Nicaraguan Biographies/The Society


The SocietyEdit

Human RightsEdit

ALTAMIRANO, Jose. Political prisoner released (along with Luis Mora) to President Carter on February 8, 1986, during a visit to Nicaragua. A labor activist, Altamirano remains in Nicaragua working with the independent labor union confederation, CUS.

ALVAREZ, Carlos. Refugee, mechanic. Born in January 1967 in Managua. Worked 1982-85 in Granada on Lake Nicaragua as a marine mechanics assistant. Carlos complains: "If you don't cooperate with everything the Sandinistas say, they say, 'You're a contra.' It's a pretext to control.... The war is crude and cruel. But the Sandinistas are more sophisticated in their execution of it now.... The people won in 1979. From Costa Rica in 1979, the Sandinistas announced their democratic plans. But when they won, they turned their backs on the campesinos." Carlos is now in a refugee camp in Honduras, where he has been since he fled at the beginning of 1985.

ATHAS, Lester. Miskito Indian Council of Elders leader. Born about 1936 in Saklin, Rio Coco, in Zelaya Province. Executed without trial by the Sandinistas in 1979. A leader of the Indian rights group ALPROMISU in 1977-79, Athas had numerous conflicts with Somoza's political representatives in Zelaya Province (there was no fighting on the Atlantic Coast). After Somoza's fall, the National Guard's 5th Battalion at Puerto Cabezas turned over their arms and authority to the Council of Elders and local Moravian Church leaders. In August 1979, San- dinista representative Manuel "Rufus" Calderon refused to recognize the Council of Elders and other traditional Miskito Indian authorities, instructing the Indian villagers to take their problems to the Sandinista Defense Committees instead. Athas was arrested with other Miskito leaders and jailed in Puerto Cabezas. His arrest became a cause celebre among Indian activists. Only in 1980 did Daniel Ortega concede to Indian leaders that their demands for Athas' release could not be met, since he had been tortured and executed in the fall of 1979. Community requests that Athas' body be returned for proper burial have never been met. Calderon was rewarded for his work on the Atlantic Coast — he is now Chief of the Political Directorate in the MINT.

BALTODANO Flores, Marta Patricia. Human rights activist and lawyer. Director of the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights in exile. Former Director of the Permanent Commission on Human Rights (CPDH) in Managua. Born on February 14, 1958. Attended the Colegio Divina Pas- tora and the Central American University (UCA), where she studied law and psychology. Studied international public law at the Third World Center for Economic and Social Studies, with emphasis on human rights and economic rights. After a year in private practice, joined the CPDH in 1979, ultimately becoming its director. For the first few months of the post-Somoza period, the CPDH was relatively free to investigate abuses. The regime then formed its own National Commission for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights (CNPPDH), which answers to the Foreign Ministry. CPDH was no longer allowed to enter jails or attend trials held before the Peoples' Anti-Somocista Tribunals, the special political courts which are outside the government legal system and under direct FSLN party control. CPDH investigators became the target of harassment, restrictions on publishing reports, and general abuse. Baltodano worked on human rights with COPROSA and the Catholic Church in 1985. She fled to Costa Rica after the DGSE threatened and physically ejected the staff, forcibly taking over the building and shutting down the organization's operations on October 15, 1985. Since 1986, she has been Executive Director of the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights (ANPDH), which is funded, in part, by the US Congress to promote RN programs for the observance and advancement of human rights. Baltodano is responsible for planning and coordinating the training, investigative, and administrative activities of the ANPDH, which operates in Costa Rica and Honduras as well as Nicaragua.

BALTODANO Selva, Prudencio de Jesus. Refugee. Farmer and Pentecostal lay preacher. In February 1984, Baltodano was living in the small village of El Tendido in southern Zelaya. With another man and about 40 women and children, sought refuge from a confrontation between EPS and ERN combatants. They were captured by the Sandinistas, and the two men were separated from the others. The soldiers tied Baltodano to a tree, cut off his ears, and sliced his throat with a bayonet. Left to bleed to death, he was assisted by members of ARDE, who gave him medical attention and led him to Costa Rica. Underwent reconstructive surgery paid by ARDE at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC Now lives in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of northwest Washington, DC, where he lives with a Salvadoran family and does construction work.

