Tag Archives: Nicaragua

Nicaragua: Nicaraguan lawyer José Arnulfo López Cruz is forced into exile to avoid arrest for his legal defence of political prisoners


José Arnulfo López Cruz

The high-risk situation suffered by Nicaraguan lawyer José Arnulfo López Cruz has forced him to take refuge in Spain with his family, to avoid arrest for his work as a lawyer defending political prisoners in Nicaragua.

José Arnulfo López Cruz is a lawyer and human rights defender. He belongs to the organisation Unidad de Defensa Jurídica (UDJ), which specialises in the legal defence of political prisoners in the socio-political context of Nicaragua. José Arnulfo resigned from his position as a prosecutor in the Public Prosecutor’s Office and, from 2018 until today, has dedicated himself to the practice of law as a defender of political prisoners.

The Nicaraguan lawyer has worked for the Nicaraguan Permanent Commission on Human Rights (CPDH) and has defended high-profile cases during his career, which has [1]led to his continued harassment by police and vigilante groups.

These persistent attacks have included threats by paramilitaries during court appearances in the cases he has defended, as well as continuous police surveillance and monitoring of his workplace and home. The risk to the lawyer extends to his family members, who are also victims of this repression. In this regard, in May 2021, lawyer José Arnulfo was arbitrarily detained with his son by police officers who beat him and illegally stole their documents and money.

This harassment has become more frequent since the Nicaraguan lawyer took over the defence of pre-presidential candidate Félix Alejandro Maradiaga, who was arrested on 9 June 2021[2] . This has also affected the work of his wife, Arlen Cristina Muñoz, who was detained and questioned in defence of Félix Maradiaga by police officers on 18 June 2021.

The situation of José Arnulfo and his family became untenable after he received a call warning of his imminent arrest, which precipitated his departure from the country on 3 October 2021 and his exile to Spain, where he will seek political asylum.





Threats Silence Nicaraguan Defense Attorney Yonarqui Martinez


The well-known lawyer declares she’ll continue the work she’s been doing as defense lawyer for over 40 unjustly imprisoned government opponents.

In the face of constant threats of arrest, Attorney Yonarqui Martinez has publicly announced she will no longer talk about political issues. Martinez has made a name for herself defending a large number of political prisoners, among them TicToc star Kevin Monzon.

The attorney has manifested that she’ll continue with the work she’s been doing up to now, defending over 40 political prisoners.

“My work has always focused on the defense of human rights. I’ve never focused on trying to discredit anyone – not in my social networks, nor in my private WhatsApp communications. My posts have always revolved around the liberation of the political prisoners and the violations of human rights,” the attorney told the online Nicaraguan news site 100% Noticias.

She noted that the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo have approved a combo of repressive laws that endanger the freedom of Nicaraguan citizens.

“Since the Cybercrimes Law was passed, we’ve also had Law 1060 (amending Nicaragua’s Criminal Processing Code) and Law 1055 (“Law for the Defense of the People’s Right to Independence, Sovereignty and Self-Determination for Peace”). Although I try to denounce the human rights violations that undeniably are occurring, in a given moment those [laws] could be used against me, and I could face legal charges,” the expert affirmed.

The attorney lamented the detention of her colleagues: Maria Oviedo, Jose Pallais and Roger Reyes, the latter a defense lawyer for incarcerated presidential hopeful Felix Maradiaga.

“This has led me to make the decision not to share with, or contact, people who post things that could compromise me. I ask them not to call me, because I need to continue my work. I continue giving legal counsel; I’m responsible for the court processes of those deprived of liberty who are political prisoners. I don’t want to be jailed myself,” she added.

“Don’t tag me”

As a way to avoid the regime’s retaliation, Yonarqui Martinez also asked her friends and the general public to abstain from tagging her in any posts that could compromise her freedom.

“I’ve tried to tell my friends and Facebook followers that if they post something regarding what we’re going through, not to tag me. Obviously, that can damage me in some way, and I want to continue working,” she reiterated.

Martinez, who is the chief defense lawyer for some of the political prisoners, stated that she “constantly” receives death threats and threats of being locked up.

