For the first time, the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo presented the four female political prisoners who, for more than 14 months, have been kept isolated and in solitary confinement in the cells of the Judicial Assistance Directorate, known as El Chipote. The pro-government media showed photographs of the prisoners Dora María Téllez, Ana Margarita Vijil, Tamara Dávila and Suyen Barahona, members of the Unión Democrática Renovadora (Unamos) on August 31.
Other prisoners of conscience were also exhibited: Felix Maradiaga, former presidential aspirant; Juan Lorenzo Holmann, general manager of La Prensa; Luis Rivas Anduray, former general manager of Banpro; Alvaro Vargas, former vice-president of Cosep; sociologist and economist, Irving Larios; and lawyer Róger Reyes.
The presentation of the female political prisoners takes place one day after another ten political prisoners, who are also imprisoned in El Chipote, were exhibited in the Managua courts, where they were supposed to be given “informative hearings”, a legal figure which does not exist in the Nicaraguan Code of Criminal Procedure.
On Thursday, September 1, the regime presented the remaining two female prisoners of conscience being held in El Chipote: María del Socorro Oviedo, human rights defender; Violeta Granera, member of the political council of the Unidad Nacional Azul y Blanco (UNAB).
Along with the female prisoners, sports journalist Miguel Mendoza; peasant leaders Pedro Mena and Freddy Navas; young opposition member Yader Parajón; and Alex Hernández, from the UNAB, were also brought to the courts.
The dictatorship holds more than 190 political prisoners, of which 18 are women: seven are in the different penitentiary systems of the country, six in El Chipote, two under house arrest, and three for which there is no information as to where they are being held, according to newspaper data and lists of the Mechanism for the Recognition of Political Prisoners consulted by CONFIDENCIAL.
Among those detained in Nicaraguan prisons, mainly in the La Esperanza Penitentiary System, in Tipitapa, are: Eveling Rusia Pinto Centeno, Karla Vanessa Escobar Maldonado, Julia Christina Hernández Arévalo, Cinthia Samantha Padilla Jirón, María Esperanza Sánchez García and Nidia Lorena Barbosa Castillo.
Under house arrest are Cristiana Chamorro Barrios, former presidential candidate and former president of the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation (FVBCh), and María Fernanda Flores, former congresswoman and wife of former President Arnoldo Alemán.
Last April, Ortega leaked photographs of both political prisoners, in which they appear guarded by officials of the Judicial Assistance Directorate in their homes, where they have been held for more than a year.
Similar to what happened with the ten political prisoners on Tuesday, the Ortega justice system argued the holding of “informative hearings” to justify the transfer from El Chipote to the Managua Courts. Lawyers and human rights defenders warned through CONFIDENCIAL that the convening and holding of these sessions is “illegal” and pursues “political” ends.
According to the dictatorship's propaganda media, Judge Noel Napoleón Pereira Morice, president of Criminal Chamber Two of the Court of Appeals of Managua (TAM), informed Suyen Barahona and Dora María Téllez that their cases have been elevated to the last instance of appeal.
Meanwhile, Judge Octavio Ernesto Rothschuh, president of Criminal Chamber One of the TAM, did the same with the opponents Ana Margarita Vijil and Tamara Dávila. He indicated to them that their processes have been sent “to the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ), after having presented grievances on the part of their defense”, according to the pro-government media. This magistrate was the one who headed all the so-called “informative hearings” last Tuesday.
According to defense lawyers, the TAM is no longer competent to conduct hearings, since it ruled in most of the cases of political prisoners in El Chipote. Its function, at this moment, “is to verify that the appeals presented by the defense attorneys comply with the requirements of the law to be admitted and to elevate the case to the Supreme Court of Justice,” explained a defense attorney, who asked to remain unnamed for security reasons.
Vilma Núñez, president of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh), explained that the CPP only contemplates the hearings: preliminary, initial, special, preparatory trial, trial, reading of sentence and the one for the protection of constitutional guarantees, but not the “informative hearing”, for which reason “all the actions of the regime are illegal”, and represent a “continuation of the judicial farce that the trials have been”.
