The Case of Nicaraguan Political prisoner Axel Balladares

Sentenced to nine years for a fabricated crime.

The authorities refuse to recognize him as a political prisoner, assuring that in Nicaragua there are only common prisoners.

By 100% Noticias / EFE

HAVANA TIMES – Political prisoner Áxel Javier Balladares Merlo, 31, has served two and a half years of a 9-year sentence in prison. He was charged with allegedly committing a robbery.

“He was doing the paperwork with the police to legalize a motorcycle in December 2020. Three times they sent for him, and the third time they put him in jail,” a source close to the accused told 100% Noticias.

Although the charges against Balladares are robbery and causing psychological harm to a police officer, the source is convinced that his detention is politically motivated.

During the April 2018 protests, Axel was seen at a barricade located half a block from his home in Masaya. Like many residents, he came to support the anti-government protests. This left him exposed as a target for the police and paramilitaries.

Not a common prisoner

Axel appears on the official list of the Association of Political Prisoners of Nicaragua, but in the penitentiary of Granada he is classified as a common prisoner. 

“He’s innocent. He is not a thief. He is a mechanic by trade, but he worked selling clothes and shoes in the market. He has two children, and with his current partner is guardian of another child with special needs,” said a neighbor who is distressed by Axel’s situation.

As if that were not enough, when a private lawyer attempted to review his file, he could not find it. People close to Balladares believe that they hide it because of the arbitrariness of his case.

Keeping track of the violations

It should be noted that the Monitoreo Azul y Blanco presented this week reports that 146 Nicaraguans, mostly opponents and critics of Daniel Ortega’s regime, were detained in Nicaragua by the National Police in the first half of 2023.

From January 1 to June 30, there have been 519 incidents related to human rights violations in Nicaragua, including 146 arrests, detailed the Monitoreo Azul y Blanco, whose reports are endorsed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

According to the report, of the 146 recorded arrests, authorities released more than 90 who had been captured in mass raids.

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times