On the fourth anniversary of Nicaragua’s April Rebellion
A musician and three music producers were arrested; seven properties were searched; and three homes were put under police siege in Masaya, Managua, Nueva Segovia and Madriz.
HAVANA TIMES – Six days before the fourth anniversary of the 2018 April rebellion, the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo ordered a new wave of repression aimed at opposition critics, community leaders and musicians with their producers. The events took place in Managua, Nueva Segovia, Tipitapa, Masaya and Somoto. According to a Confidencial count based on reports from civil society organizations and community leaders, there were four arrests, seven home raids and three cases of police cordons surrounding dissenters’ homes.
The latest repressive wave is occurring a few days after Rosario Murillo – vice president, first lady and government spokesperson – intensified the public attacks in her noon speeches, broadcast every day on the official media. “There’ll be neither forgiveness nor forgetting” for the thousands of dissidents and opponents of her regime, Murillo warned.
On Tuesday afternoon, April 12, the Ortega regime ordered the detention of a musician who participated in an April 2nd concert, together with the producers. The private concert marked the fifteenth anniversary of the band known as “Monroy and Surmenage”, and allegedly included songs that criticized the Ortega-Murillo regime.
The song that apparently disturbed Ortega and Murillo is called “In the eye of the hurricane”, and includes phrases like: “a loud cry in April”; “everyone yells ‘Presente’” [used to indicate that a deceased person’s spirit lives on]: and “they come close in the rain, they die two by two”.
According to a report from the independent news site 100% Noticias, the announcer at the concert also proclaimed “April won’t be forgotten!”, in allusion to the widespread social protests of April 2018 that were later violently squashed by the regime in power.
Josue Monroy, vocalist for the Monroy and Surmenage band, was arrested on Tuesday in his home located in the Altamira neighborhood of Managua. A video circulating on social media shows the moment that the police officials broke into the singer’s home.
Confidencial was able to confirm that the Ortega regime also detained Leonardo Canales, guitarist and director of La Antesala, a virtual music site, plus Xochilt Tapia and Salvador Espinoza of Saxo Productions, which manages “Monroy and Surmenage”.
Tapia and Espinoza were with their five-year-old son at the moment of their arrest. The police took the child to a neighbor’s home, indicated a source close to the producers.
Home searches and threats in Masaya
The regime’s police began carrying out home raids in the department of Masaya at 8 am on Tuesday, April 12. Confidencial confirmed that a search was conducted at the home of Maria Andrea Jose, whose son Darwin Potosme was killed by the Ortega repression in June 2018. Maria currently belongs to the Association of April Mothers (AMA). Police in Masaya also raided and searched the home of Yolanda Gonzalez, who’s been suffering police persecution since 2018, for her participation in the social protests.
Other homes of AMA members in Masaya were also searched, but in these cases the victims opted not to speak out publicly for fear of reprisals.
In the case of Maria Andrea Jose the police officials presented no search warrant, and threatened the seven people who were in the home at the time.
“They told us that we better let them in, because otherwise it would go worse for us,” denounced one of Maria Andrea’s relatives in an interview with Confidencial.
A large group of police agents arrived at Maria Andrea Jose’s home around 9 am, in five patrol cars and seven motorcycles. They alleged they were searching for “political propaganda”.
“They told us: ‘We’re going to look through the house because we received a complaint. You have political propaganda here. You’re organizing a Mass at the San Miguel Church,’” the source revealed.
After more than an hour going through the items in the home, the officials decided to leave. However, before doing so, they took pictures of everyone who was in the home, including a minor. They also threatened the occupants, saying that if they saw them at the Mass that was supposedly being organized in the San Miguel Archangel Church, they’d “pick them up and take them to jail, where the other road-blockers are.”
The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh) denounced the “police abuse” against the family of Darwin Potosme and reminded the regime “that Nicaraguans have a right to commemorate their dead family members.”
In addition, the Center demanded “an end to the repression, and respect for the physical and psychological integrity” of the families of the victims killed in the context of the social protests four years ago.
Police raid in search of “leaflets”
More than a dozen police agents also ransacked the home of Yolanda Gonzalez on April 12. They “were looking for leaflets” which would supposedly be “used in a Mass at the San Michael Archangel Church in Masaya.”
The search began at around 8:30 am and ended at 10. Gonzalez, her 23-year-old daughter and four children were present – the latter terrified by the police presence. During the search, the police went through everything in the home, but didn’t find the alleged leaflets.
This is the third time in the last four years that Gonzalez has had her home raided. The first time was in October of 2020, this time for alleged illegal arms possession after former Sandinista city council member Benjamin Gutierrez was arrested. Three months later, on January 15, 2021, her home was searched again. This time Yolanda was held for four hours by the Masaya police, accused once again of harboring illegal arms.
The police presented no search warrant for this third home search and didn’t remove anything from the home, as had occurred in past searches, where money and belongings were taken. However, they threatened Gutierrez with more jail time and criminal charges if she attended the Mass that is supposedly being planned at the San Miguel Archangel Church.
Searches in Tipitapa and the northwestern departments as well
Community leaders who asked not to be identified also told Confidencial of police sieges at the homes of three opposition members from Tipitapa, and the forced search of two homes in Somoto. The searches targeted the homes of members of opposition organizations Blue and White National Unity (UNAB) and the Civic Alliance for National Unity (ACUN).
Two other searches were carried out in the far northern cities of Jalapa and Wiwili in the department of Nueva Segovia, both of UNAB members.
Sources stated that in Jalapa, Nueva Segovia, one of the opposition members was even “visited by police at their workplace”, where they forced him to sign a document promising “not to put up flyers, not to paint graffiti, nor carry out terrorist actions against Nicaragua.”
Those in Somoto and Wiwili who had their homes searched were pressured to sign a similar document, which the police had brought with them.
The “Blue and White Monitor” group issued an alert, noting that on Tuesday they had received “denunciations on a national scale of an increase in repression tied to the approach of April 18 and 19”. They called on the population to “take measures for their safety and protection.”