The audacity and invincible laughter of Dora María Téllez | Speech

The journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro Barriosrepresentative of the historic ex-guerrilla Dora María Téllez, imprisoned in Nicaragua since June 2021, he received this Monday the doctorate “honoris causa” from the Sorbonne New University in Paris, France, a recognition that he dedicated “to the political prisoners” of his country.

Here we reproduce the speech that Chamorro offered:

Mr. Jamil Jean Marc Dakhlia, president of the Sorbonne Nouvelle University and members of the Academic Council of the university

Colleagues of Dora María Téllez, who have received this Honoris Causa doctorate today, Stanislas Spero Adotev, Djaïli Amadou Amal, and Barbara Hendricks

Ms. Marie-Laure Geoffray, Professor of Political Science at La Sorbonne Nouvelle University

Buenas tardes. In Managua at this time it is already after ten in the morning and the sun shines very brightly, but the cell of Dora María Téllez, a political prisoner in the El Chipote prison, is always in darkness. There isn’t enough light, not even to make out the toothpaste on the toothbrush. The former guerrilla commander, historian, intellectual and social fighter, who is being awarded this Honoris Causa doctorate by the Sorbonne Nouevlle University, cannot read or write in her cell either, because that elementary human right has been prohibited to her and to all political prisoners by the family dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo.

Dora María Téllez, and three other comrades in struggle, Ana Margarita Vijil, Suyen Barahona and Tamara Dávila, celebrate today 533 days of resistance in solitary confinement cells. Dora María is also doubly isolated, because they keep her confined in the men’s pavilion, where she does not even have visual contact with her companions. While another 40 political prisoners also suffer from solitary confinement in prison.

At this time, Dora María has already begun her daily routine of three hours of physical exercise, in a cement cell measuring 6×4 square meters. In the solitude of her cell, she struggles to let go of the torrent of thoughts that she can’t control in her mind. But at the end of the day, she will dedicate some time to think and imagine the political actions that she will undertake in the future, when Nicaragua frees itself from the dictatorship, to promote the democratic transition.

Honoris Causa Ceremony

After 85 days of total isolation, on Saturday November 19, the regime authorized a family visit to the El Chipote prison. Dora María’s brother, Oscar Téllez Arguello, was prevented from visiting her due to police retaliation. Her nephew Oscar met with her for over an hour, and then was imprisoned for 48 hours. However, despite this attempt to silence her by spreading the torture against her relatives, Dora María Téllez managed to send a message through her nephew, thanking her for the high honor conferred on her by the Sorbonne Nouvelle.

This Honoris Causa doctorate is a recognition of the extraordinary trajectory of a woman of ideas and action. Dora María Téllez risked her life in her youth fighting with arms in hand against the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza, and has again risked her life now by going on a hunger strike in jail for 19 days, as an extreme form of protest against the tyranny of Ortega and Murillo.

In his hunger strike, he demanded the end of the regime of solitary confinement and isolation for all prisoners of conscience; that the right to read and write be established for all political prisoners; and that they allow her to sign a power of attorney so that her family can withdraw her retirement pension from Social Security, which corresponds to her by law. Dora María Téllez has not yet achieved the objectives she set for herself, but she has not been defeated either. On the contrary, it has exposed the moral collapse of a regime that maintains itself in power solely by repression and the desire for revenge, without offering any solution to the people of Nicaragua, which has begun a massive exodus to the United States, Costa Rica, and other countries.

Dora María’s hunger strike has once again placed the emergency faced by prisoners of conscience in Nicaragua on the international agenda. In February of this year, after spending eight months in the El Chipote prison, the political prisoner Hugo Torres died, a hero of the fight against the Somoza dictatorship, a companion of Dora María in the guerrilla attack on the National Palace in 1978, which freed more than 50 imprisoned Sandinistas.

