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Relatives demand “house for jail” for political prisoners in the case of FVBCh

Police agents, during interrogations that have been constant throughout the 283 days of confinement in El Chipote, proposed to Walter Gómez, one of the political prisoners in the money laundering process opened against the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation (FVBCh), to “collaborate with the authorities” after warning him that something could happen to his family, according to his wife María Consuelo Céspedes.

Céspedes said that her husband, 55, has lost 50 pounds and suffers from skin problems (psoriasis). Along with the physical deterioration, she assures that she suffers from “anxious depressive disorder” and fears greater psychological damage, which has been notable for her in the trial, activated on Thursday, March 3, by the judicial machinery of the government party.

In the first days of confinement, Gómez was made to believe to “convince” him that they had her and a daughter detained at the same time, showing her a photograph of a red family vehicle which they claimed was seized, she lamented.

Walter Gómez, former financier of the FVBCh, political prisoner of the regime. Photo/Courtesy

In a second attempt, they threatened to kidnap her son. So in the interrogations, they told him that his sentence would be thirty years and he would not see him grow up, but Gómez stood firm, despite the fact that the aftermath of the torture made him look weak, bent over, and with certain nervous tics like a movement similar to a rocking chair.

“I see his reddened eyes and it is because he has remained in a cell in total darkness. Now that he goes to the audience there are a lot of luminaries, so he is bothered by the light. For this reason, he is rubbing his eyes every so often,” says Céspedes. These damages, plus her physical wear and tear, make this woman fear the worst, who asks for the immediate release of her husband or at least the change of the precautionary measure from home to prison.

The death on February 11 of the retired general Hugo Torresa hero of the fight against Somoza whom Daniel Ortega’s regime made a political prisoner last year in raids that added more than 40 detainees, keeps the relatives of political prisoners in anxiety.

According to a report from the mechanism for the recognition of political prisoners, dated January 31, 2022, there are 177 prisoners of conscience in the country, including more than 40 detained before the voting and others repressed for their participation in civic protest against the dictatorship.

Céspedes declared concerned. The Prosecutor’s Office accuses Gómez and Fletes of alleged abusive management, ideological falsehood, appropriation, improper retention and money laundering as she did with Cristiana Chamorro Barrios, the former presidential candidate, the last of the seven candidates to be sentenced in a trial that could last next week and with which the regime would have fulfilled its plan to re-elect itself without electoral competition and inhibit the country’s main political, economic and social leaders in the future.

Pablo Fletes is a well-known sports writer, specialized in boxing coverage. The biggest blow he has received in his life has been the imprisonment of his brother Marcos Fletes—the other financier of the FVBCh—about whom he also expresses concern for his physical deterioration, his evident weight loss, which reveals poor nutrition, mortal sin for someone suffering from diabetes. The last time he saw her purple hands.

Fletes, a prisoner of conscience, has three children: a 15-year-old son, a 12-year-old daughter and another two-year-old, whom he always asks about whenever he can see his relatives. Sadness, or indignation, however, seizes Marcos’ relatives every time they are allowed to see him.

“It made me sad when I saw it. They even took him handcuffed to the room, with some plastic ties, and there is no need to do it, because there is a whole police deployment that is activated just as they leave. Two policemen, one on each side of the prisoner, are positioned to prevent him from having contact with the prisoner on the side when he is being tried. They are exaggerated measures for me, ”he lamented.

Judge Luden Martín Quiroz, of the Ninth District Trial Court of Managua, is in charge of the FVBCh case, who decided to restart the trial under the fundamental criticism that it is impossible to prove the crime of money laundering when the origin of the it is legal as the donors have attested.

The Public Ministry accuses Chamorro Barrios, his brother Pedro Joaquín—former president of the FVBCh—, the aforementioned financiers and the driver Pedro Vásquez in a case in which they intend to demonstrate that funds destined to strengthen means for the destabilization of the Ortega regime were diverted, which adds to the official narrative that the dictatorship was the victim of a coup.

Quiroz is part of the judicial machinery that has ensured the convictions of political prisoners, made up of 15 officials, including police, prosecutors and judgeswho carry out the orders issued from El Carmen, the neighborhood where the residence of the Ortega-Murillo family is located.

The other legal challenge, raised by lawyers, to the legal farce of the FVBCh is by procedure. The judge restarted the political process two months after the maximum term to issue a sentence expired, which in local legislation is six months from the preliminary hearing.

The relatives of the political prisoners interviewed have mixed feelings before the hearings this week, when the defense lawyers are already waiting for a ruling. While Céspedes assures that if God decides, her husband will never set foot in La Modelo (the main jail in the Nicaraguan prison system), Fletes feels disheartened.

“I ask you to have humanity; that they respect his human rights, that they get him out of that prison and transfer him to a more open regime where he can have access to his wife, home in jail. I feel defenseless before all this apparatus, everything is already tied up (conviction). He is not a politician,” he insisted.

The prosecution’s accusation rests on 26 testimonies from police officers and three government officials, including the director of associations, explained sources linked to the case. For the relatives of the political prisoners, the prison of their own is an agony for them too.

“Pedro was taken to the hospital and no one notified me”

Norma Maribel Vega Ríos, the wife of driver Pedro Vásquez Cortedano, is worried. Her 60-year-old husband suffers from dizziness and has lost 40 pounds in 260 days of confinement at El Chipote. In recent days, she assures her, she has suffered from high blood pressure.

Vásquez is the driver of the former candidate of Cristiana Chamorro Barrios and is accused of being a necessary cooperator in the alleged crime of money laundering. He has six children. In the eighties, he stood out as a member of the special troops Pablo Úbeda, in the nineties he began to work with the family of the former minister of the presidency Antonio Lacayo and Chamorro Barrios.

Relatives demand "house for jail" for political prisoners in the case of FVBCh
Pedro Vásquez, driver of Cristiana Chamorro Barrios, politically prosecuted by the regime. Photo/Courtesy

Doña Norma was shocked to see him pale, walk with his head down and in the last court session he couldn’t stand up when he went to the bathroom, and if he didn’t fall it was because he leaned on two of his own jailers. Her husband’s seriousness was known when she was informed by him that she had taken him to El Chipote on February 20.

“That was never notified to me, I asked the person who receives the drinks for hydration, and he asked me why I wanted to know,” he explains and then adds that the police officer later assured him that the driver was healthy.

Another doubt torments her: Don Pedro Vásquez’s hands also looked purple and she does not know if it is the result of some torture or poor blood circulation, so she will ask for an exam from the Institute of Legal Medicine with the hope that they will allow her to have him at home. . “I felt totally discouraged. He was a strong, dynamic man, today he is not like that, “she lamented.

“I fear that the same thing that happened with the late Hugo Torres will happen. In reality, the risk is that Pedro (Vásquez) will give me a heart attack or I will char because of his constant high blood pressure, ”said the wife.

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