Former El Salvador president granted asylum in Nicaragua, government says

Mauricio Funes, facing legal cases back home and under scrutiny over a truce with gangs during his administration, says he is not dodging judicial process

Nicaragua said on Tuesday it has given political asylum to former El Salvador president Mauricio Funes, who has come under scrutiny back home for a truce with gangs during his administration and is also facing multiple legal cases.

The Nicaraguan government’s official Daily Gazette published a notice announcing that Funes, his partner and three children have all been granted asylum. It said their lives and physical integrity are in danger as a result of “fighting in favor of democracy, peace, justice and human rights”.

Funes said via Twitter that he decided to seek asylum on 31 August “after confirming the political persecution that is being initiated against me”.

According to the Gazette, the petition was dated 1 September, the same day El Salvador’s supreme court ordered the release of a list of Funes’s government-funded trips abroad while in office. Asylum was granted the following day.

Funes, a former journalist who was elected as a member of the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) party, is facing a civil prosecution back home for alleged illicit enrichment. Investigators argue that he and his family need to justify the origin of more than $700,000 in income.

Salvador prosecutors have also opened an investigation into possible corruption dating to his 2009-2014 government. In August, Salvadorian authorities raided several homes and businesses searching for evidence related to alleged “crimes of embezzlement, illicit negotiations, misuse of funds, illicit enrichment and influence-trafficking”.

Funes denies any wrongdoing.

“Asylum only seeks to guarantee protection from persecution,” he tweeted. “I have not given up on confronting the judicial process nor proving my innocence.”

Funes’s government repeatedly denied approving negotiations with the gangs, which are blamed for violence that has pushed El Salvador’s homicide rates to among the highest in the world. However, several officials from his administration say otherwise, and a group of mediators were allowed to meet gang leaders inside and outside prisons.

His FMLN, which continues to be the governing party of El Salvador under the current president, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, was formed from a former guerrilla movement similar to the origins of Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega’s Sandinista National Liberation Front.

Funes arrived in Nicaragua three months ago saying he was working as a consultant.

Guardian staff and agencies

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Nicaragua president re-elected in landslide amid claims of rigged vote
Daniel Ortega easily wins third consecutive term as opposition says he used his power to bypass term limits and prevent popular rivals from entering race

Jonathan Watts in Managua

07, Nov, 2016 @4:52 PM

Article image
Nicaragua used 'weapons of war' to kill protesters, says Amnesty International
More than 300 have been killed and 2,000 injured since protests over social security reforms began in April

Nina Lakhani

18, Oct, 2018 @8:00 AM

Article image
Fears for democracy in El Salvador after president claims to be ‘coolest dictator’
US diplomat raises concerns after Nayib Bukele makes outlandish claim on Twitter and replaces judges to permit future re-election

Staff and agencies in San Salvador

21, Sep, 2021 @9:05 PM

Article image
President nowhere to be seen as Nicaragua shuns coronavirus curbs
Daniel Ortega was last seen on 12 March, and his absence has sparked worry and confusion as Central America battles coronavirus pandemic

Wilfredo Miranda Aburto in Managua and Tom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro

08, Apr, 2020 @4:17 PM

Article image
Ghost resorts: Nicaragua crisis ravages nascent tourism industry
Crisis stemming from crackdown on anti-Ortega protesters has left resorts on the stunning western coast empty and businesses on edge

Tom Phillips in Rivas department, Nicaragua

06, Aug, 2018 @4:00 AM

Article image
Nicaragua: what's driving the uprising and what comes next?
A revolt against President Daniel Ortega has plunged the country into crisis as more than 300 people have been killed since April

Tom Phillips

20, Jul, 2018 @4:00 AM

Article image
Nicaragua deports reporter who covered anti-Ortega protests
Austrian-American Carl David Goette-Luciak had reported on unrest since April

Guardian staff

02, Oct, 2018 @3:04 PM

Article image
Nicaragua: Ortega blames 'satanic sect' for uprising against his rule
President claims the unrest that has left over 300 dead is due to a ‘diabolical force’ from a US-backed conspiracy to topple him

Tom Phillips in Mexico City

20, Jul, 2018 @5:04 PM

Article image
Nicaragua: one year after protests erupt, Ortega clings to power
Opposition calls for a return to the streets as talks between government and civil society leaders stall

Toby Stirling Hill

16, Apr, 2019 @7:00 AM

Article image
Nicaragua strike brings country to standstill as crisis continues
Civic Alliance group called for the strike to demand release of activists charged with terrorism

Carl David Goette-Luciak and Caroline Houck in Managua

07, Sep, 2018 @8:53 PM