Ex Nica Political Prisoner Rebuilds Working with Children

Róger Reyes with young people from Maryland. La Prensa/Courtesy

By La Prensa

HAVANA TIMES-The story of Roger Reyes is an example that Daniel Ortega’s dictatorship failed to break the will or strength of the people he imprisoned and tortured for opposing his brutal regime in Nicaragua. Nine months since his release and exile, Reyes has managed to overcome the consequences of his unjust confinement and from his exile in the United States he is doing something that few Hispanic migrants achieve in such a short time.

Roger Reyes, a lawyer by profession, is one of the group of 222 political prisoners denationalized and sent to the United States, on February 9, 2023. He was imprisoned in August 2021, at the time he was legally representing the also opposition member Felix Maradiaga . During more than a year of confinement, he began to have mental problems, he forgot episodes of his life and could not easily remember everyday actions.

Roger Reyes, leaving with Felix Maradiaga after having been summoned by the Prosecutor’s Office on June 8, 2021.  Photo: La Prensa

Before being kidnapped by the Ortega Police, he was persecuted, intimidated, threatened with death by the Police, and psychologically tortured.

Reyes currently lives in the State of Maryland.

Roger Reyes coordinates the “Creative Minds” program, of the community service of the municipality of Hyattsville, in the State of Maryland, United States. La Prensa/Courtesy

Reyes managed to be hired as a youth coordinator for the community service department of the municipality of Hyattsville. He currently coordinates a new program called Creative Minds, in which he works with children from 1 to 3 years old, to help them grow in their early years, through creativity. Another objective of this program, Reyes explained, is to involve parents in this entire process.

“This is a new program offered by the municipality, adding Spanish teaching to children,” he explained.

Reyes said that his job is to help young people develop their skills, know them, and have self-confidence. “Being able to be a guide while they are in some of the programs that the municipality offers for them,” he added.

How did he get that job?

Before this opportunity came, Reyes worked night shifts as a janitor. A person told him about the vacancy and he agreed to go to the interview.

It was “an interview completely in English, where another person was an interpreter. Then, came the process of investigating criminal records, immigration status among other requirements,” Reyes said.

In Nicaragua he worked with children in different volunteer social projects, but he never imagined that at one point he would be doing it as a job where he had to depend on it.

“Working with children is a job with a lot of responsibility, being diligent, responsible, respectful, attentive to children in their behavior to have better teaching and better care. The most important thing is to do it with a lot of love, to know that you are being part of the formation of a new generation that perhaps some of them will be able to lead the nation in different areas. Know that you are being part of forming a new society. I am passionate about my work, knowing that in my country children do not have many resources, much attention. Likewise, learning to implement such programs for when I return to my country,” he stated.

Roger Abel Reyes Barreda, when he was a prisoner of conscience. Photo from the Ortega government media

“At one time my mother was undergoing a birth certificate rectification trial since she had an error in her name and the lawyer who was handling the case was taking advantage of her, so I understood that many people needed help. “I decided to study to be able to help and defend those whose rights were being taken away or defend them from being taken advantage of by others,” he said.

He said that he likes the work he is doing, but he misses his profession, just as every day he misses and longs to return to his country. His goal is to obtain a scholarship to study paralegal (lawyer’s assistant) and thus be able to partially practice his profession and be of help to many who need legal advice, but do not have the resources.

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times.