Nearly 100 stateless Nicaraguans granted Spanish citizenship

Spanish government grants nationality to peasant leader Francisca Ramirez, student leader Lesther Aleman and five others left stateless by Ortega

Spain’s national flag

Spain’s national flag waves before the seat of the European Commission during the EU-CELAC Summit on July 17. Photo: EFE

28 de julio 2023


 The government of Spain has granted Spanish citizenship to another seven Nicaraguan opposition activists who were stripped of their nationality by the Ortega-Murillo regime in February and March. That makes a total of 97 stateless Nicaraguans who the Spanish government has naturalized in May, June, and July of 2023.

The names of the latest seven now formally declared Spanish citizens were made known on July 26, via a note in the Official State Bulletin of Spain.

The beneficiaries are: rural leader Francisca Ramirez; former student leader Lesther Aleman; former FSLN political secretary of the Central Bank, Ligia Ivette Gomez; released political prisoners John Christopher Cerna and Cristhian Josue Mendoza; retired Army major Roberto Danilo Samcam; and former head of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Roberto Bendaña.

In February 2023, the government headed by Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo released 222 political prisoners, immediately banishing them to the United States and rendering them stateless by canceling their Nicaraguan passports and citizenship. Those affected included former diplomats and government officials, human rights advocates, dissenting Sandinistas, opposition activists, journalists, academics, students, business owners and shopkeepers. In March, the Ortega regime also stripped 94 other citizens who had fled the country of their nationality. In addition, all 316 had their property and assets confiscated.

Spain’s Socialist Party Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez offered to grant Spanish nationality to any of the newly stateless individuals who so desired, as well as to other members of the opposition still imprisoned in Nicaragua.

97 nationalized between May and July of 2023

Ramirez, Aleman, Gomez, Cerna, Bendaña, Mendoza and Samcam now join 90 other banished Nicaraguans who have obtained Spanish nationality in the last two and a half months. The move forms part of Spain’s initiative to welcome in those who Ortega declared “without a country” for supposed acts of “treason.”

The nationalization ceremonies have taken place in groups of 7 – 29 individuals at a time. On May 11, Spanish nationality was awarded to 14 of the “stateless”; another fourteen were nationalized two weeks later; and on May 31st, 18 more banished Nicaraguans were granted Spanish citizenship. In June, there was one event only – on June 14, when 29 Nicaraguans were nationalized.

In July, three different nationalization ceremonies were held: 8 new citizens on July 5th; seven on July 12; and, most recently, seven on the 26th.

The nationalization of these Nicaraguans takes place via a naturalization letter, a procedure used for exceptional cases because it’s much more rapid than the normal channels. This method avoids having people remain stateless for a prolonged period of time.

This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by Havana Times.

Redacción Confidencial

Confidencial es un diario digital nicaragüense, de formato multimedia, fundado por Carlos F. Chamorro en junio de 1996. Inició como un semanario impreso y hoy es un medio de referencia regional con información, análisis, entrevistas, perfiles, reportajes e investigaciones sobre Nicaragua, informando desde el exilio por la persecución política de la dictadura de Daniel Ortega y Rosario Murillo.


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