On Friday, February 10, the government of Spain offered to nationalize the 222 exiled Nicaraguan political prisoners as Spanish citizens. Following their abrupt release the day before to the United States, these political prisoners were banished from Nicaragua and declared Stateless by the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo.
Speaking to the Servimedia news agency, Jose Manuel Albares, Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs stated: “The [Spanish] Government is offering to grant Spanish nationality to these 222 released prisoners, in view of the news that [Nicaragua] has begun the process of declaring them Stateless.”
He further explained: “The process to be used is that of granting Spanish citizenship via a Certificate of Naturalization, to avoid their being left without a country.”
“It’s a government decision that will take very little time,” Albares indicated, and the process would be “immediate.” He also promised that they would soon enter “into contact with them [the released prisoners].”
The foreign minister added: “we are also offering to have Spain take in any other prisoner that, at these moments, finds themselves in the same situation as those who were just freed.”
Ortega regime effects “urgent” reforms to the Nicaraguan Constitution
On February 9, Nicaragua’s National Assembly passed a hurried reform to Nicaragua’s Constitution. The measure is the first of two laws to establish that any Nicaraguan sentenced for crimes considered “treason to the homeland” will lose their status as a Nicaraguan citizen.
The Constitutional reform was presented as an urgent item to the Sandinista deputies in Nicaragua’s National Assembly, who hold an overwhelming majority and routinely rubber-stamp any measure introduced by the ruling couple. These deputies were not popularly elected as individuals but selected by the Sandinista Party and assigned legislative seats in a process widely considered fraudulent, with opposition leaders in jail and their parties outlawed.
Unsurprisingly, the laws were approved by 89 of the 91 legislators the same day that 222 Nicaraguan political prisoners were abruptly put on a plane to the United States. The released prisoners include opposition leaders, priests and other critics of the government led by Daniel Ortega.
The reformed article of the Nicaraguan Constitution is Article 21, but full approval must wait another year, as it must be ratified in a second legislative session in order to become a valid law. It reads: “Acquisition, loss and recovery of the Nicaraguan nationality will be regulated by the laws. Traitors to the homeland lose their status as Nicaraguan nationals.”
Following this, the deputies approved another urgent measure introduced, the “Special Law to Regulate the Loss of Nicaraguan Nationality.”
According to Article 1 of the new law, the legislation “has as its object the regulation of the loss of nationality stipulated in Article 21 of the Nicaraguan Constitution.”
As such, it establishes: “those sentenced on the basis of the provisions of the Law for the Defense of the People’s Rights to Independence, Sovereignty, and Self-Determination for Peace, published on December 22, 2020, will lose their Nicaraguan nationality.”
In accordance with the approved norm, the judicial authority will by the entity assigned to apply the new Law and must notify the Supreme Electoral Council of their rulings.
European Union asks the Ortega regime for “further steps”
One day following the prisoners’ release, the European Union expressed their satisfaction with the release of the political prisoners but warned the Nicaraguan authorities that this “long-awaited” step wasn’t sufficient and that it should be followed up by dialogue.
Among the political prisoners are several European citizens whose release had been “constantly” requested by the EU “through all means within our reach,” indicated Peter Stano, spokesperson for Josep Borrell, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, in a press statement.
“Although [these prisoners] shouldn’t have spent even one day in prison, today the EU notes its satisfaction and relief,” he declared.
The spokesperson assured that the European Union also salutes the role played by the United States in facilitating a “safe trip” and the entry of those freed into that country, as well as for the corresponding emergency aid they’ve lent.
The EU made clear their disapproval of Ortega’s decision to strip the prisoners of their Nicaraguan citizenship and their civil and political rights, a measure that “constitutes a violation of their fundamental rights and of international law.”
In conclusion, the spokesperson assured that the EU remains “open to political dialogue with Nicaragua, via the appropriate diplomatic channels” and carried out “in a respectful manner.”