THE RIGHT TO LIFE/
A. General Consideration
1. Whereas 1974 Nicaraguan Constitution made provision for the death penalty under certain circumstances, / the 1977 Penal Code, although apparently retaining death as the maximum punishment, / in reality eliminated it, by establishing imprisonment as the punishment for such crimes as patricide, genocide and high treason; / thereby effectively establishing imprisonment, as the maximum penalty.
2. The new government, which repealed the Constitution, but retained the Penal Code, decided no to reinstate the death penalty against the accused Somocistas. At a press conference held on July 28, 1979, in the city of Managua, Commander Tomás Borge explained this decision as follows:
They (the former National Guardsmen) will be judged under the present criminal laws of Nicaragua, which do not make provision for the death penalty. It does not matter what new penal laws are decreed, laws which will be established to punish crimes against the revolution and common crimes; these laws will not provide for the death penalty either. The death penalty has been buried forever in Nicaragua. It is important that the entire world be aware of this decision taken by the FSLN. Those who attempt to take justice into their own hands will be violating the law. No one can take justice into his own hands. Justice will be the responsibility of the government of National Reconstruction, through the judicial apparatus-because there will not even be military tribunals--, to judge the war criminals who have been the cause of so much injury, so much bloodshed and so much pain to this country.
3. The death penalty was officially abolished in Article 5 of the Statute of the Rights and Guarantees of Nicaraguans, which provides:
The right to life is inviolable and inherent to the human person. The death penalty does not exist in Nicaragua.
4. The Commission is of the view that the new regime did not have, and does not now have, a policy of violating the right to life of political enemies, including among the latter the former guardsmen of the Government of General Somoza, whom a large sector of the population of Nicaragua held responsible for serious human rights violations during the former regime; proof of the foregoing is the abolition of the death penalty and the high number of former guardsmen who were prisoners and brought to trial for crimes that constituted violations of human rights.
It is important to point out that almost all of the cases concerning violations of the right to life concern events which took place during the month of July 1979, within days of the change of Government, when there was still fighting in certain parts of the country and when there were still armed groups apparently acting under the command of the Sandinista National Liberation Front who in fact did not acknowledge any central authority. /
5. The violations of the right to life basically occurred in the form of illegal executions. Of these, the Commission feels that the most serious are those that took place at “La Pólvora” prison in Granada; hence, the following section will be devoted to describing those executions.
B. The case if the prisoners at the “La Pólvora” prison, Granada
1. Before and during its visit to Nicaragua, the Commission received denunciations on the alleged illegal execution of individuals who had been detained at the prison known as “La Pólvora,” a garrison in the city of Granada, Nicaragua, during the final days of July 1979. The information received alleged that an indeterminate number of prisoners were taken from the jail, executed and buried in common ditches. These sites were inspected by relatives of the prisoners, representatives of the Permanent Commission on Human Rights and judicial authorities of the city of Granada.
2. As an example, some of the communications received by the Commission are as follows:
Case 4566: Dr. César Rivas Guillén /
The Commission received the following denunciation concerning the disappearance of the gynecologist Dr. César Rivas, of Granada. This was the first of a number of communications that concerned the events at “La Pólvora,” and was received in October 1979.
That on July 22, 1979, CESAR RIVAS GUILLEN, a married adult, and a physician, domiciled in Granada, was apprehended in that city by a group of militiamen in service at the “La Pólvora” Command Post in Granada.
The argument against him was that be belonged to the organization known as “Mano Blanca.” He remained approximately seven days in the Granada jails, where he was visited and sent food. However, on the 29th of July, we realized that he was going to remain there, because he sent us a paper. Since that day we know nothing further of this whereabouts, although a “Compa” said that he had been taken to Managua in the middle of the night. W4e had reports to the effect that early that morning there was a number of executions of guardsmen in those jails. Subsequent to these events, those in charge of the Granada Command post were changed and they are now prisoners and are under investigation.
However, because of these events I ear for his physical safety, as I do not know where he is. Because of this uncertainty, I have brought this case to the attention of Commanders Hugo Torres and Walter Ferreti. They have full knowledge of the case but have not yet replied, even though they learned of the matter a month ago. I have also brought this case to the attention of the Ambassador of Spain, since Dr. Rivas’s wife is Spanish.
I must add that I have good reason to believe that his arrest was the result of malicious information by unscrupulous individuals who, out of personal rancor and envy, have always tried to injure him. This is evident inasmuch as those who were his colleagues before his arrest have now taken over his medical equipment, and personally urged him (when he was in La Pólvora) to admit to being a member of the “Mano Blanca”, which was false, since he was not found guilty of anything, but no one will tell me where he is.
