WASHINGTON, USA -The General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) welcomes the arrival in the United States as refugees of 222 former Nicaraguan political prisoners. Their freedom is great news, especially for their family and friends, and also for defenders of human rights and democracy in the Americas.
The General Secretariat recognizes and applauds the role played by the United States government in the operation, welcoming and facilitating the transportation of the former political prisoners. The efforts of president Biden’s administration, successfully completed today, are an example of effective political work in favor of human rights. The release of these political prisoners is also a demonstration that international pressure is essential in dealing with dictatorships.
What happened [today] is not, however, a “liberation.” These people were unjustly imprisoned -some for years- for thinking, expressing, or writing opinions contrary to the prevailing regime in Nicaragua. Many of them were tortured and cut off from all contact with the outside world.
This group of people has now been sentenced in trials without any guarantees for alleged “treason against the homeland” and “incitement to violence, terrorism and economic destabilization,” among other alleged crimes. They were stripped of their Nicaraguan nationality and all their citizenship rights “in perpetuity.” They arrive in the United States supposedly “deported” from their own country.
The crimes committed against these people must not go unpunished, and their rights must be restored as soon as possible. In Nicaragua there are still people imprisoned and tortured for thinking differently, and there are still people who live daily in fear of being arrested, tried and sentenced without any legal or procedural guarantees. The Nicaraguan regime continues to be oblivious to the principles of democracy and respect for human rights, and we must continue denouncing its abuses.
Today there are 222 people who can breathe free with their families and friends, after having been unjustly imprisoned and subjected to the worst imaginable treatment, and that is cause for satisfaction. However, there is still a long way to go until all Nicaraguans, without exception, can once again enjoy freedom in their own country.
The path is clear and depends entirely on the Nicaraguan regime: mainly, to return to democracy, to democratic institutions, respecting the fundamental rights of Nicaraguans and calling free and fair elections, with international observation.