Nicaraguan Political Prisoners “House Arrest” that Ortega Hides

Political prisoners of the Ortega-Murillo regime incommunicado under house arrest.

The dictatorship extends isolation and silence to relatives, doctors’ visits are not allowed, and the condition of the prisoners is unknown. 

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – The fear that their family members will be locked up again in a cell of the infamous jail known as El Chipote, has silence them. Isolated, under permanent police surveillance, inside and outside their homes, and totally incommunicado. Relatives of the thirteen political prisoners under “house arrest” endure the extended prison the regime has installed in their homes.

Between June 2, 2021, and August 19, 2022, the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo turned thirteen houses into an expansion of their prisons in the country, locking up thirteen political prisoners: four by police order ratified by pro-Ortega judges; five for their “health condition” of which no details are confirmed; three without official explanation, and one—Bishop Rolando Jose Alvarez—for “investigation” without cause or conviction.

Human rights defenders have denounced that, even though these people serve jail time in their homes, the restrictions extend to their families; because they have no access to any type of communication with the outside world, since their cell phones, fixed-line phones, computers, radios and television are prohibited. They cannot receive sunlight anytime they want or go out to the patio of their homes. Every day at six in the morning and six in the afternoon, they are photographed by police officers. They also have no access to adequate and timely medical attention and are not allowed to speak to their lawyers.

Police-ordered house arrest

The political prisoners who are under house arrest by police order ratified by a pro-Ortega judge are:

  • Independent presidential candidate and former president of the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation, Cristiana Chamorro Barrios, since June 2, 2021.
  • Former deputy of the Constitutionalist Liberal Party (PLC) and wife of former President Arnoldo Aleman, Maria Fernanda Flores, as of June 21, 2021.
  • Conservative politician and presidential hopeful who would compete in the Citizens Alliance for Freedom (CxL), Noel Vidaurre, as of July 24, 2021.
  • Political commentator Jaime Arellano, as of July 24, 2021.
Cristiana Chamorro Barrios, former independent presidential hopeful. Photo: Confidencial.

Cristiana Chamorro Barrios

Arrested: June 2, 2021.

Date of house arrest: June 2, 2021.

Sentence: March 11, 2022, for allegedly committing the crimes of “abusive management, misrepresentation, misappropriation and wrongful retention and laundering of money, property and assets.”

The also journalist was placed under house arrest after the Ortega-Murillo regime’s Prosecutor’s Office ordered an “investigation” for the alleged crime of money laundering against the organization she presided over.

Ortega’s justice system found Chamorro Barrios guilty as charged on March 11 sentencing her to eight years in prison. In the same case, former Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation (FVBCh) workers Marcos Fletes and Walter Gomez were sentenced to thirteen years in prison each; driver Pedro Vasquez, to seven years, and the former deputy Pedro Joaquín Chamorro to nine years.

Defense lawyers of Chamorro Barrios denounced that the lengthy trial, held behind closed doors in El Chipote, failed to prove the commission of any crime. Newspaper reports inform that the former presidential candidate remains incommunicado in her home, guarded by policemen inside and outside her property.

Former deputy Maria Fernanda Flores de Aleman and wife of former Nicaraguan President Arnoldo Aleman speaks at a press conference. Photo: EFE/Jorge Torres.

Maria Fernanda Flores de Aleman

Arrested: June 21, 2021.

Date of house arrest: June 21, 2021.

Sentenced: February 4, 2022, for alleged “conspiracy to undermine national integrity.”

The Ortega justice system accused her of carrying out acts of conspiracy to undermine national integrity, declaring her guilty, on February 4, in a political trial of a single hearing held in El Chipote, and sentencing her to eight years in prison plus disqualification from holding public office.

The former first lady was removed from her post as a National Assembly legislator on November 26, 2020, and thus lost her parliamentary immunity. Deputy Maria Haydee Osuna, president of the Constitutionalist Liberal Party (PLC) promoted the motion against Flores. She also supported the Sandinista Front effort to divest the Citizens for Liberty Party (CxL) from its legal status with three months to go for the 2021 general elections.

“For them to have stripped me of my immunity and my constitutional rights, through a vote that took place in the Assembly, arbitrarily, also evidences the type of government and dictatorship we live in Nicaragua,” denounced Flores upon her departure from the plenary of the National Assembly in 2020, where she always tried to position herself as an opposition force to the regime. However, her image was always under the shadow of the acts of corruption committed by her husband, former president Aleman.

Noel José Vidaurre Argüello

Noel Jose Vidaurre Arguello

Arrested: July 24, 2021.

Date of house arrest: July 24, 2021.

Sentence: February 25, 2022, for allegedly “conspiring to undermine national integrity.”

Patrols of the pro-Ortega police arrived at his home on Saturday, July 24, 2021, to inform him that he was being investigated for “conspiracy” and that from that moment on he was under house arrest.