BELLO, Marcos. MISURASATA labor leader at the La Rosita mines. Arrested in February 1981 on charges of "agitation" on the orders of Manuel Calderon, the brutal Cuban-trained commissar now Chief of the Political Directorate of the Ministry of Interior. Fearful that Bello would "disappear" like the previous MISURASATA leader and martyr Lester Athas, MISURASATA organized street pro-


tests which were violently suppressed by the Sandinista army. When Calderon refused to allow the media to mention the deaths which occurred, local Indians took over Voz Educational Regional to broadcast the information.

COE Castro. Roger Domenico. Human rights investigator for the Nic- araguan Association for Human Rights. Born March 29, 1960. Student of Public Accounting and Finance and a Social Democratic Party youth activist from 1980 until he went into Costa Rican exile in 1984.

DELGADO Flores, Francisco Martin. Forcibly conscripted into Sandinista army in 1985 at the age of 19, he went into battle against the Resistance in north-central Nicaragua. Six months later, his entire patrol deserted and he escaped to Honduras. He said, "At the high schools they keep them [the students] locked up with police all around the building so they can't escape. Afterward, a truck arrives. They make the students get on and take them to a [military] school like the one at Mulukuku. That's what happened to me. I was taken by force. I was 3 months at Mulukuku. And the other 3 months I was in combat in the mountains. Persecution of the contra was our first priority. Our instructors were both Cuban and Nicaraguan. There were about 30 Cubans in the school. They gave us Marxist political training. Our soldiers mistreated the campesinos and stole their cattle, slaughtering their cows for food.... I was not in agreement with that so-called Sandinista process they have in Nicaragua, nor the fact that I was obligated to go fight in the mountains."

DIXON, Santiago. Miskito Indian refugee. On March 25, 1986, when the sound of Sandinista gunfire reached the village of Kururia, Dixon fled Nicaragua with his wife and nine children; 442 other residents joined them. During this period, some 10500 Miskito Indians were driven into Honduras. Ironically, most of the families, like the Dixons, had just been released from 3 years of confinement in relocation camps such as Sumobila and Tasba Pri. In 1986, the Dixons found refuge in the UN-assisted camp near Mocoron, Honduras.

GAMEZ Ortega, Alberto. Director of the Legal Department of the Nic-

1 Jose ALTAMIRANO (far right) being harassed by Sandinista police.

2 Lino HERNANDEZ Trigueros writing human rights testimony.

3 Marta Patricia BALTODANO recording statement by a young man the Sandinistas had reported as having been kidnaped by the Resistance. He said that he had joined the Resistance voluntarily.


araguan Association for Human Rights in exile. Lawyer. Born on July 15, 1928, in France to a Nicaraguan diplomat. In his university days was an anti-Somoza activist and friend of Tomas Borge. Received a PhD in law from the National University of Nicaragua. Held various positions in the business community, including assistant manager of the Nicaragua Sugar Estate (San Antonio Mill) and local sales supervisor for Texaco Caribbean, Inc. Openly critical of Somoza, Gamez and two of his daughters became active in the FSLN. Jailed several times. In exile in Guatemala. Named chief penal prosecutor of Nicaragua after the 1979 revolution. Vice Minister of Justice, 1980-82. Disillusioned with the Sandinistas' political manipulation of the judicial system, Gamez resigned his post on November 19, 1982. "I left my position as Vice Minister," he said, "because I was growing increasingly disenchanted with the way the Sandinistas were destroying the independence of Nicaragua's judiciary system, making everything from the nomination of judges to the drafting of laws contingent upon their utility to the party. Cubans, who were running the state security apparatus, were telling the Ministry of Justice who to arrest and why, usually on trumped-up charges. Evidence used against accused persons was frequently extracted under torture or duress, and the extra-legal courts, which today are known as 'people's anti- somocista tribunals,' were becoming a regular part of the legal system. When I resigned, I felt that the Sandinistas had lost all respect for human rights and the rule of law and were turning Nicaragua into a Marxist-Leninist dictatorship." Gamez was arrested immediately after his resignation, accused of spying, incarcerated in El Chipote for 3 months, and then placed under house arrest for another 5 months. Gamez was asked to sign blank confessions before he was released. Bowing to international pressure, the Sandinistas freed him from house arrest and allowed him to leave the country for medical treatment on July 5, 1983. Fled to Costa Rica, where he and his family now live. In 1985, he began work on the UNO Human Rights Commission and in 1986, he became legal director of the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights in San Jose, Costa Rica.

