This past Monday, November 28, the New Sorbonne University in Paris awarded a Doctorate 'Honoris Causa' degree to Nicaraguan political prisoner Dora María Téllez, who has been held captive for more than 530 days in the cells of the Auxiliary Judicial Complex jail known as El Chipote.
The award was received on behalf of Téllez by journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro, director of CONFIDENCIAL, at the express request of the historian and former guerrilla commander.
In his acceptance speech, Chamorro said that the awarding of the honorary degree "calls on citizens and governments everywhere not to accept the normalization of the dictatorship [of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo] and torture in Nicaragua".
Chamorro stressed that "[t]his honorary degree implores the governments and movements of the democratic left in Latin America to define themselves around the values and political practice symbolized by Dora María Téllez, and to abandon double standards and opportunism for supposed reasons of State." He continued: "One cannot justify a dictatorship in the name of the left, just as there cannot be a true left, without a full commitment to democracy and respect for human rights."
In an open letter, Oscar Téllez Argüello, Dora María's brother, said that his sister dedicates the honorary degree "to the political prisoners, who are committed to the struggle for freedom and democracy in Nicaragua".
"In addition to her gratitude, my sister wants to reiterate her firm decision to continue the struggle despite the torture and inhumane prison conditions to which she and all the political prisoners are subjected," wrote Oscar Téllez. "She hopes that this recognition can serve to bring attention to, and create more awareness of, the need to increase and strengthen the condemnation of the atrocities of the Ortega-Murillo regime that has subjected an entire people to a regime of absolute silence and terror."
Dora María Téllez has been in solitary confinement in the El Chipote jail since June 13, 2021, as a political prisoner of the Ortega-Murillo regime. She was unjustly sentenced to eight years in prison for alleged "conspiracy".
Honorary degree approved by unanimous vote
The Sorbonne's Academic Council voted unanimously to award this recognition to honor Téllez's "exceptional political and scientific career" and her life-long commitment to social justice and democracy, both in Nicaragua and throughout Latin America.
The university also awarded honorary doctorates to four other international personalities, including former German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The prestigious award is supported by the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs.
Téllez was nominated for the degree by Marie Laure Geoffray, professor of Political Science at the New Sorbonne University. Geoffray does not know Téllez personally, but says she has read about her and the Sandinista Revolution. In an interview with the program Esta Noche, she explained that she was "impressed" by Téllez's political and social trajectory.
Earlier this November, more than 1,400 citizens from Europe, the U.S. and Latin America signed an open letter demanding the release of Téllez –and the dictatorship's more than 200 political prisoners-- so that she could travel to Paris and receive her honorary degree in person.
The open letter, published in the prestigious French newspaper, Le Monde, was signed by academics, politicians, writers, researchers, members of the European Parliament, senators and former presidential candidates from Mexico and France.
This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by our staff