To force them to turn themselves in for punishment for opposing the regime
The exiled human rights advocate calls the Nicaraguan regime’s use of this new repressive method “unprecedented”.
HAVANA TIMES – In the last fifteen days, the Ortega regime’s police have abducted five close relatives of members of the Democratic Renewal Movement (Unamos), an opposition group formerly known as the Sandinista Renewal Movement (MRS). According to attorney Juan Carlos Arce, the kidnappings are being carried out with the objective of forcing opposition members in hiding or in exile to surrender to the authorities, although they haven’t committed any crimes.
“It’s an unprecedented situation: if they’re seeking a person and don’t find them, they haul in the family and detain them. For all intents and purposes, the family has been kidnapped, in order to force the person they’re seeking to turn themselves in. It’s an exceptional situation and reveals a State with no limits in their repressive actions – one that doesn’t respect even the most minimal guarantees and human rights,” accused Arce, a member of the Nicaragua Nunca Mas [“Never Again”] Human Rights Collective.
“In Nicaragua, we’re witnessing a regime that lashes out at the families in order to capture, intimidate and send a message to the population: “We have no limits; we can do whatever we feel like doing; and there’s no institution or law that can stop us,” Arce added during an interview on the online television news show Esta Noche.
According to a Confidencial report, from September 4-18, the Blue and White National Monitor registered thirteen detentions of either members of Unamos or their relatives. There were five in Managua: three in the South Caribbean; two in Leon; one in Chontales; one in Carazo; and one in Matagalpa. Of these, only one person in the Caribbean was released. The majority remain in the cells of the infamous El Chipote jail in Managua.
Arce explained that his group has direct knowledge of seven of these detentions, although the families have asked not to publicly divulge the names. Another three have been publicly denounced.
Javier Alvarez, a victim of political persecution, denounced that on the 13th and 14th of September, the regime ordered the detention of his wife, Jeannine Horvilleur Cuadra, 63; his daughter, Ana Carolina Alvarez, 43, both with dual Nicaraguan-French citizenship; and his son-in-law Felix Roiz Sotomayor. The detentions took place after the police failed to find Javier Alvarez in his home.
The Blue and White Monitor also noted the case of detained family member Freddy Porras, whose sister, Dulce Porras, was a Unamos leader in Carazo, currently in political exile. Freddy Porras was captured and beaten by the police in his home in Jinotepe, Carazo, on September 15th.
“According to the rules for legal processing, these people should already have been presented before a judge. Although the family unofficially knows where they’re being held – because some of them have been told – legally what we have here are temporary forced disappearances,” Arce stressed.
Regime feeds the flight of Nicaraguans into exile
The human rights advocate assured that this new wave of detentions motivates further the forced exile of Nicaraguans, who find it increasingly more difficult to remain in a country where none of their rights are respected.
“Since 2018, the message the regime has sent is exile, jail, or death. I believe that message has been made concrete and continues to be in force. They don’t want any kind of opposition and are trying to eradicate it from the roots. At present, this sends people into exile; or they’re banished, or they’re blocked from entering their country,” Arce denounced.
He recalled that in this new repressive assault, the regime has also unleashed a witch hunt against the Catholic Church. Not only have they detained some religious leaders and forced others into exile, but also they’re prohibiting religious activities like the processions in Masaya, for fear that people will gather, get together in crowds, speak with each other.”
“The regime is truncating and violating fundamental rights and going after a target, which is the Church, with its priests from the different dioceses. It’s an act of vengeance, to demonstrate their power, and to subordinate and take revenge on those they consider their enemy,” he added.
Juan Carlos Arce explained that the regime’s intense fear is manifested in a crisis of distrust that extends even to their followers and the public employees. They’ve imposed special emigration restrictions on these persons, requiring them to give notification of their motives when they want to leave Nicaragua for any reason.
“In the framework of that repressive policy, where the regime seeks to control all the possible variables that could affect their power, the State functionaries aren’t exempt. These employees are the government’s fundamental pillar, because of what they do and the information they manage. The regime fears they’ll leave, stay in another country, and take information with them that could eventually serve in the seeking of justice,” the exiled lawyer stated.
The data on the Nicaraguan migration shows a steep increase since the 2018 social explosion. From April of that year until July 2022, according to a Confidencial report, 163,333 Nicaraguans have requested asylum in Costa Rica. In addition to these, there are another 50,000 requests pending, from Nicaraguans who have scheduled an appointment to apply for asylum but are still awaiting the assigned date and time to formally submit their application.
Many other Nicaraguans have preferred to head for the United States. The number of apprehensions by the U.S. Border Patrols has also increased in quantum leaps, year by year. Between January and August of 2022, according to Confidencial, US authorities registered 108,010 Nicaraguans coming across the border, a jump of 158% in comparison with the same period of 2021, when they apprehended 41,889 Nicaraguans. [The figure does not include those who make it across the border without being caught or turning themselves in to the Border Patrol.]