The charter flight, which transferred the 222 political prisoners exiled by the Ortega regime from Managua to Washington D.C., arrived in US territory at 11:30 (ET) in the morning, but it was not until approximately three hours later that they were able to meet with their families and the Nicaraguan diaspora that came to receive them at the air terminal.
Former presidential candidate Juan Sebastián Chamorro said that the Nicaraguan authorities at no time informed him that he would be banished from Nicaragua and that at the time he was removed from the El Chipote jail, he thought they were taking them to the La Modelo prison, located in the municipality of Tipitapa.
“They put us on buses and we didn’t know where we were going. Some of us thought we were going to the Modelo prison and, at that moment, the three buses that transported the prisoners coming from El Chipote turned to the right, at the Air Force. That’s when we realized that we were flying out of the country, but we didn’t know where to,” said Chamorro.
One political prisoner refused to sign his release
Chamorro also explained that, when boarding the plane, the staff of the US Embassy in Managua notified them that 223 people were on the list to be flown out, but that one person refused to sign their release and decided to stay in Nicaragua.
The prisoners of conscience were taken from the different penitentiary centers in Nicaragua, in the early hours of this Thursday, February 9, and together with those from El Chipote, were sent on a direct charter flight to the United States.
The news began to circulate in national and international media, and the dictatorship activated its propaganda. First, the Managua Court of Appeals published a resolution to justify the “deportation” of the prisoners, despite the fact that it is actually a forced exile. Then, on Thursday morning, the National Assembly expressly reformed the Constitution to strip them of their nationality, alleging “treason against the homeland.”
Faced with this situation, Felix Maradiaga, another former presidential candidate, stated that “the country is carried in the heart. He assured “even though they wanted to banish us, Nicaragua is carried in our blood, and we will always be Nicaraguans.”
Maradiaga also highlighted that when leaving the country, they all signed a one-line document, which “said that we left Nicaragua voluntarily, without further information.” It was not until later that he heard the news that they had been stripped of their Nicaraguan nationality.
Meanwhile, the US ambassador to Nicaragua, Kevin Sullivan, said that the 222 people who were released from prison in Nicaragua “are receiving different types of assistance to be able to integrate into the United States” and that for now they can remain in the country under the humanitarian parole program.
This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by Havana Times.