Nicaraguan Business Leader Jose Adan Aguerri Back in El Chipote

He had been under house arrest for nearly three months after over a year in jail

Jose Adan Aguerri, former president of Nicaragua’s Superior Council of Private Enterprise (COSEP). The photo was taken in 2019, prior to his arrest. Photo: Confidencial archives

The political prisoner and former Cosep president was escorted back to a cell in Managua’s infamous El Chipote jail.

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – Jose Adan Aguerri, former president of Nicaragua’s business organization (COSEP) and a current political prisoner, was transferred back to a jail cell at Managua’s El Chipote jail following nearly three months of house arrest. The argument for the sudden hardening of his detention conditions was “failing to comply with the norms of house arrest.” This, in turn, was apparently related to the police watch on his home, sources close to the case explained to Confidencial.

On August 18 of this year, Aguerri was remanded to house arrest after 14+ months in El Chipote. He’s been sentenced to thirteen years in prison by a judge who receives orders from the Ortega-Murillo regime.

Aguerri is the first political prisoner to be returned to El Chipote after being granted house arrest. The business leader was moved there on November 9th. As of the moment, neither the National Police nor the Interior Ministry have offered an official explanation of the reasons for the change. Cosep, the major business organization Aguerri at one time led, has also failed to offer a statement.

The entire incident has been shrouded in hermetic silence. Sources close to the business leader say only that the police alleged a supposed failure to comply with the norms of house arrest.

Human rights advocates told Confidencial that although these prisoners of conscience are being allowed to serve their sentences under home confinement, they and their families must accept many restrictions. The prisoners are allowed no access to any communication with the outside world: cellphones, land lines, computers, radios and television are all forbidden. They’re also not allowed to go out to their own yards any time they want to receive sunlight.

Twice a day – at 6 am and again at 6 pm – police agents take their picture. Like those in jail, they’re denied adequate medical care and communication with private lawyers. Their residences are under constant police guard.

[Editor’s Note: Today, November 11, Aguerri’s wife Maria Germania Carrion was abducted by the Ortega Police and taken prisoner to the El Chipote jail. Likewise, former Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Francisco Aguirre Sacasa, also under house arrest, was returned Friday to the El Chipote jail. Sacasa was first jailed on July 28, 2021, and remanded to house arrest on February 19, 2022.]

Supposed lapse of security alleged as motive

A source linked to one of the Chambers of Commerce associated with COSEP stated under guarantee of anonymity: “They apparently think there was some failure in the security surrounding him,” some” shock” to the guard system surrounding the prisoner of conscience.

Juan Diego Barbarena, leader of the opposition organization Blue and White Unity that operates in exile, declared to the EFE news agency that he was disconcerted by the change in Aguerri’s prison regimen. “If we go by logic, there’s no reason to change the measure, because the principal issue is that there be no danger of evading the conditions of the sentence. These people are at home, but outside of that they’re subject to the same coercive measures as in El Chipote,” Barbarena stated.

When Aguerri was returned to his home, a source from the business community expressed shock at the former COSEP president’s physical appearance. “I can only tell you that he’s showing considerable physical deterioration. It’s as if he’s aged some five years,” the source said at that time.

The dictatorship’s judicial authorities haven’t specified or divulged information or images regarding the state of health of Aguerri, who is 60. He also lost his mother during his time in prison, but authorities didn’t grant him permission to attend her funeral.

The Police arrested Aguerri on June 8, 2021, amid a wave of arrests that preceded the November 7, 2021, presidential election. During the same period, over 60 opposition figures, student and rural leaders, journalists and independent professionals were imprisoned, along with seven presidential hopefuls who had aspired to compete against Ortega.

Aguerri’s return to jail has sparked reactions of rejection and protest. “What’s going on in El Chipote? We address this question directly to the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. Together with the obedient police force, they’re stomping all over the national and international legal norms,” the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights declared, according to the EFE report.

