Profiles of Five Women Political Prisoners in Nicaragua
A sampling of some of the women political prisoners currently being held by the Ortega-Murillo regime – a number of other families don’t want to make their denunciations public, for fear of further reprisals.
HAVANA TIMES – The regime headed by Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo are still holding women political prisoners in different jail cells and prisons throughout the country. International organizations have denounced the cruel treatment of these prisoners, alleging practices tantamount to torture.
According to the Mechanism for the Recognition of Political Prisoners, these are women who are currently being held by the regime as a result of their political actions:
Martha Candelaria Rivas Hernandez is originally from the municipality of Diria in the Granada department. The regime jailed her after she refused to sign a formal complaint against Father Manuel Garcia, who is also currently a political prisoner.
Martha Rivas was initially presented as the victim of Father Garcia, when official media released a video accusing the religious leader of having attacked Martha Rivas. They added that the priest had maintained intimate relations with her. On June 17, during a preliminary hearing of the case against Father Garcia, Martha Rivas explained that the supposed aggression she suffered had been an accident and denied ever having intimate relations with him.
In reprisal for her retraction of the initial statement, the regime then accused her in Granada’s Criminal Court of “false witness in detriment of the administration of justice in the Nicaragua.” She was sentenced to five years in prison, and since which time she’s been locked up in Granada’s Women’s Prison System.
Although the lawyer for this political prisoner appealed the sentence, the judge presiding over the case ratified the sentence. According to court records, Martha Rivas stated: “I have affection and warm feelings for Manuel and won’t allow an innocent person to be criminally processed. I feel guilty for having provoked all this by my complaint, but I won’t sign a formal denunciation, and I don’t intend to accuse him.”
The arbitrary detention of this political prisoner came to light two days after the fact, when the Nicaraguan University Alliance denounced on social media that Anielka Lucia Garcia Zapata had been detained in the municipality of Chichigalpa in Chinandega. The student movement stated that her detention was the result of her having posted a photo where she appeared with a t-shirt alluding to the April 2018 rebellion. Following her detention, Anielka was taken to Managua’s Third District jurisdiction.
Anielka, 27, is the mother of two young children. She owned and operated a small business called Think Marketing, but all the assets belonging to this business have now been confiscated by the police. The family has offered no further details on the young woman’s situation, for fear of reprisals.
Olesia Auxiliadora Muñoz was rearrested during the 2023 Easter Week celebrations, a period when the dictatorship increased its repression against religious leaders and believers. The Ortega-allied judge accused her of cybercrimes and treason.
Via social media, Ana Margarita Vijil – herself a former political prisoner now released and banished – informed that Olesia received a family visit on June 20. Her relatives stated that her conditions had improved after she was transferred from Managua’s Third District jail to a cell in the women’s prison known as La Esperanza.
“She arrived there sick, thin, and in very deteriorated condition. In La Esperanza, she’s now received medical attention and has had access to the food packages, sheets, and medicine that her family supplies,” Ana Margarita Vijil indicated.
Olesia was originally detained in 2018 and accused of terrorism, organized crime, kidnapping, extortion and robbery with intimidation, plus obstructing public services. These bogus accusations against Muñoz – a musician, soprano singer in her church choir and owner of a small business – were all based on her participation in the massive anti-government protests of 2018. She was released under the Ortega regime’s original Amnesty Law in June 2019.
Brenda Lee Baldelomar Aleman, 48, a native of Chinandega, was detained on the afternoon of April 17, 2023, on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the 2018 citizen rebellion. On April 24, she was indicted in Managua’s Fourth Local Criminal Court, along with other dissidents.
Following her detention, she was transferred to Managua’s Third District jail and later moved to the infamous El Chipote. In June, she was transferred to the La Esperanza women’s prison.
According to Nicaragua’s online court system, the Nicaraguan government is the supposed victim in this case, but no further details were offered of the crimes Brenda Baldelomar supposedly committed, nor of the sentence given her. Like many of the political court cases, the only witnesses against her were four police agents.
Relatives of the political prisoner have made public their concerns that Brenda hasn’t received the food packets or the medication she needs for her various health problems.
The case of political prisoner Jaqueline de Jesus Rodriguez, 35, was disclosed by the released and now banished political prisoner Ivan Irias, through his social networks. He denounced that this prisoner is in the maximum-security cells of the Women’s Penitentiary System of La Esperanza, located in Tipitapa. Before being imprisoned, Jaqueline Rodriguez worked as a public accountant.
Irias denounced that Jaqueline was being held in inhumane conditions in the prisons of the Ortega Murillo regime. This political prisoner was arrested on April 22 of this year, along with her husband, Sergio Hernandez Castilblanco, 37.
“Jaqueline is in the La Esperanza maximum security women’s prison. Sergio in the La Modelo men’s prison, where (political prisoner) Eddy Montes was murdered, and where many of us were tortured,” Irías denounced in his publication. He specified that they were imprisoned for having a blue and white Nicaraguan flag.