On February 25, 2022, the Ortega justice system found him guilty of the alleged crime of “conspiracy” to undermine national integrity and sentenced him to nine years in prison plus disqualification from holding public office.

At present, Vidaurre has been under house arrest for 13 months, isolated and incommunicado, but the conditions in which he and his family members are kept by the police are unknown. Human rights defenders told Confidencial that the families of political prisoners under house arrest have taken refuge in silence to “prevent” their relative from being sent back to El Chipote.

Jaime Arellano, file photo of El Nuevo Diario.

Jaime José Arellano Arana

Arrested: July 24, 2021.

Date of house arrest: July 24, 2021, by police order ratified by pro-Ortega judge.

Sentence: February 25, 2022, for the alleged crime of “conspiracy to undermine national integrity.”

The political commentator was arrested after attending an interrogation at the Public Prosecutor’s Office. The regime’s police informed that he would be kept under house arrest because he was being investigated for allegedly violating the Sovereignty Law, Law 1055.

On February 25, 2022, Arellano was convicted for the alleged crime of “conspiracy to undermine national integrity” and sentenced to thirteen years in prison. Arellano has been under house arrest for thirteen months and so far, details of his condition are unknown, although press reports indicate that—like other political prisoners he is isolated and incommunicado, under strict police surveillance inside and outside his home.

Those under house arrest due to their “health condition”

The political prisoners who after several months in the cells of El Chipote were changed to the system of “house arrest” due to their “health condition” are five, all of them over 60 years of age. However, their health condition is unknown and most of them have not been allowed to be attended by independent doctors. All of them, moreover, were transferred after the death of another prisoner of conscience, retired brigadier general, Hugo Torres, who died after falling ill as a result of mistreatment and torture in prison.

The five prisoners of conscience are:

  • Former Nicaraguan Ambassador to the United States, academic and presidential hopeful for Citizens for Freedom (CxL), Arturo Cruz Sequeira, arrested on June 5, 2021, held in El Chipote and transferred to house arrest on February 19, 2022.
  • Former liberal deputy and member of the Civic Alliance, Jose Pallais Arana, arrested on June 9, 2021, held in El Chipote and moved to house arrest at his home in Leon on February 19, 2022.
  • Former Foreign Minister, former Ambassador to the United States and international affairs analyst, Francisco Xavier Aguirre Sacasa, arrested on July 28, 2021, held in El Chipote and transferred to house arrest on February 19, 2022.
  • Former Nicaraguan Ambassador to Costa Rica and member of the Citizens for Freedom (CxL) party, Mauricio Jose Diaz Davila, arrested on August 9, 2021, held in El Chipote and moved to house arrest on February 24, 2022.
  • Former Nicaraguan Ambassador to the OAS and international affairs analyst, Edgar Francisco Parrales Castillo, arrested on November 22, 2021, and transferred to house arrest on February 24, 2022.
Presidential hopeful Arturo Cruz after an interview in April 2021. Photo: Confidencial.

Arturo Cruz Sequeira

Arrested: June 5, 2021.

Date of house arrest: February 19, 2022, due to “health condition.”

Sentence: February 23, 2022, for the alleged crime of “conspiracy to undermine national integrity.”

The political scientist, former ambassador and presidential pre-candidate for the 2021 general elections for the Citizens for Freedom Alliance (ACxL) was arrested at the Augusto C. Sandino International Airport, in Managua, when he was returning from the United States. The Ortega police informed that the opposition leader was being investigated for alleged “treason to the homeland,” and 48 hours later, the Police raided Cruz’s house and the Judiciary ordered to extend the investigation to ninety days.

After seven months of confinement, mistreatment, and torture, on February 19, 2022, the Public Prosecutor’s Office informed that Arturo Cruz, 68 years old, would be sent home from prison due to his “health condition.” The decision by the Ortega justice system came eight days after the death, in police custody at El Chipote, of political prisoner Hugo Torres, who was also accused of alleged “treason to the homeland.”

On February 23, 2022, the Ortega justice system found Cruz guilty, along with six other political prisoners, for the alleged crime of “conspiracy to undermine national integrity to the detriment of the Nicaraguan State and society,” condemning him to nine years in prison, which he continues to serve under house arrest, although details about his health condition is unknown.

Jose Pallais, political prisoner of the Ortega-Murillo regime. // Photo: EFE.

Jose Bernard Pallais Arana

Arrested: June 9, 2021.

Date of house arrest: February 19, 2022, due to “health condition.”

Sentence: February 23, 2022, for allegedly “conspiring to undermine national integrity.”

On the day of his arrest, his home was raided, and the Ortega police informed that he was being investigated for allegedly violating the Sovereignty Law. Pallais remained confined in the cells of El Chipote for eight months. He suffered mistreatment, torture and serious health problems reported by relatives. On February 19, 2022, also eight days after the death under police custody of political prisoner Hugo Torres, the Ortega justice system informed that Pallais was being sent to house arrest due to his “health condition,” although no details were provided.

