"Dad, what cage are you in?": relatives of political prisoners in Nicaragua expose the suffering of their children

“Dad, what cage are you in?”: relatives of political prisoners in Nicaragua expose the suffering of their children

Alejandra, an eight-year-old girl, hugged her father Miguel Mendoza and cried with emotion after 18 months without seeing him.

Nicaraguan authorities they arrested Mendoza on June 21, 2021 and then they charged him with the alleged crime of treason, for which he was sentenced to nine years in prison.

This is “a harsh sentence,” considers the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), for which it called for his immediate release.

Her daughter was not present when her father, a prominent sportswriter, was arrested at night, but since that day she has not stopped asking when her father will return, according to the testimony of her mother, Margin Pozo.

Pozo, Mendoza’s wife, says that she did not immediately tell the girl the reasons for her father’s detention, because the little girl was already “traumatized” due to the actions of the police during the protests in 2018. She did so one day in which the girl saw her packing some products that she would take to Mendoza to the jail where she was then.

“I was very worried because he spent practically a week without sleep. He told me that he couldn’t fall asleep, that he thought about his father, that he dreamed of him and that he felt that something bad was happening to him, ”Margin recalled.

Also read: Imprisoned Nicaraguan sports journalist goes on strike to be allowed to see his daughter

In fact, when the house was raided by the police after Mendoza’s arrest, Pozo was alone with the girl, so she asked the officers to avoid abruptly interrupting the minor’s sleep.

Since then, Margin says, the girl has suffered from the absence of her father, she has gotten sick frequently and asks for him. In fact, she says, in the last three weeks she has suffered an anxiety attack and is receiving medical attention.

First visit in 18 months

The authorities of the El Chipote prison, where Mendoza is being held, did not allow the girl to see her father for 18 months.

However, surprisingly on December 7, she was able to enter the jail by means of a permit and she saw him for four hours that “were too short for her.”

Seeing her dad, Alejandra ran to him and hugged him and crying, told him that she missed him a lot. She asked him if she had received the letters, drawings or videos that she sent him. Mendoza replied that she “no.”

“Dad, what kind of cage are you in?” the girl asked then, the mother recalls, when she learned that her father could not read what she sent him or watch television as normal as he did at home with baseball games. or soccer.

Dad what are you doing here?: “I’m building a big solid house”

The meeting of the journalist and former presidential candidate Miguel Mora with his son who bears the same name was no less emotional after one year and two months of arrest.

Mora was detained for the second time on the night of Sunday, June 20, 2021, with five months to go before the presidential elections were held in which he intended to compete against President Daniel Ortega.

His 21-year-old son “Miguelito” who suffers from a motor disability, has also asked all this time about his father, who generally accompanied him in his room every night until he fell asleep.

Due to his condition, he moves through a wheelchair, and his family avoids giving him very strong emotions to prevent him from convulsing, he told the VOA his mother, Verónica Chávez, a day after Mora’s arrest.

Also read: Seven candidates for the presidency of Nicaragua found guilty

Miguel Mora with his son “Miguelito” in a file photo. Courtesy

The absence of his father at night when he goes to sleep is the hardest, according to his family.

The first time Mora saw her son after constantly asking the authorities to guarantee her this right, she hugged him and said: “Glory to God, Miguelito! We did it!” Chávez said.

To his son’s question about the reasons for his confinement, Mora replied: “I am building a great house with firm and solid stones, I am working for Nicaragua.”

This December 8, Mora was reunited with her son for the second consecutive time.

Liberation through drawings

The opposition leader and president of the Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS), Suyén Barahona, arrested on June 13, 2021 and sentenced to 8 years in prison for the alleged crime of undermining national integrity, had not been able to see her 5-year-old son either. years.

“They have not allowed our son to talk to them, they have not even allowed us to show him a photo of our son. They have not been allowed any reading material, not even the Bible. Imagine more than five hundred days without being able to read, without being able to distract your mind, without being able to speak, because they are also isolated and cut off from communication”, says her husband César Dubois.

“Our case in particular has been extremely difficult. He is a five-year-old boy and his mother disappeared one day. In her mind, her mother disappeared one day, she saw police in the house for six hours and that has created a very difficult situation for her development, but with a lot of love from our family we have tried to fill that void a bit”, Dubois tells the VOA.

Through drawings, the little boy expresses his mother’s absence, although according to his father, there was a moment when he said that he was not going to draw anymore until she returned.

As therapy, the father shows photos and videos of the mother to his little son “so that he keeps her in mind, so that he is present in our lives and in our prayers as well, just like all the other political prisoners,” he says.

The little one has received psychological support, according to his father, while the “ordeal” they live after the arrest of the opposition member ends.

According to the local group Monitoring for the Recognition of Political Prisoners, as of November of this year they counted at least 235 political prisoners in Nicaragua, who are distributed in different prisons in the country.

Sports writer Miguel Mendoza with his 8-year-old daughter Alejandra.  Courtesy.

Sports writer Miguel Mendoza with his 8-year-old daughter Alejandra. Courtesy.

A good group of these prisoners are in the maximum security prison known as El Chipote, and they have only been allowed visits about 12 times during the time they have been behind bars.

The president has called political prisoners “sons of bitches” and has said that they are people who tried to carry out a coup against his government in 2018, when the protests took place that were repressed and left 300 dead, according to the Inter-American Commission. of Human Rights (IACHR).

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