The Deteriorating Health of Ortega’s Political Prisoners

Several with Covid-19 symptoms, eye, and fungus problems

Relatives request that the prisoners in “El Chipote” be released to house arrest, or at least transferred to a regular prison.

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – Following 50 days with no communication, the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo finally allowed the political prisoners a visit. These prisoners – detained between June and November of 2021 – have been locked in the El Chipote cells ever since. This was only the sixth authorized visit, although many of the prisoners have been locked up for 9 full months.

The latest round of visits began on March 17 and lasted two hours. During this time, their relatives learned of a possible Covid outbreak in the prison and the continuing brutality the political prisoners are subjected to.

Relatives of political prisoner Irving Larios, 64, denounced that he may have been infected with Covid-19 during the reading of his sentence on March 8th. Nonetheless, the authorities at the El Chipote jail never informed the family of his illness. It wasn’t until the March 19 visit that they learned about the prisoner’s prior health problem.

For a period of six days following his sentencing, Larios developed all the symptoms associated with COVID-19. He was isolated and treated with Ivermectin and Colchicine, two medications authorized by Nicaragua’s Health Ministry for the treatment of COVID-19. Despite this, the doctor who saw him never told him what his illness was.

“Today, [Larios] is well, but he says that those six days were horrendous. There were two days when he couldn’t even eat, because his throat hurt so badly, he couldn’t swallow. At one point, his oxygen saturation was at just 87%,” stated a relative of the political prisoner.

Larios also continues losing weight. “Right now, he weighs 133 pounds when his normal weight is around 165,” his relative commented. Larios is also suffering from hypertension, and from the cold during the night, since the jail authorities don’t allow him to have a blanket.

Larios’ relatives did say that he appeared emotionally stable. The prisoner asked them to continue demanding the liberation of the 170 plus political prisoners.

The prisoners of conscience locked up in El Chipote don’t receive regularly scheduled visits; before this, the last ones were at the end of January. Independent organizations have denounced the regime’s violation of the laws, since Article 130 of Law #473, which regulates penitentiary procedures and conditions for prisoners, establishes that family and conjugal visits for prisoners should be scheduled every 21, 14, or 8 days, depending on conditions.

Suspected Omicron outbreak in the jail

Political prisoner Pedro Vazquez’ experience with sudden illness was similar to that of Larios. During a visit from Norma Vega, his wife, this past weekend, he told her he’d been hospitalized for three days in an unspecified location. However, like Larios, the jail authorities never informed his family what was happening.

“He told me he’d been seriously ill, that they gave him medications for the flu,” Vega said. However, she reasoned, “this wasn’t the flu.” Given the aches, the dizziness, and the other symptoms, it could well be a case of “Omicron in El Chipote”.

Vega recalled that during Pedro Vasquez’ bogus trial – which lasted from March 3rd to the 11th – she noted that her 59-year-old husband, seemed “very deteriorated, with a bruised arm, dizzy spells, high blood pressure, and knee pain.” On one occasion, she saw him nearly faint while being taken to the bathroom. “If the two police on each side hadn’t grabbed him, he would have fallen to the floor,” she stated.

Norma Vega also noted that the political prisoner has lost a lot of weight, is having colon problems, and suffers from high blood pressure. “I’m asking them to at least send him home, put him under house arrest, because that’s the only way I’ll be able to take care of him. I’m afraid, I’m worried, that something yet more serious could happen to him, especially now that I found out about his intestinal problems. And I demand his freedom, because he’s innocent,” she stressed.

Jose Adan Aguerri suffering partial vision loss

Joe Adan Aguerri, 60, ex-president of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (COSEP) and currently a political prisoner of the regime, is also suffering serious health problems. During his families’ visit this past weekend, they discovered he was suffering from a partial loss of vision in his left eye, as well as earache and permanent migraines.

The Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, which Aguerri belongs to, urged specialized medical attention for the prisoner of conscience, since the miserable conditions of his imprisonment have greatly contributed to his physical deterioration.