Because of the gravity of the facts set forth, and because of the statements made by the Commanders of the Revolution to the effect that they will report truthfully as to the whereabouts of the prisoners who have disappeared, I request that you take whatever measures, you deem appropriate, to determine whether or not he is alive, since at the present time, his mother, who is an old woman, is suffering from cancer, and her condition has deteriorated as a result of this situation.
Almost simultaneously with the original denunciation, the Commission received a number of telegrams indicating that the life of Dr. Rivas was in danger and requesting the Commission’s urgent intervention; upon receiving these denunciations, the Commission immediately requested information form the Government.
On November 30, 1979, the Commission was informed by the government of Nicaragua that the appropriate authorities had been instructed to provide information on the case, which would be transmitted to the Commission as soon as possible.
On May 5, 1980, the Commission received the following reply form the Government of Nicaragua with respect to the whereabouts of Dr. Rivas:
As to Dr. César Rivas Guillén, unconfirmed reports indicate that he died in the last days of the war to liberate our country, or in the days subsequent to the triumph of the Sandinista Revolution; it has not been possible to establish the circumstances of his death.
3. The second complaint the Commission received in connection with the events at La Pólvora concerned the case of Dr. Francisco Mayorga Ramírez, an attorney.
In a communication dated October 17, 1979, the following facts were presented to the Commission.
Case 7057: Dr. Francisco Mayorga Ramírez
Francisco Mayorga Ramírez, 42 years of age, an attorney domiciled in Granada, was notified on Sunday, July 22, 1979, that he was to appear at the Military Police Headquarters of Granada; at 1:00 p.m., he presented himself at the Military Police Station of Granada where he was arrested. Later, he was taken to the Command Post known as “La Pólvora” where he was held until July 26; he was then released with the respective safe-conduct.
When Francisco returned to his home after having been detained, he reported that the charges leveled against him w3re that he had been a civil and criminal judge approximately ten years ago.
On July 28, 1979, Francisco was at a home in the vicinity of the Criminal Court of the District of Granada, approximately thirty years from the lake, on Real street in Granada, At a meeting of lawyers which was planning a visit to the General staff of Granada and to the local Government Junta, to ask them to determine the field of action in which attorneys could now exercise their profession.
During that meeting, two members of the Sandinista people’s Army appeared. They arrested Francisco again, without respecting the safe-conduct, which he carried with him. They took him to La Pólvora prison again.
The next day, Sunday July 29, when a member of the family appeared at La Pólvora command Post to bring Francisco his breakfast, the person who passed on the food that day informed the relative that Francisco had been taken to Managua.
Sensing something fatal, I met some friends who told me not to worry, that they would go to La Pólvora to inquire as to Francisco’s whereabouts. At the Command Post, they were seen by the Military officer in charge, Comrade Marvin González Ruiz, known as “Wilmer,” who told then that Francisco 2had been taken to the International Red cross and that if they wanted to see him they should hurry, since he would be taken to Guatemala that same Sunday.”
With that news, I went immediately to Managua where I realize that I had been the victim of a joke, since the International red Cross was closed and a member of that institution told me that no prisoner had been brought there for that purpose.
That same day, July 29, at about 5:00 p.m., certain individuals unknown to me, farm workers by appearance, came to the house and said that they knew Francisco and had seen his corpse in grazing land on the Santa Ana Hacienda, on the Los Malacaos road. These individuals also said that there were approximately fifty (50) more bodies, whose hands were tied behind them.
Various individuals and institutions have been approached in an effort to exhume the corpse of Francisco and give him a Christian burial, but thus far this has been impossible.
These are the reasons why the death of Dr. Francisco Mayorga Ramírez is being denounced. As yet no one knows why his life was taken, since no authority has assumed responsibility for this death. While it was true that he was a member of the Liberal Party, a family tradition, he never hurt anyone; to the contrary, all those who knew him held him in high esteem. Moreover, the death penalty is not known to exist in Nicaragua.
The exhumation of the corpse of Francisco is requested so that in keeping with our religious principles he may be given a Christian burial.
On April 24, 1980, the pertinent parts of this communication were transmitted to the Government of Nicaragua, which was asked to provide information on the case.
Later, the Commission received the following information from the Permanent Commission on Human Rights: /
On Tuesday October 3, 1979, at the request of Doña Marlene Taleno de Mayorga, we conducted the first inspection of the site known as La Montañita de Santa Ana. This is a mountainous terrain some three blocks in area, located on the Los Malacaos road, some four kilometers northeast of the city of Granada.
