The Ortega-Murillo Interior Ministry (MIGOB) announced today the release of 56 more political prisoners, under the new amnesty law.
The amnesty law, though also ensuring that no Ortega-Murillo operatives will be investigated or tried for possible crimes against humanity as long as Ortega remains in power, secured the release of prisoners considered as the biggest “fish” in the sea of incarcerated journalists, students, activists, and leaders held in the Ortega-Murillo penal system.
Medardo Mairena, Pedro Mena, Miguel Mora, Lucía Pineda Ubau, Brandon Lovo, Glen Slate, Edwin Carcache, and Amaya Coppens were all released today.
Political Prisoners Released on June 11, 2019
- Cristopher Nahiroby Olivas Valdivia
- Christopher Marlon Méndez
- Carlos Alberto Cruz Aburto
- Pedro Lumbí Hernández
- Brandon Cristofer Lovo Tayler
- Amaya Eva Coppens Zamora
- Byron José Corea Estrada
- Freddy Alberto Navas López
- Joel Noel Blandón Villagra
- Omar Antonio Avilés Rocha
- Yubrank Miguel Suazo Herrera
- Luis Orlando Pineda Icabalzeta
- Irlanda Ondina Jerez Barrera
- Rafael Agustín Sequeira Duarte
- Ronald Iván Henríquez Delgado
- Marlon Antonio Castro López
- Cristhian Josué Mendoza Fernández
- Ricardo Humberto Baltodano Marcenaro
- Walter de Jesús Cerrato Rodríguez
- Cristian Rodrigo Fajardo Caballero
- Olesia Auxiliadora Muñoz Pavón
- Ismael Calderón
- Santiago Adrián Fajardo Baldizón
- Misael Espinoza
- Nicolás Cienfuegos Alaniz
- Mario Lener Fonseca Díaz
- Rogerio Adrián Ortega Franco
- Pedro Joaquín Mena Amador
- Tomás Ramón Maldonado Pérez
- Rogelio José Gámez Martínez
- Miguel de Los Ángeles Mora Barberena
- Noel Valdez Rodríguez
- Medardo Mairena Sequeira
- Erick Antonio Carazo Talavera
- Carlos Alberto Bonilla López
- Carlos Ramón Brenes Sánchez
- Jeffrey Isaac Jarquín
- Lenin Antonio Salablanca Escobar
- Jalviny Roberto Esteban Lesage
- Edwin José Carcache Dávila
- Kevin Rodrigo Espinoza Gutiérrez
- John Leonard Amort Paiz
- Apolonio Fargas Gómez
- Berman Cristian Cruz Torrez
- Lucía Agustina Pineda Ubau
- Abdul Montoya Vivas
- Nardo Rafael Sequeira Báez
- Glen Abrahán Slate
- Ulises Rubén Toval Ríos
- Yader Munguía Arias
- Ernesto Jarquín Orozco
- Francisco Antonio Sequeira Sequeira
- Oscar de la Cruz Valle Sequeira
- Denis Manuel Hernández Gutiérrez
- Amílcar Antonio Cortez Valle
- José Luis Ortega Briceño
The release began in the early hours of the morning, perhaps to avoid the spread of public demonstrations along the route of the government transports that took prisoners home, as it occurred during the first prisoner excarceration.
However, the news of the release ignited piquetes express throughout Managua.
— Wilmer Benavides Fonseca (@chepitillo1) June 11, 2019
As has become customary, the police deployed to surround citizens, regardless of whether or not they protest on private property. This group group staged their picket at the Pellas building.
Plantón en el Centro Pellas en Carretera a Masaya. Los antimotines quieren intimidar a los trabajadores. No pudieron ni podrán. #SOSNicaragua
— Wilmer Benavides Fonseca (@chepitillo1) June 11, 2019
Me dirigía al plantón d la catedral d Managua y me encuentro con esta gran sorpresa
(la gente con sus banderas, gritando de felicidad por que nuestros lideres esta en Libertad)
Pero como siempre la Policia sandinista asediando, obstruyendo nuestro derecho a la libre circulación pic.twitter.com/mo4Tm9YZBe
— Zayda Hernández (@ZaydaMu19a) June 11, 2019
Videos of the homecoming show defiant men and women celebrating their release, but also demanding justice for Eddy Montes. The footage below shows Miguel Mora, Edwin Carcache, Medardo Mairena and others.
