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Another Step in Violating the Rights of Nicaraguans

Freed political prisoners from Nicaragua, now stripped of their nationality, arriving in the United States.

The decision to strip the nationality or citizenship from Nicaraguans in order to erase and silence them, is a deplorable act.

Another Step in Violating the Rights of Nicaraguans
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The United States condemns the Government of Nicaragua’s decision to strip nationality from 94 of its citizens and to revoke the citizenship of 222 political prisoners who were released from custody earlier in February. “These acts are inconsistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which provides that everyone has a right to a nationality,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a written statement. “It marks another step backward for the Nicaraguan people and a further step toward solidifying an autocratic regime.”

On February 9, 222 political prisoners, including Nicaraguan political and business leaders, religious actors, civil society activists, journalists, and students were released from prison and flown to the United States. They were welcomed on their arrival with medical and psychological care and legal assistance.

In Nicaragua, President Ortega labelled the released political prisoners “terrorists.” A judge read a statement saying they were guilty of actions that undermined Nicaragua’s independence and sovereignty, and that they had been “deported.” More accurately, of course, as Vilma Nuñez, president of the Nicaraguan Center for Human rights said, “They want to call exile a deportation, which is absolutely arbitrary and prohibited by international human rights norms.”

Shortly after, Nicaragua’s Congress unanimously voted to strip the 222 of their citizenship. Days later, an appeals court justice declared an additional 94 Nicaraguan dissidents to be traitors, and they were also stripped of their property and citizenship. Among this group are prominent author Sergio Ramirez, leading human rights activist Vilma Nunez, and Catholic Bishop Silvio Baez.

Since massive street demonstrations broke out in Nicaragua in 2018 protesting the repressive rule of Daniel Ortega, his government has striven to stamp out independent voices and institutions. The decision to strip the nationality or citizenship from Nicaraguans, who seek to exercise their fundamental human rights, in order to erase and silence them, is a deplorable act. As Secretary of State Blinken said, “Those who bravely defend democracy in Nicaragua will aways be citizens and patriots.”

State Department Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters, “We remain steadfast in encouraging additional steps by the Government of Nicaragua to restore civil liberties, especially in the light of their unilateral decision to release the 222 political prisoners.” Stripping them of their citizenship, he said, “is a step in the opposite direction.”