Victoria Cardenas and Bertha Valle, wives of former presidential candidates Juan Sebastian Chamorro and Felix Maradiaga, have told how they were both arrested.
HAVANA TIMES – 60 Minutes on the American television channel CBS shed light on the incarceration of political prisoners of the Daniel Ortega regime. In the show that aired on Sunday June 19, Victoria Cardenas and Bertha Valle, wives of former presidential candidates Juan Sebastian Chamorro and Felix Maradiaga, recounted how they were abducted a year ago by police.
Juan Sebastian Chamorro, an economist trained in Georgetown, is part of a prominent political family in Nicaragua, reports CBS.
A year after Chamorro’s imprisonment, Victoria Cardenas told CBS how officers entered the house to arrest her husband, one of the dictator’s main opponents in the election.
When the agents entered the house to kidnap the businessman, Chamorro “was on the floor with his hands up, saying, ‘I’m here. Please don’t do anything to my wife. We are not armed. “They burst in. And they took it violently,” Victoria Cárdenas told the CBS reporter.
Since Juan Sebastian Chamorro was arrested in June 2021, his wife has not seen or spoken to him since. She also had to flee the country for her own safety.
Cardenas said detaining Chamorro without cause is a clear violation of human rights. “It’s not just my family that is suffering, but there are also more than 140 families that have innocent political prisoners and are going through this terrible situation.”
He was already under de facto house arrest
For her part, Bertha Valle, a former TV host in Nicaragua and wife of political prisoner Felix Maradiaga, said during her appearance on the show that her husband was already under house arrest before they took him to the sadly famous prison of El Chipote.
“They were constantly watching him, they put patrol cars in front of the house. The police told him he couldn’t leave the house and from December 2020 to February 2021 he was under house arrest,” Valle explained.
After a year of illegal detention, Bertha Valle believes that her husband is still alive. Since he was detained, she has not been able to see or hear him, because she is in exile and the dictatorship has rarely authorized visits by political prisoners.
“That’s what I want to believe, you know? I hope he’s okay, but I don’t know. And that’s why we ask for proof of life. And that is why we are making all these efforts to inform the international community. Because there is nothing we can do in Nicaragua,” Valle explained.
Penalties will not be enough
Jose Miguel Vivanco, a well-known human rights lawyer, told 60 Minutes that US sanctions will not be enough to convince Daniel Ortega to change course as he relies on continued military and financial support from Russia.
“Ortega has decided to stay in power for the rest of his life,” Vivanco told CBS.
Vivanco described the April 2018 protests as a “turning point” in which thousands of Nicaraguans took to the streets to speak out against the massacres of students at the hands of the police.
“The protests were met with brutal force by Ortega. And he was able to get away with all these crimes, all these atrocities committed by his security forces,” Vivanco noted.
However, he says Ortega also realized that if he lost power he could be imprisoned for what Nicaraguan journalists called a “massacre” of protesters when more than 350 people were massacred.