MIGOB describes the released prisoners as having committed “common crimes against security and public peace.” The vague phrasing is meant to obscure the charges filed against them, which include terrorism, murder, and other serious felonies. The Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts of the OAS (GIEI) concluded that these types of charges were “improper.” According to GIEI, the judiciary under Ortega and Murillo
[…] improperly charged students, rural and social leaders with crimes such as terrorism and organized crime, among others, in order to persecute and punish legitimate acts of opposition against the government. The GIEI corroborated the existence of a pattern of judicial criminalization, in which there is no correlation between the facts and the codified criminal conduct.
The Ortega-Murillo government has repeatedly rejected the GIEI’s report, arguing that it is “subjective”, “slanted,” “one-sided,” and interferes in the domestic affairs of Nicaragua.
Political Prisoners Receive Heroes’ Welcome in Many Locations.
Nicaraguans celebrated the return of the political prisoners, seemingly without fear of retaliation. In the city of Bluefields, for example, citizens staged an impromptu parade to cheer for the release of Brandon Lovo and Glenn Slate. The two young men were convicted for the murder of journalist Angel Gahona. The trial was rife with irregularities, including a closed-door trial, death threats against defense lawyers, and dodgy eye-witnesses and physical evidence.
(chepitillo1) 26 y 27.Brandon Lovo y Glen Slate fueron llevados a sus viviendas en Bluefields.Los costeños se desbordaron para recibirlos.Hicieron su fiesta de mayo en junio.Los dos jóvenes fueron condenados por el asesinato del periodista Ángel … pic.twitter.com/fSz0U29TGV
— @NicaraguaBot (@NicaraguaBot) June 11, 2019
Police was at hand in Bluefields as well.
— Hector Rosales (@Hector_RosalesA) June 11, 2019
Journalists Miguel Mora and Lucía Pineda Ubau were both charged with “inciting violence and hate” and “promoting terrorism.” Pineda, who has dual Nicaraguan-Costa Rican citizenship, stated that imprisoning journalists catalized the release of all political prisoners. “When people saw what they did to 100% Noticias, [mobilization worldwide] picked up the pace. Things had stagnated for a while, but when people saw journalists being jailed, that is a serious thing.”
“Salimos con más fortaleza” asegura @LuciaPinedaU después de permanecer 5 meses en la cárcel. Lucía y Miguel de 100% Noticias son parte de los presos políticos q hoy fueron excarcelados. Lucía dice que va a seguir informando en “toda la bolita del mundo” pic.twitter.com/CHdVS3hpV9
— María Lilly Delgado (@MLillyDelgado) June 11, 2019
Tomás Maldonado was greeted by the people of Jinotepe. Mr. Maldonado was accused of acts of terrorism, organized crime, obstruction of public services and property damages.
Y así fue recibido el Sr. Tomás Maldonado en la ciudad de Jinotepe.
— María Fernanda 🙏🇳🇮. (@LaDetective007) June 11, 2019
The people of León awaited Nahiroby Olivas with a chichero band, Nicaraguan flags, and cheers.
— VocesEnLibertadNi (@VocesNi) June 11, 2019
Olivas was charged with terrorism, aggravated murder, aggravated damages, and aggravated robbery. Upon release, he stated to Radio Darío “we have achieved the release of political prisoners; now we have to achieve freedom for Nicaragua because we are not free. We are all incarcerated.”
Nahiroby Olivas a @RadioDarioNi: "Ya conseguimos la libertad de los presos políticos, ahora hay que conseguir la libertad para #Nicaragua, porque aún no estamos libres, aquí todos estamos encarcelados" ✊🏽🇳🇮#SOSNicaragua pic.twitter.com/5rkDt4Fw1A
— Anagilmara Vílchez (@AnagilmaraV) June 11, 2019
Yubrank Suazo, a student leader in Masaya, was charged with terrorism, attempted murder, threats, and obstruction of public services. The people of Masaya received him with Marimbas.
