Victoria Cárdenas: "I have been told that I would not recognize my husband after a year of confinement"

Victoria Cárdenas: “I have been told that I would not recognize my husband after a year of confinement”

Victoria Cárdenas recalls that a year ago today her house was “raped” by a large group of police officers who entered “in an extremely violent manner” to kidnap her husband, Juan Sebastian Chamorro, at that time a candidate for the presidential race. This Wednesday, Félix Maradiaga, Violeta Granera and José Adán Aguerri also serve one year in illegal prison.

“It was a very traumatic moment,” he repeats. The two of them were alone preparing to have dinner and start talking about a summons that they would have on June 9, 2021 at the Prosecutor’s Office.

“I couldn’t say goodbye, I couldn’t even see his face, because they disappeared in a matter of seconds. Then they stayed with me for four hours without knowing what was going to happen, but they searched my entire house, ”she says.

At that moment, Cárdenas knew that he had to leave his home “as long as Juan Sebastián did not return” and made the decision to go into exile. Since then, she has participated in dozens of forums, meetings and sit-ins to demand the freedom of her husband and of all the political prisoners of the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo.

This week he is in Los Angeles to participate in the forum: “Prisoners for what?: People imprisoned for political reasons in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela” organized by Race and Equality, an event parallel to the Summit of the Americas. “My idea is to continue demanding freedom for my husband and for all those who are unjustly imprisoned,” she insists.

In an interview for Esta Noche, Cárdenas explains that Juan Sebastián asked the police for mercy. “He immediately knelt down, raised his arms, said we were unarmed and please don’t do anything to me. Seconds later I saw him from the back, and we couldn’t even say goodbye, ”he points out.

Juan Sebastián Chamorro celebrates this June 8 one year of being imprisoned. How many times has he been able to be visited?

In one year he has only received seven visits and in those two-hour meetings only his brothers and my nephew have been able to see him. So all the information I have about him is through them. It has been extremely difficult, in addition to the solitary confinement to which he has been subjected, first after his disappearance for three months and then long periods of solitary confinement where we know nothing about him.

The hardest thing has also been for my daughter and me that we have not been allowed any contact with him this year, not a phone call, not a letter, absolutely nothing.

What is your husband’s current health situation?

I couldn’t tell you, since we haven’t heard from him for almost a month and a half and under these precarious conditions, I couldn’t tell you how he is. That’s how I get up every day, that’s how I go to bed with that anguish, with that uncertainty of not knowing if he’s okay, if he’s sick, of knowing absolutely nothing. This after so much time is breaking you, it’s the hardest thing I’ve really experienced in my life.

In these seven visits they have had to describe Juan Sebastián. How do you imagine it physically?

Each visit has been different. I think the worst was after the three months of disappearance that they found him extremely thin, extremely weak, it was one of the hardest visits, but we were happy to know that he was alive and to know his whereabouts, which was in El Nuevo Chipote.

We also realized under the very serious conditions that political prisoners find themselves. I am going to be married to him for 24 years and my sister-in-law has told me that if I see him enter this room right now I would not recognize him, so that also scares me because he is no longer the Juan Sebastián I saw a year ago. I don’t know how he is, how can I tell you under the extreme conditions, which do not meet the minimum conditions that a prison system should have.

The New York Times spoke of a meeting between the government through Laureano Ortega and the United States, which was finally cancelled. Do you know anything about that?

The only thing I know is that my husband and the rest of the political prisoners are innocent and need to be free. They have been kidnapped too long locked up, that is why my demand and my cry is for freedom for all these people who do not need to continue suffering in those prisons. What I ask the international community, human rights defenders, businessmen and civil society is that they support us because this is a humanitarian issue, this is not a political issue, they are people who are suffering, whose health is deteriorating day by day and whose lives are in danger.

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