Verifying Condition of Female Political Prisoners Blocked in Nicaragua

The MESENI delegation being refused entry to the La Esperanza women’s prison.


Relatives reported that 17 women prisoners at the “La Esperanza” prison were beaten by men dressed in black on Friday, October 26th.

Irlanda Jerez was the target of the attacks inside the prison. According to her family, it was a reprisal for denunciations made by prisoners.


By Wilfredo Miranda Aburto (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – The authorities of “La Esperanza” (Hope) prison prevented a delegation from the Special Monitoring Mechanism for Nicaragua (MESENI, for its Spanish acronym) from verifying the physical condition of 17 women political prisoners on Tuesday afternoon, who denounced that they were beaten on Friday, October 26, by men dressed in black inside the prison.

MESENI traveled to “La Esperanza” after relatives of the women political prisoners reported on Tuesday the beating suffered by the inmates. However, the members of MESENI could not enter the jail after the authorities denied it. MESENI waited more than an hour for an answer, but it was unsuccessful. The only thing that prison authorities said was “that it was not regular visiting hours.”

Ana Maria Tello, MESENI’s coordinator in Nicaragua, said that they have repeatedly asked the government to allow them to enter the prisons, but have not received any answers. “We are here to follow-up on the crisis that Nicaragua lives and, in this particular case, the health of the detained women,” stated Tello.

The MESENI said it would return to “La Esperanza” to try to enter once again. Along with MESENI, a delegation of the Permanent Commission on Human Rights (CPDH) arrived to also try to verify the health condition of women political prisoners. The lawyer Julio Montenegro was the first to denounce the ill-treatment that the detainees received, among which are merchant Irlanda Jerez, university student Amaya Coppens, Maria Adilia Peralta Cerrato, and others.

Reprisal for reports made by prisoners

Daniel Esquivel, husband of Irlanda Jerez, stated in a press conference the ill-treatment suffered by the prisoners in “La Esperanza”.  Photo: Carlos Herrera / Confidencial

Relatives of Nicaraguan political prisoners reported that several dozen men dressed in black entered the “La Esperanza” prison on Friday, October 26, and beat up the 17 detainees. In particular, they treated Irlanda Jerez brutally, who would have been transferred to an isolation cell, said Daniel Esquivel, her husband.

The complaint was made by relatives of the women political prisoners this Tuesday at a press conference convened by the Blue and White National Unity coalition. “They have bruises and burst lips,” described Mariela Cerrato Vázquez, mother of Maria Adilia Peralta Cerrato, who was arrested along with her husband Cristhian Fajardo.

The relatives believe that the prisoners were beaten in retaliation for protesting conditions inside the “La Esperanza”, and for being able to leak letters from prison with messages against Daniel Ortega’s dictatorship.

“It is not the first time they have been beaten. They are also tortured psychologically. It is a measure to force them to put their heads down. Because they resist: they sing the national anthem, they make blue and white bracelets, they paint their lips red…,” said Cerrato Vazquez, who on Tuesday demanded to see her daughter in the prison.

This serious accusation was previously presented by the lawyer of the Permanent Commission for Human Rights (CPDH), Julio Montenegro, who stated that these guys burst into the cells and beat them with “batons.” “One of the detainees showed me one of her calves, her lower lip and her arm, where she had bruises,” stated the lawyer.

Blows, bruises and burst lips…

Gloria Lopez, grandmother of political prisoner Solange Centeno, said that another of her relatives was able to see the young woman and confirmed the bruises on her mouth.

According to Esquivel, Irlanda Jerez was transferred to a prison office where she was interrogated and had these men dressed in black pointing guns at her. During the interrogation, they reproached the merchant for the letter she wrote from prison, in the isolation cell number 5.

Free Irlanda Jerez. Photo: EFE / Confidencial

“My mother has a record of ‘inappropriate behavior’ for praying, singing the national anthem, drawing the national flag, talking to the other prisoners about this corrupt government. Those are the things that she has been doing and she is in danger of being transferred to a punishment cell,” informed Starina Jerez, daughter of Irlanda. They accuse her of 21 faults against the “internal order” of the prison.

The cruelty against Jerez also reached her shop in the “Mercado Oriental.” Her property was plundered in plain sight, patience and complicity of the National Police.

Regarding the young Eva Amaya Coppens, her mother said that she had not yet been able to see the university student to confirm her physical and emotional state. Tamara Zamora described as “deplorable” that these men had attacked the political prisoners.

Confidencial has not been able to corroborate the complaint independently. The Interior Ministry is silent in the face of these accusations.

The Blue and White National Unity coalition condemned the aggressions against the detainees. “The cowardly repression of which 17 women political prisoners were victims in retaliation for the denunciations they have made, leaves in evidence the inhumane treatment of the Ortega-Murillo regime, which makes use of its illegitimate power to repress,” they affirmed.

The opposition demanded the immediate presentation of the detainees to be attended by doctors. According to Cerrato Vazquez, at night the women political prisoners listen to shots in the air that, no doubt, are done to frighten them.

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