Shouts of Freedom for Nicaragua’s Political Prisoners

Many people hide their identity in the marches for fear of reprisals. Nonetheless, they continue demonstrating. Photo: Carlos Herrera / Confidencial “Less political prisoners, more politicians in prison.”

 

Despite the repression and government persecution, Nicaraguans continue to mobilize on the streets.

“They were free when you took them, we want them free again!” demanded thousands. They also responded to Murillo’s slurs: “Here’s your tiny cluster (of dissenters).”

 

By Wilfredo Miranda Aburto  (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – The 400 political prisoners locked in Nicaragua’s different jails inspired thousands of citizens to go out on the streets of Managua on Wednesday to demand that the government of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo free them.

Following weeks of subdued social protests due to the terror provoked by the paramilitaries and the arbitrary detentions of the National Police, the slogans of rebellion and the blue and white flags returned robustly in a national march of considerable distance in the capital with shouts of: “They were free when you took them, we want them free again!”

The march began at ten in the morning, at the same time that rural leader Medardo Mairena – one of the best-known political prisoners – was being presented before a judge. The shouts for Medardo, the farmer who fought against the canal project and organized roadblocks during this civic rebellion, thundered in this massive demonstration. But other names also resounded: that of Irlanda Jerez, leader of a fiscal disobedience campaign among merchants at the Oriental Market, Cristian Fajardo and his wife Maria Adilia, Brandon and Glen, accused of killing journalist Angel Gahona.  Guadalupe Sanchez also yelled the names of her two sisters, Yolanda and Patricia, who were rounded up by the paramilitary on July 7th.

“They were shown on all the government television channels.  There have been three court audiences, and procedures have been suspended because there’s no evidence of anything. They accused them of weapons possession and terrorism,” Guadelupe Sanchez stated. “My sisters were taking food to some nephews, and they pulled them off the 111 bus route and the paramilitaries grabbed them.”

Patricia Sanchez Moraga and Yolanda del Socorro Sanchez were presented by the National Police on July 12th as responsible for the crimes of illegal firearms possession; later, they were also accused of terrorism.

Guadelupe, sister of the detained, refutes the police version and asserts that they’re being held for political reasons. According to her, her sisters have suffered mistreatment in the cells of the El Chipote jail.

“I’d like to see Daniel Ortega’s children there (in jail), so that he could feel the pain of going around looking for your family members,” declared Guadelupe, who headed the march, together with other family members of the political prisoners.

Of the more than 400 political prisoners that are in Nicaragua, at least 137 have been charged according to follow-up from the Permanent Commission for Human Rights. The crimes attributed to them are repeated across all the cases: terrorism, murder, aggravated theft, simple kidnapping, hindering public services, and others.

Maria Davila’s husband is in jail. He’s a worker in the free trade zone who she says never participated in the anti-government protests. He was taken prisoner in a raid carried out in Tipitapa and is now accused of “terrorism”.

“That’s what they’re accusing all the innocent kids of,” stated Davila, a woman of humble background. “Even though my husband never marched, now I’m going out on the streets to demand the liberation of the political prisoners,” she affirmed.

Melany Uriarte with her newborn nephew in her arms.

People from all social strata joined together in the national march. The Superior Council of Private Enterprise encouraged its members to permit their workers to attend the march. In their path through the Eastern neighborhoods of Managua, an area heavily affected by the guns of the paramilitaries, the families came out of their houses to join the march. Girls came out dressed in the native “huipiles” and danced to the beat of a marimba that moved among the multitude. On the other side of the drainage channel in the Eden neighborhood, some children waved Nicaraguan flags beside their makeshift homes.

“It’s for the freedom of all our children. This persecution isn’t just. We have the freedom to go out on the streets; it’s our right and theirs too,” said Melany Uriarte, who came out from one of the corners of the Costa Rica neighborhood with her newborn nephew in her arms. The baby was swaddled in a blue and white flag. “All the repression my country is living through hurts me,” the high school student added.

The march continued its course with no major difficulties to the Roundabout known as La Virgin. Along this path, the citizens once again rejected the derogatory diminutives used by Vice President Rosario Murillo: in a speech before a gathering commemorating the 38th anniversary of the Nicaraguan Navy on Monday evening, August 13, the first lady cast scorn on the civic rebellion.

“The most incredible thing is that this tiny fistful of Coup plotters, terrorists, and criminals insist on continuing to kill Nicaraguans and pretend to continue destroying the Nicaraguan economy,” Murillo spit out, just as in April when she called the demonstrators “a tiny group” and “bloodsuckers.”   “How terrible! How much toxin there must be in those souls! So much hatred! So much poison in these those ‘tiny clusters’ that are still left out there who want to see our people unhappy. Because that’s their objective: to see us unhappy,” insisted the Vice President with alarm.

In the march for the political prisoners, the response of the citizens was visible in t-shirts and slogans that challenged and mocked the minimalizing that the vice president is addicted to. “Rosario Murillo, your tiny clusters were here,” the demonstrators left scrawled on the pavement that burned under the midday sun.


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