MADRID (AP) — Spain has recalled its ambassador to Nicaragua, María del Mar Fernández-Palacio, following incendiary remarks made Tuesday by the Nicaraguan foreign ministry accusing the former colonial power of “unacceptable interference” and historic crimes.
Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares made the decision after “serious and unfounded accusations were made against Spain and its institutions,” his ministry said in a statement on Wednesday, “as well as gross falsehoods about judicial and electoral processes.”
This refers to a statement Daniel Ortega’s government sent to the Spanish on Tuesday “denouncing cynical and continual meddling, interference and intervention in our internal affairs, inappropriate of democratic governments.” It added that Spanish governments and institutions had overseen “cover-ups, lies, crimes, hate crimes and crimes against humanity,” and “continually failed to comply with the rights of the peoples to autonomy or autonomous processes for independence,” in an apparent reference to the country’s handling of the Catalan independence movement.
The Spanish government said it rejected the Nicaraguan government’s characterization of its politics and hit back to say Nicaragua “is facing a profound political, economic and social crisis,” that was worsening “as a consequence of the increased repression by the government of President Daniel Ortega.”
Nicaragua is scheduled to hold national elections on Nov. 7 in which Ortega is seeking a fourth consecutive term. He placed an opposition candidate for vice president under house arrest last week, then released her pending the outcome of the investigation. Spain has said the elections will not be free and fair.
Last week, the EU slapped sanctions on Vice President and first lady Rosario Murillo and seven other senior officials accused of serious human rights violations or undermining democracy. The sanctions include asset freezes and bans on travel in Europe.
Also last week, the United States slapped visa restrictions on 50 immediate family members of Nicaraguan officials who it said have been involved in or benefited from Ortega’s growing repression. The U.S. State Department said Friday the officials include lawmakers, prosecutors and judges.