The government of Spain has offered nationality to more than 200 former Nicaraguan political prisoners released and deported to the US by the regime of Daniel Ortega this Thursday (9). The dictatorship in Managua withdrew the nationality of opponents, considering them traitors.
According to the Spanish Chancellor, José Manuel Albares, the offer is already in force and Madrid will contact the Nicaraguans. Naturalization will take place through the procedure known as letter of nature, which is more agile because it is not subject to standard bureaucracies.
In an unexpected decision, Nicaragua released 222 of the 245 political prisoners it has held in its jails since Ortega hardened the regime, following protests against a pension reform in 2018. Joaquín Chamorro, former minister, and Francisco Aguirre, former chancellor.
According to the US Under Secretary of State, Emily Mendrala, the country is in contact with Madrid to facilitate the application for nationality. Former prisoners will be able to choose the option they prefer.
Dora María Téllez, who in 1978, along with Eden Pastora and Hugo Torres, led the capture of the National Palace in Managua. The action led to the release of dozens of detainees. At the time, Téllez and Ortega were fighting the same dictatorship: that of the Somoza family, which had been in power in Nicaragua for 44 years.
After the announcement of his release, Ortega, who has led a persecution of Catholic leaders, said that Bishop Rolando Álvarez, detained for conspiracy and spreading false news, did not want to go to the US. The regime transferred him from house arrest to the La Modelo centre. “Álvarez did not want to comply with what the law requires,” said the dictator.
He said he sent the US a list of 228 prisoners, of which the country rejected four. At the time of boarding, two refused to go. The White House claims that the decision to send the former detainees was unilateral by Managua and that it will continue to ask for the release of the two prisoners who wanted to remain in the Central American country.
On Thursday, the US State Department said the country facilitated the transport of prisoners and ensured that those freed “left Nicaragua” voluntarily to live in the US for two years. The version, however, was contested by the prisoners as soon as they gave their first interviews after landing and said that they were taken out of prison without further explanation and taken to an airport.
“The release of these individuals,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken, “marks a constructive step towards talking about human rights abuses and opens doors to further dialogue.”
Former presidential candidate Félix Maradiaga said in one of his first interviews that he realized what was happening when he was at the door of the plane. “We signed a note, very succinct, one line, which read that we had voluntarily left the country, without any further explanation.”
The European Union also approved the measure. “While the EU rejects the decision to deprive the prisoners of Nicaraguan citizenship and political rights, their release is a positive and much-awaited step that must be followed by dialogue and further action,” the bloc said.
Sustaining his rhetoric that he calls anti-imperialist, Ortega also said on Thursday that he did not negotiate with the US in exchange for the release of prisoners, although the country suffers from sanctions and the measure was one of the main demands of civil society.
He stated that the idea for the deportation was his wife and vice president, Rosario Murillo. “They are returning to a country that used them to sow terror, death, destruction. Now that the coup leaders are gone, we breathe more in peace,” said Ortega.
“I was already saying that all these people arrested for violating sovereignty were agents of foreign powers,” he said. “We are not asking them to lift sanctions. It is a matter of honor, dignity, patriotism. Take your mercenaries.”
With a wealth of experience honed over 4+ years in journalism, I bring a seasoned voice to the world of news. Currently, I work as a freelance writer and editor, always seeking new opportunities to tell compelling stories in the field of world news.