“We demand respect for Jose Adan’s human dignity,” the Civic Alliance posted on Twitter. Currently the political prisoner “weighs 135 pounds, and has a fungal infection on his chest and shoulder,” added the political organization.

Chest pains and symptoms of high uric acid

The health of sports chronicler Miguel Mendoza, 51, and now a political prisoner, is also shaky. His wife, Margin Pozo affirmed that since her last visit, her husband has suffered chest pains and such severe symptoms of high uric acid that at times he’s been unable to walk.

[Mendoza] has asked to be allowed a pillow, because he suffers from a lot of pain in his neck and shoulders, but this has been denied,” declared Pozo. “He’s also had small pains in the area of the heart. As a family, this concerns us greatly, because being enclosed in this heat, something worse could affect him.”

Mendoza currently weighs 150 pounds, although “when he arrived at El Chipote, he weighed 183,” continued the prisoner’s wife. “He’s also showing symptoms of high uric acid, especially in his ankles.  He told me that about a month ago, he wasn’t even able to walk because his foot hurt so much,” she added.

Margin Pozo also assured that the prisoner is still being interrogated, even though he already had a show trial, where he was found guilty. “We thought this would now be finished, but they continue interrogating him constantly. He’s still in a punishment cell, in terrible conditions, with little light and a lot of heat – imagine, in this [hot] season we’re in,” she emphasized.

Interrogations also continue for Medardo Mairena

The family of the rural leader and former presidential hopeful Medardo Mairena were also allowed to see him in the El Chipote jail. There, they declare, he continues receiving poor treatment, and suffering constant interrogations, although he was already found guilty in a spurious trial.”

“We’re not going to stop denouncing the continuing interrogation sessions, the little access to sunlight and the ongoing weight loss of our brother; up to now, he’s lost a total of 61 pounds,” specified the family of political prisoner Medardo Mairena.

Similarly, Ana Lucia Alvarez, sister and niece respectively of the political prisoners Tamara Davila and Ana Margarita Vijil, complained that they’re still interrogating her relatives at the jail site, as well as keeping them in conditions so inhumane they classify as torture.

“The complete isolation continues,” Alvarez confirmed. “In Tamara’s case, the isolation is extreme. She’s been held in a totally sealed cell for over nine months.” Meanwhile, Ana Margarita “is [also] in solitary confinement, with a series of measures that impede her from communicating with people in the cells near her,” Alvarez detailed.

Ana Lucia Alvarez is well aware that the prolonged isolation of the political prisoners constitutes “torture”. Like the other family members, she “was made aware that there are outbreaks of COVID-19 in El Chipote,” and that “there are people sick with it there right now.”

Families demand transfer to a regular prison

Cesar Dubois is the husband of Suyen Barahona, formerly president of the Unamos political party, and now a political prisoner. He criticized the lack of regularly scheduled visits to those in El Chipote, and asked that his wife, who’s now been found guilty and sentenced in a political sham trial, be transferred to a normal prison setting. However, the authorities have offered no information how the “supposed sentences” will be served.

Dubois reiterated that the family’s first demand is: “the immediate liberation of the over 170 political prisoners: not just those in El Chipote, but those who are in the country’s other jails and prisons, because all of them are innocent, and all must be freed.”

Meanwhile, “the visits should be much more frequent, as the law establishes. We shouldn’t have to wait 50 days to see her and know how she is,” Dubois demanded. In addition, he complained that those who visit prisoners in El Chipote are subjected to exhaustive searches, forced to take off their masks and photographed constantly.

He added that the delivery of packages brought by family members has been used by the jail officials as a way of pressuring the prisoners. He learned that when families bring the articles of personal hygiene their relatives have requested, “They’re passed along to the prisoners weeks after being delivered; they’re being used as a form of blackmail.”

Currently, Suyen Barahona continues being interrogated daily, and she’s still losing weight.  Dubois guesses that she must now be down to around 110 pounds, due to the poor nourishment she receives in the jail.

For are readers who understand some Spanish or for the visuals watch this video:

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