Daniel Ortega expels ambassador of the European Union from Nicaragua after criticism at the UN

Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. (File photo. 08.29.2018)

Photo: ALFREDO ZUÑIGA/AP PHOTO/PICTURE ALLIANCE / Deutsche Welle

The government of Nicaragua expelled from the country the ambassador of the European Union (EU), Bettina Muscheidt, days after the 27-nation bloc demanded the president Daniel Ortega the release of more than 200 imprisoned opponents, diplomatic sources and media outlets said on Wednesday (09.28.2022).

Muscheidt was summoned to the offices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Managua, where Foreign Minister Denis Moncada in person “confirmed his expulsion” from the country, a European diplomat who asked not to be identified told the AP news agency.

Earlier, independent media in Nicaragua indicated that the expulsion order was first notified to Munschiedt and verbally by an official from the Foreign Ministry, who allegedly alleged “interference and disrespect for national sovereignty” on the part of the EU. Hours later, it was ratified personally.

Until now, the Nicaraguan government has not confirmed the expulsion of the EU ambassador, who had presented her credentials on September 22 of last year. It is also not known if she has already left the country.

EU demands

On Monday, the EU called on the Nicaraguan government to release political prisoners (more than 205, according to the opposition), in a declaration proposed for debate at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

“The EU reiterates its urgent call to the Nicaraguan authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners and annul all legal proceedings against them, including their sentences,” said the statement presented in Geneva.

The bloc also asked Ortega to allow the entry of international human rights organizations and to “return the sovereignty of Nicaragua to the Nicaraguan people, to its legitimate owners, and to restore genuine democracy.”

The EU ambassador is the second European diplomat expelled from Nicaragua by the Ortega government this year. In March, the Vatican reported the expulsion of the apostolic nuncio Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, who had taken steps to intercede for the freedom of prisoners of conscience.

Muscheidt is also the second EU ambassador to leave the country amid tensions between the Sandinista regime and the European bloc. The first was Italy’s Francesca Mosca, whose criticism of the 2008 municipal elections earned her a public reprimand from Ortega, who had come to power a year earlier.

Ortega then protested the “interference” of the EU in the internal affairs of Nicaragua and, in an obvious allusion to the diplomat’s last name, declared that some aid workers “are like flies that stop in the filth.” The ambassador ended her mission in Nicaragua in August 2008, three months before the elections that the opposition described as fraudulent.