Yonarqui Martinez is a daughter, plus mother and guardian of her 4 children.

https://100noticias.com.ni/nacionales/110500-yonarqui-martinez-amenazas-ciber-delitos-nicaragua/ (ESPANOL)

Nicaragua: Ortega’s Police Arrest Defense Attorney Maria Oviedo


There are now 31 new political prisoners since the end of May and over 140 total.

The Police of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo arrested lawyer Maria Oviedo, coordinator of the special legal team of the Permanent Commission on Human Rights (CPDH), on Thursday July 29th in Leon, confirmed that human rights organization.

The president of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH), Vilma Nunez, said that Oviedo was at her mother’s house when two police vehicles and around thirty policemen arrived to arrest her. She was then taken from Leon to the infamous New El Chipote Police Complex, in Managua.

At first, the reasons for the arrest were unknown. “They took her out of her mother’s house, where she was brushing her teeth. They did not let her take anything with her. They just took her away (…),” assured Nunez.

Later it became known that Oviedo was arrested for the catch-all treason Law 1055, used to imprison opposition leaders, politicians and activists.

The capture occurs in a context of worsening governmental repression against opponents, which has left dozens of new political prisoners, and greater risk for their defense lawyers, who have denounced, under anonymity, being victims of harassment, threats and criminalization of their profession. With Oviedo, there are 31 Nicaraguans, including seven presidential candidates arrested in the latest wave of repression.

Oviedo participated last Sunday in the online Esta Semana program to analyze the violations of the rights of recent political prisoners, some with more than 60 days incommunicado from their relatives and lawyers.

The lawyer questioned the reform of the Criminal Procedure Code, which states that a person can be detained for up to 90 days for the purpose of “investigation,” which she considered unconstitutional and totally in violation of human rights, she said on that occasion.







CADAL on Twitter: "Policía de #Nicaragua detuvo a la abogada defensora de  #DerechosHumanos María Oviedo y la trasladó a la Dirección de Auxilio  Judicial El Chipote, ubicada en Managua. Pedimos se respeten

Nicaragua: The Dangerous Job of Defending Ortega’s Political Prisoners


Five of the political prisoners’ defense attorneys have fled the country, following an uptick in threats against them. They share fears of being accused of fabricated crimes.

“Carlos”, a Nicaraguan attorney, spent two weeks accompanying six journalists who were summoned to the Public Prosecutor’s Office for interrogation. This was in June, within the context of an investigation into alleged money laundering by the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation.

As he attended these clients, his house began to be watched by a motorcyclist in civilian dress; later, a pick-up truck began coming around at night. His telephone rang with calls from unknown numbers – calls he didn’t answer, because he was sure he’d hear threats.

“I was walking out to a neighborhood store, and that motorcyclist followed me,” he says. In order to safeguard his family, he moved to another house, but he felt “it wasn’t enough”. The defense lawyer decided to go into exile.

“Carlos” is one of five Nicaraguan lawyers who recently fled the country. The wave of repression unleashed against members of the opposition reached him too. Like his clients, he faced growing persecution and threats, plus the ever-present risk of jail.

The lawyer, who’s using an assumed name for security reasons, wasn’t in charge of defending any of the latest 26 political prisoners. His role was limited to accompanying the journalists who’d been cited by the Prosecution, and offering them legal counsel.

Lawyers who spoke with Confidencial agreed that risks have multiplied for those who defend political cases in Nicaragua. In 2018 and 2019, there were some attorneys who went into exile after receiving general threats. However, the threats in this last period have been specific, with a more aggressive tone, one of the lawyers confided.

Another of the defenders, who also asked to remain anonymous, affirmed that attorneys face surveillance, harassment, and threats, with the risk of a criminal investigation always hanging over their heads.

“All of these – the persecution, siege and investigations – put the attorney in a vulnerable situation, at a disadvantage, and in danger for exercising their profession,” stated the lawyer, who had been in charge of political cases.

“There are no guarantees of respect for the right of the accused to a defense, nor are there any professional or personal guarantees,” he added.



Nicaragua: Jailed Opposition Leaders Denied Legal Representation


Lawyers chosen by relatives of those in jail are “annulled” by the courts and are now being threatened and told to abandon these cases.

The 21 hostages imprisoned by the Ortega-Murillo government over the last few weeks have been stripped of their Constitutional protections, as well as their freedom. Since being imprisoned, their rights and guarantees are ignored, and the police won’t allow them to meet with their lawyers and relatives.

