On Sunday, June 13th former Sandinista guerrilla leader Dora Maria Tellez was abducted and jailed by the Ortega regime’s police. Tellez is currently a member of the opposition party Democratic Renewal Union (Unamos), formerly known as the Sandinista Renewal Movement (MRS). A second activist from Unamos, Ana Margarite Vijil, was abducted with Tellez.
Shortly after Suyen Barahona, the party’s president was arrested. The other victim of arbitrary detention Sunday was former Sandinista guerrilla leader and retired general Hugo Torres, taken from his home and imprisoned. Torres is also part of the Unamos political platform.
Once again, the regime’s police justified the detention of these opposition leaders for violations to the “Sovereignty Law”. This is one of four repressive laws the dictatorship steamrolled through Nicaragua’s National Assembly at the end of 2020.
The Police statement regarding the jailing of Tellez and Vijil reads in part: “Citizens Dora Maria Tellez and Ana Margarita Vijil Gurdian have been detained. Both are under investigation for acts that undermine independence, sovereignty and self-determination, and for inciting foreign intervention in internal affairs.”
The string of charges in the declaration continues, including “exalting and applauding the imposition of sanctions against the Nicaraguan State and its citizens, and harming the supreme interests of the nation.”
The document then declares the arrest of the two women, “in conformity with Article 1 of Law #1055, “The Law in Defense of the People’s Rights to Independence, Sovereignty, and Self-Determination for Peace.” The exact same text was subsequently posted, with the name of Suyen Barahona substituting for Tellez and Vijil.
Raid began in the wee hours of Sunday
The Civic Alliance, denounced on its social media the siege on Dora Maria Tellez’ home. Several media channels reported the supposed use of drones to spy on the two women.
These arbitrary detentions come in addition to that of independent presidential candidate Cristiana Chamorro, who’s been held in isolation, under house arrest since June 2nd. There’s been no contact or communication with her whatsoever since that time.
Violeta Granera, sociologist and opposition activist, was placed under house arrest on June 8th. On the night of June 11, she was transferred to the El Chipote jail in Managua, a detention site that has been denounced multiple times for torture.
Ana Margarita Vijil posted a pre-recorded video to her social media sites. She made the clip when she realized that her home was being surrounded by police, just hours before her actual detention. In the recording, the opposition leader encourages the population, saying that her detention is “part of the process” of removing Daniel Ortega from power.
On the night of June 12, Tamara Davila, a leader of the National Blue and White Unity, was also jailed. Davila had been under police watch for two weeks. It’s presumed that she was also taken to the El Chipote interrogationjail.
Former guerrilla leader Hugo Torres detained later on Sunday
Around 2 pm on Sunday, June 13, the regime’s police raided the home of former Sandinista guerrilla Hugo Torres, who was then taken to jail. The Police statement is a virtual copy of that issued for the other members of Unamos. Torres is the fifth prominent political figure to be detained this weekend.
Although Torres was abducted in the afternoon, the police patrols had arrived in the morning, about the same time the operations against Tellez, Vigil and Barahona were being carried out.
The number of prisoners keeps rising
Chamorro, Granera, Tellez, and Davila join other presidential candidates and opposition leaders imprisoned by the Ortega regime since June 2nd. Cristiana Chamorro, daughter of former president Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, was the first. Clearly, she’s far from the last.
On June 5, the regime abducted and jailed presidential candidate Arturo Cruz in the Managua airport, upon his return from a trip to the United States. Two days after his detention, police raided his home and extended his imprisonment without charges to 90 days.
Next was opposition candidate Felix Maradiaga, who was summoned to the Public Prosecutor’s Office on June 8. Upon his exit and brief declarations to the news media, he was stopped and taken away by police as he headed home.
The same night, yet another presidential candidate – Juan Sebastian Chamorro – was abducted and jailed. Chamorro had been summoned to appear before the Prosecutors the next day, supposedly to offer declarations in an investigation underway against the Nicaraguan Foundation for Economic and Social Development (Funides).
Violeta Granera’s arrest followed the official police confirmation of Chamorro’s detention, Almost simultaneously, Jose Adan Aguerri, former president of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise, was imprisoned. The arbitrary detentions continued on June 9, with the raid and imprisonment of opposition leader Jose Pallais in Leon.
Adding to this list are two former employees of the Violeta Barrios Foundation, Walter Gomez and Marcos Fletes. Both were violently detained by police on May 29, and taken to the El Chipote jail, where they remain. They are supposedly part of the “investigations” being conducted against the Foundation they worked for.
General condemnation of the arbitrary arrests
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights questioned the detentions, alleging that they violate the Nicaraguan government’s human rights obligations.
Human rights defender Paulo Abrao made this statement on his Twitter feed. He called the events that have unfolded in Nicaragua since June 12th, “a weekend of State Terrorism”.
The Good Will Commission, created in January to facilitate unity discussions among the country’s opposition, also issued a statement. In a document entitled “The dictatorship has removed all the masks”, the members of the Commission condemned the weekend’s arbitrary detentions. They considered “spurious” the dictatorship’s justifications for detaining the 14 people jailed by authorities in the past 15 days.
The statement concludes with a demand for the release of all the political prisoners, now around 140, and for elections that meet international standards.