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Torture persists in El Chipote: restrictions on political prisoners tightened

During the most recent visit authorized by the regime, family members confirmed a decline in the political prisoners’ physical and psychological health

Prisoners in El Chipote report that a typical meal might consist of 40 individual beans

Redacción Confidencial

3 de mayo 2022


In the final days of April, the Ortega regime finally authorized a seventh round of family visits for the political prisoners in the El Chipote jail. It had been 45 days since the last visit for these prisoners, who were first jailed between June and November of 2021.

During the new encounters, held between April 28 and 30, the prisoners’ relatives confirmed that the mistreatment and torture of their family members have worsened. They’re kept in greater isolation, they’re being guarded by new, more hostile personnel, their rations of food and drink have been reduced, they’re no longer being taken to the infirmary for medical check-ups, and they also have less access to medicines.

On this occasion, the visits lasted two hours, under the close watch of police guards who constantly interrupted the gathering to take photos and videos. In an interview broadcast on Esta Semana, Confidencial’s online television news program - relatives complained that they were forced to take off their masks, halt their gestures of affection, and pose for the photos. In addition, they noted that they were subjected to even more abusive pre-visit searches than before. This time, the agents lifted some of their clothing, or touched and patted down their genital areas during the entrance search.

Ramon Mendoza, whose brother is imprisoned journalist Miguel Mendoza, affirmed that the process of gaining admission into the visitation area was “difficult”, especially for Margin Pozo, the former sports broadcaster’s wife. She was searched “exhaustively”.

“They take everything off you, they put their hands on every part of you, as much as they can. It’s demeaning,” Mendoza denounced.

He also stated that Miguel Mendoza’s condition had worsened more than in the previous months. “He has serious problems with his blood pressure, but now they’re not taking him to the infirmary; instead, a doctor visits all the prisoners in their cells. From outside, they’re asked how they are, but there’s no check-up like before,” Ramon Mendoza declared. He also denounced the fact that his brother is sleeping on a mattress that’s totally worn out, leaving him almost directly on the concrete bed. This has caused his brother “serious back and neck problems.”

The journalist Miguel Mendoza | Photo: Confidencial

Ramon Mendoza said that the journalist’s jail conditions continue to be excessively inhumane. He remains locked up in a double-barred punishment cell, with little ventilation, lights that remain on day and night, and little food. He’s allowed out in the yard to get sunlight only two hours every month.

Mendoza emphasized that although his brother draws great strength from his religious faith, he’s concerned about being cut off from his 7-old-old daughter and demands that fluid communication between them be allowed.

Political prisoner Juan Lorenzo Holmann, Mendoza’s cellmate, was formerly the general manager of the Nicaraguan newspaper La Prensa, whose printing presses were closed and buildings occupied by the Ortega regime. Holmann also suffers from high blood pressure, but he hasn’t been taken to check-ups in the infirmary, according to a report published in the digital version of La Prensa.

Holmann’s family members are worried about the medication he’s receiving to regulate his arterial pressure since Holmann’s cardiologist holds the opinion that it could cause greater dehydration.

Lesther Alemán has high blood pressure and migraine problems

Lesther Alemán, member of the Nicaraguan University Alliance (AUN). Photo: Elmer Rivas

Lesbia Alfaro, the mother of political prisoner Lesther Alemán, also denounced that her son has developed blood pressure problems resulting from the prison conditions he has been subjected to during these almost 10 months of unjust and arbitrary confinement.

“He is still struggling with his leg problem. They told him that they were going to do an X-ray, but to date, he still has that problem. Now, he has a high blood pressure problem, a 23-year-old boy, who is not fat, who is even thinner, imagine what that confinement has to be like, for him to have that,” she noted.

In addition, the mother pointed out that the student leader's migraine problem has also worsened, especially in the afternoons when he tends to begin vomiting and has severe headaches, which are only treated by the Chipote doctors when Lesther "screams and says that can't stand it anymore”.

Alfaro assured that the level of torture inside El Chipote has reached such an extreme that political prisoners cannot even pray because if the prison authorities hear them, they are ordered to shut up. She also denounced that Alemán is taken for daily interrogations and reading material is still not authorized. “I wonder why these interrogations continue if they are supposedly already convicted,” she pointed out.

Ana Margarita Vijíl. Courtesy photo

A policy of torture and exhaustion

Ana Lucia Alvarez, whose sister Tamara Davila and aunt, Ana Margarita Vijil, are both political prisoners, also expressed her extreme concern for the condition she found her imprisoned relatives in during the recent visit. She feels the urgency, as she did a few months ago, to “send out an SOS, and speak out as strongly as possible to denounce what’s happening.” 

