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How was “The Gang of the Water-Carriers” born?

The prosecution accused 16 activists of “arms trafficking”, but on the night of Nov. 14th what they were taking the hunger strikers was water

One of the first messages from the group

Franklin Villavicencio

5 de diciembre 2019


From behind bars, the group of 16 activists detained in Masaya responded with humor to the accusations leveled against them.  One of the first messages from the group, issued on November 14, asked for them to be called “the gang of the water-carriers” and to write a song.

In fact, exiled singer-songwriter Luis Enrique Mejia Godoy has now done just that, posting the song as a video on YouTube on November 29th:


“The water-carriers”, as they’re referred to on social media, are being accused of arms trafficking.  However, a series of live videos posted on the Facebook page of the Blue and White Unity Movement and the Social Movements Umbrella Group minutes before they were detained tell a different story.

In the videos, you can see a group of activists with their hands up standing before the police cordon that surrounded the San Miguel Church.  Inside the church, Father Edwin Romero was accompanying a group of mothers and family members of the political prisoners, on a hunger strike to demand freedom for their unjustly imprisoned relatives.

“We’re bringing water to the striking mothers,” can be heard in both transmissions.  “We aren’t carrying any weapons.”

Before midnight on that day, the two vehicles carrying the 13 activists were stopped by the National Police, and the occupants were taken into custody.  Three days later, the authorities would accuse them of arms trafficking.  Their families declare that they’re innocent, and that they were arrested for their solidarity with the striking mothers.

Since September, 2018, all civic protest – or solidarity – has been forbidden by the regime of Daniel Ortega. Through the National Police, they’ve vowed to jail anyone attempting to convoke such a demonstration.

The escalating repression of the regime has impeded mass mobilizations, but the social discontent remains, expressed through “flash-mob protests” and small actions of peaceful resistance all over the country.

Trial scheduled for January 30, 2020

Judge Julio Cesar Arias scheduled the trial of the “water-carriers” for January 30, 2020.  At the initial hearing, held on Saturday night, November 30, the defense attorneys introduced a number of motions for serious legal flaws in the proceedings.  They were all ignored by the judge. The hearing extended into the early morning of Sunday, December 1st.  It was supposed to be held on Thursday, November 28, but was rescheduled by Judge Arias who called in sick.  Grethel Gomez, mother of accused prisoner Hansell Quintero, called this “a mockery”.

Family members of the 13 activists arrested for providing water, held a vigil on Saturday, November 30, following the inception of the initial hearing which they were not allowed to attend. Photo: Carlos Herrera

“This is all part of a strategy.  We don’t know if they’re simply not prepared, or if it’s a strategy to wear down the family members.  We’re strong, and determined to work together,” Grethel Gomez declared to Niu, speaking about the cancellation of the first scheduled hearing on Thursday.

The Red Cross visited the activists, families informed us.  The imprisoned group relayed to the humanitarian organization their experience within the “Directorate for Judicial Aid”, better known as the El Chipote jail.

Hazell Quintero denounced that when they were returned to El Chipote following the presentation of the group in the Managua Courtroom, the authorities beat and threatened them.  

In addition to the 13 young people detained in Masaya for bringing water, the Police presented Marvin Lopez Namendiz, and formerly released prisoners Wilfredo Brenes and Jordan Lanzas Herrera, also accused of arms trafficking.  This makes a total of 16 young people under false accusation.


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Franklin Villavicencio

Franklin Villavicencio

Periodista nicaragüense con tres años de trayectoria en cobertura de temas culturales y derechos humanos. Ganador del Premio Pedro Joaquín Chamorro a la Excelencia Periodística.