Mario Hurtado, the Nicaraguan and Mexican businessman who on Monday the 15th it was confiscated de facto by the Government of Nicaraguareported to CONFIDENTIAL that this Tuesday morning, will be received at the Directorate for the Protection of Mexicans, of the Secretariat [ministerio] of Foreign Relations of the Aztec nation, to denounce the invasion and occupation of two of his companies -the Prisa Pawn Shop, as well as Alicia Jewels- in addition to his house, which represents losses of more than 4.8 million dollars .
The Nicaraguan private sector has been affected not only by the continuing economic crisis which, in the case of Nicaragua, started in 2018 Y deepened in 2020with the start of the COVID-19 pandemicbut also because of the attacks by the regime headed by Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, which includes closing and expropriation of companies; the capture and trial of union leadership, including bankersas well as the tightening of laws that affect the union chambers.
Hurtado, who has lived in Mexico for two years for health reasons, said he found out about the invasion of his properties when the general manager of the Prisa Pawn Shop, Óscar Durán, called him to tell him that police dressed as riot police, they had invaded the company’s headquarters, located in Managua, as well as the 38 branches located throughout the country.
Shortly after he would find out that another company he owned, Joyas Alicia, had also been invaded by police agents who took the jewelry that was ready to be sent to customers, as well as work machines, money, checks, and computers, and that part of the staff was summoned to appear at the Judicial Assistance offices on Tuesday morning.
As far as Hurtado knows (because cell phones for personal use were seized from all his staff), both Durán, (the general manager of Casa de Pawn Prisa), and Anielka Santamaría, manager of Joyas Alicia, remain detained by the National Police. -as well as another 20 or 30 other employees- without being certain of the existence of an investigation, accusation, or any legal cause, against any of them or the companies.
FTA with Mexico protects Aztec investments
Hurtado told CONFIDENTIALthat the dispossession of his properties represents a loss of more than 4.8 million dollars, and that he hopes to find support from the Mexican Foreign Ministry, counting on the fact that the Free Trade Agreement between Mexico and Central America “protects the investments of the Mexican citizens”.
The businessman explained that, although he was born in Nicaragua, he also has Mexican nationality because he is the son of a citizen of that country, where he has lived for two years, after traveling there to treat a medical ailment.
This FTA entered into force for Nicaragua, as of September 1, 2012. As occurs in this type of international treaty, the FTA between Mexico and Central America has abundant and detailed explanations about how to proceed in cases like this and similar ones, for what Hurtado said that he had also spoken with the Mexican consulate in Nicaragua, which asked him for information and documents, to present them to the ambassador.
“The normal thing is that a diplomat goes and says to the authorities: ‘you raided, kidnapped and robbed without a court order. They have to return their properties,’ but we already know what Nicaragua is like,” he reflected.
Prisa is a pawn shop with a presence in all the departmental capitals of the country, and in several other municipalities, from where some 150 employees serve almost 22,000 clients, (according to data provided by Hurtado, plus others available on its website). The company became news as soon as the week began, when photos of its branches invaded by the Police multiplied on social networks.
He explained that ‘Joyas Alicia’ was also attacked, a small company he owns, which has seven branches (six in Managua and one in Juigalpa), where they buy silver jewelry in poor condition to repair, clean and sell it, in addition to polishing and They sell the silver jewelry that people come to sell, (or pawn and then cannot get). They also work with gold, but very little. “1% maybe,” said the businessman.
When detailing the losses, he explained that Prisa is valued at three million dollars, (half of that amount, made up of the objects left in pledge), to which he adds the value of his kidnapped house in Ticuantepe: 600 meters square meters of construction with a swimming pool, tennis court, etc., in an area of 4 blocks, which costs an additional 1.6 million dollars, “and another two hundred to two hundred fifty thousand dollars”, for Alicia Jewels, which includes silver, machines , work equipment, checks and cash.
Hurtado and its more than 150 employees in 46 branches are not the only ones losing. In the raid, the clients who had left their possessions as collateral for a loan were also affected, because “they took gold, silver, motorcycles, computers, items in pawn, even the cell phones of the workers, those of the managers, and that of the lawyer. Legally, what they took is not mine, but my clients’, he specified.
The businessman says that he does not understand the reasons for this attack, because, following the advice of his friends, he decided to withdraw from politics, stopped making comments on social networks, moved away from Diario La Prensa, and always took pains to comply with any tax obligation. or administrative that was in force.
“I am part of the [Unidad de Análisis Financiero] UAF”, as ‘Obligated Subject’, for which the company has a ‘compliance officer’. “My tax payment is up to date. I have no claim, nor has he informed me that there is any investigation against me, ”he asserted.
He remembers that “my friends told me: ‘retire from politics; one day they are going to stop you in the street, and they are going to put a kilo of coca in your car’. Knowing Ortega, it was better for me to withdraw from politics, even from El Azote Weekly, with which I collaborated for twelve years, where I signed as ‘Pocholo’. I also edited the Opinion section of La Prensa for a week, but I left all that behind”, he relates.
He says that he did not even participate in a chat group with opponents of Ortega; “I have never financed any political party, or any opposition politician,” he adds, recalling that in 2014, he was sentenced to two years in prison, “for an alleged usury trial”, a sentence of which he only served six months, when friends of his pleaded with the upper echelons of the ruling party to secure his early release.
Although he has continued to try to communicate with Óscar, his general manager, or any of the other branch managers, or the staff who took care of his house, who also had their personal cell phones confiscated, he continues to be unsuccessful. For now, she only senses a little of what is happening, thanks to the social networks from which she had withdrawn, hoping that what finally happened to her would not happen to her.