Six Years Calling for Christmas Without Political Prisoners

The Ortega-Murillo regime keeps 91 political prisoners throughout different jails in the country, while another 60 are under house arrest

Navidad sin presos políticos

15 de diciembre 2023


 Relatives of Nicaraguan political prisoners and organizations of those released from prison promote for the sixth consecutive year the “Christmas without political prisoners” campaign to demand their freedom. It comes in a year in which despite the release and exile of 222 political prisoners to the United States in February, and twelve priests to the Vatican in October, the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo still holds at least 151 persons for political reasons.

An analysis by CONFIDENCIAL with data from the Mechanism for the Recognition of Political Prisoners and the Blue and White Monitoring group revealed that at the end of October, there were at least 130 political prisoners in Nicaragua. However, the number has increased, as the dictatorship continues to imprison citizens.

Among the most recent political prisoners is the Nicaraguan philosopher, sociologist and professor Freddy Quezada, a critic of the Ortega-Murillo regime, detained on November 29 at his home in Managua.

The professor was fired from the state-run National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN-Managua) in 2018, for showing solidarity with students who demonstrated against the regime over controversial reforms to Social Security and criticizing the use of force by the State. Before his abduction, Quezada has been a sharp critic on his social networks, where he signs himself as “Uliteo”

The young Sandinista tiktoker Erickson Calero Díaz was captured on November 24, accused of promoting flyers the day Miss Nicaragua Sheynnis Palacios won the Miss Universe crown. They report that he was brutally beaten in a cell in La Modelo and, according to the accounts of various prisoners, “he cannot even eat the product of the beating.”

The Police also kidnapped, on the night of November 28, Martín Argüello Leiva and Bernardo Argüello Celebertti, husband and son respectively of the now former director of the Miss Nicaragua Franchise, Karen Celebertti Moncada.

The Sandinista regime still has not reported on the whereabouts of the Arguellos and they refused to process an appeal for habeas corpus for their illegal detention, the same day that Karen Celebertti announced her retirement as head of Miss Nicaragua. The three are accused by the Police of “anti-patriotic conspiracy” and acts related to “terrorist financing.”

There is an under-registration of political prisoners

Ivania Alvarez, a former political prisoner herself, advocates for the families of prisoners of conscience. pointed out that both the Blue and White Monitoring group and the Mechanism for the Recognition of Political Prisoners count 91 people detained in the different prisons of the country, 17 of them women.

“To this we must add an under-registration of some people who have been detained for a few months and whose relatives have not yet done the documentation, out of fear,” Alvarez said in an interview on the Esta Noche program.

Alvarez also mentioned that there are at least 60 persons who remain under de facto “jail at home” or “city for jail,” forced to sign in daily, weekly or biweekly at assigned police stations.

In addition, the latest arrests from November and so far in December need to be included in that list, she clarified.

“The worst year for prisoners”

Alvarez estimated that “we are in the worst year for the families of political prisoners, because – at other times – there was more solidarity, more visibility. She notes that there is so much fear, both inside and outside the country, that it does not allow us to reach and help more people.”

For this reason, she insisted that it is necessary to denounce that people detained arbitrarily “are in prisons subjected to torture…”

Gabriel Potoy a former political prisoner and member of the Reflection Group of ex-Political Prisoners also interviewed on Esta Noche, stated that this sixth campaign demanding the release of political prisoners at Christmas “is an initiative of a group of organizations and platforms that seeks for Nicaraguans to enjoy Christmas without political hostages.”

Putoy said the campaigns carried out throughout the year have had their effect with the release of political prisoners, as well as “the two proofs of life” of Monsignor Rolando Alvarez, who was shown for the last time on the night of November 28th.

“The campaigns have their effect and with this ‘Christmas without political prisoners’ campaign, it is possible that in January we will see a result. The campaigns do not have an immediate effect, but they are harmful to the dictatorship,” he insisted.

A revolving door

Ivania Alvarez noted that Nicaragua continues to experience what they call the “revolving door” of the regime, because despite the prisoner releases, they have continued to detain citizens, keeping them “under situations of torture, isolation and threats to both them and their families.”

Proof of this is that “at least 15 of the detained people are experiencing their second detention and there are even people who are facing their third detention, such as the case of Pedro Gutierrez.”

“Although there has been a lot of enthusiasm in previous years, both from family members and organizations, as time goes by and due to the threats, we require more people to join the campaigns because some of the detained people have their relatives outside the country and live in fear,” lamented Alvarez.

More prisoners punished and isolated

Gabriel Putoy denounced that at least seven political prisoners, held in the Jorge Navarro Penitentiary System, known as La Modelo, were punished by the dictatorship and sent to maximum security cells, on December 1, after demanding respect for their human rights in the jail.

The political prisoners, locked in galleries 16 and 17, demanded access to books, pens, writing paper, and better food. However, all they received was more repression.

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.


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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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