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Alternatives to Costa Rica Extraditing Nicaraguans

Costa Rica shouldn’t be an accomplice to Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo’s violations of their peoples’ human rights.

Miguel Ángel Rodríguez

8 de marzo 2024


On February 16, Douglas Gamaliel Alvarez was extradited to Nicaragua. A similar request for extradition is currently in process for Reinaldo Picado Miranda. In addition, a recognized Nicaragua legal authority that collaborates with the Nicaraguan dictatorship has issued a warrant for the arrest of Gabriel Leonidas Putoy, who also has an Interpol warrant out for him.

These processes should call into action all lovers of human rights, to keep Costa Rica from contributing to the violation of Nicaraguans’ fundamental freedoms.

These three Nicaraguans have publicly opposed the authoritarian regime in Nicaragua. The first two are rural leaders that confronted the Ortega-Murillo regime, then found themselves forced to leave their country due to the violent repression with which the Nicaraguan government squelched the anti-government demonstrations of April 2018, leaving a trail of 355 dead. The three all filed petitions for refugee status in Costa Rica but were denied it in 2019. Gabriel Putoy, formerly a math teacher, was a political prisoner in Nicaragua for nearly a year and was granted refugee status in April 2023.

However, when the Costa Rican police received an extradition request for Douglas Alvarez and Reinaldo Picado from the Nicaraguan police, both were detained in October 2023, in compliance with the simple request form.

Their lawyer then filed a petition for political asylum that halted the simple police handover process. Unfortunately, that request was quickly denied, and the process then continued in the courts.

Three concerns regarding extraditions to Nicaragua

From these very worrisome events, I foresee three consequences, each paired with a related request:

The first concern and request, and the most urgent conclusion from these events is the need to assure that a dictatorship such as that of our neighbors is never allowed to imprison a person, much less receive them through extradition, in response to a simple police request. I appeal to our government to issue clear instructions to all the police stations that such a response would constitute a serious violation of human rights that must not be allowed to take place in Costa Rica.

The second concern regards the care that must be taken when faced with an Interpol request. From the Interpol website, we learn that the red notices regarding people whose arrests are being sought don’t represent an international arrest warrant, but are individuals wanted by a requesting member country.

Of a total of 6,811 people currently under Interpol red notices, 69 are from Nicaragua – 1.01% of the total. However, if we examine Nicaragua’s percentage of the world population, we see that it’s barely 0.09%; hence Nicaragua’s share of the demands for Interpol arrests is over eleven times greater than its share of the world’s population.

And it’s not that Nicaragua has a high rate of common criminality. The number of intentional homicides in Nicaragua per 100,000 residents is much lower than in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, and the Dominican Republic.

In addition, Article 3 of the Interpol Constitution states: “It is strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.” The organization even has a Directory of Procedures for Article 3 that specifically notes the objective of that article as, “protecting people from possible persecutions.”

Apparently, this is not occurring in relation with the requests from Nicaragua.

This situation deserves some reaction from the Costa Rican government towards Interpol, in order to solicit that they correct these circumstances, and obligate them to be especially strict about the demands that Interpol makes at Nicaragua’s request for the extradition of its citizens.

The third concern and request involves the procedures of our Judicial Power. Article 31 of our Constitution establishes: “Costa Rica will be a refuge for all those under political persecution …these can never be sent to the country where they were persecuted. Extradition… will never go forward in cases of political crimes or those related, according to the Costa Rican categorization.”

Petition to the Costa Rican Supreme Court

My petition to the Costa Rican Supreme Court is that training take place on the radical application of this article in cases of requests from the Ortega-Murillo government.

The Nicaraguan regime’s actions in violation of human rights are evident, public, and notorious, and have been confirmed in multiple declarations of the OAS and the United Nations.

As recently as February 29 of this year, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights indicated: “The Nicaraguan government continues perpetrating grave systematic violations of human rights, equivalent to crimes against humanity, for political reasons, as declared by the Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua. The situation has worsened in 2023.”

Specifically, the president of the Commission of that organism on Nicaragua noted: “Nicaragua is trapped in a spiral of violence marked by the persecution of all forms of political opposition, real and perceived, both inside and outside the country.”

Costa Rica shouldn’t be an accomplice to Ortega and Murillo’s violations of their peoples’ human rights.


*Miguel Angel Rodriguez is a former president of Costa Rica (1998 to 2002)

**Article originally published in Diario Extra.

This article was published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by Havana Times. To get the most relevant news from our English coverage delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to The Dispatch.


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Miguel Ángel Rodríguez

Miguel Ángel Rodríguez

Presidente de Costa Rica de 1988 a 2022. Economista, empresario abogado, y político. Fue ministro de Planificación (1967-1970) y de la Presidencia (1970) y director del Banco Central. Además, diputado de la Asamblea Legislativa en el período 1990-1994.