The Nicaraguan political prisoners who resisted torture in Ortega and Murillo’s prisons

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In the year On February 9, 2023, an American plane flew from Managua to Washington. They were inside. 222 malnourished Nicaraguans Those who cherish freedom after years of imprisonment. A few hours ago, the political prisoners were taken from their cells without giving any word. Many thought they were going to die at their hands. The prison guards of the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario MurilloAfter spending a lot of time in solitary confinement, they were subjected to abuse and inhumane treatment. Surprisingly, they landed safely in the US capital. There were reunions with loved ones, hugs and tears for those left behind. Feeling unreal.

The Nicaraguan regime’s brutal repression in prisons, which has been widely reported by the exiled Nicaraguan press and human rights groups, has led to widespread violence against women. Now, here’s a testimony that sheds some light on Ortega’s prisons: Freedom behind bars (Or, Freedom Behind Bars)A book that tells the story of 11 of these 222 political prisoners; A strong story of perseverance, hope in the face of dehumanization and a cry for freedom at this Cruel living tyranny On the continent.

Ortega, In the corner of international pressureWhen he freed political prisoners en masse, he let go. But, following the old mantra of dictators, with iron fists and kid gloves, he waited for one last round. He revoked the citizenship of 222 prisoners and 94 other political prisoners, including ex-army comrades and individuals from the arts, politics or journalism sectors in Nicaragua.

His children, Cristina and Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, were on the Feb. 9 flight to Washington with Juan Lorenzo Holman, manager of La Presse de Nicaragua.Juan Lorenzo Holman

Freedom behind bars The Be Human Campaign is a non-profit run by Nicaraguan exiles and a project led by Juan Marielli and Wilfredo Miranda Aburto, contributors to EL PAÍS. The writers behind each story are: Alma Guillermoprito, John Lee Anderson, Gioconda Belli, Sergio Ramirez, Laura Restrepo and Pedro Sabollard, Martin Caparros, Claudia Piero, Sabrina Duque, Julian Navarrete, Lorraine Arroyo, in addition to Marilee and Miranda Aburto. . All the work on the book was voluntary.

The Be Human campaign was launched in 2021 in an attempt to raise awareness of the situation in Nicaragua. “We sent strong messages about the hunger, the physical conditions of the cells, the lack of visits, and in the end, we thought it would be important to leave behind tangible evidence, because 222 prisoners had been stripped of their citizenship. Presented on Monday in San Jose (Costa Rica), one of the members of the project contributes to historical memory and highlights the resilience of the imprisoned.

Looking for a printer

Freedom behind bars It has not been published in physical format because it is a voluntary work and does not yet have a publisher. “We are looking for a publisher because we want this book to go beyond our limited printing and distribution capacity. We always work with fewer resources and more will. We do not need or want financial income, but political income. To make the stories of these brave women known as widely as possible. Finally, we have a sample of women who suffered Torture, oppression and isolation. From 23-year-olds, like Samantha, to 71-year-olds like Violetta,” says the same member.

The youngest of the group is Samantha Samantha Jiron. During the repression launched by Ortega and Murillo Operation cleaner In the year She was just 18 years old in 2018 and was still involved in the protests against the regime that have killed at least 355 people, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) said. Lorena Arroyo, a reporter for this newspaper, wrote in Freedom behind barsFive years later, in July 8, 2023 The young woman is in a Latina beauty salon in San Leandro, outside San Francisco, California, to have her hair dyed blue. It’s a process that takes several hours: first, you have to bleach your medium-length brunette hair into a Lady Gaga-style hairstyle, so that the chosen color is a metallic blue that is more than a beauty decision. For a 23-year-old woman who has spent a year and three months in a Nicaraguan prison, a second time in exile and has become stateless for defying Ortega and Murillo, dyeing her hair is a way to exercise her freedom. .. and an attempt to fight her own injuries. From now on and until she decides to change her look, Samantha looks in the mirror every day at the color of the prison uniform she wore for 15 months and vows not to wear it again after she gets out of prison.

Violeta, the oldest of the prisoners, is Violeta Granera Padilla, a candidate for the Liberal Liberal Party (PLI) in the 2016 presidential election. Nicaraguan author Gioconda Belli, exiled and ostracized by Ortega, begins her story. Violetta remembers one day when he told them to wake up at 2am to shower and get ready. Perhaps because of her trauma, she tells me that her father was killed – because there was a time when she dreamed that the guerrillas had come in and taken him, or that they had killed her children – she was sure that they were being taken to be shot. He said.

He is perhaps the most important political prisoner in the book. Dora Maria Telez, 68, legendary guerrilla fighter, also known as Commander Two. At just 22 years old, in 1978, she attacked the National Palace of Managua, the seat of power of the dictator Anastasio Somoza, as part of the Sandinista National Liberation Front battalion in one of the regime’s biggest strategic attacks. The event was immortalized in the news story by Gabriel García Márquez. Attack on the castleHe began with that masterful first line, “The plan seemed too easy to be healthy.

in Freedom behind bars Alma Guillermoprito, one of the most famous reporters to cover the Sandinista revolution from the beginning, is responsible for providing the voice. She writes: “Dora Maria told me that many years ago, during the long years she spent in the mountains in the dense tropical forest of northwestern Nicaragua, it was not only hunger that bothered her, but also the constant surrounding of greenery. of plants. When you are in the city: how beautiful, green! And when you’re in the mountains, you want to see yellow, red, white, blue! So, that green will make you tired, and the strength [of the situation] It will wear you out too.’ But then there were allies around her, and there was hope. Not a prison. The prisoner saw her imprisonment as one more battle he had to fight, but maintaining that brave stance in the midst of absolute solitude was not always possible. Then in the afternoon she says she feels like she’s dead.

Like Samantha, Violetta or Commander Two, all the stories are different, unique and at the same time create a common mosaic. Terrible in the prisons of Ortega. They also talk about the collective muscle that carries out the resistance against the dictator. A member of the Be Human campaign concluded: “I want to highlight the courage and resilience of these women. They never lost hope or laughter.” When you read their testimony, you will realize that even in the most dire circumstances, they did not lose their ability to dream, their contribution to Nicaragua’s freedom is meaningful.”

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