GONZALEZ Rappaccioli, Jose Esteban. Human rights activist and lawyer. Born in Diriamba. Social Christian Party activist and original head of anti-Somoza Permanent Commission on Human Rights (CPDH). A La Salle Christian brother. Active in the Broad Opposition Front, 1978-79. After Somoza's fall, continued his watchdog role, criticizing the postwar killing and torturing of National Guardsmen and other regime opponents by the Sand- inista government. By October 1980, CPDH had collected notarized statements from family members of 785 cases of disappearances of persons captured by Sandinista authorities from July 1979 to September 1980. CPDH offices were ransacked in February 1981, and the contents of office files photographed. Gonzalez was arrested the following week on charges of violating the public security law by accusing the government of torturing political prisoners. In September 1981, after being denied exit from the country to attend a UN conference on missing persons (los desaparecidos), he left the country under the protection of the Venezuelan Embassy. Gonzalez now lives and works in Brussels, Belgium, where he heads the private Nicaraguan Human Rights Committee.

GUERRERO Flores, Mateo Jose. Lawyer for the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights. Born on January 25, 1950, in Leon. The son of a farm laborer who picked cotton. Graduated from UNAN, Managua, as an attorney in 1975. When the Sandinistas created the National Commission for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights as a dependency of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1980, Guerrero served as the Commission's Administrative Director until 1982, then became Executive Director. Guerrero says the Sandinista commission was limited from the start. "We could never enter the State Security prisons (only the regular penal institutions), because it was the policy of the Interior Minister [Tomas Borge] never to allow anyone in, not even international human rights organizations." On March 28, 1985, uneasy with the many abuses the Sandinistas had covered up, he went to Costa Rica on a UN grant for a training seminar on human rights. When the seminar ended, he stayed in Costa Rica. Since late 1986, Guerrero has directed the Department of Investigations and Training of the ANPDH.

HERNANDEZ Ortiz, Tomasa. Social Christian Party activist. Arrested in November 1985 while pregnant, she was held incommunicado for 12 days without food. Released in January 1986, she miscarried and lost the baby. Now associated with the Mothers and Families of Political Prisoners Movement. Wife of Humberto Urbina, former Sandinista bodyguard to Daniel Ortega, who has also been arrested several times.

HERNANDEZ Trigueros, Lino. National Director, Permanent Commission of Human Rights. A lawyer. Graduated from the National Autonomous University in Leon in 1976. A founding member of CPDH when it was founded in April of 1977 "in response to escalating human rights abuses by the Somoza dictatorship." Became director in 1983 after the two previous directors fled the country. Its activities then, as today, included documenting and protesting political arrests, torture and extrajudicial killings. The commission was denounced by the Somoza government as "communist." Sandinista authorities today denounce CPDH as "counterrevolutionary." Remains the only private group in Nicaragua that regularly issues reports and bulletins on individual cases and human rights abuses. Arrested August 15, 1987, for "disturbing the public order." Sentenced without a trial to 30 days in prison. On August 11, 1987, Hernandez told the New York Times: "At crucial moments, like when we were closed by the military in 1981, we have had the support of human rights groups in foreign countries. The damage we do the Sandinistas with our work is less than the political cost they would pay for closing us down. The moment they decide otherwise, we are finished."