Suyen Barahona unable to see her son
César Dubois, husband of Suyen Barahona, denounced that he and his six-year-old son, who are out of the country due to the persecution of the regime, have not been able to see their relative in more than 400 days, despite the fact that they have repeatedly requested that they be allowed some kind of communication, via telephone or correspondence, through letters, photos or drawings.
“Our son has gone 443 days without seeing or hearing from his mom. Suyen has not even been allowed a photo of her son. We hope that at least in a photo our son can see his mother. We also hope that they show all the rest of the political prisoners,” he said.
Barahona has been in isolation and solitary confinement since she was captured on June 13, 2021. The Ortega justice system found her guilty of allegedly committing “undermining national integrity” and sentenced her to eight years in prison.
Suyen's relatives have rejected the Ortega's accusations and have denounced that these more than 14 months of confinement in inhumane conditions and with precarious food rations have affected her health, causing her to lose more than 30 pounds of her weight, skin problems and pains in her body.
Tamara Dávila isolated in solitary confinement in a cell with bars
Relatives of Tamara Dávila denounced the physical deterioration suffered by the prisoner of conscience due to the inhuman conditions she suffers in El Chipote through a spoken portrait, disclosed in the Se Humano campaign on July 11. She has been locked up since June 12, 2021.
Dávila was sentenced on March 3 to eight years in prison for allegedly “conspiring to undermine national integrity”.
The political prisoner, according to her relatives, has lost more than 40 pounds during her imprisonment and was recently transferred from the bolted cell she was in to a cell with bars, where she continues to be “isolated, incommunicado and in solitary confinement, and without receiving adequate medical attention”.
Dávila was forced for more than 14 months to remain isolated and incommunicado with her six-year-old daughter. She was only able to see her once, on August 18, after she pressured the regime's authorization by going on hunger strike for five days.
Ana Margarita Vijil and Dora M. Téllez, prisoners since June 2021
Political prisoners Vijil, former president of Unamos, and Téllez, former Sandinista guerrilla fighter and founder of the MRS, have been detained in El Chipote since June 13, 2021.
Téllez and Vijil were sentenced - in separate trials held behind closed doors at El Chipote - to eight and ten years in prison, respectively, for allegedly “conspiring to commit a crime against national integrity to the detriment of the State of Nicaragua and Nicaraguan society”.
On July 19, Téllez's family released a portrait through the Se Humano campaign, in which they revealed an approximation of the physical deterioration of the prisoner of conscience as a result of her imprisonment in El Chipote.
“She looks very thin, aged, completely pale, her skin is almost translucent, you can even see her veins. She has lost about 16 pounds of weight and before being imprisoned she did not suffer from any chronic disease. Today her life is in danger,” they warned.
Vijil's family has also denounced the deterioration of their relative and pointed out that she has lost up to more than ten pounds in weight.
The coordinator of the special legal team of the Permanent Human Rights Commission (CPDH), was arrested on July 29, 2021 and sentenced to eight years in prison for the alleged crimes of “conspiracy to commit undermining national integrity” and “spreading false news”.
Oviedo had denounced on several occasions the violation of the human rights of prisoners of conscience, and was in charge of the defense of the peasant leaders detained weeks before her own arrest.
Violeta Granera, 70 years old, has been detained in El Chipote since June 8, 2021. Despite her age, her chronic problems of high blood pressure, diabetes and a coronary ailment, she has not been considered for house arrest, like other political prisoners with similar conditions.
Granera was sentenced to eight years in prison for the alleged crime of conspiracy to commit mischief. Magistrate Rothschuh informed her that they are awaiting the response of the Public Prosecutor's Office to her case before it is sent to the Court.
Her relatives have denounced that her health continues to deteriorate in prison, she has lost weight, dental problems persist which affect her food intake and she has been subjected to constant interrogations.
This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by our staff