Interrogations in El Chipote: “Why Are You Marching and Who is Paying You”

During the massive arrests of protestors on Sunday October 14, 2018 in Managua. Photo: Carlos Herrera / Confidencial


Five citizens captured in the last roundup remain in detention

“They asked who gave me the T-shirt, shoes, short, everything,” related the marathon runner.  “I responded that to march is a right,” says Vigil.


By Maynor Salazar  (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – “Why are you marching?” “Who is paying you?” “Who sends you?” These and other similar questions are part of the interrogation to which we were subjected, in the cells of the El Chipote interrogation prison, noted the protesters illegally detained by the National Police, last Sunday in Managua. They were released on Monday, after a strong international pressure, which included the governments of Costa Rica and Panama, among others.

The police institution acquitted a group of eight people on the same day of the arrest, and the rest of citizens abandoned the cells of El Chipote on the morning and afternoon on Monday. However, Ana Margarita Vigil, who was detained, denounced in her social networks that Marvin Reyes, Enrique Artiles, Juan Escorcia, Roger Cabo and Rolando Tapia were still in prison.

Vijil along with Maria Haydee Castillo (arrested at the airport by agents of the Migration and Immigration General Directorate), Suyen Barahona and Jose Antonio Peraza, were the last to leave “El Chipote.” She told Confidencial that she was not mistreated in the cell of the DAJ, contrary to what the police have done with other political prisoners such as Medardo Mairena, Pedro Mena or Edwin Carcache, according to reports from their relatives.

“I sprained myself when I tried to get away from the cops. In “El Chipote” the doctor treated me. I have no knowledge of any abuse with those I was with. Indeed, what happened was an illegal capture, we were exercising our constitutional right of free assembly and riot police arrived violently and clearly it was an arbitrary and absurd abuse of power by Daniel Ortega,” stated Vijil.

Antonia Urrejola, from the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR), celebrated the news of the release of the detained citizens. However, she stated that they are following the situation of more than 300 political prisoners kept by the Ortega regime.

“The release of women leaders of the social movements in Nicaragua is good news. But, we remain alert and following the situation of hundreds of people imprisoned by the criminalization of the protests,” wrote in the Twitter account Urrejola.

Vigil added that during her 24 hours stay in “El Chipote,” police authorities interrogated her three times. She said that she was with ten other people in a cell that did not provide necessary conditions, and she slept on the floor.

“They insisted on asking me why I was participating in the marches and what my objective was. I explained to them that it is our right, and that we march to demand justice and democracy. They (the police) were interested in reaffirming that they were not mistreating us. I can say that the treatment was always respectful,” she said.

Vigil pointed out that the release of, at least, 38 citizens was possible thanks to the pressure applied at the national and international level, after the news of the arrests was known. She stated that she is convinced that the power is in the hands of the Nicaraguan people and that only by organizing ourselves “we can be able to liberate this country.”

The Police fulfilled its threat

The 38 citizens were arrested illegally and with lots of violence on Sunday, October 14th, when they participated in a sit-in demanding justice for political prisoners. Starting at six in the morning, more than 400 riot police and other officers were deployed throughout the capital, in order to prevent the activity from taking place.

On September 28th, the Ortega regime threatened through a police press note to prosecute the people and organizations that called for civic protest demonstrations, and declared them “illegal.” It stated that “those responsible will respond to justice.”

In the press note published on the same Sunday afternoon, the Police reported that detainees were being investigated, accused of being “involved in inciting and provocative activities,” by calling for and participating in public demonstrations “without due police permission.”

On the same morning, hundreds of photos and videos of the aggression and arrest of citizens by the police, circulated on social networks. National and international human rights organizations stated their position on the issue and repudiated the violence exerted by the National Police agents.

The voices of those released

Allan Cordero Ocon, a Costa Rican citizen of Nicaraguan origin, and his wife, a United States citizen, Marcela Martinez Guzman, were also part of the group of 38 citizens illegally captured by the National Police on Sunday, October 14th.

The Costa Rican Foreign Ministry said in a brief statement that the Consulate in Managua was able to confirm the release of Cordero Ocon “on Monday afternoon,” and added that no charges were presented during the 24 hours of detention.

“Those were distressing hours for him, his family and us at the Consulate. Mr. Cordero explained that he was subjected to interrogations, but there was no physical nor psychological mistreatment,” he assured in a statement the Costa Rican Consul in Managua, Oscar Camacho.

“I want to tell you that I am in good health, my wife is also well. I want to thank Costa Rica for its support,” expressed Cordero in a statement of the Foreign Ministry and also in video statement.

Marathoner Alex Vanegas, symbol of the rebellion

Alex Vanegas, the marathoner who runs for the “freedom of the political prisoners,” was also arrested by the police, but in the sector of the Jean Paul Genie traffic circle. According to statements made to “100% Noticias” (News) Channel, he was illegally detained after Commissioner Juan Valle Valle gave orders to his agents to secure the place.

“I was arrested because I was hugging the red and black (Sandinistas). Juan Valle Valle gave the order and I was apprehended. Three police officer got on top of me. He told them “hold him tight if he runs you will not be able to catch him.” I am in pain, the bed in the “El Chipote” hotel, is like the one in the Flintstones. My shoulder is sore, and so is my back,” said Vanegas.

The marathon runner stated that during his stay a “El Chipote”, he was able to talk to Carlos Valle, father of Elsa Valle, who was released some weeks ago and acquitted of the charges that the Public Ministry had presented. According to Vanegas, Carlos said that he was happy that his “little girl” is free.

Vanegas expressed that during the interrogations by the officers there was not mistreatment, only lots of questions.

“They asked who gave me the T-shirt, the shoes, my shorts, everything. I told the cop that I want Nicaragua to come out of this morass and that if Nicaragua sinks, we were all going to sink,” said Vanegas.

The marathoner denounced that many inmates in other cells would ask for water. However, during the period he was there, he did not see any officers responding to the requests of these citizens.

“Afterwards, they took me to another cell, in which I was alone. The place was filthy; I have an allergy all over my body. They put me there without a shirt and without shoes. Later, an officer allowed me to put my shoes. I was running the whole time I was there because no one is going to take that away from me, of running for the political prisoners,” related Vanegas.

Ana Margarita Vijil said that the struggle for the release of all political prisoners will continue. Likewise, she stated that she did not receive any threat from the police and that she will stop going out into the streets until Nicaragua is free.

“They insisted in that we should ask permission from the National Police to be able to march, but I abide by what the Political Constitution says, which establishes the right to free mobilization,” stated Vijil.

The State acts “de facto”

Human rights organizations such as the IACHR has warned that the Daniel Ortega regime is governing under a “state of emergency.”

“No state official has more authority than the one dictated by law and by Nicaragua’s Constitution,” assured Gonzalo Carrion, legal director of Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH), regarding the statement of the National Police where it “prohibits” and labels as illegal the demonstrations called by national movements opposed to the regime.

For the defender of human rights, the release of most of Sunday’s detainees shows that the government of Ortega is “weakening,” because it is a sign that it sustains itself only “by brute force.”

“It only has the force of repression and with that it loses legitimacy each day,” expressed Carrion in the television program “Esta Noche” (Tonight).

The press releases by the Police in recent days have threatened to imprison those who organize and participate in demonstrations. However, the Blue and White National Unity has protected itself in articles 53, 54 and 32 of Nicaragua’s Constitution, which establish the right to peaceful assembly without prior notice.