The “revolving door” of Ortega and Murillo in Nicaragua: the regime once again fills the prisons with political prisoners | International

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Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, in a file photo.

Two deputies and another priest have been the latest political prisoners that the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo has put behind bars in Nicaragua. In a context of unchecked repression, and after releasing and exiling 222 prisoners last February, the Sandinista apparatus has maintained the “revolving door” effect: the Mechanism for the Recognition of Political Prisoners counts 89 prisoners until the month of August .

“Between August 1 and 31, 2023, 24 arbitrary arrests were recorded for possible motivations of political persecution, of which five were released and at least 15 people remain in prison,” details a report presented by the opposition organization.

The Mechanism denounces a new method of holding trials that are carried out without the transfer of the accused person to the Judicial Complex. The hearings are held through videoconferences, without the possibility for the detainee to have communication with the defense lawyer of his choice. “Complaints continue to be received from detained people who were victims of the repressive waves of April 2023,” they add, in reference to the political persecution that the regime unleashed against Catholics. “In this way, the state of terror of the population is evident, who, due to fear of reprisals, keep quiet about the cases of their relatives who have been unjustly detained for up to more than two months.”

“This hunt is framed in the dictatorship's objective of maintaining a totalitarian state, from the perspective that they have been violating, for example, the right to freely profess faith and the manifestations of political resistance of citizens for a long time,” he says. to EL PAÍS the opposition lawyer Juan Diego Barbarena, member of the political council of the Blue and White Unit. “It is a scenario of continuity of totalitarianism but it is also a manifestation of the weakness of the regime, because it needs to keep Nicaraguans within the framework of a state of exception.” in fact on the streets. It needs to continue arresting political dissidence to position itself for an eventual political negotiation that is not in sight for now. But it is about having a much more asymmetric position when making concessions.”

The detainees

The most notable arrest was that of the representative of indigenous origin Brooklyn Rivera, founder of the Yapti Tasba Masraka Nanih Aslatakanka party, (Yatama or “Children of Mother Earth”, in the Miskito language). It happened on September 29: the legislator was hiding in his home located in the Caribbean city of Bilwi, when a police contingent burst in from all sides.

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Rivera had remained in his home since last May, when he returned to Nicaragua from a trip abroad despite the regime denying him legal entry to his country, after participating in the United Nations (UN) Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. , where he criticized the Government. According to Rivera's daughter, the legislator was being monitored since his regular entry into the country.

Since 2007, Rivera had been a political ally of the Sandinista Front, the party led by Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. The alliance was broken when he was dismissed as a deputy before the National Assembly for alleged accusations of illegal land trafficking in 2015. In 2016, Yatama participated as a regional party in the parliamentary elections and Rivera was elected again as a deputy. Yatama is the predominant political force in the Caribbean of Nicaragua and after Rivera's arrest the Government canceled the party's political status, at the same time it confiscated his properties.

On October 1, the police arrested Rivera's substitute deputy and regional president of the Yatama indigenous party, Elizabeth Henríquez James. Both were removed from the list of lawmakers appearing on Parliament's website.

“The arrest of Brooklyn Rivera is also aimed at making totalitarian control manifest on the Caribbean Coast, especially in the north where Yatama is the main political party. We must remember that next year, in 2024, there will be regional elections in the Caribbean,” said Barberena.

This Thursday, October 5, the priest Álvaro Toledo was arrested hours after he warned in his homily about the multiple arrests of priests from the diocese of Estelí, which is headed by Bishop Rolando Álvarez, imprisoned since August 2022. The priest was taken to prison. strength of the priestly house in the city of Ocotal.

"Our diocese is running out of priests, we do not have priests, we ask our good shepherd for abundant vocations and for them to be in their parishes," the priest said in his homily. The parish priest said at mass that there are six priests from his diocese arrested for political reasons. Furthermore, days ago there was a rumor that he had also been arrested. “The truth is that we already know that he can touch us at any moment, but we have peace and a clear conscience.”

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Nathan Rivera
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