Retired Sandinista General Hugo, a former guerrilla leader and opposition politician, died in political prison at the age of 73, relatives said on Saturday February 12, 2022. Torres was the first to a large group of opposition leaders arrested in a 2021 crackdown by the Ortega-Murillo regime in Nicaragua.
Bradley A. Freden
Acting Permanent Representative of the United States
OAS Permanent Council
February 18, 2022
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The United States is pleased to join in the statement read on behalf of 26 OAS Member States. Today’s presentations are a stark reminder that the situation in Nicaragua is getting worse by the day, to the point that Ortega’s crackdown has cost the life of longtime Nicaraguan leader Hugo Torres, whose states States today honor life and legacy.
Torres, who was 73, died as a direct result of his unjust and abusive imprisonment by the Ortega-Murillo regime. It is devastating for his family and for the morale of those who are still imprisoned in Nicaragua for the so-called crime of peacefully expressing their opinions. I couldn’t help but remember Arthur Koestler’s most famous novel, Darkness at noonan early and powerful critique of totalitarianism.
“His hero is an aging revolutionary, imprisoned and psychologically tortured by the Party to which he has dedicated his life. As the pressure to confess to senseless crimes mounts, he relives a career that epitomizes the terrible ironies and human betrayals of a totalitarian movement posing as an instrument of deliverance.
Colleagues, we cannot allow this to continue in the Americas, and we call on all OAS member states to once again urge the regime to immediately release all political prisoners.
The continued detention of prisoners in these conditions is unacceptable. Any reasonable country can understand that this cannot continue if this Organization is to uphold any of the principles on which it was founded.
Political prisoners tried behind closed doors were prosecuted for the simple reason that they disagreed with their government. The Ortega-Murillo regime imprisoned these brave men and women for wanting nothing more – and demanding nothing less – than democracy, justice and respect for human rights.
Laws enacted in the run-up to last November’s sham elections further intimidated an already oppressed civil society and aimed to prevent non-regime-aligned political candidates from standing for re-election. These draconian laws reinforce the already endemic corruption and impunity that plagues Nicaragua.
Using vague charges like “conspiracy to undermine national integrity“, the Ortega-Murillo regime intends to continue locking up peaceful defenders of human rights and democracy for years to come, eliminating all those who are perceived as defying his dictatorship.
Despite the regime’s stated intention to conduct “oral and public” trials, riot police surround the court complex and prevent families from entering the courtroom. Behind closed doors and without any semblance of due process, regime-controlled prosecutors and judges will secure the outcome that best suits the interests of the Ortega-Murillo family. These Stalinist show trials seem designed to terrorize and discourage other Nicaraguans from exercising their rights.
Mr. President, Colleagues, the United States stands with the people of Nicaragua, and today we join OAS member states in urging a return to democracy and full respect for human rights in Nicaragua. This must begin with the immediate and unconditional release of political prisoners.
We must continue in this body to demand justice and accountability, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because the founding principles of this Organization demand it.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Statement on the immediate release of political prisoners in Nicaraguaua
by the following member states of the Organization of American States in a special meeting of the Permanent Council on Friday, February 18, 2022:
Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts -and-Nevis, Suriname, Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, United States and Uruguay.
We, the member states of the Organization of American States (OAS) who make this statement to the Permanent Council, know that all the nations of our hemisphere firmly defend the human rights of all our peoples, in particular the rights to life, to freedom and security. person and that no one shall be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
These rights are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the American Convention on Human Rights.
We are deeply disturbed by the death in Nicaragua on February 12 of Hugo Torres, a political prisoner held since his arrest last June in inhumane conditions, like so many others imprisoned for their political opinions. The circumstances of his arrest and untimely death are a painful injustice to him and his bereaved family, and an affront to the values to which our nations subscribe.
We recall that this Permanent Council has repeatedly recognized, through its resolutions adopted since June 2018, the seriousness and deterioration of human rights conditions in Nicaragua and has continuously offered its assistance to help remedy the situation despite the refusal of the government.
As recently as December 8, this Council called for the immediate release of all political prisoners held in Nicaragua.
When OAS members adopted the Inter-American Democratic Charter in 2001, they agreed that democracy is essential to the stability, peace, and development of our region and pledged to work together to defend democracy wherever its fundamental values and principles have collapsed.
The situation in Nicaragua is a challenge to these values and principles. Our organization, and we, the member states of the OAS, cannot be satisfied with inaction.
None of us can remain silent in the face of the tragedy unfolding in Nicaragua, where human suffering escalates as political, civil and human rights, which are dear to all our nations, are ignored, eroded and violated.
We consider the continued detention of political prisoners as a serious violation of the common values to which all OAS member states have declared their adherence.
Together, we raise our voices in solidarity with the Nicaraguan people, with the victims of human rights violations and with their family members, reaffirming our firm belief that all political prisoners in Nicaragua must be released immediately.