Similarly, former OAS ambassador Arturo McFields, now in exile, wrote on his Twitter account: “Returning Jose Adan Aguerri to El Chipote is immoral, illegal, and arbitrary. Ortega the gangster has taken a hit to his finances, hence, with holes in his pockets, he continues his extorsion of private enterprise, venting his fury on one of their leaders.” He also demanded “freedom for the 220 political prisoners.” McFields himself separated from the Ortega government in March 2022, offering a dramatic denunciation of the regime before the OAS Permanent Council.

A lawyer involved in the cases of political prisoners stated anonymously that he doesn’t believe Aguerri’s case represents a pattern that’s going to be repeated with the other prisoners of conscience currently under house arrest. Nonetheless, one more, Francisco Aguirre Sacasa, 77, was taken from his house arrest back to El Chipote on Friday.

Eleven political prisoners currently serving under house arrest

In addition to Aguerri and Sacasa, 11 other prisoners of conscience have been granted house arrest by police orders that have been ratified by an Ortega-chosen judge.  Four of them have been under house arrest from the beginning:

  • Christina Chamorro Barrios, independent former presidential hopeful and ex-director of the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foudation, arrested on June 2, 2021.
  • Maria Fernanda Flores, former deputy for the Liberal Constitutionalist Party and wife of former Nicaraguan president Arnoldo Aleman, arrested on June 21, 2021.
  • Noel Vidaurre, conservative party politician, and former presidential hopeful with the now-defunct Citizens for Liberty Party, arrested on July 24, 2021.
  • Jaime Arrellano, political commentator, imprisoned since July 24, 2021.

Five other political prisoners were remanded to house arrest after months in the cells of El Chipote for reason of “their health conditions.” All of them are over 60. However, their present state of health is unknown, and the majority haven’t been allowed to receive care from independent physicians.

This group were transferred following the death of prisoner of conscience and retired Brigadier General Hugo Torres, who died after becoming ill from the mistreatment and cruel conditions in prison. They are:

  • Arturo Cruz Sequeira, former Nicaraguan ambassador to the U.S., intellectual and formerly aspiring presidential candidate for the now-outlawed Citizens for Liberty party. Cruz was arrested and taken to El Chipote on June 5 2021, and transferred to house arrest on February 19, 2022.
  • Jose Pallais Arana, former deputy for the Liberal Party, and a member of the Civic Alliance at the time of his arrest. He was jailed at El Chipote from June 9, 2021 until February 19, 2022, when he was allowed to serve his sentence in his Leon residence.
  • Mauricio Jose Diaz Davila, former Nicaraguan ambassador to Costa Rica and member of the Citizens for Liberty party, jailed on August 9, 2021 and released to house arrest on February 24, 2022.
  • Edgar Francisco Parrales Castillo, former Nicaraguan representative to the OAS and international political analyst, detained on November 22, 2021, and conceded house arrest on February 24, 2022.
  • Francisco Aguirre Sacasa, a former Nicaraguan Foreign Minister, former ambassador to the United States and analyst on international issues, was arrested on July 28, 2021. He was in the El Chipote jail until his transfer to house arrest on February 19, 2022. Today he was taken back to El Chipote.

Aguerri’s transfer “without official justification”

Aguerri had been among three other political prisoners over 60 who were sent to house arrest following several months in prison, but with “no official justification.” As of now, only Aguerri has been returned to jail. The other two are:

  • Pedro Joaquin Chamorro Barrios, former deputy and member of the Citizens for Liberty Party, now outlawed. Chamorro was detained on June 25, 2021, and transferred to house arrest on April 30, 2022.
  • Victor Hugo Tinoco Fonseca, former deputy foreign minister and member of Unamos, (formerly the Sandinista Renewal Movement). Tinoco was jailed on June 17, 2021 and remanded to house arrest on May 16, 2022.

*The latest case of a prisoner of conscience who was given house arrest is Bishop Rolando Alvarez, who was first confined by police to the Matagalpa Curia and held there with eight other people from August 4-19, 2022.

Monsignor Alvarez was then abducted and transported to his parents’ home in Managua, where he still remains under house arrest. The regime claims he’s under investigation for supposedly “organizing violent groups” and “carrying out acts of hate.”

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