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Nicaragua: Relatives of Political Prisoners Ask the Ortega Government for Amnesty

A group of relatives of political prisoners asked the government of President Daniel Ortega on Tuesday to approve an amnesty to release their relatives, most of whom were detained in 2021 prior to the elections where the president was re-elected in the midst of remarks from the international community who called the process a “farce”.

The petition was signed by at least 23 relatives of more than 200 inmates who are in maximum security prisons in Managua. Among the signatories are relatives of several opponents under house arrest, such as journalists Pedro Joaquín and Cristiana Chamorro Barrios, children of the former president, sentenced to 9 and 8 years in prison, respectively, for alleged money laundering. Also former presidential candidate Arturo Cruz, former Foreign Minister Francisco Aguirre Sacasa, former Vice Foreign Ministers Víctor Hugo Tinoco and José Pallais, and María Fernanda Flores, wife of former Liberal President Arnoldo Alemán.

They also request amnesty for business leaders Michael Healy and José Adán Aguerri, banker Luis Rivas Anduray, peasants Pedro Mena and Freddy Navas, former ambassador Mauricio Díaz, lawyer María Oviedo and opposition leader Violeta Granera, among others.

The request was read at a virtual press conference by the wife of former deputy Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Barrios, Martha Lucía Urcuyo.

“We frankly admit that when considering our most recent history, the complexities that an amnesty brings to our compatriots and families become obvious. But, when reviewing our history more deeply, we see with equal clarity that the amnesties have provided spaces for stillness, understanding and reunion for Nicaraguans during highly critical moments, ”says the letter.

The petition suggests that the amnesty could be granted next Christmas.

The last amnesty approved by the Nicaraguan government was in June 2019, a year after the protests against President Daniel Ortega broke out, leaving more than 300 dead and thousands exiled.

Under this amnesty, a group of political prisoners were released, including journalists, opponents and activists, however, several were arrested again.

Although at the moment the ruling party has not reacted to the request, at the end of August of this year the ruling party deputy Wálmaro Gutiérrez commented on the most recent amnesty approved in Managua.

“These people (detained opponents) believed that this amnesty was one more for the Cajina workshop and that they could continue in their same farce. From April 18, 2019 to June 10, 2019, which covers the amnesty, after that date , they continued to commit different crimes,” Gutiérrez said.

Nicaragua is experiencing one of its worst political crises in the last 30 years, after violent protests in 2018 against President Daniel Ortega, who has been in power for more than 15 consecutive years.

Ortega has unleashed persecution against his critics, including priests, politicians, human rights defenders and activists.

This report was supplemented with information from the Associated Press

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