In addition, the Public Prosecutor’s Office has demanded 90 days of detention, supposedly for purposes of conducting an investigation. The Court rejected all the legal appeals that were filed and has assigned them public defenders. All of this leaves the victims completely defenseless.

The lack of guarantees and the due process violations “have been generalized” over the last three years, states Attorney Gonzalo Carrion of the Nicaragua Nunca+ [Never again] Human Rights Collective. But it’s more notorious now, because it’s happening in 100% of the cases.

The lawyers chosen by the prisoners’ relatives “were annulled” by the Court “only one, as an exception, had a very short interview with their client. That’s not a defense,” Carrion emphasized.


Lawyers receive threats

Even though the efforts of the detainees’ lawyers have been fruitless, in the last few weeks they’ve begun receiving threats via their cellphones. This has caused some to abandon these cases, while others have stopped offering declarations to the media. This situation was denounced by relatives of the detained.

A source close to Jose Adan Aguerri explained that the lawyer in charge of his case told them he’d decided to drop it, “due to threats I’ve had”.  “We spent two days without a lawyer,” the source stated. During that time, the family had to knock on a number of doors to obtain a defense attorney for their relative. Aguerri is the former president of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (Cosep).

Ana Lucia Alvarez, who is Ana Margarita Vijil’s niece, and Tamara Davila’s sister, confirmed that finding a legal defense for the imprisoned opposition members has been, “a completely complex matter in itself”. In addition to the lawyers not being allowed to meet with their clients, they’re “being targeted.”

The threats to the attorneys coincide with the broadcast of an official program where the announcer read off a list of lawyers that defend political prisoners. He then declared that they’re “paid by Cosep”, an organization he classified as a “foreign agent”.

















https://www.hrw.org/fr/news/2021/06/22/nicaragua-repression-contre-les-opposants-lapproche-de-lelection-presidentielle (FRANCAIS)


https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-america-latina-57606688 (PORTUGUES)

Nicaragua: Ortega Police Arrest Opposition Lawyer Jose Pallais


Under the orders of Daniel Ortega the Nicaraguan Police arrested the constitutional lawyer Jose Pallais, a member of the National Coalition, at noon on Wednesday. The Police continue with the persecution, harassment, and arrest of opposition leaders in Nicaragua. The arrest occurred after hours of police siege that, in addition, ended with the raid on the opponent’s home located in the city of Leon, in the west of the country.

The officers stormed into Pallais’ home minutes after the news of the imposition of sanctions by the United States Department of the Treasury on four Ortega officials became known and a day after opposition presidential candidates Juan Sebastian Chamorro, Felix Maradiaga, and opposition leaders Jose Adan Aguerri and Violeta Granera were arrested.  Also arrested in the previous days were candidates Cristiana Chamorro and Arturo Cruz.

The Police justified the arrest by claiming that Pallais “was under investigation,” in accordance with article 1 of Law No. 1055 Law in Defense of the Rights of the People to Independence, Sovereignty, and Self-Determination for Peace, for “carrying out acts that undermine independence, sovereignty and self-determination; incite foreign interference in internal affairs; request military interventions; organize with financing from foreign power to carry out acts of terrorism and destabilization; propose and manage economic, commercial and operational blockades against the country and its institutions; demand, exalt and applaud the imposition of sanctions against the State of Nicaragua and its citizens; and harm the supreme interests of the nation.” These are the same motives that the Police used to justify other arrests in the last hours.

When confirming the arrest, the Police released photos of Dr. Pallais with Leon’s police chief, Fidel Dominguez.

Hours before being arrested, the lawyer reported that a group of paramilitaries had surrounded his home since Tuesday night, when the arrest of Juan Sebastian Chamorro, Aguerri and Granera occurred, and on several occasions threatened to enter the house.




Nicaragua: Rights lawyer Yonarqui Martinez arbitrarily arrested and detained


Human rights defenders, journalists, peasants and former political prisoners, denounced a new wave of repression from the Ortega regime through the police and fanatics of the Sandinista Front, who continue to carry out sieges, arrests, criminalization, threats and prohibit political meetings.