— Confidencial.com.ni (@confidencial_ni) June 11, 2019
Medardo Mairena is is the coordinator of the National Council in Defense of the Land, the Lake, and Sovereignty, colloquially known as the “peasants’ movement.” Mairena, along with Pedro Mena, were detained on July 13, 2018, at the Managua airport. Mairena was convicted to over 200 years in prison, on charges of organized crime, kidnapping, murder and other crimes.
The flag shown in the video was made by the inmates. “We’ve been waiting for this moment” says Mairena, “[the flag] has been the weapon we have used since the beginning, and we have not given up. We keep on.”
Su sonrisa me llena de alegría pic.twitter.com/53s7KFf7J0
— LaOvejaNegra (@AmorXNicaragua) June 11, 2019
Amaya Coppens is a 23-year old student leader from Leon. She was detained on September 10, and charged terrorism, obstruction of public services, kidnapping, illegal weapons’ possession, and aggravated robbery. Coppens strongly rejected the Amnesty Law. “We need justice in Nicaragua. How is it possible for them to say that they forgive us? We have done nothing. They are the ones who need forgiveness, and we will neither forgive nor forget. We demand justice.”
— Unidad Nacional Azul y Blanco (@UnidadNic) June 11, 2019
Released Prisoners Reveal Conditions In Ortega-Murillo’s Prisons.
Several of the prisoners released today spoke to the press; they revealed more details about the conditions they suffered while inside the Ortega-Murillo prisons.
Irlanda Jerez, who organized protests against Ortega and Murillo at the Mercado Oriental, told journalists that she was drugged, beaten, psychologically tortured, and sexually abused. “But I’m still here. They could not break my spirit, and they will never be able to”
Jerez denounced that her house was broken into this morning, by a group of hooded paramilitaries, who beat up two of her employees and her husband, Daniel Esquivel. The house was ransacked by this group, said Jerez.
Medardo Mairena also spoke to the press. He said that the government had offered him his freedom “in exchange for accusing the Episcopal Conference of having organized a coup.” Mairena then added that when he refused, he was beaten.
Medardo Mairena denunció que el gobierno le ofreció darle su libertad, y que acusara a la Conferencia Episcopal de organizar el "golpe de Estado" y que dijera que obispos le habían dado sotanas para que se hiciera pasar como cura y fuera a los tranques. #DerechoAInformar pic.twitter.com/bhLTKdtpl6
— Artículo 66 (@Articulo66Nica) June 11, 2019
Comité Pro Liberación de Presos Políticos: 89 Still Pending
The Comité Pro Liberación de Presos Políticos published a list of people who have been reported to them as political prisoners. Three of these names are in the official ICRC list and fifteen are on the IACHR list.
Aún nos quedan al menos 89 presos políticos encerrados en las cárceles de la dictadura. 3 de ellos están en la lista conciliada con la @CICR_es y 15 en la lista de la @CIDH, que incluye a los de la lista conciliada.
— Comité Pro Liberación de Presos Políticos (@CPLPP_Nicaragua) June 11, 2019
Alianza and Unidad Nacional Azul y Blanco React to Release
The Alianza Cívica reacted to the release via press statement. The coalition demanded a protocol to ensure the safety of all political prisoners and exiled Nicaraguans. “The harassment and intimidation, as well as the hatred campaigns that promote confrontation and intolerance, must cease,” reads the statement.
— Alianza Cívica Nicaragua (@AlianzaCivicaNi) June 11, 2019
Unidad Nacional Azul y Blanco called for a “pitazo” to mark the release of the 56 prisoners.
— Unidad Nacional Azul y Blanco (@UnidadNic) June 11, 2019
Today’s prisoner release coincided with a hearing in front of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the United States House of Representatives, to discuss the “Ongoing crisis in Nicaragua“.