“Tamara, my sister, for example, has lost around 10 pounds in the past 50 days, we calculate. That means Tamara is weighing about 90 or 95 pounds. When she entered El Chipote, she weighed nearly 145 pounds. This indicates that she’s malnourished. Ana Margarita is also much thinner. Neither is allowed access to reading material, they’re given no access to conversing with other people, they’re not guaranteed any time in the yard to receive sunlight, and they’re no longer taken to the infirmary, but checked in their cells. That has made the level of isolation even greater,” Ana Lucia denounced.

She stressed that what’s happening in El Chipote is “an intentional government policy of wearing out and torturing, centered in the lack of medical attention, so that their bodies will deteriorate, and they’ll become susceptible to any situation.”

Ana Lucia also emphasized that the relatives of the political prisoners are “worried, because we’ve already witnessed the death of Hugo Torres, and we’re aware of other situations of political prisoners in a vegetative state in Nicaragua’s jails. The truth is, that this can’t occur again.”

She noted that Tamara Davila, like the other political prisoners, remains in a punishment cell and isn’t allowed any form of communication with her daughter, now six. Ana Lucia feels that this measure is “one of the ways that this genocidal regime seeks to crush the spirits of the political prisoners, and to wipe out their individuality.”

In all, the Ortega regime is holding more than 180 people in different jails around the country for political reasons. National and international organizations have demanded the immediate liberation of these Nicaraguan citizens, locked up for participating in social protests and denouncing the human rights violations that are still being committed in Nicaragua.


Suyen Barahona, president of the Unamos opposition party, was declared guilty in a bogus trial, held in the jail itself.

Suyen Barahona urgently needs dental attention

Cesar Dubois, the husband of Suyen Barahona, president of the political organization Unamos, formerly known as the Sandinista Renewal Movement, denounced that his wife continues losing weight, since the authorities of the El Chipote jail have reduced the quantity of food and liquid she receives.

“They’re giving her less now, and on weekends, the quantity is less still. This has an impact on her nutritional state. Added to this, we bring her two drinks and three liters of water every day, which is the only thing we’re allowed. We learned that they were only giving her one of the drinks we leave for her, and she received that one drink only three times a week. They [the prisoners] are in a very difficult situation,” Dubois indicated.

He noted that the health of his wife is also deteriorating. In addition to losing weight, she also suffers from backaches, as a result of being forced to sleep almost directly on the concrete of her bed without a decent mattress. She continues to have dental problems, and despite having informed the jail authorities, she still hasn’t been seen by a dentist.

Dubois stated that although Barahona was already found guilty and sentenced for the supposed crime of undermining the national integrity, she “continues being interrogated, is kept isolated, incommunicado, and isn’t allowed to communicate with anyone – she’s punished if she talks, just for talking.”

He emphasized that during this new visit, relatives insisted once again that Suyen be allowed a photo or drawing of her five-year-old son, and be permitted reading material, at least a Bible, but the authorities once again refused.

Violeta Granera. Photo: Confidencial

Violeta Granera has developed vitiligo

Relatives of Violeta Granera issued a statement expressing their concern for the prisoner’s situation. Granera, a political activist and member of the National Coalition, has been in El Chipote since June 2021. On this visit, relatives said she was “physically weak.” “She’s had a crisis of high blood pressure and she has heart problems that could worsen due to her hypertension if it’s not attended to in time.”

“We’re also concerned because she has white patches on her body, which they’ve diagnosed as vitiligo, and she also has red spots on her body that look like moles. That’s in addition to her untreated dental problems,” relatives denounced.

The family members asked that Granera be allowed “house arrest, as the law stipulates, given her condition as a person in poor health.” 

“We fear that her health could worsen and that she won’t be seen and treated as she should,” they expressed.

Rural leader Medardo Mairena during a conference in the Permanent Council for Human Rights where he took shelter several times after being sought or stopped by the Police. Photo: Confidencial archives.

Medardo Mairena with allergies and circulatory problems

Relatives of political prisoner Medardo Mairena denounced during an interview with Confidencial that the Peasant Movement leader continues being kept in tortuous conditions in El Chipote. He remains in a punishment cell, with little air circulation and a light that shines 24 hours a day.

According to his family members, Mairena has little access to the yard to get sunlight. He continues losing weight and has developed allergies and problems with his blood circulation due to the deplorable jail conditions.

“Despite everything that’s going on,” his relatives added, “the message he has for Nicaraguans is: ‘Don’t get discouraged. Keep praying for that democratic Nicaragua that all of us yearn for. The Lord will hear his people.’” 

This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by Havana Times



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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.