Medardo Mairena, coordinator of the National Council in Defense of the Land, the Lake and Sovereignty, was arrested at noon on Friday, July 13, at Managua’s Augusto C. Sandino Airport and taken to a jail cell in El Chipote. The rural leader is accused a priori of terrorism and of the killing of four police that occurred on Thursday, July 12, in the municipality of Morrito in the Rio San Juan department.
“The National Police inform that today, Thursday, July 13, Medardo Mairena Sequeira…. was captured when he attempted to flee the country,” began the official communique. Meanwhile, during the session of the Permanent Council of the OAS, Foreign Minister Denis Moncada blamed Mairena without offering any evidence, “for the massacre in Morrito.” Moncada did state that Mairena would be tried “for the crimes that he is found responsible for, after being investigated by the corresponding authorities.”
Alfredo Mairena, Medardo’s brother, said that his brother was illegally apprehended at the airport, without any explanation from those arresting him of the reasons. He assured that Medardo had been flying out to Los Angeles that evening, where he had been invited to a meeting in solidarity with the rural movement.
A series of epithets against the rural leader
The police communique uses a series of epithets to refer to the rural leader: “this subject”, “this criminal”, and “the terrorist”. It asserts that he “organized and ordered the attack on the Police Station and Mayor’s office in the municipality of Morrito in the department of Rio San Juan” …. “in which there were also five municipal workers injured and nine fellow police kidnapped.”
A video posted on the social networks by the Rural Movement shows those kidnapped police receiving medical attention and stating that the shots came from inside the Morrito City Hall.
“This criminal is one of the ringleaders behind the organization and installation of the roadblocks all over the national territory, from which hooded terrorists with firearms attacked the residents,” stated Foreign Minister Moncada, also quoting the press release from the police, which doesn’t identify the other supposed “ringleaders.”
The roadblocks were put up all over the country by the rural movement, the students and the self-organized citizens in response to the brutal repression of Daniel Ortega’s government against protesters demanding he leave power following over a decade in government.
“Terrorist Medardo Mairena Sequeira will be investigated and later referred to the competent authorities so as to respond for all the crimes committed,” the communique concludes. The entire text is an accusation of the farm leader, ignoring his right to be considered innocent until proven guilty.
The Civic Alliance, made up of students, civil society and the private sector, at a press conference on July 7. Photo: Carlos Herrera / Confidencial.
Representatives of the Civic Alliance, to which Mariena belongs, presented themselves on Friday afternoon at the jail cells of the Directorate for Judicial Assistance – popularly known as the El Chipote jail – to demand that the Police give them more information.
Azahalea Solis, a representative of civil society in the Civic Alliance, called Mairena’s illegal detention, “an abusive action that violates the Rule of Law, as well as the basic right to be presumed innocent.” Solis, a Constitutional lawyer, said that jailing the rural leader represents Ortega’s “blackmail” of the members of the Civic Alliance, who are trying to negotiate a peaceful way out of the profound crisis that the country is experiencing.
“Daniel Ortega wants to provoke us into an armed confrontation; he doesn’t want to solve through civic means the situation he has caused,” Solis warned.
Jose Adan Aguerri, president of the Superior Council for Private Enterprise (COSEP), was also present outside the jail at El Chipote. He characterized the illegal imprisonment of Mairena as a “threat” against all the members of the Alliance. “They’re not going to stop us from participating in the negotiations,” Aguerri said. “Medardo’s detention is a topic that will be on the table of the dialogue, but we’re going to keep struggling for an end to the repression,” he added.
As of Friday evening, the family members and friends of Mairena were still awaiting information regarding the rural leader’s whereabouts. They are in the company of dozens of mothers who have been waiting for several weeks on the outskirts of that jail – which has been denounced as a torture center – to receive information about their children who have been illegally imprisoned.
The rural leader had already been arrested once previously: in September, 2017, when he returned from a personal trip to Costa Rica. On that occasion there was no communique or written communication from the police. At the time, Mairena stated that he had been kidnapped and later freed 48 hours later, in the area of Nueva Guinea.
Jose Pallais, lawyer and a former deputy for the Liberal party, called it “completely unjust what they’re doing. He wasn’t even present in Morrito and we all saw [on video] that the police themselves said that those shooting at them were their fellow officers.”
“That arrest corresponds to the policy of persecution against the representatives to the National Dialogue. They were also seeking Sandra Ramos in her own home but didn’t find her. This demonstrates that Ortega isn’t interested in continuing the talks,” Pallais concluded.