The regime’s justice system sentenced Pallais to thirteen years in prison for the alleged crime of “conspiracy to undermine national integrity to the detriment of the State of Nicaragua and society.” Currently, he has been under house arrest for six months, however, the conditions in which he and his family find themselves are unknown.

Former Foreign Minister, Francisco Aguirre Sacasa. // Photo: Confidencial.

Francisco Xavier Aguirre Sacasa

Arrested: July 28, 2021.

Date of house arrest: February 19, 2022.

Sentence: February 8, 2022, for allegedly “conspiring to undermine national integrity.”

The former foreign minister and ex-Ambassador of Nicaragua to the United States was arrested when he was returning to his home in Managua, after Immigration authorities prevented his departure to Costa Rica, through the Penas Blancas, Rivas border.

The Ortega justice system informed the Aguirre Sacasa’s capture until July 29, 2021, indicating that the ex-diplomat was at El Chipote, being investigated for alleged treason under Law 1055 and that the period of investigation was extended to ninety days.

On February 8, 2022, Aguirre Sacasa was found guilty of the alleged crime of “conspiracy to undermine national integrity,” and sentenced to eight years in prison. Nine days later, also after the death under police custody of retired general Hugo Torres, he was transferred to the house arrest system due to “health” reasons.

Currently, the conditions in which Aguirre Sacasa is being held under house arrest are unknown.

Former diplomat Mauricio Diaz. Photo: Confidencial

Mauricio Jose Diaz Davila

Arrested: August 9, 2021.

Date of house arrest: February 24, 2022, due to “health reasons.”

Sentence: February 16, 2022, for alleged “conspiracy to undermine national integrity.”

The former Nicaraguan ambassador to Costa Rica and national board member of the Citizens for Freedom Party (CxL), was arrested after being intercepted by a group of police officers, who beat his son and the lawyer accompanying him, after they left from testifying before the regime´s Prosecutor’s Office.

Diaz Davila, 71 years old, was accused of allegedly “conspiring to undermine national security” and was found guilty on February 16, in a closed doors trial held in El Chipote.

The Ortega justice system sentenced the former diplomat to nine years in prison on February 24, confirming the enforcement of the sentence in prison. However, hours later, the Public Prosecutor’s Office released a statement announcing the change of the prison system to house arrest, citing humanitarian reasons due to the political prisoner’s health, although it did not give details of his health condition.

Political prisoner Edgar Parrales has been under house arrest since February 25, 2022. Photo: Confidencial.

Edgar Francisco Parrales Castillo

Arrested: November 22, 2021.

Date of house arrest: February 24, 2022, due to his “health condition.”

Sentence: April 26, 2022, for alleged “conspiracy to undermine national integrity” and “spreading fake news.”

The former Nicaraguan representative to the Organization of American States (OAS) was captured and taken by armed civilians to the facilities of El Chipote on November 22, 2021. He was accused of allegedly “conspiring to undermine national integrity” and “spreading fake news,” and sentenced to eight years in prison plus a fine equivalent to 36,000 córdobas.

Since his abduction, relatives of the prisoner of conscience denounced the deterioration of Parrales’ health, who required a specialized colonoscopy because he has chronic digestive problems. His large intestine was surgically removed ten years ago, he has diverticulitis and a hernia.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office reported on February 24 that Parrales would be sent to house arrest due to his health condition, although no details were given on his condition.

Confidencial learned that the former diplomat is kept under strict surveillance in his house and has better access to the food he requires due to chronic problems, although he lacks access to specialized and timely medical care.

Transferred to house arrest without official justification

Three of the political prisoners of the regime, all of them over 60 years of age, were moved to “house arrest” after several months in prison:

  • Former deputy and member of the Citizens for Freedom (CxL) party, Pedro Joaquin Chamorro Barrios, arrested on June 25, 2021, and moved to house arrest on April 30, 2022.
  • Former deputy foreign minister and member of UNAMOS (formerly MRS), Victor Hugo Tinoco Fonseca, detained on June 17, 2021, and moved to house arrest on May 16, 2022.
  • Former president of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (COSEP) and member of the Civic Alliance, Jose Adan Aguerri Chamorro, arrested on June 8, 2021, moved to house arrest on August 18, 2022.
Former congressman Pedro Joaquin Chamorro Barrios with his sister Cristiana. Both are now political prisoners of the Ortega regime.

Pedro Joaquin Chamorro Barrios

Arrested: June 25, 2021.

Date of house arrest: April 30, 2022, without official explanation.

Sentence: March 11, 2022, for the alleged crimes of “misappropriation and unlawful retention,” and alleged “abusive management.”

