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The confinement and neglect of 145 political prisoners in La Modelo and other prisons in Nicaragua 

Sick and in overcrowded and precarious conditions, the political prisoners of La Modelo and other Nicaraguan prisons are exposed to torture and cruel t

Testimonio del familiar de un exreo político: "Seguiremos reviviendo la angustia. Hasta que se dé el reencuentro de las familias

Redacción Confidencial

26 de octubre 2022


Eliseo Castro Baltodano, 59, is one of more than 200 political prisoners held by the Daniel Ortega-Rosario Murillo regime in Nicaragua. Although his name is little known, Castro is one of the longest-held prisoners of conscience locked up in the National Penitentiary System (SPN), and his health conditions have deteriorated severely.

Castro Baltodano suffered a stroke on September 13, 2021. He lost his speech, and is unable to walk or control his bodily functions on his own. "He is conscious, but he is almost like a child", recounts "Federico", a source close to the family.

Castro’s delicate condition resulted in his transfer, over a year ago, to a ward of the Antonio Lenín Fonseca hospital, where he remains under police custody. The officers "take pictures of everything that is given to him: food, pills, everything," said Federico.  

But Castro’s health "shows no improvement". In fact, in the last few months "he has been losing his sight, he can hardly see, he hears only in one ear, he has been deteriorating", said Federico.

Federico also said that Castro is sedated most of the time because he suffers from convulsions. "There are medications that help him for certain things, but they are messing up other things, like his kidneys. He recently had high creatinine levels, and then he got a kidney infection, and so forth," he explained.

Castro was arrested by armed civilians and police agents in September 2019 at the neighborhood park near his home in Managua. He was accused of and convicted of crimes related to the "manufacture, trafficking, possession and use of restricted weapons or explosive devices". The Ortega-controlled judicial system sentenced him to six years in prison and a fine of 350 days’ pay.

The situation "has been draining for the family", said Federico. “They have asked that he be allowed to continue to serve out his sentence at home under house arrest“. But, Federico says, as with most political cases, "their request has not been granted”. 

The torture and cruel treatment continues

Torture and cruel treatment of political prisoners are an ongoing practice at the various prisons of Nicaragua, according to the “Mechanism for the Recognition of Political Prisoners” registry. Due to the escalating repression of by the Ortega-Murillo regime, however, it has become increasingly difficult for family members to publicly denounce these abuses. 

In the month of August alone, the Mechanism registered cases of solitary confinement and theft of political prisoners’ belongings in the Tipitapa prison; overcrowding and limited access to water in the prisons in Granada and Matagalpa; and lack of medical attention to female prisoners in La Esperanza prison in Ticuantepe.

"At the Jorge Navarro prison, known as La Modelo, repression has increased in recent months," the Mechanism warned in August. " Aggressions have been registered against three political prisoners by common prisoners who entered their cells and proceeded to rob them of their belongings, beat them and injure them, including with with bladed weapons," it continued.

The Mechanism also reported the case of a political prisoner who penitentiary authorities have denied family visits since October 2021, leaving the prisoner in isolation and incommunicado.

In the Granada prison, known as The Granja (The Farm), one of the political prisoners is in an overcrowded cell with 165 common prisoners. In the Waswalí prison in Matagalpa, one of the political prisoners was relocated to a cell with 400 common prisoners, with access to only a half bucket of water per day to cover all his necessities.

"These conditions constitute inhumane and degrading treatment that has repercussions on the health of the detainees," warns the Mechanism.

In the women's prison, known as La Esperanza (The Hope), the health of the political prisoners "continues to deteriorate", the Mechanism warns. Two of the prisoners of conscience have developed hypertension, and two others, who had high blood pressure before being imprisoned, "have not had proper medical evaluations and therefore do not receive adequate treatment", the Mechanism reports. 

Sick and without help

In mid-July, the family of political prisoner Alexis Peralta learned from a person who had been at the prison in Estelí that Peralta was ill, but it was not until the family managed to see him on September 5 that he was able to share with them information about his ailments.

"Marcos", a source close to Peralta's family, said that Peralta suffers from three herniated discs, has a tumor in one of his kidneys, as well as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Marcos fears that Peralta may have other ailments as well, but that "he does not even tell the family about all the things that happen to him [in prison] so as not to worry them."

Marcos said that Peralta “was very ill” and that he received some medical tests but that he does not know if they were done at the prison clinic or at a hospital. 

"[Peralta] is in serious condition because he has several chronic illnesses," Marcos warned. He is also “very depressed" and "he is afraid to talk about what they do to him there because it will go badly for him later,” Marcos said. 

Among the political prisoners who are sick are Nidia Barbosa, member of the Blue and White National Unity; the student Kevin Solís; the opposition activist Walter Montenegro; and the political prisoners María Esperanza Sánchez and Kevin Zamora. Most of them have problems of high blood pressure.

Family members censor themselves 

For the families of political prisoners, it is becoming increasingly difficult to denounce the arbitrary detentions, the serious violations of their family member’s human rights, and the abusive conditions they are suffering in the different jails and prisons. The increase in threats, harassment and persecution by sympathizers of the regime or by the Police, has led to families being afraid to speak to the media or even human rights organizations.

The regime's objective in threatening the families of prisoners of conscience is “to block information about, and denunciation of, the prison conditions, as part of a systematic policy of repression aimed at keeping the situation of the political prisoners silent and blocking international outcry," warns the Mechanism.

"There is no doubt that this kind of defenselessness in the face of State violence has had devastating emotional effects on the Nicaraguan people and even more so in the absence of the rule of law that should provide guarantees for the full exercise and enjoyment of human rights," the Mechanism document continues.

The repression has also forced some families of political prisoners to "opt for self-censorship or request that their family member’s name not be included in the monthly registry,” warns the Mechanism. In this way, in addition to confining the prisoners of conscience in their cells, the dictatorship hopes to condemn them to oblivion.




This article was originally published Spanish in Confidencial and translated by our staff.


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Redacción Confidencial

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.