signaled a possible weakening of the political apparatus which has helped keep Mr. Ortega as well as also his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, in power long after hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets demanding their ouster.

Mr. Solis was unsparing in his criticism of Mr. Ortega, who he had been allied with since the 1970s.

“The separation of powers in Nicaragua can be over,” he said. “The concentration of power can be in them, those two people.”

Mr. Solis said he right now regretted one of his own most consequential rulings, a 2009 Supreme Court decision which ended term limits as well as also allowed Mr. Ortega to remain in power.

although while critics of the government saw Mr. Solis’s defection as an important show of opposition which could lead to others, he said he had few illusions which his resignation alone might have a big impact on the judiciary or the government where Mr. Ortega as well as also Ms. Murillo right now make all the decisions which matter.

“I wasn’t being very useful: We practically didn’t have any job functions,” Mr. Solis said in a telephone interview through an undisclosed location outside Nicaragua. “the item was a very limited judiciary.”

Nicaragua, having a population of 6.2 million people, can be one of the poorest nations inside the hemisphere. the item has been rocked by political turmoil since April, when students as well as also older people who picketed against proposed reductions in social security benefits were attacked by pro-government mobs.

The protests quickly spiraled out of control, as well as also several dozen people were killed. The unrest spread to cities around the nation. At least 325 people have been killed as well as also hundreds more imprisoned as public dissent was outlawed.

Mr. Solis had been a loyal member of the president’s Sandinista Front party since he helped Mr. Ortega fight a guerrilla war against the Somoza dictatorship inside the 1970s. He was the only witness at Mr. Ortega’s wedding.

A former member of the legislature as well as also leader inside the armed forces, he had been on the Supreme Court for 19 years. During which time, he was an unstinting Ortega loyalist as exemplified by the term-limits ruling which, in effect, let Mr. Ortega run for re-election indefinitely. inside the past, presidents were limited to two, nonconsecutive terms.

Mr. Solis was one of the most powerful people inside the nation, known as a kind of godfather who people turned to to resolve myriad problems.

Mr. Solis was a key member of the court in 2009 when the magistrates ruled which term limits violated Mr. Ortega’s civil rights. Mr. Solis right now calls which ruling “a mistake.”

He said the idea of a second term did not bother him so much, as well as also can be allowed in many places. Mr. Ortega can be right now in his third consecutive a few-year term.

“the item was the third time which was worrisome,” Mr. Solis said. “I did not think the item might bring the nation to This particular. I never imagined the item.”

He said which inside the future, Nicaragua should bring back term limits — as well as also should even prohibit two terms.

inside the wake of the unrest, the government has maintained which the protesters were agents of “right wing” political parties, the Catholic church, as well as also groups through outside the country which plotted a coup to unseat democratically elected leaders.

Mr. Solis wrote a scathing three-page resignation letter, having a copy of his I.D. attached, which said there was never any attempted coup or outside intervention, “although rather an irrational use of force.”

There are “a great number of detainees having a series of absurd accusations of crimes they never committed,” he wrote.

He said when the crisis broke out, he was in Mexico getting spinal surgery as well as also could easily have written a letter saying he was resigning over health problems. Instead, he said, he chose to tell the truth about a government he no longer believed in.

“I think which the situation Nicaragua can be in merited This particular kind of letter,” he said inside the interview.

Mr. Solis said he tried to bring about electoral reform as well as also some other measures like plebiscites which might have opened up the democratic process, although “the item was not to be.”

His conversations with the president, he said, were perfectly civil.

He said he kept hoping which the president’s addresses at Christmas as well as also brand-new Year might call for peace. although instead, he said the president seemed set against any kind of dialogue or international intervention, which left Mr. Solis no choice although to step down.

Juan Sebastian Chamorro, an opposition leader who was among the members of a failed committee on national reconciliation which tried to end the protests, said Mr. Solis’s resignation signaled which the government’s coalition could be weakening.

“He can be the highest ranking official to defect through the regime, as well as also one of the oldest public officials inside the judiciary system who dates back to the 80s,” Mr. Chamorro said. “I think which resignation can be going to have a whole lot of people who are currently inside the government evaluating whether to take a similar action.”

The Ortega family has maintained control of the country, mostly because of loyal allies in key positions, including the police, military, the National Assembly as well as also the courts. although if someone as close to Mr. Ortega as Mr. Solis can be willing to step down, others could do the same, Mr. Chamorro said.

“The fracture has begun, at least in Solis’ case,” he said. “Very probably, others will follow suit.”

The president did not Discharge any statements about the resignation, as well as also the government does not speak to any media the item does not control.

Mr. Solis said the time for a peaceful end to the crisis can be running short. The Organization of American States voted Friday to invoke a section of its charter which could lead the item to take measures to restore democracy to Nicaragua. Congress passed economic sanctions last month.

“A big economic crisis can be coming which can be going to give rise to even bigger upheaval as well as also more violence,” Mr. Solis said. “Right right now there can be an appearance of calm, although the item’s a forced calm,” because the police instilled terror.

He added: “The country can be not doing well. What can be coming can be worse.”