Letter from the Sister of Political Prisoner Suyen Barahona

Captive Suyen Barahona

Suyen is also one of some 40 political prisoners being held in inhumane conditions in the infamous Managua jail known as El Chipote.

HAVANA TIMES – Suyen Barahona is one of the 236 prisoners in Nicaragua who are illegally detained for political reasons as the authoritarian regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo tightens it repressive grip on the country following the civic protests of 2018. The prisoners basic human rights are being violated every day.

Suyen is also one of some 40 political prisoners being held in inhumane conditions in the jail known as El Chipote. The young children of these prisoners had been denied their right to visit, call or send drawing or photos to their parents in jail. On December 7th of this year, the authorities finally allowed children to be included in a family visit. In Suyen’s case, her husband and son had to leave the county for safety concerns. Since her arrest on June 13th, 2021, Suyen has had no communication with her 5-year-old son.

The following is an open letter to Suyen, written after the most recent family visit.

To my sister Suyen 

December 7, 2022: the twelfth family visit. Finally, the political prisoners’ young children were allowed to visit, after more than a year and a half of demanding that this right be respected. Parents and children were finally able to see and hug each other. I would have loved to have been there! 

Even though you couldn’t experience the joy of physically being with your own child, I am absolutely sure that the most unexpected and overwhelming moment of the visit was when, after 542 days of not seeing your son except in your dreams, our mom showed you the five photos she had brought. I can imagine how tears filled your eyes, a mixture of joy at seeing his little face and pain for not having been able to talk to him or hold him in these past 18 months.

I heard you went around, showing the pictures to everyone around you. “Look! This is my son!” you said with pride and emotion, tears streaming down your face. You saw how grown up he is now and said: “He looks like such a big boy.”

I know you weren’t allowed to keep the photos. Regardless, I imagine your heart overflowing with love, with the need to be with him, with the need to be able him to tell him how very much you love him and that it is not your decision to be away from him.  He needs to hear it from your lips.  

I know that your immense love for your little boy is one of the things that makes you strong. I know that you draw strength just thinking of him: his happy romping around, your nose kisses, the tickle-tickle games and his unbridled, contagious laughter that is just like yours. It hurts to think of what you are missing every day, not being able to hear his “Let’s play mama”, “I love you, mama” or “Good night, mama. Blessings!”  

I don’t know if you were able to witness the long-awaited visits between the other moms and dads and their children; how they jumped into each other’s arms and talked non-stop after more than a year and a half of not seeing each other. I wonder if you felt a bittersweet pang. You are human after all. But you have never been resentful of other people’s joy. Your heart is filled with empathy and solidarity.  You have always wanted the children who were able to, to visit their parents in prison. Truly, your sense of justice has been your guiding light at every moment.

I understand that there is a commitment to allow visits on December 24th and 31st for Christmas and New Year’s. It is a new opportunity to respect your sacred right to have communication with your little one, so that you can hear his voice on a phone call and hear him say “I love you, mama.” I wouldn’t be surprised if he sings you one of his current favorite songs: “Baby Shark, doo-doo, Mommy Shark, doo-doo.”

I so hope that he will be able to hear your voice, that his heart can be filled with your words of love and tenderness that make him feel secure. When I talk to him on the phone, he always says, “Auntie, turn on your camera. I want to see you!” He needs to see you.

With today’s technology, a video call is possible. What is needed is the will to make it happen. In the midst of everything, being able to see you is what will give him some confidence that you are truly here, in this world, not just in his memory.  

If something as basic as a photo could make your soul soar, the joy of hearing his voice and seeing him would be indescribable! Even so, I cannot silence my cry for your freedom, because you are innocent, and your son has the right to grow up with his mother. I want to see you hug him in freedom, and I want the same for the 236 families who are in this same unjust situation.  We want this Christmas and this life without political prisoners! 

I love you, my dear sister.  

Suyen Barahona with her son before her abduction by the Ortega police.

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