Hugo Torres, Former political prisoner of the rebels, dies aged 73

Hugo Torres, a former guerrilla leader who helped get Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega out of prison, only to be taken into custody by Ortega himself last year, died Friday at a hospital in Managua. He was 73 years old.

Mr. Torres’ death was announced in a statement by his three children. The cause is not specified.

According to Luis Carrión Cruz, a politician, former Sandinista guerrilla and longtime friend, Mr. Torres started feeling ill in early December after months of living in squalid prison conditions without receiving medical treatment.

“They didn’t take him to the hospital until he collapsed completely unconscious,” said Carrión, who lives in exile in Costa Rica. “We never knew and we still don’t know what hospital he was in, what his health problems were.”

“The government,” he added, “is not responsible.”

In a statement, The Nicaraguan prosecutor’s office said that Mr Torres was taken to the hospital as soon as his health began to deteriorate and that it had “requested the judicial authorities to definitively suspend the start of the public trial for reasons of humanitarian.”

A former guerrilla commander who fought against the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza Debayle, Mr. Torres was jailed last year as part of the nationwide repression campaign waged against opposition politicians, activists and journalists ahead of national elections.

With all the credible challengers jailed or forced into exile, Mr. Ortega won an election widely recognized as a spoof. Now in his fourth consecutive term, Mr. Ortega continues his campaign of repression; the government has set up a number of private universities under state control in recent weeks.

Mr. Torres said in One video was posted last June, shortly before his arrest. “I never thought that at this stage in my life I would be fighting peacefully and civilly against a new dictatorship.”

Jorge Hugo Torres Jiménez was born on April 25, 1948, in the northwestern region of Madriz, to Cipriano Torres, who served in the National Guard, and Isabel Jiménez de Torres. When he was a boy, his family moved to the city of León.

Mr. Torres studied law at the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua in León, an institution at the heart of the fledgling Sandinista movement against the Somoza dictatorship.

Mr. Torres join the Sandinista National Liberation Front in 1971 and then left the university to work underground. He went on to participate in two of the most important military operations against the Somoza family.

The first is the takeover of the home of Somoza Minister José María Castillo, Quant, in December 1974. Mr. Torres, along with several guerrilla commanders, took a group of Somoza officials hostage, using the kidnapping as leverage to secure the release of several imprisoned Sandinistas, including Mr. Ortega, and later that fled to Cuba.

The second activity is captured the Nicaraguan National Palace in 1978. Guerrilla commanders held delegates and senators hostage for two days, securing the release of about 60 political prisoners.

After the Sandinistas victory, Mr. Torres awarded honorary title guerrilla commander. He served as Deputy Minister of the Interior and Director of State Security and in 1982, was awarded the Carlos Fonseca Medal, highest honor in the Sandinista movement.

He was then transferred to the Ministry of Defense and made a Lieutenant General in the Sandinista Army. During the conflict in the 1980s with the opposition, US-backed rebel group, Mr. Torres was put in charge of the military’s political training.

“This guy is one of the frontline fighters in the war against imperialism,” said Stephen Kinzer, a former New York Times reporter and now a senior fellow in public and international affairs at Brown University. invading country. “The ridiculous part is that now he is being accused of being an instrument of that aggression. So turn the world around”.

Mr. Torres also a member of The Sandinista Council, a kind of central committee of the party, until Ortega was defeated in the 1990 presidential election by Violeta Barrios de Chamorro. He retired from the military in 1998 and later became a critic of Mr. Ortega’s increasingly autocratic tendencies.

In 2007 he joined the Sandinista Innovation Movement (MRS), an opposition political group, and in 2011 he was elected to the Central American Congress as deputy minister. In 2017, he became vice president of MRS, now known as Unamos.

During the government’s brutal crackdown on protesters in 2018, when more than 300 people were killed, Mr. Torres was a vocal critic of the Ortega government. He went on to denounce the regime afterwards.

Mr Carrión, a former guerrilla captain, said: “He was a very strong man with a clear voice. “Calling for democracy, freedom.”

Mr. Torres was arrested in June 2021 and charge later with “conspiracy to undermine national integrity.” He was one of more than 40 critics, journalists, politicians and activists jailed by the Ortega regime during the November elections.

His death in custody was widely condemned, including by the Organization of American States, the said in a statement this week that it “considers the fact that the detention of political prisoners, terminally ill and without the necessary medical assistance, is an abominable act that violates their fundamental rights.”

Mr. Torres’s survivors include his three eldest children, Hugo Marcel, María Alejandra and Lucía Aracelly.

Despite the worsening crackdown, Mr. Torres does not appear to have given up hope. In his final moments of freedom last year, with police surrounding his home and drones hovering overhead, he continued to call for freedom.

“We have to keep our spirits high, because history is on our side,” he said in a video message. “The end of dictatorship is near.” Hugo Torres, Former political prisoner of the rebels, dies aged 73

Fry Electronics Team

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