Thirty meters beyond the barbed-wire fence, we observed tracks of heavy vehicle. These were tracks left by a steam shovel that was there to dig a ditch of regular proportions.
A little further on, we found a depression some 6 meters in length and 3 meters in width. At ground level were a skull, bones and shoes. The ground was loose over the entire surrounding area.
At Doña Marlene’s instance, which stated that the corpse of her husband, Dr. Francisco Mayorga Ramírez, had been seen at the top of a pile of bodies, we removed a small amount of earth.
Only 2 or 3 cm. had to be dug: worms and decomposing human remains appeared. Doña Marlene recognized the pants of her husband and began to sob inconsolably.
We then recovered the human remains and returned to the city of Granada, where we spoke with relatives of other victims who had gone to the site of the massacre, alerted by farmers from the area, and who had even seen where part of the pile of bodies had been consumed by flames, s they had been drenched in diesel fuel. Witnesses confirmed that some of the bodies had their hands tied behind their backs.
Mrs. Mayorga tried to obtain the exhumation of her husband’s body to give him a Christian burial. In an effort to obtain a legal disposition of the case, she brought the matter to the attention of Judge Agustín Cruz:
On October 9, Doña Marlene Taleno de Mayorga appeared before Dr. Agustín Cruz Pérez, Judge of the Criminal District of Granada, to present a brief denouncing the death of her husband, Dr. Francisco Mayorga Ramírez, and to request the exhumation of his body.
On Saturday, October 13, Judge Cruz Pérez, in the company of his Secretary, conducted the eyewitness inspection requested, and drew up the corresponding report. In addition to noting what the people form the CIDH had seen on their first inspection, the judge inspected he entire site and succeeded in identifying at least two other places where there human scattered at ground level, along with shoes and pieces of clothing. He also found a number of deep holes that seemed to indicate that the relatives of the victims had been coming to exhume the bodies of their loved ones under the protection of darkness.
In a new brief presented to the same Judge of the Criminal District of Granada, Dr. Agustín Cruz Pérez, Mrs. Marlene Mayorga persisted in her request to exhume the remains of her husband, and also claimed that some of the individuals apparently responsible for the acts denounced, were attempting to flee the country to escape justice.
The Court handed down the following ruling with respect to the request of Mrs. Mayorga:
Court of the Criminal District.
Granada, the second day of November of nineteen hundred seventy-nine.
At 10:05 in the morning.
THE EXHUMANTION REQUESTED BY MRS. MARLENE TALENO DE MAYORGA IS DENIED IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT THE REQUIREMENTS ESTABLISHED IN ARTICLE 68 IN. HAVE NOT BEEN SATISFIED – LEF NOTIFICATION BE MADE.
4. In a communication dated October 17, 1979, a 29-year-old chauffeur with the rank of sergeant in the defunct National Guard denounced the execution of Roger Alfonso González Ibarra. The claimant narrated the events as follows:
Case 7056: Roger Alfonso González Ibarra
Roger Alfonso González Ibarra, an adult, and a former member of the military, was seized in Malacatoya, jurisdiction of Granada, on July 19, 1979, and was held four days more in the women’s prison in that city.
On July 23, he was taken to La Pólvora, the officer-in-charge being Commander “Wilmer,” whose name is Marvin González. He allowed be to speak with Roger on July 26, at 6:00 p.m. roger said that if he was not there the next day, not to continue to look for him.
I was astonished to learn that he had been taken from the La Pólvora jail at midnight, July 27, along with 50 other individuals, all of whom were executed without any order whatever, without any prior investigation, and without respect for human life. A copy of the death certificate is attached and you may be assured that the General Staff of the city of Granada is aware of these facts.
It is requested that an order for exhumation be granted, so as to give him a Christian burial; his body is near the Los Malacos road, outside Granada and I can show them the exact spot where the body is to be found.
Subsequently, the claimant submitted the following additional information:
…on July 26, I managed to speak with him in the prison, where I went after having read a message he had sent to me that morning. It was as follows: “That he urged me to speak with the Judge of the Criminal District of Granada, Agustín Cruz Pérez, because the previous night they had bound and taken away twenty individuals; they had told him that they were going to send him to Panamá, and in parentheses he added, …or is it a trick to kill me?” He urged me to speak with that official and to plead for his life. When I went there that afternoon together with the Criminal Judge for that district, they let only me and […] enter. We spoke with him and he told us that if he was not there the next day, not to go on looking for him. The next day, I went to the prison to bring him his breakfast and his clothes. The clothing was returned to me and the guerrillas, Commander “Wilmer” among them, said that they had taken him to Managua, but did not mention where in Managua he had been taken.
