Former Sandinistas stripped of their Nicaraguan citizenship by Ortega government among those seeking refuge in Canada

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: “Manuel de Jesús Sobalvarro Bravo was an elite soldier in the Nicaraguan military and fought U.S.-backed forces known as the ‘Contras’ during the 1980s.”

CBC journalist Jorge Barrera reports that Manuel de Jesús Sobalvarro Bravo, 60, a Sandinista soldier in the 1980s, is seeking refuge in Canada after being exiled to the United States last month by the Ortega government.

The 222 people exiled from Nicaragua received permits to remain in the United States for two years for humanitarian reasons.

The article notes:

Manuel de Jesús Sobalvarro Bravo says Nicaraguan National Police took him during the early morning darkness into the courtyard of the Managua jailhouse known as El Chipote, placed a hood over his head and pressed the barrel of a pistol against his temple.

He then heard the hammer strike the empty chamber. This went on for five days after his arrest in November 2019 on what he says were trumped up charges of attempted sabotage.

Sometimes he heard an AK-47 being cocked, a sound he knew well from his years serving in elite Nicaraguan units battling U.S.-backed counter-revolutionaries known as “Contras” throughout the 1980s.

He was then charged, convicted and sentenced to six years in prison in December 2019 for planning to blow up a bridge. Sobalvarro says the government of President Daniel Ortega fabricated the evidence against him and sent him to La Modelo, regarded by many to be one of the worst prisons in Latin America.

The article further notes that Federico Aguado Matuz, 61, is another former member of the Nicaraguan military who had joined the Sandinista-led revolution that toppled dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979 and who is now seeking refuge in Canada.

Photo: “Federico Aguado Matuz, second from left, said he joined the Nicaraguan military to fight for his country. The former revolutionary fled to Canada in September 2018.”

CBC reports:

Aguato Matuz fled to Canada with his family in September 2018, leaving behind a hotel and rental properties and a vegetable farm, crossing through Roxham Road after he said one of his close comrades in the anti-government movement faced arrest on terrorism grounds. He witnessed government forces shoot demonstrators during a May 30, Mother’s Day march in 2018. Those images are still seared in his memory, often drawing him back to the moment he held a young man, just 15 or 16 years old, who was bleeding from a gunshot wound to the head.

To read the full article, that includes the stories of Jose Alejandro Quintanilla Hernandez, 32, (another former Sandinista and one of the 222 exiles), José Antonio Peraza, 56, (an academic and newspaper columnist also exiled last month), and Dr. Jairo Gutiérrez, 42, (who also crossed at Roxham Road) who are also seeking residency in Canada, please see Exiled and stripped of citizenship, Nicaraguans look to Canada for chance to begin new lives.


The first work PBI did was in Nicaragua. In September 1983, 10 PBI volunteers maintained a short presence in Jalapa, close to the Honduran border, interposing themselves between US-backed contras and the Sandinista forces in order to deter hostilities. This initial PBI work was taken over and continued by Witness for Peace.

Following the political crisis in Nicaragua in 2018, PBI began an accompaniment project for Nicaraguan organizations and social groups exiled in Costa Rica. The project provides capacity development for exiled human rights defenders, from psychosocial support to organizational strengthening and security and protection strategies, focusing on improving their conditions for an eventual return to Nicaragua.

Photo by PBI-Nicaragua.

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