HERRERA, Silvio. Moravian lay minister. Miskito Indian. Lives with his wife and five children in a refugee settlement assisted by Friends of the Americas near Rus Rus, Honduras. He is in his mid-twenties, although he looks much older. His family abandoned the northern border village of La Es- peranza when they heard news of a massacre of Miskito Indians. "We left November 18, 1980.... The Sandinistas were killing us." Said soldiers were visiting neighboring communities to silence growing numbers of Miskito critics. In one case, "They killed about 42 young men. They had a raft which they used to take cars back and forth across the [Coco] river. There they tied up the young men and shot them." Her- rera and his family live in a one-room


Government relocation camp, Matagalpa.

grass and bamboo hut. Their only possessions now are a small collection of cooking utensils and the clothes on their backs.

LACAYO Dorn, Agustin de Jesus. Human rights investigator for the Nic- araguan Association for Human Rights. Born on June 8, 1963, in Managua. Degree in social and legal sciences from the University of San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

MACIAS Gomez, Edgard. He and his wife, Geraldine O'LEARY de Mac- ias, were anti-Somoza militants and social workers forced into opposition by the FSLN. Edgard was head of the Popular Social Christian Party and a founding member of Pedro Joaquin Chamorro's UDEL. After Somoza's ouster, Edgard served as Vice Minister of Social Welfare, then Vice Minister of Labor. He was also a board member of the Sandinista's Human Rights Commission. Fired in late 1981. Became executive director of the 4-S Clubs (4-H Clubs), that worked among rural youth. He was warned that his PPSC activity and opposition to the Sandinistas had marked him for arrest. After a June 1982 article appeared in the Ministry of Interior's Soberania ("Sovereignty") magazine accusing him of taking CIA money (the 4-S Clubs were to receive a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank, an international lending agency), Macias sued the magazine's editor and demanded they present proof to support their charges. When State Security harassment increased, he sought asylum in the Venezuelan Embassy on July 9, 1982. On July 11, under the protection of Venezuelan diplomats, he boarded a flight to Costa Rica. Joined Geraldine, who had left the week before in search of information to clear their names, in exile in the United States. They have told their story in her publication, "Only Another Tyranny," and created "New Exodus," a legal services and aid organization that helps Nicaraguan refugees in the United States. Among the most respected leaders of the Nicaraguan exile community in the United States.

MEMBRENO Gaitan, Mauricio. Secretary General of PSD Youth. Mem- breno, a spirited and articulate youth leader, was arrested in June 1985. Charged with a criminal offense — personally assaulting 16 Sandinista policemen at one time — he nonetheless was tried in the political courts (TPAs) and sentenced to 11 years in prison, later reduced to 3. As a sign of solidarity with Membreno, he was re- elected to the post on June 21, 1987, while still in a Sandinista prison. PSD Youth Political Secretary Jorge Bal- ladares Serias is acting Secretary General, pending Membreno's release from prison.

MOLINA Lazo, Horacio. Refugee from Wiwili, Jinotega. Born in 1931. High school graduate. Trained as a carpenter, he ran his family farm and sold livestock. His family still lives in Jinotega. He states: "I would like to return tomorrow were it possible. But it is not possible." Left Nicaragua in late 1979 and has spent the past 8 years in Honduras, most of them in a UN-run refugee camp.

MORA Sanchez, Luis. Political prisoner released (along with Jose Al- tamirano) to President Carter on Feb-


ruary 8, 1986, during a visit to Nicaragua. A former president of the La Prensa journalists' union and member of the newspaper's editorial staff, Mora had been jailed three times by the Sandinista government. Lives in exile in Costa Rica. Now Director of Public Affairs for the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights.

O'LEARY de Macias, Geraldine. Anti-Somoza militant and social worker forced into opposition by the FSLN. Married to Edgard MACIAS Gomez (see biography). Born in Minnesota. Former Maryknoll Sister. Lived for 13 years in Central America, mostly in Nicaragua, performing a wide range of social work. Worked with the Sandinistas, but refused to subordinate human rights and social concerns to advance FSLN monopoly power. Driven out of Nicaragua in July 1982 by secret police harassment. Their story is told in her publication "Only Another Tyranny," Edition Musawas. In it Geraldine wrote: "The only path, once again, left to democratic forces, is armed struggle. This is not a secret war, nor for Nicaraguans, a covert action. Nicaraguans have been public in their protest of the lack of human rights in Nicaragua. They have been public in their dissent with the imposed Marxist-Leninist system. They have been public in their continued repudiation of the ex-Somocistas.... I would ask the American people to stop taking the credit for the opposition to the present regime.... They should not hope to control this war, nor manipulate it for interests that are not the interest of Nicaragua."

