The Desperate Cry from Nicaragua’s Political Prisoners

Protest for the freedom of Nicaragua’s political prisoners. // Photo: Archive

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – Relatives of Nicaragua’s 140+ political prisoners, united under the Group of United Political Hostages, made “an urgent call” to Nicaraguan civil society and the international community to join the “desperate cry” for freedom for the political prisoners. “Our prisoners are dying in jail and nobody seems to care about them,” they assert.

In a press release, the families of the political prisoners expressed their “desperation and concern” about the situation of their relatives, who — during each visit — ask if there are any negotiations or campaigns for their release. Upon learning that nothing is happening, they remain uncomfortably silent.

“We make an urgent call to international organizations and ask them to join our clamor, our desperate cry for freedom for the political prisoners in Nicaragua. Do not leave us alone; illness and the prison regime are consuming our loved ones,” they emphasize.

A member of the Group of United Political Hostages told CONFIDENCIAL that the feeling of abandonment experienced by political prisoners and their families has deepened since January, when the regime released and banished Monsignor Rolando Álvarez and 18 other religious political prisoners.

“There is a feeling among families that once Monsignor Álvarez was released, nobody says anything, as if he was the only political prisoner in Nicaragua,” criticized a group member. “When Monsignor was imprisoned, there were campaign after campaign on social media… as soon as Alvarez was released, everything went silent, nobody says anything,” he emphasized.

Several Political Prisoners are Gravely Sick

Beyond that sense of abandonment, several political prisoners are experiencing serious health problems. Their families point out that the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo does not provide them with adequate medical attention and does not allow them to bring the necessary medicines.

Among the most severe cases is political prisoner Marcos Antonio Sanchez Hidalgo, 48, who suffered two strokes in just two weeks. The first occurred on May 24 and the second on June 5. Both strokes left Sanchez with serious difficulties walking, “he drags his right foot and his right hand is practically immobilized,” noted the group member.

Due to his deteriorating health, Sanchez depends on his cellmates to move around, while the authorities remain indifferent.

Other political prisoners with serious health problems include Marvin Vargas, Ricardo Cortez Davila, and Walter Balmaceda, from the group of ten political prisoners detained before the repression against the April 2018 Rebellion in Nicaragua.

According to the group member, Marvin Vargas, who has been imprisoned for thirteen years and is considered the regime’s first political prisoner, has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. In prison, he does not receive adequate medical care, and his health is increasingly precarious.

Similarly, Ricardo Cortez Davila’s situation is precarious. He has been in prison for ten years and is completely blind. He was kept for several years in maximum security cells, known as El Infiernillo, where he developed cataracts in both eyes until he lost his sight.

“Now that he is blind, they took him out of the maximum security module and moved him to the general population so that common inmates can assist him, but they take advantage and steal his packages,” pointed out the group member.

Regarding Walter Balmaceda, the group member noted that he is a chronic patient and currently “has a large lump in his stomach,” and, in their opinion, “needs surgery and good care.”

Families Feel Powerless

Faced with the deteriorating health of the political prisoners and the sense of abandonment they experience, relatives feel “powerless” to do anything, as — fearing reprisals from the regime — they have opted to keep a low profile and not make public statements.

“Those of us in Nicaragua cannot do anything, because we would be arrested immediately, but there are hundreds of people outside (the country) and nobody says anything,” complained the group member.

He added that if the families appear to do nothing, it is precisely to avoid arrest and to ensure their imprisoned relative has “someone to visit and bring their packages.”

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times.