Yesterday, the International Commission for the Freedom of Political Prisoners in Nicaragua, promoted by the International Socialist League together with the PRT of Costa Rica, Alternativa Anticapitalista of Nicaragua and in unity of action with numerous organizations of family members of political prisoners, politicians and social groups throughout the continent, traveled the 300 kilometers that separate San José of Costa Rica from the Peñas Blancas border post in Nicaragua. The regional and international media impact became the most important political event in Central America in recent days and managed to install in the public opinion the demand for the freedom of the more than 180 people imprisoned for fighting against the capitalist dictatorship that governs Nicaragua.
The Ortega-Murillo dictatorship received the blow and reacted by militarizing the border to prevent the International Commission from entering and visiting the political prisoners, thus corroborating all the complaints made by the relatives and at the same time showing its concern over the internationalist initiative driven by the ISL. To learn more about the activity of the historic Caravan that reached the Nicaraguan border, we interviewed our comrade Mariano Rosa, leader of the MST in the FITU of Argentina and Coordinator of the Commission.
Mariano Rosa from Costa Rica
Very early on Friday, dozens of buses, vans, private cars and other means of transportation provided by relatives of political prisoners, social and political organizations that promoted the initiative, the PRT and others, gathered in San José, the capital of Costa Rica. Organizations from Costa Rica, the parliamentarians of the FITU of Argentina, among them our comrade of the MST Luciana Echevarria, members of the MES PSOL of Brazil and other representatives of organizations from Panama, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
In the previous days and thanks to the militant task of dissemination, very important adherences were added while great sympathy was reflected within Nicaragua itself, despite the regime’s blockade..
Each day, the organizational team, in charge of logistics, had to incorporate more and more means of transport. Halfway through the week, we received very important news at the Commission: the adherence of the peasant movement, with a very representative delegation from its camp in Upala, in the north of Costa Rica on the way to Nicaragua, led by Doña Francisca “Chica” Ramírez, one of the most important leaders of the “anti canaleros” peasants’ struggles and the fight for the freedom of imprisoned peasants located in the Chontales penitentiary unit in Nicaragua.
To this we must add that a contingent of 30 journalists accompanied the entire journey of the Caravan for Dignity, publicizing this important initiative.
Shows of sympathy, solidarity and growing social support for the initiative of the Commission and the ISL
Throughout the Caravan’s entire journey, hundreds of people on the sides of the road greeted and expressed their solidarity by waving blue and white flags, emblems of the anti-dictatorial struggle in Nicaragua. In fact, it is prohibited in that country to raise the national flag in the streets and it is punishable by imprisonment, therefore, it has become an emblem of struggle and resistance against dictatorship, beyond the fact that sectors of the business community and the church want to appropriate its use.
Likewise, throughout the day and fundamentally after knowing the final result of the action and the response of the Ortega government, there were very important local and regional manifestations of solidarity, such as the public statement and pronouncement against Ortega-Murrillo’s politics by the most important living Nicaraguan author, the renowned and exiled Gioconda Belli.
Arrival at the border and the role of the Costa Rican government
The caravan had a stop prior to the border in the town of La Cruz, where a confluence meeting with the peasant movement was held, in which I had to speak, in my capacity as coordinator of the Commission for the International Socialist League, along with peasant leader Francisca “Chica” Ramirez. After this activity, we left, guarded by the Costa Rican police, to the border post located 300 meters from Nicaraguan territory. Once there, and on the basis of having foreseen and agreed that the Costa Rican police would accompany the caravan to Nicaraguan territory, to insist to the immigration authorities of that country that they allow its entry, however, at the border, the panorama was completely different. On the one hand, the determination of the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship to prevent the Commission from entering with the threatening message of a colossal military deployment, estimated at more than 300 troops, plus snipers and paramilitaries, which, in the face of the commission’s determination to insist on fulfilling our mission of entering, ended up effectively closing the border with Costa Rica. Faced with this, the Costa Rican government, in virtual agreement with the Nicaraguan government, prevented the commission from approaching the Peñas Blancas border post, arguing that it could not guarantee the security of the contingent and to avoid a “crisis or serious consequences in the diplomatic relationship between Costa Rica and Nicaragua.”
At this point we cannot but denounce the role of the government of President Chavez, in Costa Rica, which in several episodes demonstrated that, beyond some isolated demonstration, it has tried to coexist and maintain relations with the dictatorship and under no circumstances condemn it. For example, faced with the need to designate a Central American official for a regional organization in trade relations with the European Union, he initially stated that he was accompanying a proposal by the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship for that designation, only to later back down as a result of a massive rejection. It also denied visas to young Nicaraguan students of the ISL exiled in Argentina, blocking them from entering Costa Rica, and when the Commission arrived at the border, it acted as a de facto team with the dictatorship, since it did nothing to facilitate the coordination for the effective entry of the Commission to Nicaragua. That is why at this point we want to be categorical, the Costa Rican government works in tandem with that of Nicaragua and beyond its democratic facade, has done nothing but demonstrate its total complicity with it.
Militarization and closure of the border: the dictatorship proves us right
There is no record of a military deployment, with snipers, of more than 300 troops at the Peñas Blancas border post in the last four years. Nor is there a precedent of the border being closed due to the arrival of a Commission like the one that promoted the ISL, as in this case. It is evident that the impact of the Commission’s action, the installation on the public agenda of the situation of the prisoners that it managed to point out, the circulation of the news in Nicaragua itself through a thousand channels alternative to the official ones controlled by the presidential couple, made the dictatorship decide to, on the one hand, carry out a show of strength and, on the other, also express its concern over the effect that the entry of the Commission with the characteristics of the one we promote and build could have.
Obviously, as a first conclusion, it is demonstrated that the dictatorship that on other occasions denounced various missions of the so-called “International community” (which lacked the deployment and strength that this International Commission headed by the ISL had) as having been sent by the North American Embassy, as interventionists and coup plotting, in this case, with the Commission made up of clearly left-wing figures, with a declaration of purposes with broad representation and international adherence that established a clear delimitation from any imperialist camp and any interventionism, worried the dictatorship in such a way that it was forced to make a scandalous and disproportionate decision.
The show of sympathy within Nicaragua, which came through a thousand messages, the complaints from family members about what is really happening in the prisons and the interior of the country, more than corroborated that what the Commission debated is real: in Nicaragua there is a police state and a permanent action of humiliation, torture and violation of human rights in Nicaraguan prisons, this is a proven fact.
On the other hand, this Commission is going to prepare, based on the testimonies of ex prisoners, relatives of the murdered and disappeared, and other victims of the dictatorship and various exile organizations, a final report that in the coming weeks will be made known to the world so that that everyone can find out the reality of what is happening in a Nicaragua governed by a capitalist dictatorship that uses Stalinist methods of repression and persecution.
Finally, this initiative that we are taking on this occasion is only the first step in a permanent movement for the life and freedom of political prisoners in Nicaragua that will surely prepare new actions with greater impact, since we have the commitment that is an oath with relatives of political prisoners and organizations in exile, as part of the International Socialist League to carry take fight that we are putting up to the end.