The former congressman, eldest son of former Nicaraguan President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro and of the Martyr of Public Freedoms, Pedro Joaquin Chamorro Cardenal, was accused of allegedly carrying out acts that undermine Nicaragua’s sovereignty.

Chamorro Barrios, 70, was sentenced —along with four other political prisoners— to nine years in prison: six for the alleged crime of misappropriation and unlawful retention, and three for alleged abusive management.

Relatives of the political prisoner denounced that due to the mistreatment and deplorable prison conditions that he suffered for ten months in El Chipote, the political prisoner’s health had gradually deteriorated, causing a serious loss of weight and several chronic illnesses effects.

On April 30, after more than 300 days imprisoned in El Chipote, Chamorro Barrios was taken to his home, neighbors of his residential area in the vicinity of the Church of Las Sierritas de Santo Domingo confirmed to Confidencial, who saw a minibus of the Directorate of Judicial Assistance arrive. However, the Public Prosecutor’s Office did not publicly inform of the change of measure.

Victor Hugo Tinoco. Photo: Courtesy of Jorge Mejia Peralta.

Victor Hugo Tinoco Fonseca

Arrested: June 13, 2021.

Date of house arrest: May 16, 2022, without official explanation.

Sentence: February 11, 2022, for allegedly committing the crime of “undermining national integrity.”

The former Deputy Foreign Minister and former Sandinista guerrilla, dissident of the Sandinista Front of National Liberation (FSLN), was imprisoned in El Chipote, accused of allegedly committing the crime of “undermining national integrity.”

On February 21, a pro-Ortega court sentenced him to thirteen years in prison and disqualification from public office, confirming that he would serve his sentence under a prison regime. However, on May 16, sources close to the prisoner of conscience confirmed that he was sent home. The Public Prosecutor’s Office did not publicly report Tinoco’s transfer.

Tinoco’s relatives had requested on several occasions the change of prison measure, since the political prisoner suffers from several health conditions, among them, hypertension and asthma.

At present, the 69-year-old political prisoner remains heavily guarded in his home. The family members who live there were also left totally incommunicado: without internet, cable, cellphones, tablets, computers or television.

Jose Adan Aguerri, former president of COSEP, in a 2019 picture. // Photo: Archive / Confidencial.

Jose Adan Aguerri Chamorro

Arrested: June 8, 2021.

Date of house arrest: August 18, 2022, without official explanation.

Sentence: February 23, 2022, for the alleged crime of “conspiracy to undermine national integrity.”

The former president of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (COSEP) and member of the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy was accused of allegedly committing the crime of “conspiracy to undermine national integrity to the detriment of the State of Nicaragua and society.”

On March 3, Aguerri Chamorro was sentenced—together with six other political prisoners—to thirteen years in prison, after being found guilty on February 23, in a trial held for seven days behind closed doors in El Chipote.

On August 18, according to pro-government media, the political prisoner was sent home to house arrest due to his health condition, although no details were provided. However, the Public Prosecutor’s Office did not publicly inform about the change of measure.

Relatives of Aguerri Chamorro, 60, had denounced that as a result of the prison conditions suffered by the political prisoner in El Chipote, he presented weight loss, partial loss of sight in his left eye and blood pressure problems.

Under investigation, without trial or conviction

After more than two weeks of siege, locked up in the Episcopal Curia of Matagalpa, the Bishop of the Diocese of Matagalpa and Administrator of the Diocese of Esteli, Monsignor Rolando Alvarez, was kidnapped together with seven of his collaborators and sent to house arrest on August 19, 2022. The bishop was taken to his parents’ home in Managua, which had previously been raided.

Monsignor Rolando Jose Alvarez prays on his knees in front of policemen who besiege him in the curia. Photo: taken from ACJD.

Monsignor Rolando Alvarez Lagos

Arrested: August 19, 2022.

Date of house arrest: August 19, 2022.

Cause: Under “investigation.” There is no trial or sentence.

The most recent case of house arrest imposed by the Ortega-Murillo regime is that of Monsignor Rolando Alvarez Lagos, who was first locked up from August 4 to 19 in the Episcopal Curia of Matagalpa, along with eight other people, seven of whom are currently imprisoned in El Chipote. Alvarez was later kidnapped and transferred to his parents’ home in Managua, where the Ortega police are keeping him under “house arrest,” after informing that he is being investigated for allegedly “organizing violent groups” and “carrying out acts of hatred.”

The Archdiocese of Managua informed that Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes spoke with Monsignor Alvarez after he was taken to his parents’ home in Managua and that he observed that his “physical condition has deteriorated,” but his “mood and spirit are strong.”

Before being taken to Managua, Alvarez remained active in social networks, informing about his health and doing live transmissions of his prayers on the Facebook page of the Diocese of Matagalpa, but since August 19, he was restricted from using any means of communication.

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.