Nicaraguan Runner Alex Vanegas Barred from Exercising in Prison

Marathon runner Alex Vanegas (r) before his detention on November 2nd (All Souls Day) in a Managua cemetery.  Photo: Jorge Torres /EFE-Confidenial


The marathon runner was illegally detained on November 2nd and has in his favor a release order that was shelved


By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – The authorities of the Nicaraguan Penitentiary System explicitly banned exercise for the imprisoned veteran marathon runner Alex Vanegas, famous for running in the streets in protest against President Daniel Ortega, his legal representative, María Oviedo, denounced on Wednesday.

The 62-year-old athlete has been in prison for almost three months now despite having a release order for not having committed a crime at the time of his arrest. He is prohibited from running and jumping in the La Modelo prison, the largest in Nicaragua, where he is secluded, said Oviedo.

Vanegas is known for running with a blue and white shirt, the colors of the Nicaraguan flag, with the phrases “Marathon for justice” and “I run to get rid of Ortega”, printed on the chest and back. [Both the flag as well as the national anthem, and any type of public protest, have been virtually banned by the government, under threat of imprisonment under charges of terrorism.]

The order of the prison authorities to prevent his exercising is not the only strange decision of the authorities against the runner, said the lawyer.

She noted that back at the end of November the head judge of the Third Criminal Court of Managua, Nalia Ubeda, declared him in absentia for not presenting himself to a trial against him, despite the fact that the defendant had been under arrest for 28 days.

Another case was the disappearance of Vanegas by the police at the beginning of January, as well as his abduction for singing the National Anthem of Nicaragua on All Souls’ Day (Nov. 2), in a cemetery in Managua, together with a group of women, who were not arrested.

Oviedo denounced that on Wednesday morning the marathon runner was scheduled to be brought before Judge Úbeda for a preliminary hearing against her client for the crime of disturbing public order, but the judge had the attorney leave the court room, leaving only the Police and government media present.

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