14 February 2022. Since 1 February, the decrepit Nicaraguan dictator has relaunched a series of judicial farces to impose long sentences against more than a dozen dissidents, based on false accusations in violation of all legal protocols and the right to defence. The trials, held in El Chipote prison itself, lasted only a few hours; police and government agents were the only witnesses. They presented fraudulent evidence such as screenshots of social media posts with edits, and the legal defence teams are held incommunicado to prevent images of the judicial farce from being released to the press. The trials ended in the convictions demanded by the government.
The young leftists Yader Parajon and Muhamar Vado, and the leaders of the Unamos party (former Sandinista Renewing Movement) Ana Maria Vijil and Dora Maria Tellez, were convicted. Also convicted was student leader Lester Aleman, who gained notoriety when he challenged dictator Ortega face to face to stop killing students and resigning from office, during one session of the so-called “dialogue” promoted by the government and the bourgeoisie to weaken the 2018 popular rebellion. The repression that left more than 400 people killed and thousands injured and detained crushed the rebellion, which began with protests against the social security cuts agreed by the regime with the International Monetary Fund.
Ortega’s prosecutors are asking for sentences of up to fifteen years in prison. The Public Prosecutor’s Office issued a statement on 1 February in which it broadly accuses those on a trial of conspiring in the service of the US, receiving money, undermining the sovereignty, having promoted a coup in 2018 and even “directing terrorist acts”, although in particular, the charges are reduced to the vague accusation of conspiring to undermine sovereignty or charges such as spreading false news. The authorities have restricted entry to the trials to relatives of victims of Ortega’s political persecution, although under Nicaraguan law they must be oral and public trials.
As they have denounced people under political imprisonment, the systematic confinement in isolation and lack of medical attention for long months makes up torture. Human rights, feminist and leftist organisations denounce there are currently over 170 people under political imprisonment in the dictatorship’s prisons, some of them since 2018.
In June last year, the campaign for Ortega’s re-election began with the arrest of all those who could run as opposition candidates. Seven pre-candidates were imprisoned. The repression also focused on the Sandinista dissidents of Unamos, with the arrest of Dora Maria Tellez, Hugo Torres, Victor Hugo Tinoco, Ana Margarita Vijil and Suyen Barahona, among others. Tellez and Torres were prominent guerrilla commanders during the struggle against the Somoza dictatorship. Now they are imprisoned by the “Somoza of the 21st century”. Daniel Ortega is no longer an anti-imperialist or a socialist. He has been in power since 2007 after returning to power with the help of notorious right-wingers and former Contra leaders. In January, he was sworn in for a new term, after the fraudulent election of November last year.
From the IWU-FI, we demand the immediate release of all those imprisoned for political reasons. Opposing the violation of democratic freedoms by the bourgeois dictatorship of Ortega and Murillo is not a crime, it is the duty of all Nicaraguan working people. We call on all the left, socialist, democratic militancy of Latin America and the world to reject the judicial farces in front of the embassies and consulates of the Ortega dictatorship. Let us demand the breaking of diplomatic relations with the dictatorship and let us organise solidarity with the Nicaraguan working class, whose liberation depends on its own mobilisation and politically independent organisation.
Freedom now for Dora Maria Tellez, Ana Margarita Vijil, Yader Parajon, Lester Aleman, Muhamar Vado and all those imprisoned and tortured for dissenting from the dictatorship!