"Their lives are still at risk": Relatives of political prisoners in Nicaragua warn one year after the arrests

"Their lives are still at risk": Relatives of political prisoners in Nicaragua warn one year after the arrests

A group of imprisoned for political reasons in Nicaragua, who remain in the maximum security prison known as “El Chipote”, they completed the first year of detention without hope of any type of negotiation or measure that would lead to their release.

The wave of arrests began on May 28, 2021 and lasted until June of the same year. In this group are seven presidential hopefuls who were detained prior to the presidential elections of November 2021, in which President Daniel Ortega won a new term.

The former employees of the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation, Marcos Fletes and Walter Gómez, also remain in prison.

According to the Law of the Penitentiary Regime of Nicaragua, the prison authorities should try to establish visits for their relatives every eight days.

However, during the first year behind bars, the detainees have been able to receive family visits about eight times and have been able to verify the conditions of “isolation and torture” in which they find themselves, according to some of them during a recent press conference. Skype.

Family members said the most recent visit they were able to make was between June 10 and 12.

Victoria Cárdenas, wife of presidential candidate Juan Sebastián Chamorro, asked the authorities on Tuesday during the conference to “cease the isolation in which many have remained for a year.” She also asked that they be allowed to go out into the “yard on a regular basis” to receive sunlight.

They also asked that their relatives be allowed to receive weekly food packages that complete a proper diet and include “necessary vitamins.” Many of the relatives of the prisoners maintain that they have received a poor diet that has caused them to lose a lot of body weight.

From left to right Berta Valle, wife of presidential candidate Felix Maradiaga and Victoria Cárdenas, wife of also presidential candidate Juan Sebastián Chamorro. [Foto Houston Castillo].

Cardenas, to whom the Nicaraguan justice issued an arrest warrant against him for the alleged crime of “tradition to the homeland”, he also asked that the visits be regularized every fifteen days, and not last so long.

Finally, he said that he hoped that those who have relatives abroad could communicate with them by telephone.

Regarding the peasant leader and also a presidential candidate, Medardo Mairena, his relatives commented that he is kept in “inhuman conditions” and in a punishment cell, with little air circulation and little access to the sun.

“They had him in punishment for four days in the dark. He continues to suffer from allergies in his body and with blood circulation problems, ”said her family.

Mairena was one of the candidates who enjoyed high popularity in the 2021 polls and was recaptured for the second time. His first arrest occurred after the protests of 2018.

No near possibility of a negotiation

The demand of the relatives of the political prisoners occurs at a time when there are no signs of a possible negotiation between the government of President Daniel Ortega and the opposition in order for them to be released.

Until now, the only thing achieved has been the change to precautionary measures, which means that the government has changed the prison regime of a small group of them, who are now serving their sentences under “house arrest.”

The beneficiaries of the change in measures are generally elderly people, such as the jurist José Pallais and the presidential candidate and former Nicaraguan ambassador to Washington, Arturo Cruz. Oppositionist Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, one of the sons of former president Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, was also placed under house arrest.

“After this (eighth) visit, we verified that their lives continue to be at risk, which is why we insist on our urgent call to the people of Nicaragua, the international community and the State of Nicaragua, to promote all possible actions to achieve immediate freedom. , unconditional and with guarantees for the more than 182 political prisoners”, remarked the relatives of the opponents.

They also asked that their lives and physical and emotional integrity must be protected. “The policy of torture and extermination must cease,” they concluded.

the United States, which has been open to a negotiation Together with the Ortega administration, it has demanded, together with the international community, the release of political prisoners in Managua and has imposed sanctions against judges and magistrates in order to put pressure on the Sandinista administration.

Washington’s most recent measure was this June 13 by restricting the visa of almost a hundred civil servants of the government of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua.

“Regime-aligned judges and prosecutors share complicity in the Ortega-Murillo regime’s efforts to undermine democracy through their participation in the trials and convictions of opposition leaders, human rights defenders, industry leaders private and student advocates, ”indicates the statement from the State Department.

The ruling party did not react immediately to the measures, however Ortega has previously said that there are no political prisoners in the country and that allegedly those who are detained have been because they have tried to perpetrate an alleged coup against his administration, which has been going on for more than 15 years in power.

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