“Nicaragua Will Need its Youth to Come and Rebuild”

Says Samantha Jiron, 23, recently released and banished political prisoner

Samantha Jiron, the youngest political prisoner of the Nicaraguan regime.

By 100% Noticias

HAVANA TIMES – At 23, Samantha Jiron still has a sad look in her eyes. She suffers from migraines and has spent nights in her room racked by insomnia. Barely three weeks have passed since the Ortega-Murillo regime banished her from Nicaragua, after holding her as a political prisoner since November 2021. They considered her a “remnant” of the “coup promotors.”  Nonetheless, despite all she’s suffered, she remains firm in her convictions and yearns to continue studying communications, to defend freedom of expression, one of the great “sins” the regime punishes in Nicaragua.

Her arrest was more like a violent kidnapping. A woman and a man stopped the vehicle she was in, and forced her to get out.  They struck her in the face, then made a videocall to those ordering her abduction, who confirmed that indeed, she was the one. She was then taken to Managua’s infamous El Chipote jail, where she was submitted to hostile interrogations. To her surprise, she was then shuttled back and forth between that jail and the District III police headquarters where she slept every night. She never found out why. 

Samantha is the youngest of the released political prisoners that Daniel Ortega expelled to the United States on February 9.  She’s also one of the 317 exiles and released prisoners who the dictatorship summarily stripped of their Nicaraguan nationality. She was a student, majoring in political science and also in journalism, who wrote opinion pieces in a national newspaper until intuition warned her it was better to stop. Two months before the government abducted her, she decided to stop publishing her column and to distance herself from the opposition organizations. However, this decision did her no good.

Samantha Jiron is originally from Masaya. She became involved in the 2018 protests, then later, in 2020, fled the country and went into exile in Costa Rica.  After a time, she returned to Nicaragua. Her detention came during the wave of raids and imprisonments the government carried out in the run-up to the fraudulent presidential elections of 2021 – raids and arbitrary detentions that continued all through the voting period and afterwards. She believes she was imprisoned “so we wouldn’t continue criticizing their schemes.” They considered her part of the “remnants” of the opposition.

Her life, her studies and her dreams stopped dead during the time she was in prison. She was declared guilty of treason to the homeland and of undermining the national integrity.  

Samantha was then locked up in Nicaragua’s women’s prison La Esperanza, where at least she was allowed to receive the food packages her family brought. The guards were forbidden to speak to her, and the common prisoners weren’t even permitted to communicate with her with hand gestures.

“I suffered over the pain I caused my mother”

Samantha has a very close relationship with her mother. She says her mother is everything to her, and her principal pain was the suffering it caused her mother to see her locked up.

“My mother is everything to me, she’s my best friend and everything I am, I owe to her. She’s always urged me on and supported me, so for her to lose me in this sense – physically, seeing me suffer and seeing me in those circumstances was very painful, a very hard blow.  I’ve always said my suffering wasn’t for me, but for her,” she recognized.

Samantha was one of the first of those banished to say yes to Spain’s offer to grant the banished prisoners that nationality, although she has some concerns, because she wants to continue her communications studies in the United States.

“The problem is, we don’t have a lot of information about how the immigration process is going to work, or if these two things will be compatible. What they told me was that if I accepted Spanish nationality, I couldn’t apply for asylum, because then my country wasn’t persecuting me,” she stated.

Her one desire is to study

Despite the evident scars from the psychological torture and from being locked up for so long, she declares she’s optimistic and confident she’ll be able to overcome all this.

She’s also firm in her commitment to defend the free expression that’s been cut off in her country, and that’s the motivation behind her desire to continue her academic preparation.

“I’m interested in staying here (in the United States) for the academic opportunity. I want to study, I believe it’s important to finish my education, because in the future Nicaragua is going to need us, the youth, to come and rebuild it,” she declared.

“I’m passionate about a career in communications, it’s the best field in the world, the best profession in the world,” she continued. Samantha Jiron wants to “urge the youth, and those who are studying or wanting to study a career, to continue [in journalism], because when we opt for this career, we have a responsibility towards society, we have a great responsibility to communicate, and fulfill the right of the community to be informed.”