Nicaragua: Imprisoned Music Teacher Feels “Desperate”

Political prisoner Olesia Muñoz, a choir singer whose health has deteriorated

By 100% Noticias

HAVANA TIMES – The “Released Political Prisoners’ Reflection Group” (GREX) denounced the current situation of Nicaraguan political prisoner Olesia Munoz Pavon, 52, who has been imprisoned for a total of 755 days and is suffering from worsening physical and psychological health.

Before 2018, Olesia Muñoz was known for many years as a choir singer, musician and music teacher who sang sacral music in her native Niquinohomo’s Santa Ana Church.  She belonged to the choir there until she was arrested in July 2018 for aiding the protestors who had set up barricades. Released in June 2019, she was rearrested on Holy Thursday in April 2023, in the context of the fifth anniversary of the April protests.  Some 15 police and paramilitaries went to her house, requesting that she accompany them for an “interview”, from which she never returned.In a kangaroo trial held in September 2023, Olesia was sentenced to ten years for the Ortega dictatorship’s catch-all accusations: “conspiracy to undermine the national sovereignty” and “spreading fake news.”

Now, according to GREX, despite her staunch Catholic faith, she says she feels “desperate.” Her isolation and confinement was recently exacerbated when the authorities installed bars across the ceiling of her cell, further reducing her vision and mobility.

“A few months ago, they placed bars across the ceiling, where the women [prisoners in Nicaragua’s La Esperanza women’s prison] would stick out their heads to see the hallway. They also installed other bars. All of this give them the sensation of being unnecessarily closed in, added to the heat there. Their situation is one of very reduced mobility,” GREX denounced.

In addition to putting up with these harsh conditions, “Olesia is diabetic and has high blood pressure and her sugar levels have remained unstable. Further, for unknown reasons, she’s developed a reaction to the cleaning products used, causing reddening and allergy,” the GREX update added. “And she’s vulnerable to depression. She needs specialized medical attention, without [the authorities’] displaying the least intention of providing it.”

Olesia’s prison situation has been aggravated by the income and resources lost during her two periods in jail. This has affected the economy of her entire family. “Olesia’s family can only bring her food once a month; they can’t provide her with a food package every fifteen days, because their budget won’t allow it.”

The GREX post went on to note that some months ago there was a case of food poisoning that affected five prisoners, including Olesia, who had shared a soup. The women place the blame on a policewoman working there.  Even after receiving medical treatment, they continue feeling insecure, believing that the authorities are trying to harm them.

The Released Prisoners’ Group clarified that, while Olesia and the other prisoners haven’t been physically mistreated, the atmosphere is tense, due to the prison conditions. Many of the political prisoners are over 50, which makes them still more vulnerable.

“The first time she was arrested (2018), she was a victim of torture in the jails of the Masaya police station,” the group denounced. “They pulled two toenails off, and held her in handcuffs for over 24 hours straight; they stripped her, threw water on her, and held a pistol to her head.”

“On that occasion, the police forcibly took the entire family to the station, including the children, who they later released.”

GREX  stressed that Olesia Muñoz has been harmed both inside and outside of her prison time. Her situation has affected her two adopted children who now face severe food limitations, since Olesia was the principal breadwinner and support of the household.

Note: Posts regarding the approximately 141 current Nicaraguan political prisoners can be found on the Facebook page of the “Grupo de Reflexion de Excarcelados Politicos.”

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times.