Two of the most emblematic figures of Nicaragua’s embattled opposition face years behind bars after being convicted of alleged acts of political conspiracy in trials that activists and members of the international community called farce.
Dora María Téllez, a legendary guerrilla leader during the Sandinista revolution, was found guilty Thursday during a closed-door trial at the notorious El Chipote political prison in Nicaragua’s capital Managua.
Tellez, 66, helped liberate the city of León during the final attack on the Somoza dictatorship in 1979 and commanded the legendary assault on Nicaragua’s national palace the year before.
“[She was] a very beautiful girl, shy and withdrawn, with an intelligence and good sense that would have ensured her great success in anything she came up with,” Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez wrote about the 22-year-old student turned rebel. in your account the daring assault of 1978.
Lesther Alemán, a former student leader who became an overnight celebrity for reprimanding Nicaragua’s authoritarian president, Daniel Ortega, during a failed 2018 uprising, was also convicted of “conspiracy to harm national integrity.” “I am innocent”, the 24-year-old shout after his verdict was pronounced in El Chipote, according to the opposition newspaper La Prensa.
Speaking to The Guardian at a Managua safe house during the 2018 rebellion, Alemán said he was seeking political freedom, not fame, joking: “The cameras intimidate me more than Daniel Ortega.”
Prosecutors reportedly sought prison sentences of up to 15 years for Alemán and Téllez, who was Nicaragua’s health minister during the first post-revolution Sandinista government but later turned on Ortega and became a fierce critic.
Thursday Trials – part of a wave of political trials happening in Nicaragua—drew criticism from across the region, including from the left. “Shameful”, the elected president of Chile, Gabriel Boric, tweeted after Tellez’s conviction was reported.
In a recent interview, Zoilamérica Ortega Murillo, the estranged daughter of Ortega and his vice president and wife Rosario Murillo, expressed fear for the future of activists like Alemán.
“His bravery made me very fearful for him,” she said of her decision. to publicly harangue Ortega in 2018.
“I know that it was an unforgivable challenge and that is why he is one of the political prisoners that I carry most in my heart,” said Ortega Murillo.
Nicaragua has been the scene of relentless political repression since last May, when Ortega and Murillo launched an offensive against their rivals ahead of last November’s presidential elections.
Having annihilated Nicaragua’s opposition by jailing scores of opponents and forcing others into exile, Ortega secured another five-year term. The 76-year-old could now stay in power until his eighties, having ruled continuously since he was elected in 2006.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism