Nicaragua: from prison, I accuse the dictatorship

Feb 6, 2019 | Latin America

In Nicaragua there are currently 767 people in prison for taking part in the rebellion against the Ortega-Murillo regime, according to a preliminary list elaborated by the Committee for the Liberation of Political Prisoners. In this case, the testimonies of the families coincide in that the main characteristic of these detentions is the method of kidnapping by the police or paramilitary groups in public spaces, houses and workplaces. There is never an arrest warrant nor the respect of the rights of detained people. There were may cases -mainly between June and July- of people that were in detention centers in different parts of the country. Today there are still 141 people reported as detained but there never was information about their location. The families of the victims have fought against the prison system looking for them but they never know where they are.


Presas políticas acusadas de poseer bombas químicas y nucleares.

On the other side, the government denies the existence of political prisoners. Since April, the massive kidnapping of militants and activists has been brutal. Prisons are full of students and activists, of brave women, of workers that have been on the streets demanding the resignation of the presidential couple and the end of the repression against the Nicaraguan people. The regime resists thanks to its illegal actions. In this sense there are several patterns, mainly in the judicial processes. The detained people are kidnapped in their cities and translated to Managua, the capital. Such is the case of Brandon Lovo and Glenn State, from Bluefields, an autonomous region of the coast of the South Caribbean, and political prisoners in SPN La Modelo 16 in Tipitapa, Managua.

Another characteristic is the irregularities in the process where the preliminary audiences are practically held with closed doors and the right to have a public trial is violated. There are also cases of people that have a liberty warrant but are arbitrarily imprisoned. In the same way they also violate the rights of political prisoners when they deny their relocation for urgent medical or psychological attention. There are many prisoners that suffer from chronic diseases, like Brenda Muñoz, who has polycystic disease in the liver and kidneys. Or people like Max Francisco Cruz, from the island of Ometepe, who was hurt during his kidnapping and is incarcerated with a serious infection. Many political prisoners have been diagnosed with hypertension, epilepsy and convulsions, products of the beating by Ortega’s police.

Relato de las detenidas sobre las torturas sufridas en la cárcel

For the regime the physical and psychological torture is not enough, it also messes with the families of the political prisoners. There are several reports of harassment and even detentions of family members of the victims of repression. This is the case of Ruth Matute, from Masaya, who was kidnapped on October 7 when she was on her way to give food to his husband, imprisoned in the police station. We also know about more than 50 prisoners that have spent months in isolation, without seeing daylight and in unhealthy conditions. There are also reports of brutal beatings of political prisoners. Just in La Modelo prison, we know about attacks on December 7 and 31. And in the women’s prison La Esperanza, our comrades have denounced constant harassment and the use of physical force by the police, even causing forced abortions, as in the cases of Alejandra Castillo and Elsa Valle, two university students that were pregnant when they were detained. They’re both 19 years old.

Testimonies during the visit of European representatives

A commission of European representatives visited Nicaragua at the end of January with the objective of collecting information about the current situation and analyzing the state of democracy in the country. This group of diplomats, integrated by 11 members of 6 groups of the European Parliament, went to the prisons and confirmed what we already knew through the families of political prisoners: the living conditions of our comrades are inhumane. The socialist representative Ana Gomez posted on her Twitter account a series of videos of her visit to the Nicaraguan prisons. In one of the first videos we can see Karla Vanegas Gutiérrez and Cindy María Castillo González explaining that they’ve renounced seeing their children in order to guarantee their security. “My mother looks after them, I have not spoken with them, seen them or had any communication with them in three months,” says Vanegas in the video.

In other video we can see Irlanda Jerez showing the bruises left by the police beatings. We can see her still strong and accompanied by her cellmates, and in an act of rebellion they recorded a video of them singing the hymn of Nicaragua. There are also images of Amaya Coppens denouncing than none of the political prisoners in the women’s prison La Esperanza were allowed to see a lawyer. These are only a few of the thousands of irregularities that our comrades face daily in Nicaraguan prisons.

The representatives also shared the testimony of Miguel Mora, head of 100% Noticias, who’s being held captive in a prison of maximum security without seeing the daylight. Mora used the occasion to send a message of hope to his journalist colleagues in exile and to the Nicaraguan people in rebellion.

We do not dialogue with the dictatorship

At the end of their visit, the European representatives held a press conference where they called for dialogue between the government and the Nicaragua people “for a fast resolution of the conflict”. In relation to the issues raised in that conference, we agree that the problems of Nicaragua can only be resolved by the Nicaraguan people, without foreign intervention. But we do not share their vision of a possible “National Dialogue” or “re-negotiation process” with the dictatorship of Ortega-Murillo. It’s easy to propose a dialogue policy when you see the situation from the outside. We could ask any family member or friend of a victim of repression if they’re willing to sit at a negotiation table with those who sent their loved one to their death… would you do that, representatives? No. Then it’s necessary to establish a non-negotiable condition: we do not dialogue with the dictatorship. We already learned from the sour experience of the national dialogue during May-June. The regime in Nicaragua isn’t willing to change, so we must uproot it.

Only the Nicaraguan people have the solution to this crisis, through a free and sovereign Constituent Assembly, without the dictatorship, with no political prisoners. We demand the immediate liberation of every political prisoner as well as the establishment of an independent Committee of Investigation integrated by the organizations of families of the victims and the people that resisted the dictatorship. As “dictatorship” we must understand the wide spectrum of the regime: the economic dictatorship, the political dictatorship, the military dictatorship and all the other powers that, together, have assaulted Nicaragua all these years. The political prisoners prove their bravery and will for change; from within the prisons, they accuse the dictatorship and call Nicaraguan society to not dialogue with the murderers of the people.


Tito Castillo