With a broken rib, and still sore from the beating received last Monday at the hands of the Leon Police, Diego Reyes recounts with his wife Maria Eugenia Alonso, the torture and humiliation suffered by his family “so they do not continue being a nuisance,” in retaliation for their activism against the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo.
The couple, which has suffered a permanent siege during the last months, maintains, however, that they will not silence them and that they will continue denouncing “the injustices and all the abuses” of the regime, in a struggle that they affirm is peaceful and civic. They maintain that with unity and the vote, in free and transparent elections, that they will be able to get Ortega out of power.
“My family feels powerless, it was a terrible impotence that we felt, but this has not been a reason to silence our voice, to always make resistance here in Leon, and throughout Nicaragua. We will never be in favor of injustices, never,” says Alonso, a doctor from Leon.
In an interview with the journalist Carlos F. Chamorro on the program “Esta Semana,” Reyes denounced that Leon Police Chief, Fidel Dominguez, who personally led the aggression and humiliation against his family, accused him of “wanting to set Leon on fire.” However, Reyes reiterates that he has called the population to calm. He notes that the people of Leon, before a stronghold of the ruling Sandinista Front, are clear of the violations of the regime, being one of the most attacked during the Ortega massacre against the April Rebellion.
“This is a civic struggle, it is with the vote, it is with the syndrome of the UNO (National Opposition Union, in the 1990 elections) that we are going to win. And, what is the UNO syndrome? Everyone quietly to vote, everyone together… All against Ortega…and when I say “All against Ortega,” it is blue and white, blue, red, green, red and black, light blue, yellow, white, salmon…scarlet red, those liberals, conservatives, Sandinistas, MRS, resistance, Catholics and Protestants,” he urged.
Reyes points out that in Nicaragua “it is not the struggle of four,” but “for the people of Nicaragua, for the great family of Nicaragua,” because the whole country hurts from the massacre and violations of human rights against those murdered, their families, the wounded, political prisoners, mothers and widows of the victims of the massacre.
Dr. Alonso thanked “all the people that have sympathized with us, who have come, through messages, via telephone, who have come to make themselves present here, and it is daily. This has served to wake people up again, because the fear and terror that they have planted here in Leon, have caused people to lower their heads a little, but this has helped the people to wake up again,” she said.
The drug trafficking excuse
The Reyes Alonso couple denounces that one of the objectives of the police chief was “to injure us, temporally or permanently incapacitate us,” to silence their voices in opposition to the Daniel Ortega regime.
Chief Dominguez arrived at the house of the Reyes Alonso without a search warrant and, through blows and a mallet, the officers under his command tried to knock down the door of the house. The family finally chose to open the door, before the cry of the mother of Maria Eugenia.
Dominguez gave no explanation for the operation and while his underlings beat the family, the police chief accused them of being drug dealers.
Reyes recalled that his family has lived several months under the siege of the National Police and Ortega’s paramilitaries, who on many occasions came to throw stones at their house. However, in recent weeks they began to “create the expectation and atmosphere of doubt,” as a prelude to the attack that finally took place on November 25.
“If they (the Police) had shown a warrant, be assured that we would have opened the door, because we have nothing to hide…we are not, and have never been drug dealers,” Reyes upholds.
The Police also tried also to make him accountable for stoning houses and patrols of the National Police, showing as evidence a pile of stones in a corner of the house, which—according to Reyes—they use to defend themselves, because it was the same Police that stoned the house late at night.
Despite the allegations by the police chief, the Reyes Alonso family was not arrested nor do they have a court order against them, the alleged evidence was not taken and they only confiscated cell phones, computers, the wedding rings and cash that the Reyes Alonso had for any emergencies.
Maria Eugenia Alonso, affirms that the money they had in the house is “the product of the sale of an inheritance” and mentions a notarized receipt of the sale of a property “because we didn’t want that tomorrow (the police) would say that the money is a product of the sale of drugs,” thus, “it is better to demonstrate the origin of the money we had at that time,” she adds.
The attack: videos and darkness
Part of the attack on the house of the Reyes Alonso was recorded on Facebook, through a live broadcast. In the video you can see the Police pounding the door of the house with a mallet, while the family demands an explanation and, in a corner of the house, Mrs. Margarita Flores de Alonso, 94, cried inconsolably. After eleven minutes the family opens the door and the image goes completely dark. The worst was yet to come.
“We opened the side door, here next to where I am, and that’s when they started beating us, and the first beating they gave us was severe, it was practically looking for how to injure us,” Reyes says.
Alonso adds that since the officers entered the house “they came over us, hitting us and placing the handcuffs, throwing us to the ground.” She was taken to the streets and thrown on the ground, where they continued “kicking me and putting their boots on my head.” A group of neighbors approached to help her, but riot officers pushed and threatened them.
