Nicaraguan businessman and former political prisoner Michael Healy died this January 25, 2024, in Panama City, where he was going to start a new job, family and friends confirmed to Confidencial. Healy was imprisoned on October 21, 2021, and banished to the United States on February 9, 2023, by the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. Healy was the last president of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (Cosep), which had it's legal status canceled and was confiscated by the Ortega-Murillo regime.
Healy was elected as president of Cosep in September 2020 and, a year later, was imprisoned by the dictatorship along with his vice president, cattle producer Álvaro Vargas. In May 2022, Healy was convicted of crimes fabricated by the dictatorship and sentenced to thirteen years in prison. The conviction was another aggression against the agricultural businessman from whom the regime confiscated several properties.
Healy’s family was distressed to see how much weight he had lost in prison, although they were comforted to find him in good spirits. For some months, he shared a cell with Jose Adan Aguerri, his predecessor at the head of Cosep, after the then-imprisoned politician Pedro Joaquín Chamorro was released and transferred to house arrest.
After the socio-political crisis due to the Ortega massacre against the April 2018 Rebellion, Healy proposed that Ortega should be given a “ladder” (what later became known as the soft landing) on the condition that the freedom, justice, and democracy demanded by the Nicaraguan citizenry be guaranteed.
“This will end with a dialogue. Whether at this moment or after a few years of confrontation that would destroy the country, the best thing is that we dialogue now”, because that will allow us to raise ourselves faster, he told Confidencial in 2018. Healy also knew that, although his name was mentioned as a possible presidential candidate, he could not aspire to such a candidacy because he was also a US citizen.
His mother could not be buried in the family cemetery
In May of 2018, armed men, following orders from the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, invaded dozens of properties in various parts of the country, including the Chatilla, Santa Lucia, and El Zopilote farms, located in Buenos Aires (Rivas), which were owned by Mrs. Esperanza Lacayo de Healy, mother of the business leader. She died in December 2020.
“I guess they do it to harm Michael, but he has nothing to do with it because I am the owner, not him,” said Esperanza, in a November 2018 interview on the program Esta Semana —which is now only broadcast online because of the television censorship imposed by the regime.
To the impact received by this de facto confiscation, plus the capture and imprisonment, and the sentence ordered by the Ortega justice system, Healy had to add one more blow: not being able to bury his mother in the family cemetery, where other relatives rest, including his father and grandfather, as well as a sister and several uncles and aunts.
Mrs. Lacayo said after the intervention, “The property has been in the family for two centuries. I must be like the fifth or sixth generation” to own it. It is about 200 acres of land, mostly planted with sugar cane, bananas, and fruit trees.
Chatilla is the most valuable of the three confiscated farms because it is close to the shore of Lake Cocibolca. Mr. Healy’s father was buried in the family cemetery upon his death.
By 2021, Michael was the only one of the Healy Lacayo children still in Nicaragua. Three of his sisters live in the United States: Maria Esperanza, Jacquelin, and Roxana. A fourth sister, Anabell, died in a traffic accident in 1978 while still a teenager.
In 1990, when Michael returned from exile with his parents, he took over the farm as administrator, returning to sugarcane farming. He joined the Rivas Sugarcane Producers Association (Aprocari), where he served as a member, secretary, and then president of its board of directors, between 1991 and 1993, which allowed him to occupy a chair in the umbrella farmers organization Upanic.
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.