PAIZ Castillo, Ricardo. First President of Permanent Commission on Human Rights. President of the Conservative Party of Nicaragua, 1966-69. Vice President of the PCN (Rappaccioli faction) since 1985. Professor of Education. Author.

QUANT, Guillermo. Engineer. Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce. In prison in Nicaragua since August 1986. Sentenced to 6 months for disrepect for authority after Sandinista police blocked his entrance to a meeting at the US Embassy. While detained, State Security agents searched his house and, claiming to have found CIA communications equipment, charged him with being a CIA agent. In an August 1986 Ministry of Interior press conference chaired by Lenin Cerna, it was reported that he confessed to all charges against him (although he was not represented at the press conference). In January 1987, sentenced to 30 years in prison by a Sandinista Popular Anti-Somocista Tribunal. All of his personal property was confiscated. He has denied the charges and is appealing from prison. In a display of solidarity, he was reelected Vice President by the Chamber of Commerce in February 1987.

REYES, Abel. Fiscal Manager for the Managua Region of the Social Christian Party. Born on September 11, 1958, in Boaco. As Secretary General of PSC Youth in Managua, he was one of the many PSC activists arrested after the FSLN's October 1985 tightening of emergency restrictions. In November 1985, forced off the streets of Managua and into an unmarked car at gunpoint. The police and the DGSE both denied having him in custody. However, after intense pressure, the regime released him from custody. Active in the January 22 Movement of Mothers and Families of Political Prisoners.

REYES Icabalceta, Ismael. Left destitute by the death of his father at an early age. President of Nicaraguan Red Cross during 1978-79, when he played major role in attempting to humanize the civil war. President of Nicaraguan Chamber of Industry. One of the six original members of the board of the Sandinista government's Human Rights Commission. Replaced by the FSLN in 1982. Went into exile in 1983 after government's takeover of the previously independent Red Cross (the new Director, Gonzalo Ramirez Morales, is an FSLN member and officer in the Sandinista army). His factory and other property were confiscated. Now resides in Guatemala.

RODRIGUEZ Olivera, Adalberto. Now in exile in refugee camp. Born in December 1948. Farmer from Jalapa, Nueva Segovia. Fled with his wife Teodora Maradiaga and their children in May 1987 "on account of political and religious persecution. I would like to work free, as a free man. But you can't. If you have chickens or eggs, the Sandinistas would confiscate everything: animals, money, land, your cow, your hog. What is occurring now in Nicaragua is a failure of national proportions."

SABORIO Morales, Alberto. President of the Independent Bar Association, which has been highly critical of the Sandinista Constitution. Arrested on August 15, 1987, with Lino Hernandez (President of the Permanent Commission of Human Rights). Both were imprisoned without trial. Freed after several weeks — the last 11 days on a hunger strike — when Daniel Ortega made their freedom a "gift" to a visiting US Senator.

SALAZAR Gonzalez, Concepcion. President of the January 22d Mothers of Political Prisoners Movement (M-22). Born in Granada in 1932. Mother of 16 children, 8 of whom survived infancy. Has worked as a seamstress, farmworker, street vendor, and most recently as a certified midwife. Two of her sons, Domingo Gamales and David Alberto, have been detained a number of times by the Sandinista police for "counterrevolutionary activities." David Alberto was shot and killed in the door to the Salazar home by MINT agents in 1984. A few weeks after becoming the founding president of M-22 in January 1987, her preganant daughter, Neyra, was beaten and miscarried. Concepcion was then detained without charges and interrogated by the DGSE's Chief of Operations, MINT Capt. Oscar Loza. Another son, Fanor de los Angeles, was arrested and later drafted for active duty with the EPS. Several thousand Nicaraguans, mostly family members of prisoners and disappeared, participate in the movement. Its principle function has been to document the existence of these victims, make their plight known to the international community, and seek medical treatment for prisoners.