Now it is up to us, journalists, human rights defenders, academics and intellectuals, and above all, the democratic governments of the world to relaunch the struggle for the liberation of all political prisoners with greater force. As Chilean President Gabriel Boric said last week before the Mexican Senate: “We cannot look to the side of the political prisoners in Nicaragua.”

From the El Chipote prison, Dora María Téllez dedicates this Honoris Causa doctorate to the political prisoners of Nicaragua and ratifies “her decision to continue the fight despite the torture and inhuman prison conditions to which political prisoners are subjected. And she wants this recognition to serve to create more awareness about the importance of denouncing the atrocities of the Ortega-Murillo regime that has subjected an entire people to a regime of absolute silence and terror.

In Nicaragua there are more than 225 political prisoners who represent a sample of the plurality of the national pro-democracy movement. Among them are political and civic leaders, from the center, right, and left; seven presidential candidates, university leaders, peasant leaders, human rights defenders, journalists, business leaders, diplomats, social activists, academics and intellectuals, priests, and a bishop of the Catholic Church.

Carlos Fernando Chamorro

They are the prisoners of the repression that was unleashed after the civic rebellion of April 2018, which demanded the end of the Ortega Murillo dictatorship and the calling of free elections. The massacre ordered by Daniel Ortega, carried out by police and paramilitaries with the complicity of the Army, left more than 325 murders in impunity and a police state that continues to this day, annulling all democratic freedoms, with hundreds of political prisoners and tens of thousands of exiles.

They are the political prisoners of the 2021 raid, when Daniel Ortega canceled the elections by eliminating political competition, and proclaimed himself president in a farce election on November 7, without opposition.

In addition, they are the political prisoners of the totalitarian dictatorship that was consolidated in 2022, with the total closure of civic space, the confiscation of the media, the criminalization of freedom of the press and expression, the closure of more than 3,000 non-governmental organizations , and the persecution against the Catholic Church.

And there are also the prisoners, relatives of politically persecuted, such as the French citizens Janine Horvilleur and Ana Carolina Alvarez Horvilleur, wife and daughter of Javier Alvarez, who were captured as hostages in an act of cruelty. Because when the Police did not find Javier Alvarez, they took revenge by imprisoning his relatives who had no political activity

Like Dora María Téllez, all those guilty of conscience are innocent. They have been sentenced in mock trials, without the right to defense, to prison terms ranging from 8 to 13 years in prison for the alleged crimes of conspiracy against national sovereignty, treason, propagation of false news, and money laundering. of money.

The recognition that the Sorbonne Nouvelle gives Dora María Téllez today appeals to citizens and governments everywhere, not to accept the normalization of the dictatorship and torture in Nicaragua. This honorary doctorate calls on governments and movements of the democratic left in Latin America to define themselves around the values ​​and political practice symbolized by Dora María Téllez, and to abandon double standards and opportunism for alleged reasons of State. Because a dictatorship in the name of the left cannot be justified, just as there cannot be a true left, without a full commitment to democracy and respect for human rights.

Dora Maria Tellez

By granting her this recognition, the Sorbonne Nouvelle has highlighted the unquestionable intellectual merits of Dora María Téllez as a social scientist, and her lifelong commitment to social justice and democracy. We want to add other qualities for which she stands out even more among the best of her political generation in Latin America.

In the first place, her audacity in all the acts of her life, as a guerrilla and as a politician, as a feminist and innovator; loyalty and commitment to all tests to defend her principles and convictions; her solidarity and capacity for empathy with the causes of the excluded and discriminated against; her extraordinary communication skills, displaying superior intelligence with humility and humanity; and above all, the irreverence of her humor, her invincible laughter, to mock adversity and power.

Thanks to La Sorbonne Nouvelle University for granting this Honoris Causa doctorate to Dora María Téllez, who, together with her companions and fellow political prisoners, today represent the hope of democratic change in Nicaragua. For this reason, I invite you, in France and Nicaragua, in the Americas and in Europe, to continue demanding the cessation of torture and the isolation of prisoners of conscience, and their unconditional release, as the first step towards the liberation of all Nicaragua.