#SOSNicaragua: Conditions for political prisoners worsen in Nicaraguan prisons

On the morning of May 23, organizations of relatives of political prisoners in Nicaragua launched an SOS to the people and the international community to promote actions to achieve the immediate, absolute, and guaranteed freedom of their loved ones. As well as “to safeguard and protect their lives and integrity, in the situation of extreme gravity and risk in which they find themselves.” They also report that they join the 24-hour relief fast for their families and in support of members of the Catholic Church.

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The health of the political prisoners is deteriorating physically and emotionally, and the families fear that these conditions in which they find themselves take lives, as happened with the political prisoner Hugo Torres.

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Last week it became known that the people “Nidia Barbosa has serious heart problems, Kevin Zamora suffered a stroke and María Esperanza Sánchez is presenting serious symptoms of asthma and high blood pressure” they declare.

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Berta Valle, human rights activist and wife of Félix Maradiaga, a political prisoner, and former presidential candidate, said that the reason for launching the SOS is to help the lives of political prisoners, with the case of Doña Nidia and María Esperanza “their relatives were preventing them from knowing in detail their state of health… they are still in poor health and our urgency to make this call is to warn of the critical health condition that these three people are in and remember that the list is much older,” says Valle.

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The activist added that there are people who are practically blind because they have been in solitary confinement for more than three years, and even people who are housed in jail have not received specialized medical care either.

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The call is urgent in a humanitarian sense, also addressed to the State of Nicaragua and the national police “who are in charge of protecting the relatives’ lives,” Valle emphasizes.

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The causes for which these people have worsened their health is due to “lack of timely and specialized medical care, unhealthy and precarious conditions in cells, consolidation of a policy of mistreatment, punishment, and control, permanent isolation and solitary confinement and for long periods of weather”. These tortures are aimed at wearing down and disabling political prisoners, describe the signatories of the statement.

Given this situation, they denounce that the situation of political prisoners “is dire, especially taking into account the precedents of unsolved deaths of political prisoners in the custody of the State and others with irreversible damage from their incarceration.”

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The 64 people detained in Chipote “are being subjected to differentiated prison regimes both in the different centers of the National Penitentiary System (SPN), and in the Directorate of Judicial Assistance (DAJ), including 9 political prisoners detained prior to 2018”. Most are “in punishment cells, isolation and in some cases alone.”

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They have not been allowed to call telephone calls, nor enter letters, photos, or drawings. Underage boys and girls are still unable to attend visits.

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A case that has gone viral is that of the daughter of the journalist and sports writer Miguel Mendoza who is still waiting for the miracle of seeing her father released, she has written him letters where she expresses the torture she experiences every day due to the absence of someone It is for her “the love of her life.”

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The last letter says: “Hello, daddy, it’s been a year since I’ve seen you. My heart suffers a lot. I pray to God every day that nothing bad happens to you. I love you and miss you, please come home soon. For Michael.”

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Margin Pozo, Mendoza’s wife, states that it is painful for her to see her daughter’s suffering, adding that “those who are parents may be able to understand me.”

This past May 21, Mendoza completed 11 months of being deprived of liberty, and was sentenced to serve 9 years in prison for the alleged crimes of “undermining national integrity.”

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Pozo adds that her daughter “this forced separation has caused enormous psychological and emotional damage.”

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During the political prisoners’ visits, the families have denounced that they have “identified a pattern of sexualized aggression during searches of female relatives, such as touching the genitals and breasts.”

The relatives of political prisoners join the 24-hour relief fast starting this May 23 due to all of the above and in support of members of the church, who are being harassed and persecuted. The fast will end on behalf of the families on May 30 in solidarity with the mothers of April and their tireless search for justice.

Valle emphasizes that it is time to cry out as one church for the liberation of the relatives of Nicaragua and the protection, life, and integrity of each one of the Nicaraguan brothers… It is important that we continue to join these calls, remaining firm in the search for justice and freedom, I conclude by saying.

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The five signatory organizations of this communiqué Association of Relatives of Political Prisoners, Committee for the Liberation of Political Prisoners and Prisoners of Nicaragua, Relatives of Political Prisoners in Chipote since May 2021, United Political Kidnapped Group, Organization of Victims of April reiterate

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“Faced with this very serious situation, we will not cease to collectively demand the immediate, unconditional, and guaranteed release of the more than 182 political prisoners. Until their release occurs, we reiterate that their rights must be respected and their lives and physical and emotional integrity must be protected. The policy of torture and extermination must stop.”

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