The complaints registered on social networks and media outlets include the obstruction of the mobilization of a group of peasants who were heading from Rivas to Managua. The arbitrary detention of defense lawyer Yonarqui Martinez and threats against journalist Jennifer Ortiz. The obstructing of the work of journalist Geraldine Dominguez, the arrest of former political prisoner Marlon Castellon and the criminalization of the political prisoners Yorling Robles and Oscar Amador.


Police detain defense lawyer

On March 18, lawyer and human rights activist Yonarqui Martinez also denounced her arbitrary detention by police officers. They prevented her from embarking for the island of Ometepe, where she would visit former political prisoner Justo Rodriguez.

“I was being investigated, supposedly, for carrying drugs. My only crime is to defend the human rights of Justo Rodriguez,” said the lawyer through her social networks. She published photographs of the medicines and milk that she was carrying for the former political prisoner of the Daniel Ortega regime.

The Mesoamerican Initiative for Women Human Rights Defenders joined Martinez’s complaint by issuing an alert. It underscored that the officers had “illegally detained” and “violated the lawyer’s right of free movement.”


https://www.despacho505.com/policia-orteguista-impide-al-reo-politico-justo-rodriguez-recibir-medicina/ (ESPANOL)


Nicaragua: Interview with harassed and persecuted indigenous rights lawyer Lottie Cunningham Wren


Lottie Cunningham Wren is a lawyer active in the fight to protect the rights of the indigenous people and the afro-descendants in Nicaragua.In 2014, she founded the non-profit organisation CEJUDHCAN, which provides educational programs, legal support, and practical assistance to indigenous peoples and afro-descendant communities on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua. For her work, Lottie Cunningham Wren has been awarded the Right Livelihood Award 2020.

Lottie Cunningham Wren, Winner of the Right Livelihood Award, on the Struggle of the Miskito People

Lottie Cunningham Wren is a lawyer active in the fight to protect the rights of the indigenous people and the afro-descendants in Nicaragua. In 2014, she founded the non-profit organisation CEJUDHCAN, which provides educational programs, legal support, and practical assistance to indigenous peoples and afro-descendant communities on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua. The organisation has documented at least 60 attacks by settlers with firearms against indigenous people and 24 indigenous people killed whilst defending their territories. The attacks have included such criminal offenses as kidnapping and the destruction of property. Entire communities have been forcibly displaced. The violence has been indiscriminate, affecting indigenous leaders, children and families, as well as human rights defenders. For her work, Lottie Cunningham Wren has been awarded the Right Livelihood Award 2020.

Lottie Cunningham Wren, what is your personal situation at the moment? Where are you?

Unfortunately, I have been suffering from intimidations and harassment. Therefore, I cannot share my current location for security reasons. 

What are the circumstances of these intimidations?

I have to keep a low profile because the government passed several laws in the last month making the work of my organisation more difficult. We have to register as a nonprofit organisation because we get financial support from international communities. Another law states that we must not express anything related to hate crime or speeches. We don’t even know what they mean by hate crime. But they said if we grant interviews or give out information on social media, we would be jailed. 








https://www.dw.com/es/nobel-alternativo-lottie-cunningham-teme-un-etnocidio-en-nicaragua/a-55127473 (ESPANOL)




https://www.swissinfo.ch/fre/toute-l-actu-en-bref/un-militant-bi%C3%A9lorusse-parmi-les-laur%C3%A9ats-du-prix-right-livelihood/46070572 (FRANCAIS)

https://www.repubblica.it/esteri/2020/12/02/news/nicaragua_contadini_espropriati_per_allevamenti_bovini_lena_tribune_de_geneve-276557901/ (ITALIANO)

https://www.deutschlandfunkkultur.de/alternativer-nobelpreis-den-mutigen-zeigen-dass-wir-an-sie.2950.de.html?dram:article_id=488610 (DEUTSCH)

https://www.noticiasaominuto.com/mundo/1640315/nobel-alternativo-e-sinal-de-apoio-a-oposicao-a-lukashenko (PORTUGUES)

https://www.storm.mg/article/3267868 (CHINESE)


Nicaragua: Nicaragua arrests three suspects in weekend attack on bridge

September 24, 2019


Nicaraguan police have arrested three men on suspicion of planting explosives on a bridge leading to the country’s most important port that was damaged in a weekend blast, friends and relatives of the detainees said on Tuesday.

