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Ortega Orders Night Raids, Arrests Student & Farm Leaders

The students Lesther Aleman and Max Jerez, and the rural leaders Medardo Mairena, Pedro Mena, Freddy Navas and Pablo Morales join “electoral hostages”

The Nicaraguan University Alliance (AUN) and the Campesino Movement reported nighttime raids on Monday to arrest several of their leaders.

Presidential candidate Medardo Mairena, the peasant leaders Pedro Mena, Freddy Navas and Pablo Morales were kidnapped in one raid. Simultaneously, university student leaders Lesther Aleman and Max Jerez were also abducted.

It is presumed they are all being held in the infamous El Chipote interrogation jail, where dozens of former political prisoners have denounced different types of torture.

The vice president of AUN, Dolly Mora, said in an audio that Aleman was taken from where he was living, in the presence of his mother. Meanwhile, Jerez was captured in a safe house south of Managua, where he was a refugee with two other people.

The police raid took place after 9:00 at night and, according to Mora, was executed by three police patrols and two unmarked vehicles. The students were being besieged for several weeks.

Meanwhile, Medardo Mairena is the sixth presidential candidate [for what would have been an opposition primary election] kidnapped. Since June 2, the Ortega-Murillo regime ordered the arrest of Cristiana Chamorro, Arturo Cruz, Felix Maradiaga, Juan Sebastián Chamorro and Miguel Mora.

This is the second time that peasant leader Medardo Mairena has been imprisoned by the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. On July 13, 2018, he was captured and later sentenced to 216 years in prison for fabricated crimes of terrorism. He was released on June 11, 2019, under an Amnesty Law promoted by the regime to allow impunity for its own crimes, which include 328 documented killings in 2018.

After the arrest, AUN released a video that Jerez recorded in case he was arrested or disappeared. “If you are watching this video, it is because I am detained by the dictatorship, or I am incommunicado, thus adding to the list of political prisoners of the Ortega regime [now over 150]. This is the moment to continue the struggle, the dictatorship wants to end hope, we must continue together this fight for the freedom of the Nicaraguan people,” he said.

For his part, the leader of the Campesino Movement, Freddy Navas, left a video in which he states: “If you are watching this video, it is because they have already taken me. I am already in prison, and believe me, I am prepared in one way or another. They even say that the New Chipote jail is better than the other one,” he joked ironically.

Navas also recalled that, during 2018, he spent two and a half months in an isolation cell, naked, sleeping on tiles. “The torture, the beatings, the psychological pressure was great, but also God has no borders and your prayers reached me… Daniel Ortega is not the owner of Nicaragua, the owners of Nicaragua are each and every one of you,” he stressed.

This new arrests comes after the jailing of 21 other “electoral hostages” in the latest wave of repression that began at the end of May. These included five presidential candidates, two former deputy foreign ministers, two historic Sandinista ex-guerrillas, two former legislators, a former business leader, a banker, four opposition leaders, a sports writer, two former NGO workers and a private driver.

The detainees have been held incommunicado and their families have denounced that the Police do not receive food for them. They are not allowed to meet with their defense attorneys or family. In addition, the courts deny them information related to the secret court cases.

Taking advantage of a recent change in the law on detentions that Ortega pushed through, the Judiciary extended the investigative period from 48 hours to 90 days to hold the detained government opponents without charges filed.

This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by Havana Times

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