Wednesday, December 1

Lesther Alemán, the last of Ortega’s detainees: “Nicaragua is a prison that reaches the borders” | International

The university leader Lesther Alemán, imprisoned by the Ortega regime, in an image on June 9, in Managua.
The university leader Lesther Alemán, imprisoned by the Ortega regime, in an image on June 9, in Managua.Jorge Torres / EFE

In April 2018, after a month of bloody repression against students that left almost 400 dead, many of them with a bullet in the neck and temple, a 20-year-old with the blue and white flag of Nicaragua around his neck He stood up in front of Ortega and publicly called him a murderer. Until his arrest on Monday, he lived in hiding from where he spoke with El País.


Question: What’s behind the latest arrests?

Answer: In Nicaragua we are facing a dictatorship on paper. I speak on paper because there was evidence of living a dictatorship in fact because it was depriving itself of life, restricting freedoms and the fulfillment of basic rights. The change from a de facto dictatorship to another type of repression comes with the approval of four laws that are intended to intimidate the political participation of the dissidents. The regime decides who is a traitor to the homeland, aware that those indicated are so for being in the opposition, traveling abroad or meeting with organizations such as the OAS, the European Union or the UN. Ortega follows an unsurpassed narrative from the 1980s in which they have created a myth that faces an empire. An empire that does not exist because the condemnation is worldwide.

P. The detainees belong to the political, business and human rights world, what is the message?

R. The message is: “I go for everyone and I go for everyone.” There are messages addressed to political leaders, businessmen, journalists and human rights defenders. There is a message that is hatred, exclusion, arbitrariness, persecution and harassment. The Sandinista Front is a structure designed to control, intimidate and perpetuate itself. It is designed to kill.

P. Do you think that Ortega senses an electoral defeat in November?

R. Daniel Ortega wants to do everything possible for the opposition to withdraw from the competition. Ortega has a strategy of political, economic and social suffocation so that the opposition is dismantled in the face of an electoral scenario. This gives you two results: increase the abstention of Nicaraguans and prevent them from reporting fraud, because it is very difficult to do so if you decide not to participate. In this way, he could justify a fourth consecutive term.

P. Do you think Ortega will want to negotiate?

R. Daniel Ortega knows that he is not going to win the elections and that is why he has resorted to fear, persecution and imprisonment. Daniel Ortega to negotiate has to be in a position of strength, he in turn has to hit the adversary, but I consider that his bet is still to survive the electoral scenario and after that perhaps reestablish some negotiation, as can also be the other probability of preparing to negotiate at the gates of November 7.

P. Do you stop to survive?

R. There is a regime that refuses to leave power by means of arms, but has lost national and international acceptance. He knows that the social, political and economic survival of the country is at stake, but he does not seem to care. In the midst of our human resistance we have a regime that tramples you more every day.

P. How could you define the environment in the country?

R. The reader outside of Nicaragua must understand that it is a prison that extends to the borders. Here it is easier to see a policeman with high caliber weapons than a tree. In Nicaragua, we have been sentenced to two scenarios: jail or death, but we have shown that there is hope to fight for freedom.

P. What personal cost have these three years had since you publicly confronted Ortega?

R. In the last 12 years, Ortega has focused on a policy of exclusion, cheap populism and eliminating what was left of opponents by buying or exiling them, preparing two paths: their perpetuity in power and protecting their assets. In three years there are more than 400 deaths, 6,200 political prisoners, 130,000 exiles and the loss of more than 300,000 thousand jobs.

P. And the personal cost?

R. Reprimanding Ortega meant a radical life change. I have lived persecution, clandestine life, pauses in my study, persecution of my parents, the separation that I lived from my family and obviously the traumas that a generation can carry that has been marked by a 75-year-old person who is screwed from power. I cannot go to a public place with ease. I don’t even go to church, because I have to stay in a clandestine place.

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