Until today 289 in prison, The picture of political prisoner Felix Maradiaga has never been seen. However, this Saturday, Daniel Ortega’s system He posted 19 photos and an 8:14-minute video showing the political leader imprisoned at different times When he was taken to the Judicial Council in Managua to read the document ratifying his sentence.
The photographs attempted to refute a spoken image (Identikit) submitted by Berta Valli, the wife of a political prisoner, from exile the previous day, in which Maradiaga was seen emaciated, yellowish, with large bags under her eyes and noticeably prominent cheekbones and collarbones. as a result of The solitary confinement he was subjected to in El Chipote prison, where the vast majority of political prisoners held by the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega are held.
“In the spoken portrait provided by Berta, her face is completely yellow due to lack of sun, lack of light and air, and unhealthy, which forces her to live with mice, ants and cockroaches, with all this amount of insects found in Unhealthy environments.
Felix Maradiaga is the leader of the opposition Blue and White Unit (UNAB) and And he had announced his decision to present himself as an opposition candidate to compete against Daniel Ortega for the presidency In the general elections that were to be held in November 2021.
howeverwas arrested on June 8, 2021, and in February of this year, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison for undermining the unity of the homeland, also known as “treason.”
Maradiaga prison is Part of the offensive launched by the Ortega dictatorship from May 28 last year to disrupt the opposition and reach the presidential elections without competition. All seven potential opposition candidates were arrested and sentenced. He has also imprisoned opposition leaders, critical journalists, businessmen, and activists.
Currently the Nicaraguan system It keeps 190 political prisoners in its prisons, A large part of them are in the prison known as El Chipote, in conditions of almost complete isolation. Last year they allowed only eight visits, limited to two relatives per guest, and without the possibility of bringing them correspondence, food, books or photographs. Defense attorneys are not allowed to visit and court sessions are held in the same prison with limited access to and communication with the inmate.
Since Ortega began his pre-election tour, on May 28, 2021, until June 1, the photos of political prisoners held in El Chipote have not been known, because neither the media nor the visits are allowed in the hearings. Communications, cameras or cell phones.
The photograph or spoken identification given by Berta Valle on June 1 was made with the data obtained from the observation made by relatives on the last visit to Maradiaga, the previous June 10, when it was calculated The opponent lost about 60 pounds (27 kilograms) in weight, and expressed his intention to go on a hunger strike to demand an end to isolation.. “I am submitting this photo so we can understand the urgency of making this call,” Valle said in a video press conference.
The SOS launched by Berta Valle on 1 July had a significant impact on the media and national and international human rights organizations, which could for the first time come to an idea of the physical deterioration of political prisoners in the Ortega regime. .
A day later, on July 2, in an unusual gesture by the dictatorship, Felix Maradiaga was taken to the Managua Judicial Complex to hear the voice of Judge Octavio Rochus Andino, President of the First Criminal Chamber of the Court of Appeal of Managua, ratifying the sentences for Maradiaga and six other opponents.
“Reading the sentence has its formalities, however, I did not go to read the sentence. The secretaries would read the prison sentence to sign it and send the sentence to my house. Felix is exceptional. They want to sell normal life where there is nothing’,” the defense attorney for other political prisoners, Yonarke Martinez, expressed on Twitter.
Together with the judicial authorities and the police, And state media were waiting for Maradiaga, soon after, to broadcast the first photos of a political prisoner from El Chipote last year.
Why do you keep lying to the people of Nicaragua about your condition? – He was heard in the video that he was asked who appears to be a journalist from the official Channel 4, owned by the Ortega Murillo family. – We saw him walking in the corridors of this judicial complex. We saw him without any help until we could mobilize and saw that he heard his sentence upright.
– I don’t know what you mean… – Maradiaga succeeded in replying in confusion.
“Regarding his physical condition, Felix,” he insists. – We see him in full condition. Why do you keep lying to the people of Nicaragua?
Without knowing where the question is headed, he answers, “I don’t know what you mean by a lie.” We are in complete isolation. The sanctions regime we are in does not allow any kind of news from outside.
However, the photos of Felix Maradiaga released by the regime bear more resemblance to his wife’s identity, than they do to the image of the man who was transferred by police to El Chipote on June 8, 2021. The weight loss is palpable, and he looks pale despite the filters they’ve apparently gone through.
Open prisons to the group of experts of the United Nations, the International Red Cross and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)Vale demanded in a tweet.
The remaining relatives of political prisoners also demand an independent verification of the conditions of prisoners of conscience. “Relatives of political prisoners in Nicaragua give our support to yesterday’s request by Berta Valle to open El Chipote prison for relatives, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Organization of American States, the International Red Cross and the UN Panel of Independent Experts to verify the health of her husband, Felix Maradiaga, and the condition of all political prisoners in El Chipote. isolated, isolated from the outside world.