Five family members who were abducted between September 13th and 15th now mark two weeks in jail. The five were kidnapped by the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, in order to pressure two opposition activists, who fled imminent arrest, to turn themselves in to the authorities. Arresting relatives for their family members’ activities is “arbitrary and illegal.” In addition, these five innocent people are being held “totally incommunicado” in the infamous El Chipote jail.
Those being held hostage in this way are: Jannine Horvilleur Cuadra, 63, and Ana Carolina Alvarez Horvilleur, 43, both dual citizens of Nicaragua and France; Felix Roiz, and Freddy Porras. The fifth person detained has not been publicly identified at the request of their family.
Javier Alvarez Zamora, who fled the country due to the regime’s persecution, is Jeannine Horvilleur’s husband and Ana Carolina Alvarez’ father. Felix Roiz, 55, is his son-in-law. These three family members were detained on September 13th and 14th respectively. Two weeks later, Alvarez denounced, they remain in “the same” circumstances. Up to the moment, the police authorities have allowed them “no visits or communication.”
“None of our family members have been allowed to see them. We don’t know what condition they’re in. We don’t know if they’re being held together as mother and daughter, or if they’re keeping them isolated,” noted Alvarez.
Javier Alvarez made the initial denunciation in an interview with the online television news program Esta Semana on September 17th. At that time, he recounted that on September 13, around 10 PM, the police arrived at his home looking for him. After going through everything and not finding him, they took his wife and daughter, and the next day, came for his son-in-law.
The opposition activist saw the detention of his family members as “a new step in the repression we’ve already been suffering.” Now the regime is applying a policy of “if we don’t get you, your family are the ones who’ll pay.”
In a more recent interview with Confidencial, Alvarez spoke of how difficult these last two weeks of his family’s arbitrary and illegal detention have been. However, he took it as a positive sign that relatives in Managua have been authorized to bring the medications they need. In addition, they’ve been allowed to bring “water, crackers, juice, yogurt and some socks for the cold”. All these items must be handed to the jail authorities, who supposedly deliver them to the prisoners. However, the relatives haven’t been allowed to bring in a sheet, or anything to help them weather the cold at night and in the early morning.”
“My wife is 63, and a breast cancer survivor. Her left breast was operated on to remove a tumor, and she has to take her medication permanently and pay attention to the care her case merits. My daughter is 43 and also has some health issues, as does my son-in-law who’s 55. In other words, my wife is nearly a senior citizen, and my daughter and her husband are middle-aged adults with some illnesses,” Alvarez indicated.
No charges filed
Javier Alvarez stated that his three relatives were “in a kind of legal limbo,” since “no accusation has been filed, there are no other actions regarding them, yet they’re being detained there.”
“A Habeas Corpus motion has been filed, but it was denied by the appeals judges. We’re going to continue insisting through the legal channels and denouncing their detention,” Alvarez declared.
He has denounced the arbitrary detention of his three relatives to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the European Union, and the French government, since his wife and daughter hold French citizenship due to their ancestry, as well as Nicaraguan. He has also denounced the case to the Nicaragua Nunca Mas Human Rights Collective.
“I’m asking the regime to let them go free: let Jeannine go free: let Ana Carolina go free: let Felix go free. They haven’t committed any crimes; they don’t engage in any political activity. Each one is focused on their life and their work. It’s not a crime to have a family member be an opponent of the regime, so I demand that they respect their human rights and release them immediately, so they can resume their lives,” Alvarez urged.
Freddy Porras “is incommunicado”
Juan Carlos Arce of the Nicaragua Nunca Mas Human Rights Collective confirmed that this organization has also received the case of detained merchant Freddy Porras. Porras, who is 50 years old, is the brother of Dulce Porras, formerly a leader of the [now outlawed] opposition party Unamos in the Carazo department, until she was forced to flee the country. Dulce Porras is now in exile.
Freddy Porras was taken captive from his home in Jinotepe, Carazo, and beaten by the police onh September 15th. He’s currently being held under conditions similar to those of the Alvarez family: he hasn’t been accused of any crime, hasn’t been allowed any visits from his family members, and is being held “totally without communication” in the El Chipote jail.
“The case of Freddy Porras is another element in the new pattern being carried out by the regime against families. That is, as a reprisal for Dulce’s activities, the regime has turned its fury against Freddy. We’re talking about a regime that respects no minimal standards,” Arce pointed out.
Legally considered “forced disappearances”
These families detained only for having ties to someone targeted by the regime’s political persecution, “are in a condition of forced disappearance,” Arce indicated. “None of them have been presented before the competent authorities, as the Constitution mandates. These same due process guarantees also appear in Nicaragua’s Criminal Processing Code.”
“They’re being held without communication. They haven’t been allowed to physically meet with their families or with defense attorneys. This is a very serious situation, because it leaves them in a defenseless state, held in a center of torture, making this situation of forced disappearance especially worrisome,” Arce added.
The attorney assured that in Nicaragua “no one is safe,” since the country is under “a regime that goes after entire families in order to guarantee their repressive objective.”
He affirmed that as a human rights collective, they’ve reported this new pattern of human rights violations to the bodies within the inter-American Human Rights system – for example the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. In addition, he stressed that “in the next weeks, we’re gong to have the opportunity to denounce these situations before the Group of Experts set up by the UN Human Rights Council last March, a group whose mandate is the search for justice.”
The Ortega-Murillo regime currently has over 200 political prisoners in their jails throughout Nicaragua. National and international human rights organizations have demanded the release for each of these people, who continue suffering mistreatment and cruel conditions amounting to torture.