The presidential couple that handles power at will in Nicaragua made by Daniel Ortega and his wife, Rosario Murillo, was re-elected after imprisoning all the competition in the middle of the electoral campaign. Today they maintain their campaign of political, social and religious persecution, endorsed by the National Police, which has generated hundreds of arrests.
The activists denounce the deaths of several detainees and ask the representatives of the OAS and Peru for support to carry out fair and democratic elections in the Central American nation.
What are the restrictions suffered by Nicaraguan citizens?
Wendy Flores: In Nicaragua, at present, demonstrations cannot be held because they are prohibited. Nicaraguans, if they leave the country, cannot return because they are prevented from returning. And others cannot even leave their homes due to permanent police surveillance. There are also political prisoners.
Daniel Ortega is not new to the command of Nicaragua, but when does this state of convulsion worsen?
Ana Quirós: The situation increases from April 2018, when the population rises up, already tired of so much repression and arbitrariness, and the regime responds by murdering more than 325 citizens, mainly young students. In addition, he takes hundreds of people prisoner and injures more than 2,000 citizens. Subsequently, it ends up prohibiting the right to demonstrate in October of the year in question and since then many of us have been forced to leave the country. More than 2,200 social organizations have had their legal status and ability to act canceled. Today there are at least 215 political prisoners who are in the dungeons of Sandinismo (Nicaraguan political current). Of these, 22 are women, including several seniors, and 193 are men. They are imprisoned without any right, not even to a defense; So this is one of our great concerns because colleagues have already died in prison.
Are we talking about taking over the justice system as an operator of the regime so that, precisely, a conviction is achieved for the people who oppose Daniel Ortega?
Wendy Flores: Yes, indeed, the Judiciary has been an instrument of repression to criminalize political dissidence, activists, human rights defenders, who have been prosecuted by laws approved by the National Assembly since the end of the year past, such as the law of cybercrimes, treason or attack against sovereignty. They have also been charged and convicted of terrorism. This has to do with the participation of people, now political prisoners, in social protests demanding freedom, justice and democracy. It has cost them their freedom and, today, their lives are in danger. Every day that they are detained in the prison system of our country they are suffering torture, mistreatment. For example, people suffering from any disease are prevented from receiving medical treatment and one of them, Hugo Torres, died earlier this year. They leave them limited food so that, in some cases, they have lost up to 60 pounds (27 kilos) of weight.
Isn’t there an opposition?
Wendy Flores: There is no system of checks and balances that can limit the abuses of the Executive power in this case. There are no basic principles for the protection of the rights of prosecuted persons. The precautionary measures issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights are not being complied with.
A majority turnout was not seen in the assumption of power in these last presidential elections.
Ana Quirós: Actually, that process began vitiated because seven presidential candidates were restricted to jail and are still detained. Obviously, this process with that beginning is not going to have a good end. And the vast majority of the population did not recognize the process as valid and, therefore, closed the door to the regime, closed the door to participation and refrained from being part of the fraud. At least 43 media outlets have been closed, many have been expropriated and the government has taken over the media. There are at least 10 priests in jail, including a bishop from the country. You cannot (speak) even from a pulpit or from anywhere.
Was this abstention by the population in the electoral process a political response?
Wendy Flores: In the face of a police state, closure of political spaces, cancellation of the legal status of political parties, arrest of presidential candidates, generalized repression and arbitrary arrests, really the response that the people of Nicaragua have had, even despite their own right, is to refrain from participating. It is to close the doors. The control that this government has has reached levels where they are forced to take a photo at the ballot box with their ballot showing that they have voted for those who work in the state. Now we are seeing how people are leaving Nicaragua en masse. We are more than 300,000 Nicaraguans who have left the country, precisely because of these levels of repression and hostility that are increasing.
What is your presence in Peru due to?
Ana Quirós: We have come to participate in the Assembly (of the Organization of American States), first of all, to ask for the release of the political prisoners whose lives we fear every day. Secondly, because we ask you to support us in demanding free, transparent and internationally supervised elections. And that the international community closes the door to corruption, fraud and the dictatorship that Daniel Ortega has enthroned. That is why we have come, to ask the countries and the OAS accompany us in our demands.
Are you going to have a specific intervention in the agenda of the OAS Assembly while the activities in Peru are taking place?
Ana Quirós: We are having dialogues with the authorities and the representatives before the OAS General Assembly. We have sent documentation to these representatives and we are talking directly with most of them.
One final message you would like to send to your people?
Wendy Flores: In Nicaragua, those inside the country continue to resist the ferocious dictatorship that is being experienced right now; but also those of us in exile continue to be the voices of these victims and of this Nicaragua that is increasingly in pain. We ask the Peruvian people to please join our demands.