Nicaragua: “They’re Confiscating our Family Properties”

Two banished political prisoners denounce

Released and banished political prisoners Freddy Navas (r) and Cristian Fajardo (l) have been further illegally punished by the Ortega regime via the confiscation of their properties. Photos from archives

The Ortega regime has confiscated the properties of released political prisoners Freddy Navas and Cristhian Fajardo. Navas’ home wasn’t even registered in his name.

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – The regime headed by Daniel Ortega confiscated four properties belonging to two released political prisoners: Cristian Fajardo, a member of the Civic Movement of Masaya, and Freddy Navas from the Farmers’ Movement. Three of the properties belonged to Fajardo, who had already tried unsuccessfully to sell them, to avoid the government theft. The illegal confiscations were carried out by the Police and the Attorney General’s office.

“We were already expecting [the confiscations]. To the point that I tried to sell the Hotel Masaya on two different occasions. I had two parties that were seriously interested. We spoke at length about it, we negotiated – they with their lawyers, and me with mine – but then they suddenly stopped communicating, stopped answering our calls. I imagine it was because they went to the institutions of the dictatorship, because when you want to buy a property, you have to report your intentions and register them. Anyway, it couldn’t be done,” explained Fajardo, who is in exile.

Fajardo and his wife, Maria Adilia Cerrato, were both imprisoned in 2018 for political reasons. Now the government has confiscated the hotel they own, an adjoining residence that served as an extension to it, and their home. Fajardo recalled that he had also tried to rent the hotel, but after paying US $900 in municipal taxes, they never gave him the municipal certification of solvency he needed to be able to rent it.  The hotel had been partly burned during the government’s 2018 “Clean-Up operation.

The Attorney General’s office arrived to formalize the confiscation on March 14, 2023. The next day, the National Police occupied the buildings.

“On Wednesday (March 15), the police arrived, changed the locks, and did what they had to do. I didn’t want to denounce anything publicly, because I still had hopes that they wouldn’t touch my own house. But it became public news anyway, because nothing escapes social media. And on Friday of that week, they took our house,” Cristhian Fajardo stated in an interview with the online television news program Esta Noche.

Hotel turned over to the Ministry of Family

At the time of the confiscation, the hotel and adjoining dwelling were uninhabited. An uncle had been living in the home, but after the Ortega regime stripped Fajardo and another 93 Nicaraguan dissidents of their nationality, he decided to move out.

“We knew there was a large possibility that this could happen. (…) So, what we did was to move him out of there. We also removed the things we could get out. I think I missed my chance to put up a banner or placard on the property with them, with the message: “Thank you for remodeling my property for me, for taking care of it for me, for helping me avoid the payments I needed to make,” Cristhian Fajardo said ironically.

The former prisoner lamented the fact that government officials had hung a red and black FSLN flag at his home, in the place where he and his family used to raise the blue and white national flag during Nicaragua’s independence month. According to his social media denunciations, they have already installed a Ministry of the Family office in the confiscated hotel.

“One thing I wanted to make clear is that these properties were acquired by my family. This was my parents’ living will, because they’re still alive. It’s been the family patrimony – the fruit of the work and efforts of my mother and my father,” Fajardo stipulated with regret.

Freddy Navas: the house they confiscated isn’t in my name

Rural leader Freddy Navas also denounced that his house was confiscated in the same period, even though a family was renting it at the time. Navas clarified that the owner of the house is his wife and not himself. Navas was stripped of his nationality on February 9, when he was banished and sent to the United States, together with 221 other political prisoners.

“They’ve stooped to a new low, because in reality the house is in my wife’s name. It’s always been in her name, it’s not a situation where we changed the title a little while ago. It’s in the name of my wife, and my wife is in Panama,” Navas expained.

The farm leader stated that his wife had left for Panama eight days previously, when on Tuesday, March 14, the house was taken over by officials from the Directorate of Judicial Assistance. These officials entered the house by force, together with people without uniforms, who are accused of being paramilitary. These functionaries remained in the house until midnight.

They took a number of belongings, Navas continued: “They closed off the streets, and they blocked them with some vehicles. They put up cones, and the Police have remained there ever since. They’re no longer inside the house, but they remain outside.”

Bizarre past threats to  accuse Navas’ wife

Navas also recalled that on August 15, 2022, while he was in jail, they threatened to accuse his wife of poisoning him. He recalls that police sub-commissioner Johana Wilford Betancourt arrived and told him that he didn’t have the right to drink water from the bottles his family took him, because they had holes.

“Three days later, they called me in for interrogation and told me that, once again, a bottle of water had arrived with holes. They claimed they had inspected it, and had discovered that there was poison in those bottles – that they had proof it was a fatal venom. They told me there was a warrant out for my wife’s arrest, because the only way to investigate all this was to detain her and take her to the El Chipote jail.

The rural leader affirmed that after hearing that accusation he was concerned for his wife’s safety. However, since no such formal accusation ever occurred. Due to that incident, he asserts: “the business with my house doesn’t surprise me in the absolute least. It’s one more low blow of this government.”

Similarly, he added that he’s “barred” from everything – he can’t have a bank account, pay for basic services like water and electricity, send or receive money from outside the country.

Cristhian Fajardo added that the ones most harmed by these confiscations will be other Nicaraguans. “It’s evident that there’s no rule of law in Nicaragua; that anyone can be confiscated; that here the laws are the laws of the dictatorship. So. if some business owner or investor displeases them – if they don’t pay the “bribes,” if they don’t pay what they have to pay in order to be allowed to work in the country, they’ll simply take all their property away from them.”  

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