Ivania Alvarez: “Exile Isn’t a Prize, It’s a Tough Decision”

Opposition activist Ivania Alvarez, now in exile. Photo: Carlos Herrera / Confidencial

The former Nicaraguan political prisoner was forced to flee the intensified siege, the persecution and the imminent threat of being imprisoned once again by the Ortega regime.

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – She’s far from the land of her birth and separated from her family. She must now seek asylum in a strange country. Opposition activist Ivania Alvarez affirms she “never planned” to leave Nicaragua. She believed she could hold out “a little longer” inside the country.

Nonetheless, beginning at the end of May, the intensified siege and the persecution against herself and her family was compounded by the threat of imminent imprisonment by the Ortega regime.  Her family members begged her to safeguard her security. The threat of being abducted was reinforced by the regime’s arbitrary detention of 26 activists, leaders of civil society, opposition leaders and presidential candidates. All this led her to the decision to leave the country.

“It was a difficult decision; exile isn’t a prize. All this is quite difficult for me and my family,” Ivania clarified during a recent interview on the online news program Esta Noche.

The political activist belongs to both the National Coalition and the Social Movements Umbrella Group. She was forced to leave the country on July 13, alone, via an unmarked border crossing. For the moment, she preferred not to disclose her destination.

In addition to describing her decision to go into exile, Ivania spoke of the period just prior to her departure. During that week, she suffered “eight difficult and violent days: four different homes belonging to my relatives and friends were put under police siege at the same time. It took a lot to shake off the permanent police watch that had been set up outside my house.”

Ivania was under police siege nearly two years ago, in September 2019. On that date, her family was forced to remain inside their own home for eight consecutive hours. Then, on June 8, 2021, she was once again put under permanent police guard. This time, Police officials or civilians on motorcycles followed her everywhere. They not only surrounded her home, but also extended the harassment to the rest of her family.

In November 2019, the activist recalled, she had been imprisoned for over a month after she attempted to bring water and medicine to the family members of the political prisoners. These mothers and other relatives were holding a hunger strike in the San Miguel Archangel parish church in Masaya.

Resisting the police state

Ivania Alvarez noted that the recent assault from the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo wasn’t exclusively aimed at nationally known leaders. It extended out to the departments that had been organized. Following the first arrests in May and June of this year, there was an intensification of the siege. At present, she indicated, more than 200 people from all over the country are living under siege.

Nevertheless, the leadership in the departments continue calling for “resistance” in the face of the regime’s onslaught. As organizations, they’re prepared to continue exerting pressure from within.

One of of the advantages of the organizations she belongs to is: “there’s not one centralized leadership. Thus, it doesn’t matter if – as in this case – Ivania is somewhere else, because there are a great many other people who are engaged in resistance, and are doing so in many ways.”

Some of the resistance actions that are being carried out involve identifying businesses linked to the regime and limiting the financial support given them from consumers. Also, creating small resistance groups that can undertake actions like putting up stickers, painting graffiti, going out to shout the name of one of the victims of the repression, or of the political prisoners; or demanding justice in a flash demonstration.

Ivania declared that as an organization, they’ve made a decision to continue with peaceful civic resistance. They don’t see “even one of the qualifying conditions needed for elections,” with voting planned for next November.

She also affirmed that, as an organization, they aren’t backing the position of the Citizens’ Alliance, made up of the Citizens for Liberty Party and the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy. That group has opted to enter the electoral process, despite the lack of conditions and candidates, since six of those aspiring to the presidency are now in prison.

“We don’t support that position, but we respect the Alliance’s decision to continue with the electoral contest… However, it’s vitally important to us that we remain united with people that can exercise internal resistance, who can pressure from inside. But no struggle is superfluous. If they believe they have reasons for doing that, fine, even though the ideal thing would be for us to do something as Nicaraguans, and do it together,” she stressed.

Contrary to the route chosen by the CxL, the organizations Ivania Alvarez belongs to have begun a campaign in the last two months called “The fraud already started”. The campaign is aimed at denouncing the irregularities in the electoral process.

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