The confinement of political prisoners Róger Reyes and Miguel Mendoza has had a direct effect on the health of their children, who are all girls under ten years of age. The lawyer and sports journalist have gone on hunger strike in El Chipote so that the regime allows them to see their daughters, and thus try to improve their health.
“The girls (three and five years old) are constantly getting sick and I think it is their body’s way of saying ‘my immune system is depressed because I feel the absence of my father’” explains Fernanda Guevara, Reyes’ wife.
Margin Pozo, Mendoza's partner, explained that her nine-year-old daughter has been getting sick more frequently since the journalist was arrested last June 21, 2021. According to the mother, the girl suffers from anxiety and from headaches, and in the last month, she has been sick twice.
“The pediatrician and the psychologist agree that this is due to stress or related to her emotions, because she does not have a fever, she does not have any infection that we can associate with these headaches. We are very worried, as Miguel's relatives, about the girl's health, because of the emotional aspect,” she laments.
Guevara and Pozo spoke with Esta Semana - a television programme that is transmitted through YouTube and Facebook Live, due to Government censorship - and explained that the decision to start a hunger strike was expressed by the political prisoners to their relatives during the last visit. For Mendoza and Reyes, this would be the extreme measure they would take in view of the authorities refusal to the requests of the prisoners of conscience. Their families fear that their health will deteriorate further due to the poor conditions in which they are being held.
Along with Reyes and Mendoza, there are five political prisoners who have resorted to hunger strikes since last August. In that condition were activist Tamara Dávila and journalist Miguel Mora, who suspended the measure after getting to see their children.
Former guerrilla Dora María Téllez began a hunger strike last week to demand an end to the solitary confinement and torture to which she has been subjected for more than 15 months in the Judicial Assistance Directorate (DAJ).
Concerned about the health of political prisoners
Pozo comments that she is very concerned about the decision that her partner has made, and asked him not to put his health at risk, but he decided to make the sacrifice upon learning that their daughter is suffering because of his absence. Mendoza is a chronically ill patient and has lost more than 30 pounds at El Chipote.
“He (Mendoza) informed me that he would make the decision to start a hunger strike if they do not let him see his little girl before September 19. When Miguel says he will do something, he does it. We are very anguished, especially because of how Miguel is doing physically and health-wise, as everyone could see on September 1,” Pozo warns.
Guevara indicates that, in the case of Reyes, the decision has been contemplated for a month. “I feel that Róger was cornered because they left him no other option but to go on hunger strike in order to be able to see his daughters. Personally, I am very concerned about his physical health”.
Reyes has suffered from various physical and psychological ailments in prison. He has suffered from depression, stress, and severe headaches, and has been in solitary confinement and on hunger strike to demand mental health care, according to family members.
In recent months, Guevara has had to deal with questions from the children about their father’s whereabouts, mainly on special dates. Last June, when Father's Day was celebrated in Nicaragua, was one of the difficult dates for her eldest daughter, who attends preschool and saw how the other children celebrated with their fathers.
She reveals that the two younger ones only learned that Reyes is in prison three weeks ago because he wanted to spare them pain and worry. “I think they feel a lot of peace (from knowing their dad’s whereabouts) because they don’t know the whole context behind it. I can't handle those issues with them because at the end of the day they are children. My job as a mother has been to protect them as much as possible”.
They ask for “at least one phone call”
CONFIDENCIAL has confirmed, with reports from human rights defenders and relatives of political prisoners, that at least 18 minors remain without seeing or having any kind of communication with their parents, unjustly imprisoned since 2021.
One of them is the son of Suyen Barahona, president of the Unión Democrática Renovadora (Unamos), formerly known as the Movimiento Renovador Sandinista (MRS). The child has had to remember his mother, whom he has not seen for more than 460 days, through photographs and videos. The five-year-old boy asks about her every day and for his father, César Dubois, it is increasingly difficult to explain her absence.
“She has left a huge void. She (Suyen) is everything in his life. So, these 467 days have been terrible because we have not been able to count on her, we have not been able to talk, we have not been able to see her, to hear her laughter. My son always asks for her and the days go by and it is more and more difficult to justify this absence”, Dubois confessed to Esta Semana.
Barahona's relatives asked the government of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo last Thursday to allow the political prisoner at least one phone call with her son.
“They are violating not only the rights of political prisoners but also the rights of all these children who are growing up with this void in their lives,” the husband denounced.
This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by our staff.