Political prisoner and former Nicaraguan ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), Edgard Parrales, turned 80 on November 16, 2022, which makes him the oldest prisoner of conscience.
The former diplomat was sentenced last May to eight years in prison: five for “conspiracy to undermine national integrity” and three for “spreading fake news,” in addition to a large fine.
Parrales was taken from prison to house detention since February 2022 due to health problems. However, judicial sources confided to Confidencial that the authorities have not allowed medical specialists to examine him. This, even though he also has precautionary measures granted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), asking the state of Nicaragua to “adopt all the necessary measures to protect his rights to life, personal integrity and health.”
Parrales, also analyst of diplomatic and religious issues, was arrested on November 22, 2021, when he left his home in Managua to make a banking transaction. Initially he spent 95 days in the cells of the infamous El Chipote jail, where he lost 35 pounds.
During his stay in those cells, he also suffered an elbow injury due to a fall caused by vertigo. Because of his age, he also has hearing problems (he can barely hear), he is afflicted in his large intestine and urinary system, for which he needs medical checkups every six months. Despite this condition, he has not been allowed to have a medical examination by a specialist.
In June, a Managua court admitted an appeal filed by the ex-diplomat’s defense attorney, Noel Alonzo Cano, against the sentence he received on May 5, 2022.
Under House Arrest
The Nicaragua Center for Human Rights CENIDH has warned that “house arrest is not a guarantee of health and life for Edgard Parrales,” since the judge does not authorize the entry of his doctors to provide him with adequate treatment and perform the tests that “guarantee his life.”
“Edgard Parrales is in danger. We demand the Ortega-Murillo regime to release him immediately, before there are irreparable damages, failing to do so and by not allowing specialized medical attention, it will be responsible for what may happen to him,” said the human rights organization.
Days before being arrested, he gave an interview to Confidencial where he analyzed the last decision by the government to remove Apostolic Nuncio Waldemar Stalisnaw Sommertag as Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, which Parrales considered an affront to the Catholic Church, “an act of vengefulness.”
He also referred, in other media outlets, to the consequences that Nicaragua’s break from the OAS could bring to the country.
More than 20 political prisoners are senior citizens
In February, Confidencial revealed that the Ortega regime had 21 Nicaraguans over the age of 60 in prison. Of these, five are over 70 years old. The oldest is Parrales, followed by Francisco Aguirre Sacasa (78), who was returned to the cells of El Chipote last November 11; Mauricio Diaz Davila (71), Violeta Granera (71), Pedro Joaquin Chamorro (71) and Victor Hugo Tinoco (70).
Last Tuesday, family members of political prisoners demanded a “proof of life” of their relatives, as 81 days have gone by, in the case of those detained since May 2021, and more than 60 in the case of those arrested after September 2022, since the last time they visited them at El Chipote. Until now, the regime’s authorities have not given them “any news” about them.
“We have more than two months of suffering and uncertainty; of not having any kind of information regarding their health condition, access to medical care and feeding of our relatives. Our verbal requests for visits, as well as for information on the status and whereabouts of our relatives have been denied by the prison authorities without any justification,” explained the family members of prisoners of conscience in their press release.