The OAS declared itself “dismayed” by the death of political prisoner Hugo Torres in Nicaragua: “He was kept in inhuman conditions”

The OAS General Assembly gave until next May for the Daniel Ortega regime to carry out electoral reforms that lead to free elections.

Twenty-seven countries of the Organization of American States (OAS) approved this Friday a declaration in which they say they are “dismayed” by the death in Nicaragua of the historic former Sandinista guerrilla fighter Hugo Torres, who had been detained on charges of “treason against the fatherland.”

The declaration was supported by 27 of the 34 active members of the organization, including the United States, Argentina, Brazil, El Salvador, Chile and Colombia. In the text, those countries considered that the circumstances of the detention and death of Torres, 73 years old and known as “Comandante Uno”, constitute a “painful injustice” and represent an “affront” to the values ​​defended by the nations of the American continent. And they declared that Torres was “kept in inhumane conditions.”

The statement also asks the “immediate” release of all political prisoners and denounces that “human suffering” has intensified in Nicaragua.

Torres died in detention on the 12th, eight months after being arrested by the regime of President Daniel Ortega, whom he rescued from prison in 1974 during the fight against the Anastasio Somoza dictatorship. The Nicaraguan Public Ministry indicated that Torres died from an “illness” of which it did not give details.

Hugo Torres
File photo of former guerrilla Hugo Torres (REUTERS / Stringer) (STRINGER /)

In addition, the statement highlights that the organization “cannot remain silent in the face of the tragedy that is taking place in Nicaragua,” referring to the continued detention of political prisoners. According to the opposition, there are at least 170 in the country since massive protests in 2018.

Several members of the international community have been asking Nicaragua for months to release all opponents to the government of Daniel Ortega, who declared himself the winner of the November 7 elections. In the elections, Ortega achieved a fourth consecutive term, the second together with his wife and Vice President Rosario Murillo.

The countries that supported the statement read this Friday are Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, United States, Granada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica. , Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Uruguay. Mexico did not support the statement by saying that the OAS should not opt ​​for coercive measures but rather bet on dialogue with Nicaragua.

Daniel Ortega in a file photograph (EFE/Jorge Torres)
Daniel Ortega in a file photograph (EFE/Jorge Torres) (Jorge Torres Jorge Torres/)

Berta Valle, wife of Félix Maradiaga, one of the seven presidential candidates who were imprisoned and prevented from participating in the November elections, spoke at the meeting, saying that today marks 255 days since her husband was arrested. Maradiaga is in the fourth day of an “illegal” trial, accused of “unfounded and ridiculous” charges such as conspiracy to undermine national integrity, Valle said.

“The regime has repeatedly violated their presumption of innocence, denigrating them as criminals,” Valle said, referring to her husband and others who are also on trial.

Valle, like the activist Bianca Jagger, denounced “infrahuman conditions” in which political prisoners are kept in jails. Their health is worsening due to poor nutrition, solitary confinement and lack of medical care, they said. Jagger also said that they are tortured.

Stuardo Ralón, the rapporteur on the Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, He denounced that the current trials of political prisoners take place secretly.

Daniel Ortega, Nicolás Maduro and Miguel Díaz-Canel at the inauguration of Ortega's fourth consecutive term in Nicaragua on January 10, 2022 (Zurimar Campos/Palacio de Miraflores/REUTERS)
Daniel Ortega, Nicolás Maduro and Miguel Díaz-Canel at the inauguration of Ortega’s fourth consecutive term in Nicaragua on January 10, 2022 (Zurimar Campos/Palacio de Miraflores/REUTERS) (HANDOUT/)

“The IACHR has documented serious violations of due process and judicial guarantees,” Ralon said. “Accused persons have been brought to trial without prior notice and without contact with their defense counsel, only to be later sentenced to disproportionate sentences and charges based on fabricated evidence.”

In December, the OAS Permanent Council approved a resolution affirming that Nicaragua does not comply with the commitments of the Inter-American Democratic Charter or the series of measures established to guarantee democratic order in the region. The resolution, approved by 25 countries, urged the Ortega regime to release all political prisoners and accept a high-level mission authorized by the OAS Permanent Council to help carry out electoral reforms.

(With information from AP and EFE)

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