The Drama of 3-Time Political Prisoner Danny Garcia

Danny Garcia and his wife Ruth Matute. //Photo: Carlos Herrera

A Masaya artisan awaits a new political trial by Daniel Ortega’s justice system

By Ivette Munguía (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – If Danny Garcia, a political prisoner of the Daniel Ortega regime, was not abducted by the Police on September 14, he would probably be in Masaya, his hometown, dancing at the patron saint festivities in praise to “San Geronimo” (Saint Jerome), of whom he is a devoted worshiper.

However, in jail, for the third time in two years, he can barely say a prayer to him. He must wait for a “miracle” to be reunited with his family. He hasn’t seen them since the morning he returned to prison.

On the day of his most recent arrest, three Police patrols arrived at Danny’s home at 5:40 in the morning. About twenty officers, without a judicial warrant, entered the house and searched the place for half an hour.

His wife Ruth Matute said “they found nothing” relating to the opposition. Five months earlier, on April 10, they also raided the house and arrested Danny. They took all the blue and white paraphernalia he and Ruth, also a former political prisoner, used to sell online.

The officers handcuffed Danny with hands behind his back, led him to one of their pick-up trucks. When they were about to leave, one of them returned to the interior of the house. “He returned for the motorcycle” of the prisoner and also took “his helmet,” recalls his wife.

Searching for Danny

Ruth looked for Danny at the Masaya Police Station, but no one there gave an answer. Two days later she found out her husband was taken to the infamous El Chipote jail in Managua. She found out when he was presented as a criminal by the official propaganda media. The Police presented him with William Caldera Navarrete, whom Ruth says she does not know.

The Police claimed they arrested Danny and Caldera near Masaya’s “San Geronimo” roundabout, on September 14 at 7:30 a.m. They allegedly found 10 explosive devices with their detonator, two 38mm revolvers and 5.4 kilos of marihuana, distributed in a backpack and a sack. The Public Ministry charged them a day later for explosives trafficking, illegal possession of firearms and drug trafficking.

The Police report says the suspects admitted that the explosives would be used to attack Masaya City Hall. Their objective being to “sow panic and anxiety” in the neighborhoods of that city. Allegations which “are false,” affirms Ruth. “The three times they arrested him he was taken out of his house,” she emphasized.

An artisan of indigenous descent

Danny Garcia, 32, is an artisan of the indigenous neighborhood of Monimbo, in Masaya. Before the 2018 April Rebellion, he worked in his family’s fireworks workshop until the Police confiscated them. He learned that trade from his father, Julio Garcia, since he was a child. But it wasn’t until he graduated from high school that he began to work and earn his own money.

Political prisoner Danny Garcia arrested for the third time. // Photo: Taken from “19 Digital”

His relatives say his trade as a fireworks technician is why the Police have imprisoned him three times. On October 6, 2018, after Monimbo rebelled against the Ortega regime, a group of officers entered the Garcia house and captured Danny along with Martin Suazo and his son Edwar Suazo. The next day his wife Ruth went to leave him breakfast at the Masaya police station and they arrested her.

“They put me in jail and immediately took me to “El Chipote,” recalls Ruth. Meanwhile, at the Masaya police station, Danny, Martin and Edwar were released, at around 9:00 am. However, Danny’s freedom did not last long. That same day the Police “told him that if he didn’t surrender to the police, they would not release me.” So he presented himself at “El Chipote,” but “the two of us were left imprisoned,” the woman recalls.

The Ortega police and prosecutors invent charges for political prisoners

Ruth, Danny and other relatives of theirs were charged by the Prosecutor’s Office of manufacturing restricted weapons, financing terrorism and conspiracy against the Government. They were first locked up in “El Chipote” for 49 days. “We would yell at each other to know if we were okay,” recalls Ruth. “Later, they separated us completely when they moved me to “La Esperanza” (prison) and Danny to “La Modelo.”

From those days in jail, Allan Gomez, a released political prisoner, remembers Danny as a “quiet remote” person, whom the Police pursues “because he had that pyrotechnic workshop.” But before imprisoning them, “they took everything from them,” he emphasized. Danny and his wife were released from prison on February 27, 2019.

From making paraphernalia to manufacturing coffins

Upon release from prison, job opportunities for political prisoners were practically nil. Danny and Ruth began selling paraphernalia at the blue and white fairs organized by the Association of Nicaraguan Political Prisoners. However, that upset the police. The officers besieged them until the released prisoners decided to stop selling for security reasons.

The besiegement was difficult, explains Ruth. “We felt that sooner or later they were going to enter (the fair) and take us away.”  Unfortunately, their omen was fulfilled, on April 10, 2020, Police officers raided their home, and took away the few paraphernalia they still had to sell online. Danny was arrested for the second time.

“He was imprisoned for four days” in the Masaya police station under investigation, but he was released, says Ruth. A publication of “Articulo 66” stated at the time that Danny didn’t want to give interviews to the media. The reason being the Police threatened him. Since then he tried to go unnoticed.

Danny Garcia, political prisoner. // Photo: Carlos Herrera

With the Covid-19 pandemic came the job opportunity that Danny was waiting for. “He is a carpenter and learned to build coffins,” explains Ruth. He was working at a funeral home and business was “going very well” until his arrest for the third time.

Relatives have not seen him for 21 days

The last time that Ruth saw Danny was the morning he went back to prison. A week after his arrest, she went to visit him at “El Chipote.” However, they said Danny didn’t have the right to a visit and told her to return two days later. “The visit was Thursday but on Wednesday he was transferred to the Penitentiary System,” says Ruth. “We have not seen him, we don’t know how he is, if he is okay or if something happened to him,” she continues.

Attorney Yonarqui Martinez is the only person who has seen Danny since he was arrested, but there is very little she can do for him. During the initial hearing, on September 29, a Managua judge Karen Chavarria, admitted the evidence presented by the Prosecutor’s Office. She scheduled the trial for November 17, at 9:00 a.m.

Meanwhile, in Masaya Ruth and her eight-year-old son asked “San Jeronimo” for Danny’s freedom. They are sure that, if he were free, he would not miss “for any reason” the patron saint festivities. He would put on his “cotona” and dance until he couldn’t anymore. They say that “he loves being there when the (image) Saint it taken out of the church and brought back.”

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