Nicaraguan Muralist Held Captive for over 200 Days

A photo of muralist Kevin Laguna before he became one of the more than 140 political prisoners still detained in Nicaragua. // Photo: Taken from social media

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – Muralist and painter Kevin Laguna Guevara has been a political prisoner of Daniel Ortega’s regime for over 200 days after attempting to portray Sheynnis Palacios, the first Nicaraguan to win the Miss Universe crown, on a wall in the city of Estelí. He is currently held under inhumane conditions and without medical attention.

The Legal Defense Unit (UDJ) denounced on June 20 on their X account that Laguna, known in the artistic world as “Vink,” has faced mistreatment ever since the day of his abduction on November 21, 2023.

“He was taken to District III of Managua where, among more than 20 police officers, they cut off his dreadlocks and mocked him. They left him with only three dreadlocks,” detailed the legal defenders, which seek to pressure the dictatorship by exposing the artist’s situation.

Laguna loved his dreadlocks and considered them a “distinctive part” of his life and career, noted the defenders.

A mural was being painted in Estelí in homage to Nicaraguan Sheynnis Palacios, crowned Miss Universe 2023. The police prevented the artists from completing the mural, and the wall was repainted white. Photo: Screenshot from social media video

Kevin Laguna Also Does Not Receive Medical Attention

“The political prisoner Kevin Laguna Guevara has been detained for over 210 days in the La Modelo Penitentiary System. He is held under inhumane conditions and without medical attention to verify his health status. Additionally, he suffers psychological torture,” emphasizes the defender’s complaint.

Guevara was detained along with artist Oscar Parrilla Blandón, known as “Torch Mistico,” while they were painting a mural in honor of the current Miss Universe, Sheynnis Palacios. After announcing the progress of the mural on TikTok, they canceled its completion due to police threats if they continued. However, they did not escape abduction.

“The mural ended there. We intended to finish, we kept our word, but the authorities did not allow us to continue,” wrote Guevara on his social media.

The artists were reported missing for several days before human rights organizations and family members confirmed they were in police custody.

On June 18, families of Nicaragua’s political prisoners made an “urgent” call to Nicaraguan civil society and the international community to join the “desperate cry” for freedom for the political detainees.

They expressed their “desperation and concern” for their relatives’ situation, who —in each visit— ask if there are negotiations or campaigns for their release.

Muralist Was Threatened Since 2018

On November 23, 2018, Laguna was arrested for painting a whale illustrated with plastic waste inside it on a wall of the Estelí municipal cemetery, intending to raise community awareness about the importance of keeping beaches clean and preventing the extinction of animal life, reported the digital media Darío Medios.

The artist was released due to pressure from civil society organizations, although the police did not provide any explanation for his detention at that time.

“In that same year, he created a mural in homage to the students and young people murdered during the April citizen protests, demanding the ousting of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, an act that was not well-received by the government,” the media cited.

The artist’s abduction occurred due to the regime’s discontent and fear of the spontaneous celebrations by Nicaraguan citizens over Sheynnis Palacios’ victory on November 18, 2023, in El Salvador. The achievement, viewed unfavorably by the Ortega-Murillo family, triggered a wave of repressive actions, including preventing Karen Celebertti, then director of Miss Nicaragua, from returning to the country, alongside the abduction of her husband and son and their subsequent expulsion from their country.

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times.