Photo of Dora María Téllez by Carlos Herrera/Confidencial.
On February 4, The Guardian reported: “Two of the most emblematic figures of Nicaragua’s beleaguered opposition are facing years behind bars after being convicted of alleged acts of political conspiracy in trials campaigners and members of the international community called a sham.”
That article adds: “Dora María Téllez, a legendary guerrilla leader during the Sandinista revolution, was found guilty during a closed-door trial at the notorious El Chipote political prison in Nicaragua’s capital Managua on Thursday [February 3]. Téllez, 66, helped liberate the city of León during the final push against the Somoza dictatorship in 1979 and commanded the legendary storming of Nicaragua’s national palace the previous year.”
Furthermore, “Lesther Alemán, a former student leader who became an overnight celebrity for berating Nicaragua’s authoritarian president, Daniel Ortega, during a failed 2018 uprising, was also convicted of ‘conspiracy to damage national integrity’.”
Further reading: Daniel Ortega condemns the mythical former Sandinista guerrilla Dora María Téllez for “conspiracy” (El Pais)
It is estimated that since April 2018 about 100,000 Nicaraguans have been forced into exile, mainly relocating to Spain, the US and Costa Rica.
PBI explains: “A first visit to Nicaragua in November 2018 quickly revealed that there was no possibility of establishing a project within the country, due to the level of repression and the inability of organizations to operate openly.”
It adds: “In order to respond to this context and the needs expressed by local organizations, in 2020 PBI launched a new accompaniment project in Costa Rica focused on providing support to exiled Nicaraguan human rights defenders and social movements.”
“Nicaraguan voices in resistance”
PBI has recently posted the 13-chapter publication Nicaraguan voices in resistance.
One of those chapters – Environmental awareness awakens in Nicaragua – is written by Amaru Ruíz Alemán of Fundación del Río.
Ruiz comments: “The Nicaraguan state’s repression of land and human rights defenders has positioned the country as the deadliest in the world per capita for the defense of the environment and land in 2020.”
“The model of criminalization used against environmental rights defenders in Nicaragua is repeated in many countries, where raising one’s voice means exposing oneself, or even having to move or go into exile to protect one’s physical integrity.”
He concludes: “We must continue to denounce the governments’ actions on environmental matters and contribute to creating a context for just development so as to avoid ongoing adverse impacts on ecosystems, territories, and communities.”
On Saturday, November 6, 2021, Ruiz spoke from Glasgow on the PBI webinar on COP26 and environmental rights defenders. The following day, he spoke at a rally in London on the November 7th election in Nicaragua. In this photo, he is standing with Bianca Jagger and Mónica López Baltodano, an environmental lawyer and daughter of former Sandinista guerrilla commander Mónica Baltodano.