Accountant narrates his release & deportation from Nicaragua

Alexis Peralta, was one of the 222 political prisoners exiled by the dictatorship on February 9th

Alexis Peralta Espinoza, originally from Condega, Estelí, Nicaragua. Foto: Screenshot / La Prensa

“I climbed the airplane’s stairs, mournful as I beheld Nicaragua knowing that I was leaving my homeland. But it was also exciting to know that we were on our way to freedom.”

HAVANA TIMES – He was walking outside the hotel wearing a jacket he received as a gift, when he saw an opportunity to speak and took it: “My name is Alexis Peralta. I am originally from the city of Condega, Nicaragua. I was imprisoned for 460 days,” he said matter-of-factly, facing the camera.

Three days earlier, Alexis was in a dirty, dark, hot dungeon in Esteli. Now in front of a camera in Virginia, United States, he battles the cold and offers LA PRENSA his story as a former political prisoner, banished by Daniel Ortega’s regime. He proudly wears a blue and white ribbon that reads: Long live Nicaragua.

Peralta explains that he is distressed about still being separated from his family and having been expelled from his country, but he also shared his joy and elation by thanking God for his “freedom,” and thanking the Government of the United States for opening its doors to the 222 political prisoners released and exiled by the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. In spite of everything, he is confident that he will now be able to start a new chapter of his life.

From making coffee in his cell, to the bus, to the plane

On Thursday, February 9, Alexis was making coffee in his cell, as usual. It was 465 days since he had been deprived of liberty in the Estelí Penitentiary System. At about 6:40 p.m. an agent from the prison’s Criminal Investigations Directorate arrived and said: “Get up, you’re leaving.”

The officer instantly ordered him to change his clothes and told him to walk to the command post about 500 meters away at the prison’s exit, and put his hand on one of Alexis’ shoulders. Alexis walked in front, while the officer walked behind him.

“When I got to the command post I thought they were going to do something to me, some punishment, because whenever they took someone out, that’s what happened. But I saw that there were two more political prisoners, one from Pueblo Nuevo and another from Dipilto (municipalities of Estelí and Nueva Segovia) who were already in civilian clothes, and I said to myself: Lord you’ve performed a miracle!”

“Previously when they released political prisoners it was to take them back home, so I thought they would do the same with us,” he says. “So far, the prison authorities had not informed us of anything. They only gave specific orders.”

“But when we got to the Pan-American Highway, the Penitentiary System’s bus didn’t turn to the right, that is, instead of going north, it went south. Boarding the bus and throughout the trip we had no idea of the purpose of that transfer,” he told us.

He was afraid that he was being sent to La Modelo prison

That’s when his apprehension began. Alexis thought he was being transferred to La Modelo prison in Tipitapa, near Managua. “Kilometer after kilometer I was worried, because we did not know the reason for the transfer. Generally when you are transferred by bus, even if it’s a civilian bus, you think you are being transferred to La Modelo. They had threatened me in the past, but thank God that didn’t happen,” he said. “We did arrive in Tipitapa at about 11:00 at night, but we were not taken off the bus. They just gave us dinner and kept us there,” he said.

The windows of the bus were covered with red curtains that couldn’t open. Also, we were handcuffed with plastic ties. The suffocating heat of Managua made the wait even more oppressive, he recalls.

Peralta, who kept track of the time and what was happening, recalled that at about 3:30 in the morning the buses started moving again, and a while later entered the facilities of the Air Force of the Nicaraguan Army. What never crossed his mind was that they were going to be leaving the country.

“They held us there and took off our handcuffs. They gave us a very simple document. You had to fill in your name.  It said I authorize and agree that I must travel to__. It didn’t say where. But hey, any place was better than prison,” he acknowledges. “I signed the document.

“When I saw the foreign men, I thought they were Russians”

“An hour later the bus parked in front of the steps of an airplane. I saw some foreign men who I honestly thought were Russians. I asked them ‘Where are you taking us?’ and they said, ‘To Washington DC.’ And I said, ‘Thank you, Lord, for freedom!'” he told us, still very emotional.

He had been afraid he was to be sent to a “communist-leaning country,” like Russia or China, both allies of Daniel Ortega’s regime.

“I climbed the airplane’s stairs, mournful as I beheld Nicaragua knowing that I was leaving my homeland. But it was also very exciting to board the plane knowing that we were on our way to freedom,” he told LA PRENSA on the night of February 11th. Peralta shared his testimony and then continued walking back to the Westin Hotel, where the US Government welcomed the 222 released prisoners from Nicaragua.

Peralta, 49, is a certified public accountant, and has taught for more than thirty years. He was in his fourth year of law school at UNAN-Estelí when he was kidnapped and arrested by the Ortega regime on November 6, 2021.

He was sentenced to 11 years in prison and a hefty fine for the catch-all crimes of “conspiracy to damage the national integrity and propagation of false news”. “I remember every single one those 460 days in prison,” says Alexis.

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