SOTELO Borgen, Enrique. Member of the National Assembly. Secretary General and National Coordinator of the Democratic Conservative Party "unofficial" wing. Born on January 1, 1933, in Boaco. A lawyer in private practice, specializing in criminal defense as well as a range of civil matters. Hid leading Sandinistas in his Managua office during the revolution. Has defended persons accused of political crimes under both the Somoza and Sandinista regimes. Uses the immunity granted him as a member of the National Assembly to defend those accused of "counterrevolutionary activities" before the TPAs. His "unofficial" faction of the Conservative Democratic Party in the National Assembly split from the "official" faction led by Rafael Cordova Rivas over the issue of cooperation with the FSLN. Sotelo's constituency is the Department of Boaco in central Nicaragua, but he resides in Managua with his wife and four children. In January 1987, he was co- founder of an organization for the families of political prisoners called January 22 Movement of Mothers of Political Prisoners.

TIJERINO, Jose Antonio. Lawyer, Washington representative for the Nicaraguan Association for the Protection


of Human Rights. Born on March 10, 1930, in Leon. Received a Master of Arts degree from Georgetown University and a Doctor of Law degree from the National University of Nicaragua. Under the auspices of the UN International Labor Organization, he studied the national agrarian reform and social security systems in Guatemala, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, and Washington, DC Served as Minister of Labor in Nicaragua (1962-63) and Director General of the Nicaraguan National Institute of Social Security (1963-67). Held a number of high-level positions on the staff of the Organization of American States (1967-77). Taught international law at UCA, Managua (1977-79). Acting as the lawyer for Violeta Chamorro, became the private prosecutor aiding the investigation of Chamorro's January 1978 assassination. After 1979, acted as defense counsel for many Nicaraguan citizens who had been arrested and imprisoned by the Sandinistas for "conspiracy." Before the Nicaraguan public and authorities, he also pressed the case of the November 1980 murder of Jorge Salazar at the hands of DGSE agents. Left Nicaragua on May 5, 1984, under Sandinista pressure. Joined the Nicaraguan Human Rights Association in 1986 as its representative in Washington, DC

URBINA Chavarria, Humberto Jose. Former Sandinista combatant and personal guard of Daniel Ortega until December 1982. Seized in June 1984 and accused of counterrevolutionary activities. Sentenced and pardoned in May 1985. Rearrested in November 1985 (along with his wife Tomasa Hernandez). Forced to sign a blank "confession" and processed by the Tribunals of Exception. Arrested again in 1988.

VALLE, Jose Alonso. Ex- Sandinista soldier. Valle was a 20-year- old coffee picker from Leon when he was drafted into the Sandinista army on March 11, 1985. Forced to leave his invalid mother and two handicapped brothers. When he received news that his mother had died, he was not allowed to go home to visit. Furious, he escaped to Honduras and talked about his experiences as a soldier: "There were times when we went for 3 days without eating. We suffered a lot of hunger, and had to eat a lot of things that made us sick. My assignment was political officer of a company of 120 men. There were Cuban and Chilean officers in our unit who tried to talk us into fighting harder. In Chinandega I heard that the Sandinistas arrived at the house of a woman and said, 'Your son returns dead.' The son was a Sandinista soldier. But inside the coffin was a dozen banana stalks. It was prohibited that anyone should open the box, but the separation between the woman and the son had been so great that she opened the coffin and found the branches. She later found out her son was alive but had escaped from the Army."

VARGAS, Fausto. Indian Rights Activist. Born in Andres, Rio Coco, northern Zelaya. Born circa 1939. First Coordinator of ALPROMISU in 1973. Studied medicine and worked in the Ministry of Health after the revolution. A member of KISAN Council of Elders before becoming a human rights delegate with the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights in exile.

ZAVALA, Xavier. Former CPDH Board President. Publisher of Pensamiento Libre. Educated in United States. In exile in Costa Rica. International reputation as a defender of human rights.