The bridge to Puerto Corinto in western Nicaragua suffered cracks in the Saturday evening attack, which came amid anti-government protests. The bridge has since been repaired, according to Reuters witnesses.

“My son was captured on Sunday at four in the afternoon,” Nubia Sandoval, the mother of one of the three suspects arrested, Douglas Villanueva, told Reuters.

Sandoval said her son had taken part in protests against the government, but denied he had anything to do with the attack.

The others arrested were Carlos Cardenas and Henry Lara, opposition activist lawyers from a political party in the nearby city of Chinandega, said Roberto Lira, a friend of Cardenas.

Cardenas was arrested on Monday, Lira said. He said neither Cardenas nor Lara were involved in the bridge attack.




Nicaragua: Nicaraguan Human Rights Attorney Declared Guilty by Kangaroo Court

September 2, 2019

On Monday, September 2, Maria Oviedo, lawyer and human rights advocate from Nicaragua’s Permanent Commission for Human Rights will be sentenced.

Maria Oviedo, an attorney with Nicaragua’s Permanent Commission for Human Rights (CPDH) who has defended a number of the regime’s political prisoners, was declared guilty on Thursday, August 29, following a trial that lasted over ten hours.

The charge, obstruction of official functions, stemmed from an incident last July 26 involving Oscar Lopez, a police lieutenant who insulted her and attempted to fondle her during a visit with political prisoner Cristhian Fajardo in the Masaya police delegation.

On the evening prior to the trial, human rights advocates denounced that the police were directing the deliberate harassment and aggression aimed at the lawyers for the political prisoners and members of the opposition.  At the same time, the Inter-American Human Rights Commission urged the Ortega government not to criminalize the work of the human rights advocates in the country, making specific mention of the case of Attorney Maria Oviedo.

Oviedo’s sentence will be read on Monday, September 2nd.  At the end of July 2019, Oviedo was illegally held for over 50 hours in the Masaya jail cells and at the infamous El Chipote jail in Managua.

Members of the Permanent Commission for Human Rights were waiting outside the Managua courthouse to hear the verdict. The lawyers took advantage of the occasion to denounce the fact that Nalia Ubeda, the judge from Managua’s third local criminal court, didn’t even allow a pause so that Oviedo and her colleague and attorney Leyla Prado could have lunch.

“It’s one more indication of the cruelty with which they’ve treated human rights advocates, because Leyla Prado is currently recovering from a renal illness. That didn’t matter to the court, and they ran the trial in a single unbroken session,” complained CPDH lawyer Karla Sequeira.

Lawyers constantly harassed

Meanwhile, attorney Aura Estela Alarcon, a member of the Legal Defense Unit, filed a complaint after a police chief was observed protecting a group of people in his private office, minutes after they had assaulted and robbed her in front of some thirty police agents who refused to come to her aid.  This, she affirmed, occurred on August 19th.

Nicaraguan Human Rights Attorney Declared Guilty by Kangaroo Court

Nicaragua: Cultural Happening in Times of Protest

María Oviedo

https://radio-corporacion.com/blog/archivos/45914/juez-pena-maria-oviedo/ (ESPANOL)

http://www.canal10.com.ni/accion-10/suspenden-condena-maria-oviedo-54910 (ESPANOL)

https://www.laprensa.com.ni/2019/08/29/nacionales/2584235-declaran-culpable-a-la-abogada-maria-oviedo (ESPANOL)

https://confidencial.com.ni/declaran-culpable-a-la-abogada-y-defensora-maria-oviedo/ (ESPANOL)

https://www.laprensa.com.ni/2019/08/29/nacionales/2584235-declaran-culpable-a-la-abogada-maria-oviedo (ESPANOL)

http://www.canal10.com.ni/accion-10/expresos-politicos-se-solidarizan-con-la-abogada-maria-oviedo-54875 (ESPANOL)

https://www.eldiario.es/politica/Feministas-defensora-derechos-humanos-Nicaragua_0_936857074.html (ESPANOL)

https://www.dw.com/es/nicaragua-ataque-contra-abogada-defensora-de-presos-pol%C3%ADticos/a-50245530 (ESPANOL)