…I turn, therefore, to this Commission in an effort to establish his whereabouts…
Further in a report that appeared in “La Prensa,” on September 13, 1979, it came out or that Commander “Wilmer” is now being held in “La Pólvora” in Granada; however, there was no information as to the grounds for his arrest.
On April 24, 1980, the pertinent parts of this communication were submitted to the Government of Nicaragua for comments.
In a document received later by the Commission, the Granada Civil Records showed the cause of death to be as follows:
…at three in the morning on July 29, 1979, ROGER ALFONSO GONZALEZ IBARRA, a married adult, and a resident of Granada, died from a bullet wound, without medical attention, at the age of 29…
The Government of Nicaragua has not responded to the request from the IACHR on this case.
5. A communication of October 17, 1979, denounced the execution of Exequiel Zavala Jiménez, as follows:
Case 7064: Exequiel Zavala Jiménez
On July 22, 1979, Exequiel Zavala Jiménez, of Granada, a married businessman, was apprehended for the third time, by a group of militiamen accompanied by Comrade “Marcelo”. Exequiel Zavala Jiménez was taken away to “La Pólvora.” When I demanded that these individuals show me some identification, they told me that they were Sandinista Military Police, whose commanding officer was Commander “Marcos”.
I must point out that he had been taken on two previous occasions, allegedly because he was a friend of the guardsman known as “Gato Colindres;” and that he had been released after having been found innocent of the charges presented against him.
But when last seized, he remained five days in La Pólvora prison, where he was questioned by Commander “Wilmer.” On Thursday, July 26, he told us that he was about to be released but that he had not yet been released because there was no one to prepare the memorandum.
The next day I went to see the Commander and was told that Exequiel was no longer there, that he had been taken to the Bunker in Managua. Since that date, he has been the object of an unrelenting search of all the jails. A complaint was filed with the Office of Complaints of the Ministry of the Interior to obtain their assistance in locating Exequiel.
However, on Thursday, October 11, 1979, Comrade Gloria Bolaños, the official in charge of the Complaints Department of the Ministry of the Interior, told me that she had heard that they had executed Exequiel. She said that because they had executed a number of prisoners, the Granada Commanders had been arrested and had been dismissed from the army. She also said that among all those executed, there were at most two or three who were innocent victims. She said she could not lie to member of the family because she did not want to see us wear ourselves out. She told me that a number of arbitrary acts had been committed in Granada at that time and that she could do nothing.
It is because of the foregoing that I turn to you to denounce formally the disappearance and presumed execution of Exequiel Zavala Jiménez so that you may make the case public and investigate those responsible for the presumed murder.
On April 24, 1980, the pertinent parts of this denunciation were sent to the Government of Nicaragua for its observations.
On May 28, 1980, the Commission received a reply from the Government of Nicaragua acknowledging receipt of this case as well as Case 7056, mentioned earlier. The Government told the Commission that the jurisdictional authorities for the case had been asked to provide the information. To date, no information has been received.
6. Before conducting its on-site observation in Nicaragua, the Commission also received the following cases concerning the executions at La Pólvora. These cases too have been presented to the Government of Nicaragua, and again, no reply has been received.
Case 7063: Gabino Velásquez Meza
On July 23, 1979, Gabino Velásquez Meza, a single adult and former private in the defunct National Guard, turned himself in to La Pólvora Command Post in the city of Granada, since he had been told that “Los Muchachos” (the FSLN) were searching for him; it was his understanding that his physical safety would be guaranteed by turning himself in to the new authorities and thus he decided to appear, accompanied by his wife and small children.
In the days that followed we were able to send him food. He sent us papers, which proved to us that he was there. However, by the third day of his stay in La Pólvora, a militiaman stationed at the command Post told us that he had been taken to the Modelo Prison, information that a commander by the name of Lang. Who was one of those in charge of that prison facility, confirmed for us.
Since that date, we have conducted an intense and relentless search for Gabino, not only at the Modelo prison but also in other penitentiaries; thus far we have found nothing.
It is because of the above that I run to you for aid in taking steps to establish his whereabouts and to determine whether or not he is alive, since there are rumors that executions were carried out at that Command Post.
Case 7237: Jorge Villalobos Toruño
Jorge Villalobos Toruño, 45 years of age, married and a chauffeur, was apprehended on July 26, 1979, in the city of Granada, and taken to the La Pólvora jail, form whence he disappeared on July 29. Commander “Wilmer,” according to relatives of the prisoner, told them that there had apparently been an order for his execution. However, later other individuals stated that hey had seen him in the Modelo Prison and that he was being held incommunicado.
