The trip from prison to her home in Jinotepe on Wednesday was eternal for Delmi Portocarrero. During the trip, which lasted just over an hour, she had time to remember when she was captured by paramilitaries on November 7 of last year, the five long interrogations to which she was subjected, when she fainted due to lack of medicines and when another prisoner of Russian nationality wanted to kill her.
When the policemen took her off the bus, the streets of Jinotepe were still empty and the sun was just beginning to warm up. The first thing that Delmi did was locate herself on the corner of her house and scream at the top of his lungs: “Viva Nicaragua libre!” (Long Live a Free Nicaragua)
“I did it even in front of the Police because I wanted them to know that I’m not afraid,” she says.
Her hair is disheveled, her eyes are wide and agitated. She has almost not slept at all since it was announced the night before that she would be released. Her hands still tremble, and she cries when she remembers the moment when she had to say goodbye to her cellmates: Amaya Coppens, Yaritza Rostrán, Solange Centeno, Karla Matus, Nelly Roque, Maria Adilia Peralta, Jamileth Gutiérrez, Johanna Espinoza.
She has the names all those who stayed written down in a small notebook. She also wrote down the names of the women who were released and the other seven political prisoners from Carazo who were released along with her.
“It hurts me a lot, because on the one hand I want to continue there (in La Esperanza prison) fighting in resistance with all those brave women who were locked up and who I hope will soon be free; and on the other hand I want to be with my daughters,” she explains.
Jennifer and Geraldine Lopez Portocarrero claim that their mother has “planted a lot of love” in Jinotepe. Since she was released, on February 27, people did not stop coming to greet and hug their friend.
“I’m back,” Delmi answered again and again. There were so many people who wanted to see her that she barely had time to bathe and eat something.
“My mother has won the appreciation of many people, because she is a friendly woman and there are always people in the house asking for her. The same happened during the days in which she was imprisoned. She is so youthful that many of our friends come to look for her to ask for advice,” says Jennifer.
Since she was imprisoned, when she went to the market, the social networks of Jinotepe exploded, denouncing her capture. “They took Aunt Delmi,” repeated many young women whom she joined in the protest marches.
“Since then everything is ‘Aunt Delmi’, because they see her as one of their own family. She is always willing to help. She is able to stop eating, to give to someone else and still feel satisfied as if she had eaten a cow,” explains Geraldine.
111 hard days
The hardest thing for Delmi was to leave her new friends in jail. “I feel a horrible impotence, but although we did not want to leave, they were going to force us,” she says. Every time they could before their release, they sang the National Anthem.
“They were hard days, the first ones were the worst because I slept on the floor – she remembers sitting in an armchair in her house – and with many psychological tortures because they interrogated me and called me: a coup leader, terrorist, murderer.” For her, although they are all lies, they hurt her because she felt it was an inhumane treatment. “Until I got tired and told them: Would you like your children to tell you all these lies?” She recalls.
She says that the last days those who mistreated the political prisoners “walked like marshmallows (sweets)”. Before leaving, they made her sign a document of freedom under the regime of “family cohabitation”, but when they arrived at her house they gave her a freedom order and when her daughters asked the police officers about the measures that she would have, they responded that “I was in total freedom.”
It was 111 days that she was detained since she was captured when she was heading to the Jinotepe market. During all that time, she says that all the prisoners were mistreated, beaten and ridiculed, with the jailers ensuring “that President Daniel Ortega stays.”
She was almost killed
When the cops opened the cell door [in the El Chipote jail] and put a foreign woman in, Delmi’s first thought was to help her. “She arrived with nothing, like when they imprisoned me and I thought of giving her clothes and personal things.” She never imagined that that same woman would almost kill her.
She remembers that a policeman told the woman: “That lady did what you did, burned a man.” The woman told her that she was a foreigner accused of burning a priest with acid. Immediately the officer added: “and he’s blue and white.”
“The Russian woman threw herself on me wanting to kill me,” she recalls. That same day, Delmi was transferred to the “La Esperanza” women’s prison.
She assures that many times they shouted “murder” at her and when journalist Lucia Pineda was brought to the jail, and she greeted her, one of the policemen screamed “those two are signaling each other” and they started insulting them.
In spite of everything, Aunt Delmi insists that she will not leave Jinotepe because her only crime was to take out her flag and join the peaceful protests. “I will continue here, because Nicaragua will soon be free,” she says.
“I came back as a Barbie,” she says in reference to her thinness to a friend who came to visit. The interview is interrupted again because friends keep coming to visit her. Her daughters say they have not even been able to talk to her. “That’s how popular she is,” they say with a smile.