First Political Prisoners Released in Nicaragua on the Eve of Negotiations

The first of the political prisoners leaves the El Modelo jail in vans of the Penetenciary System. Photo: Carlos Herrera / Confidencial  


Trials and hearings for political prisoners are “suspended” indefinitely

Under total government secrecy, the first political prisoners are moved to their homes in vehicles of the Penitentiary System: they could be heard singing the National Anthem and “Viva Nicaragua”


By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – The first political prisoners to be released from the La Modelo men’s prison left in vehicles of the National Penitentiary System (SPN) on their way to their homes, in the early morning hours of this Wednesday, February 27.

Today the opening session of the National Dialogue between the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy and the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo is scheduled.

Under total official secrecy, the prison vehicles began to circulate, while about thirty meters from the entrance gate, dozens of relatives awaited news after an impromptu vigil.

Among the political prisoners who reportedly released is the marathon runner Alex Vanegas, arrested a half a dozen times for running with his demand for freedom for the political prisoners. He has remained imprisoned since his last arrest on November 2.

On board a minibus of the Penitentiary System, Alex Vanegas sang the National Anthem, along with other political prisoners, who waved small Nicaraguan flags and shouted “Viva Nicaragua” (Long live Nicaragua).

An unofficial source confirmed to the Permanent Commission on Human Rights (CPDH) that the Ortega Government may let out about one hundred of the over seven hundred political prisoners. Likewise, it is presumed that the journalists Miguel Mora and Lucia Pineda Ubau, kidnapped illegally on December 21, could be sent to house arrest as was recommended by the members of the European Parliament during their visit to the country.

However, during this morning the journalists have not been seen among those being transferred, and their relatives continue without information about them.

“There is talk of the release of at least 100 people of whom we do not know their names and surnames…and in the case of Lucia and Miguel there is talk of alternative measures, what is known as house arrest instead of a jail,” informed the CPDH defense lawyer, Julio Montenegro.

The journalists, Pineda and Mora, have been detained since December 21 of 2018 when the facilities of the TV channel “100% Noticias” were raided and confiscated by officers of the National Police [under the orders of Daniel Ortega]. Both are accused of the alleged crime of “inciting hatred.”

Committee demands annulment of all trials

In light of this unofficial announcement, the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners, issued a statement demanding “the annulment of all trials against political prisoners. Any other measure taken by the Government only demonstrates its willingness to continue breaking the law, continue the repression and to leave in impunity the crimes against humanity committed against the Nicaraguan people (…). From the prisons our family members shout ‘All or none.’ We convey their conviction to the people.”

Since it became known that this Wednesday Feb. 27 will begin talks between the Government, and the Civic Alliance, the hearings and trials of 14 political prisoners have been suspended, including the cases of farm leaders Lenner Fonseca and Freddy Navas and the student leader Edwin Carcache.

“We have nine persons whose procedural stages have been suspended, three persons who on Monday had their initial hearings suspended and today (Tuesday) the processes have been suspended for four more people, two trials and two readings of sentences. Everything indicates that this has to do with the National Dialogue,” says Julio Montenegro, lawyer of the Permanent Commission of Human Rights (CPDH).

The lawyer affirms that, although there is no official version by the authorities of the Judicial Branch in Nicaragua, the suspensions are an indication that with the negotiation there could be an agreement in which the proceedings against people who participated in the civic protests will be annulled. “We had knowledge that today on the third floor of the Judicial Complex of Managua the judicial authorities and the authorities of the Ministry were meeting,” he pointed out.

The release of political prisoners is the main point demanded by relatives of the prisoners and by human rights organizations in any resumption of the National Dialogue.

“Our negotiating team is assuming this enormous and patriotic challenge that the circumstances demand and we reiterate that the commitment to political prisoners will be present at all times in this process. Their freedom is a priority in the negotiation,” assured Carlos Tunnermann during the television program “Esta Semana” (This Week).

(With the collaboration of Keyling T. Romero)