Nicaraguan ‘campesino’ leader who refused to falsely accuse bishops shares his testimony
Nicaraguan opposition peasant leader Medardo Mairena speaks during a press conference at the Permanent Commission of Human Rights (CPDH) in Managua on Aug. 14, 2019. / Credit: INTI OCON/AFP via Getty Images
ACI Prensa Staff, Sep 7, 2023 / 09:30 am (CNA).
Speaking from exile in Atlanta, peasant leader Medardo Mairena Sequeira shared his testimony telling how the Daniel Ortega dictatorship in Nicaragua tortured him and imprisoned him for refusing to falsely accuse the country’s bishops.
Speaking with EWTN News after leading a peaceful protest outside the Nicaraguan consulate in Los Angeles on Aug. 27, the leader of the Nicaraguan “campesino” (“peasant”) movement charged that Ortega “has become entrenched in power and anyone who makes waves, who make noise, that he feels can be his competition, can immediately be abducted, tortured, and, in the worst case, murdered.”
Mairena, who lived in rural Nueva Guinea, where his land was expropriated along with that of thousands of other people, recounted that he was imprisoned and tortured in 2018.
“I’m not surprised by what [Ortega] is doing with the Church. At that time they hounded me, wanting to negotiate a dirty deal, offering me my release in exchange for making false accusations against the bishops’ conference, as if they [the bishops] were the organizers of an alleged coup, something that never happened,” the activist related.
“Because I refused, I was turned over to torture. Even so, I was sentenced to 16 years [in prison]. Eleven months later I got out because of an amnesty law, and then I always kept on doing human rights activism,” he continued.
In 2021, “I was abducted again and sentenced to 13 more years in jail,” he said. He was released after 19 months in prison.
Mairena, who was one of the 222 political prisoners deported to the U.S. by the Ortega regime in February, explained that living in exile “is nothing compared to what our compatriots are going through inside Nicaragua, those who resist from jail.”
“Today we still have more than 80 political prisoners, including our spiritual guides such as five priests and one of the most beloved bishops in Nicaragua … who is paying with a 26-year sentence just for being a defender of human rights, for doing what he as a spiritual guide has been doing. He is a disciple of Jesus Christ who announces and denounces, as the holy Scripture says.”
Perhaps the main victim of the dictatorship is the above-referenced Bishop Rolando Álvarez of Matagalpa, who has been unjustly imprisoned since Feb. 10, accused of being a traitor to the country and sentenced to 26 years and four months in prison.
The dictatorship of Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, in power since 2007, recently expropriated Central American University (UCA), founded by the Jesuits, and evicted the six Jesuits living in the residence next to the university.
The regime accused the university of being a “center of terrorism” and put the Jesuits out on the street despite the fact that they showed the police proof of ownership by the Jesuit order, not UCA.
After sharing that life in exile is not easy and that he does what he can to survive, Mairena stressed that since political prisoners “in Nicaragua cannot raise their voices, we offer ourselves so that they can achieve their longed-for release.”
Mairena said he is collaborating with the efforts being made so that “we can bring about the freedom of our homeland and establish a true rule of law where new generations can have better opportunities than those that we have had up to now.”
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.