“If anyone gets close, we will kill you”, the officers said.
While Alonso was kicked in the street, her husband and son Diego Reyes Alonso were also beaten inside the house, “later they took my son and kicked him outside,” the woman says.
Simultaneously, the officers “ransacked the house everywhere: opening drawers, closets, they took cell phones, took computers; until later we realized that the money was missing,” Alonso commented.
Reyes, who was inside the house, was taken to the corner where his 94-year-old mother-in-law, “was crying out loudly,” with orders to calm her.
“At that moment, I saw a police officer coming out of my daughter’s room with my wallet,” Reyes recalls. The police stole money from the wallet and also took another hidden amount for emergencies.
The Police also searched “eagerly” for the daughter of the marriage, Barbara Reyes Alonso, who was not at that time in the house, but they believed that she had already returned from the university.
After several hours of darkness and uncertainty about what happened in the home of the Reyes Alonso’s, a series of videos began to circulate on social networks in which Police Chief Dominguez is observed coercing them so that they commit themselves “to stop messing with” the Police and Sandinista Front militants.
In the videos Diego Reyes, Maria Eugenia Alonso and their son Diego Reyes Alonso appear in handcuffs, who after been physically assaulted were forced to repeat the words of the police chief. I pledge to “not to mess with militants (of the Sandinista Front) or the people. Non-repetition. With Peace you do not play. I am a man of his word,” repeated Reyes, who was the first to be filmed.
In another room, the officers beat and forced their son to say the same. The parents remember that from the next room they yelled at him: “commit yourself, son, commit yourself,” so that they wouldn’t continue hitting him. While they listened to Chief Dominguez threatening him: “Now you will know what it is to be a real man, you son of a bitch.”
Alonso recalls that her son asked Dominguez to take off his handcuffs off (to show him who was the real man) and instead the officers beat him more.
The couple assures that they agreed to make “the commitment” required by the police chief, because “we serve more alive and free.” Alonso believed that the police would force them to do something in writing, but not that they would film them with cell phones, to then spread the videos on social networks.
But contrary to the intention of humiliating the Reyes Alonso with the publication of the videos, the images constitute irrefutable proof of the abuse of authority, torture and cruel treatment exercised by the National Police against citizens.
Alonso believes that this irrational action is the product of the “arrogance” of Chief Dominguez, an attitude that “did not let him think” of the consequences of his actions.
The couple believes that possibly the dissemination of the videos “was done to send a message of terror to the people,” and tell them: “look at your leaders, see how we have them,” but in reality, “they did not know that it was a boomerang,” she adds.
Reyes also believes that the videos were leaked because there is a “great discomfort” among the ranks of the “dishonest National Police,” because they are “at the service of a dictatorship when it is the people, with their taxes, who pays their salaries, that feeds them.”
Diego Reyes and Maria Eugenia Alonso are well-known opponents of the Sandinista Front in the city of Leon. In 2008, Reyes was a candidate for deputy mayor for the Liberal Constitutionalist Party (PLC) along with Ariel Teran, who at that time denounced the electoral fraud through which the Sandinista Front seized more than 40 mayor’s offices of Nicaragua, including several main cities, like Leon, and the capital Managua.
Alonso, on the other hand, was a candidate as a substitute deputy on the liberal ballot in 2006, and in 2011 she was the PLC departmental election-monitor, date in which she denounced the electoral fraud of the Sandinista Front and contested the elections in Leon.
In April, 2018, the Reyes Alonso joined the protests motivated in part by their two children, Diego and Barbara, who went out to demonstrate with their classmates of the UNAN-Leon. Diego was in his last year of Systems Engineering, but was expelled from the university, while Barbara continues to study the fourth year of Dentistry.
Months ago, the Reyes Alonso denounced the Sandinista paramilitaries damaged the roof of the house by throwing stones and, on several occasions, the same Chief Fidel Dominguez came to threaten them with taking them prisoners if they continued protesting against the Government.
“From this moment I hold the Leon Police Chief Fidel de Jesús Dominguez, the Sandinista Front and the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega-Murillo, responsible for anything that happens to my own family or any of the [extended] Alonso and Reyes families. I hold all these institutions and all the public figures responsible, such as Camilo Baez, Transito Tellez (former mayor), Ever Delgadillo (of the FSLN Departmental office), and the mayor (Roger Gurdian), because they promote and sponsor the paramilitaries, as do all public figures from here, the FSLN deputies,” Alonso warned.
After being tortured and publicly humiliated, the Reyes Alonso assure that they will continue denouncing the regime and that it is not within their plans to leave their home or the city of Leon.