Police arrested Enrique Cuadra and Santiago Fajardo, at their homes on February 4th. They are both activists of the Nicaraguan University Alliance (AUN). The authorites presented no warrants or arrest orders.
They took Cuadra to the police station in Leon, where he is from. Meanwhile, they took Fajardo to the “El Chipote” interrogation jail in Managua, although he lives three blocks from the Masaya police station. Both were interrogated, threatened and released hours later.
The officers who detained Cuadra told him that they were investigating a robbery. However, during interrogation at the police station “they only asked me about the leaders of my movement,” he said after his release. One of the officers, “showed me publications (on social networks and the media) in which they demanded my freedom. They told me, ‘if you coordinate something, tell us the names of those you are coordinating.’”
The police forced Fajardo, a former political prisoner, to put on the blue uniform of the National Penitentiary System and held him overnight. During the interrogation, “they asked me if I belonged to the University Alliance, and ‘who are the leaders?’ How much do they pay me? And they also asked me about my brother Christian?”
Cuadra and Fajardo were both threatened before being released. Cuadra said the officers told him that, “if a sticker or graffiti appears on the streets of Leon, I would be held responsible. They also warned that they will be constantly coming to my house and will keep me under surveillance.”
Fajardo complained that the Police violated all his rights. “If I place a sticker or shout Long live Free Nicaragua! I’m not harming anyone. It is a whim of them (the Police) who want to keep us petrified. But that is difficult because we are young and we have the impetus to continue the struggle,” he stressed.
“They want the opposition to exclude itself”
During an interview on the “Esta Semana” program, Cuadra assesses the objective of his arrest. He said intimidating him was the goal. Moreover, he warned that the Ortega-Murillo regime wants “fear to paralyze us, so that the opposition excludes itself and we don’t participate in the struggle” for the restoration of democracy in the country.
Likewise, Fajardo explained that the Police have besieged and threatened other members of AUN. He said they are sending “a message that they want to silence us.”
The regime tries to normalize a de facto police state, established in September 2018, when the Government declared all citizen protests illegal. Since then, any attempt to protest has been denied, stifled, or repressed. At the same time, dozens of Nicaraguans are besieged in their homes or persecuted by police or supporters of the regime.
Cuadra says that “in Nicaragua no one has full freedom.” He firmly believes that the opposition must continue to pressure the regime to force it to allow conditions for the upcoming electoral process. “The regime is playing and moving its pieces. I think that the opposition has to be a little more consistent and rely on a strategy to pressure the regime,” said Cuadra.
On the same day that Cuadra and Fajardo were arrested, the Leon Police raided for the third time the home of Anibal Toruño, the director of Radio Dario. The officers broke into the house, at approximately ten in the morning on Thursday, when there was no one home. Toruno said “the trail they left” indicates “they were in all the rooms, opened all the drawers and scratched my pickup.”