Nicaraguan Political Prisoners Families Denounce Horrible Mistreatment

Beatings and other forms of torture at the La Modelo prison

Exterior of the prison known as “La Modelo”, located 25 kilometers north of Managua. The majority of the political prisoners are being held here. Photo: EFE / Jorge Torres

“They suffered blows to their privates, their arms, their legs, their back; they were even kicked in the face,” relatives denounced.

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – Relatives of several political prisoners, backed by the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh), denounced the beating and psychological torture that prisoners of conscience Steven Mendoza, Bryan Kesler and Kevin Solis suffered recently in the “Jorge Navarro” penitentiary, commonly known as “La Modelo”.

Elizabeth Gonzalez, Steven Mendoza’s wife, learned from other prisoners that Steven was beaten by prison guards on January 13th, following the family visit. She also says that he himself commented that day that he was being constantly harassed by the personnel of “El Modelo”.

“We attended the family visit in the morning. When it was about to end, they insisted we sign the document where it says that our prisoners are well, that they haven’t been beaten, that they’re receiving medical attention and food. We know that’s all a lie, because they’ve turned back some food [the family brings] and I know they’re not giving him all his medications. This was the fourth visit where we didn’t sign anything,” she explained.

Gonzales continued: “That [refusal] was the last straw.” On the afternoon of that same visiting day, other political prisoners told their families that in reprisal for refusing to sign the document, they’d beaten her husband and some other political prisoners.

“They received blows to their privates, on the arms, the legs, the back; they even kicked them in the face, all with the brutality with which they treat the political prisoners,” the families denounced.

“They’re living a true martyrdom”

The political prisoner’s wife mentioned that the next visit isn’t scheduled until February 26, but that she’s trying to find out more about her husband’s condition.

“What my husband is living through is a constant torture, and I ask the government to have a conscience, to stop causing so much harm to the political prisoners and to the Nicaraguan people. We won’t shut up, nor will we ever give up demanding their freedom,” she declared.

Elizabeth Gonzalez also commented that her husband has had fever, a cough, dizziness, nausea, and hives. “They’re not giving him medical attention, and we’re going to continue denouncing that, too,” she insisted.

Steven Mendoza is from Masaya. He was arrested in Rivas on March 5, 2020, after returning from exile in Costa Rica, and accused of drug trafficking, which many political prisoners are routinely charged.

“He returned because I was a month away from giving birth. Then he was detained. He never even saw the baby girl until she was seven months old,” Elizabeth recounted.

Hansi Aleman is Bryan Kesler’s sister. She stated that two guards, whose last names are Tellez and Tablada “go into his cell every day to say things to him that are psychologically harmful.”

They’re constantly threatening to plant drugs on him and then accuse him of an internal prison crime. This time, they also beat him ferociously, because we refused to sign the documents they use to make it seem like everything’s fine with them,” she denounced.

Bryan was arrested on August 14, 2020, and also accused of drug trafficking.

Unventilated cells

The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh) posted an alert that the life of university student and political prisoner Kevin Solis is “at risk”, due to the physical and psychological tortures he’s suffering in “La Modelo”.

Those in Cenidh recalled that the young student leader, an active participant in the 2018 protests, remains locked up in a solitary cell known as “little hell”. Solis participated in the protests and occupation at the Nicaraguan National Autonomous University in Managua. He was also one of the students forced to seek shelter in the Church of the Divine Mercy on July 14, 2018, when the police and paramilitary forces attacked the students.

Solis was abducted by police just outside the Central American University (UCA) in Managua on February 6, 2020, after Ortega sympathizers circulated his photo with the caption “Wanted”, due to his participation in the student protests.

The Ortega courts sentenced Solis to five years, six months in prison, for the alleged crime of aggravated robbery. His accuser was an Ortega sympathizer who had infiltrated a protest being held by university students from the UCA.

His family has denounced the fact that the youth is in an unventilated cell, in total isolation, with no communication with other people. He’s not allowed out for sunlight, nor is he allowed to make phone calls.

“He’s a victim of torture and is in serious emotional condition. He’s suffered from colds and fevers, recurrent headaches and loss of sleep,” denounced the human rights organization on their Twitter feed.

In February 2020, when Solis was still locked up in the El Chipote jail, the university student’s family told the media that the young man was being tortured by officials of the jail complex, specifically by a “Commissioner Pacheco”. This jail official was removing him from his cell in the very early morning and turning a high-pressure hose on him.

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times.