Free the political prisoners in Nicaragua!

Protest in Nicaragua
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Statement by the Committee for Revolutionary International Regroupment (CRIR)

President Daniel Ortega has governed Nicaragua in favor of the rich throughout the last 16 years in office. A former revolutionary, Ortega has been re-elected three times since 2006. This includes his 2021 re-election, which was a complete farce. This was preceded by the 2018 massive state repression unleashed by the Ortega government that killed several hundred protesters and injured more than a thousand more. Today in Nicaragua, there is no longer any labor, student or political freedom. As socialists, we must raise our voices in protest against the person who today violates the democratic gains of the Sandinista Revolution.

In the context of the fraudulent elections of 2021, the Ortega regime jailed thirty-two political opponents including seven presidential candidates. Among these were three Sandinista leaders of the 1979 revolution. These former comrades-in-arms of Daniel Ortega are Dora María Téllez, Víctor Hugo Tinoco and Hugo Torres, who stated minutes before his capture: “Such is life. Those who once embraced political principles today betray them.” He also said: “Daniel Ortega has appropriated the Frente Sandinista, the party of the Nicaraguan revolution. He has defanged it and turned it into his own party, a party in service of his immediate family. What Ortega has done with the FSLN, privatizing it, and transforming it into an instrument at the service of his personal interests, he has done with the entire Nicaraguan state. All state institutions are today politically subordinated to his will. Ortega’s subjugation of state institutions is greater than that obtained by the Somoza dictatorship, because in Somoza’s time there was a certain independence in the judicial power. Then, there were judges who firmly confronted the Somoza regime and acted with the power of the law in their hands.” Just a few months after making these statements, Hugo Torres died in prison.

Denied medical attention and much less a legitimate trial, Torres became just one more victim of the Ortega dictatorship. Shortly after Hugo Torres’ death, Nicaragua’s own ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), Arturo McFields Yescas, called his country’s government “a dictatorship” and resigned his post stating that “more than 177 political prisoners and more than 350 people have lost their lives in my country since 2018… To continue to remain silent and defend the indefensible is now impossible.”

Immediate release for Dora María Téllez

Among those who remain in prison is Dora María Téllez, known as the Comandante Dos of the Sandinista Revolution. She led the 1978 invasion of the National Palace, the seat of the national parliament. This was one of the most significant attacks against the former dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza. She broke with the party in 1995 long before the conversion of Daniel Ortega and his wife, Rosario Murillo, now vice president, into the country’s new despots. Téllez has stated that “Ortega will only leave the leadership of the Sandinista Front as a dead man. However, Rosario Murillo is now in the line of succession.” She continued. “All power is set to accede to Murillo. Succession is the key that Daniel Ortega is relying on. Daniel Ortega is determined to institutionalize his family’s political power.”

Téllez’s arrest took place on June 13, 2021. After months of illegal detention, the trials of thirty-six political prisoners detained in June 2021 took place on February 1, 2022. On February 3, Dora María and Lesther Alemán (a student leader of the 2018 popular uprising) were sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of “conspiracy” and “attacking national integrity.”

These “trials” were held behind closed doors in complete secrecy inside prison walls, not in open courtrooms. The proceedings took place without the presence of family members or the press. The regime’s intention was clear: to hide the evidence of torture and violence committed against the prisoners. Family members and others who visited Dora María Téllez reported that she was beaten during her detention and continues to be subjected to ill treatment.

We, therefore, call on social, political, trade-union, feminist, leftist, student and human rights organizations, as well as people in solidarity with the cause of the Nicaragua people against the Ortega regime and the FSLN, to convene an international commission to visit, investigate and document the conditions of the prisoners in Nicaragua and the state of their physical and mental health in order to force the Nicaraguan government to drop all charges and immediately release all political prisoners.

Free Dora María Téllez and all political prisoners now!

Down with the repressive regime of Daniel Ortega and the FSLN!

Committee for Revolutionary International Regroupment (CRIR)
Partido Socialismo y Libertad – Argentina
Movimento Revolucionário Socialista – Brasil
Freedom Socialist Party – U.S. and Australia
Partido Obrero Socialista – México

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