Wilfredo Brenes Dominguez was unjustly imprisoned for half of 2019 that finally ended. He’s was detained on three different occasions during jthe year, and believes that he’s seen a change in behavior on the part of some police officers. “Some are aware that what’ they’re doing isn’t legal, isn’t right.”
A native of Masaya, Brenes was one of the 91 political prisoners that the regime released on December 30, 2019. He’d been arrested this last time on November 14th, when he was bringing four gallons of water to a group of women who were holding a hunger strike in the San Miguel Archangel Church in Masaya demanding the release of their imprisoned family members. On this occasion, Brenes was accompanied by two others, Jordan Irene Lanzas and Marvin Samir Lopez, who were also released.
Brenes’ first arrest had been on January 4, 2019; that time he was freed four and a half months later, on May 20, although he was never accused before a judge. He was then arrested once again on August 22 and freed three days later. On that occasion, they supposedly detained him to investigate whether he was involved in the explosion of a homemade bomb.
Following his release from the latest detention, Brenes commented: “Some police, even knowing we were innocent, supported the spectacle that they staged against us for the water delivery. Others, although they didn’t tell us directly that they were in our favor, made it evident that they didn’t agree [with the arrest].”
During his first detention, Brenes was held in the infamous El Chipote jail cells. He was in their older facilities as well as in the new ones. He also spent time in the men’s prison known as El Modelo in Tipitapa.
During those first months, the Masaya resident suffered more than twenty harsh and cruel interrogations in which they threatened to kill him or to jail his daughter and his parents. He was also beaten.
This last time, he was in the new Chipote facility and was only subjected to two interrogations in which there was no violence. Nonetheless: “When they received me, there was an inspector, whose ID I couldn’t see, who told me that the next time he came to Masaya he was going to tear [my testicles] off,” Brenes stated.
Despite that reception, Brenes affirmed that there was a big difference in the treatment from the individual police agents. “Now [the political prisoners] can chant slogans and they don’t say anything. The first time, they wouldn’t even let us sing the national anthem without beating us.”
To the former political prisoner: “The repression in the jail has subsided a little bit due to international pressure and the denunciations that are made every time one of us gets out. All that has had an impact on the Government.”
“Based on my third experience [as a prisoner], I’ve noted changes in the guards. You can see and feel in the atmosphere the sensation that some police don’t want to continue anymore,” he added.
Detained under false pretenses
Brenes explained that the group of water carriers were detained after being deceived by the paramilitary and the police, since they hadn’t committed any crime. “We went up to the paramilitary’s security cordon and asked for permission to bring the water to the church. They said ‘yes’. When we got to the church, in front of the cordon maintained by the riot police, we raised our hands and declared that we had come in peace, only to deliver the water and then we’d leave; they told us that there was no problem, that we should go and pass the water to the women inside. While we were delivering it, they grabbed us from behind and began to beat us.”
Brenes, Lanzas and Lopez were taken to the police station in Masaya, where they continued beating them and took some pictures. They were subsequently taken to the new Chipote where they would spend the next month and a half in jail there.
The day that the three Masaya residents were detained, another 13 young people were also arrested for bringing water and medicine to the women on the hunger strike who had been blockaded into the San Miguel Church by a tight police cordon.
The group of 16 who were arrested for this action became known as the “water carriers”. They were accused of illegal arms trafficking. Although they were all now released to house arrest, the legal process against them continues.