Managua, Jul 6 (EFE).- Opposition student leader Lesther Aleman, who rebuked Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega during the start of a failed national dialogue three years ago, has been jailed for “raising his voice” and for “wanting a free country,” his mother – Lesbia Alfaro – said Tuesday.
In comments to EFE, Alfaro, 59, said that she was afraid her 23-year-old son would be tortured or even killed in jail because “with this regime anything is possible.
The student leader vaulted into the public arena by holding a live television dialogue with Ortega, the head of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) who he asked to “surrender” amid massive anti-government demonstrations that had broken out on April 18, 2018.
Alfaro – who witnessed the police taking Aleman into custody, which she called a “kidnapping” – said that her son, who has not lived with her since May 16, 2018, when he publicly rebuked Ortega, soon to turn 76, had come to visit her when six police cars suddenly appeared with dozens of National Police officers, who got out of their vehicles and forcefully tried to break down a gate or large door to be able to get into the house.
The officers grabbed her son and pushed him into a patrol car, she said.
The National Police, headed by Francisco Diaz, one of Ortega’s in-laws, has accused Aleman and fellow student leader Max Jerez of being the “ringleaders of takeovers and destruction” at the Polytechnic University of Nicaragua (Upoli), “where they committed crimes of robbery with intimidation (assaults), kidnappings, serious injury, rape, extortion, destruction and assorted damage, during the failed coup d’etat” in 2018.
Both men are also being investigated for “carrying out acts that undermined the independence, sovereignty and self-determination” of Nicaragua.
“My son is completely innocent because he has done nothing bad. He hasn’t killed anyone. (They arrested him) just for raising his voice, for telling the truth. He’s not a criminal or a destroyer. Ever since he was little he has been academically excellent and he’s not going to want to destroy anything. He wants to see a free Nicaragua,” Alfaro said.
She asked the authorities to become “aware” and release her son “because they’re doing nothing by holding him prisoner, because the struggle continues, it’s not stopping here,” adding that “if it’s up to us, as mothers, we’ll keep on going … because we want a free Nicaragua and won’t take a step back from that.”
Nicaragua has been in turmoil for weeks since the arrests of opposition leaders in anticipation of the Nov. 7 presidential election in which Ortega, who has been in power since 2007, is seeing another five-year term.
The National Police arrested opposition presidential candidates Cristiana Chamorro, Arturo Cruz, Felix Maradiaga, Juan Sebastian Chamorro, Miguel Mora and Medardo Mairena on accusations of “betraying the homeland.”
In addition, the police are holding two former deputy foreign ministers, two prominent dissident ex-Sandinista guerrillas, a business leader, a banker, a former first lady, five opposition leaders, two student leaders, two peasant leaders, a journalist, two former NGO workers and a driver for Cristiana Chamorro.
Ortega, who returned to power in 2007 after leading a government junta from 1979-1984 and then governing the country personally from 1985-1990, has accused the opposition leaders of trying to topple him with support from the United States, calling them all “criminals.”