Nicaragua dissident jailed under Ortega dies in prison: family
Managua, Feb 13, 2022 (AFP) - Former guerrilla Hugo Torres Jimenez, one of 46 opposition figures jailed since last year by the Nicaraguan government of President Daniel Ortega, died on Saturday, his family said in a statement.
He was 73.
The statement offered few details on Torres’ death but expressed his children’s "deep pain over the death of our beloved father." It was released by the opposition coalition Blue and White National Unity (UNAB), of which Torres was a member.
A former Sandinista dissident, Torres had been held since June 13, 2021, in El Chipote prison, before being transferred in December to a hospital for treatment, sources said.
Torres had been vice president of the opposition Democratic Renovation Union (Unamos), formerly the Sandinista Renovation Movement, established in 1995 by militants unhappy with Ortega’s leadership.
A retired army general, Torres in 1974 undertook a risky operation to free a group of jailed politicians -- including Ortega -- being held under the Somoza dictatorship.
But Ortega, who himself has grown increasingly dictatorial as president and as head of the Sandinista National Liberation Front, has accused dozens of opposition figures of conspiring against his government with US backing.
Torres was hailed on Saturday as a "hero" by ex-guerrilla and exiled Sandinista dissident Monica Baltodano.
She told news website 100% Noticias that Torres was "a true hero of the struggles against the dictatorships that have dominated Nicaragua -- the dictatorship of Somoza and now the dictatorship of Ortega, which is a brutal and criminal dictatorship."
Unamos in January had reported that Torres’ health was deteriorating and demanded details from the government. It offered none.
The Washington-based Organization of American States said it "considers the fact of keeping political prisoners, with terminal illnesses and without necessary medical assistance, an abominable act."
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said that for months Torres was "denied freedom in inhumane conditions and subjected to a legal process with no guarantees."
Torres was one of 46 opposition figures detained last year, most of them before November elections in which Ortega was re-elected for a fourth consecutive term. Among the 46 were seven who had planned to run against Ortega.
All have been accused of undermining national integrity and promoting foreign interference in Nicaragua.
Eighteen have been found guilty in the past two weeks, and seven have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from eight to 13 years.