Case 7315: Gustavo Adolfo Marín Guzmán
On July 24, 1979, Private Gustavo Adolfo Marín Guzmán, and adult domiciled in Granada, turned himself in to the authorities of the FSLN. He was confined in the cells of La Pólvora. The officer in charge was Commander Marvin González Ruis, known by the pseudonym “Wilmer,” who later gave the order for execution. Neighbors in the vicinity of the Santa Ana hacienda, on the Los Malacos road, Department of Granada, said that they saw the body of this individual together with the remains of Dr. Francisco Mayorga.
Case 7318: Luis Martínez Mercado
On July 25, 1979, Mr. Luis Martínez Mercado, an adult domiciled in Granada, and former National Guard aid, was confined in the cells of La Pólvora. He was then taken away, destination unknown, on orders form Commander Marvin González Ruis, known by the pseudonym “Wilmer.” The reports are that there were massive executions that day. Nothing of his whereabouts in known and he is presumed to be Dead.
Case 7308: Cristóbal Vargas Rocha
Cristóbal Vargas Rocha, 24 years of age, single, a custodian and resident of Granada, was appended on Sunday, July 24, 1979. The reason for this capture is not known. Through a militiaman stationed at La Pólvora (a Granada Prison) it was learned that on July 26, 1979, at 11:00 p.m., some 50 prisoners were taken away and brought to an area near the shore of Lake Granada, where they dug their own graves.
The officer in charge of the command post was the so-called “Wilmer,” whose name is Marvin González Ruis. He is the direct author of these mass executions.
With respect to the case of Cristóbal Vargas Rocha, the Commission received the following information:
However, in my desperation I have investigated and asked questions; one day, a militiaman who was stationed at La Pólvora and whose name I cannot reveal because it would place him in danger, told me not to continue my search for Cristóbal, that all was in vain; he said that on Thursday July 26, at around 11:00 at night, they took a truckload of prisoners form La Pólvora, approximately 50 in number; they took them to El Diamante, a rice field close to the shore of Lake Granada. There they set them about digging giant di5ches, which took them about two hours. Then, at 1:00 in the morning, they shot them and buried them at that place, which is also known as Asese. This young man told me that he could identify Cristóbal among those who were executed.
7. On March 17, 1980, the relatives went to the place specified, which is on the way to the “El Diamante” rice plantation, in the Asese zone, approximately 500 meters beyond the San Roberto Hacienda. Aided by local farmers, who provided shovels and even by certain members of the Sandinista Army who had been informed of the purpose of the visit, the relatives discovered various human remains: two skulls, a number of ribs, pelvic bones that still had pieces of cloth stuck to them, such as a pair of red pants and a red and blue striped shirts.
8. The next day, March 18, the relatives, on the advice of an attorney, submitted a denunciation of what they had discovered to the Criminal Judge of the District of Granada, Dr. Agustín Cruz Pérez, and requested an investigation of another site where other bodies were alleged to be.
The relatives also sent a letter to the Attorney General, Dr. Ernesto Castillo Martínez, requesting a careful investigation into the events and the individuals responsible. A copy of this letter was submitted to the Commission during its on-site observation. It reads as follows:
We are relatives of the prisoners who disappeared from the La Pólvora prison in Granada in the last days of July 1979. The individual in charge of the Command Post at that time was Mr. Marvin González, whose pseudonym, is “Wilmer.” Through a number of inquiries with various state agencies, we have learned of executions of prisoners being held at La Pólvora, executions that took place at the time in question. According to a number of witnesses, those executions were carried out at three or four different sites outside of Granada. The military at La Pólvora referred to those sites as Panamá, México, Guatemala and Red Cross, as they had told the prisoners that they were going to be transferred to those countries or to the Red Cross in Managua. Two of those fatal sites have already been located. One is at the place known as “La Montañita,” on the Santa Ana Hacienda, on the Los Malacos road northeast of the city of Granada; the other is at the site known as “La Arocera” on the road to “El Diamante” Hacienda, in the vicinity of the Port of Asese south of Granada. However, despite our many efforts and efforts made at our request by attorneys and officials of the Permanent Commission on Human Rights of Nicaragua (CPDH), the facts have not been thoroughly investigated and the few official reports are partial and contradictory. This has caused us, our children and relatives, anxiety and constant pain. We are trapped in uncertainty, and face the possibility that our relatives are still alive in some prison, without any physical, moral and legal assistance. Our personal lives and the lives of our families are seriously affected; we go back and forth, between hope and pain constantly. A considerable number of us have suffered serious breakdowns or have eve died as a result of such prolonged suffering. In view of the fact that the number of prisoners who disappeared from La Pólvora prison is high, and may be as many as several hundred, and taking into consideration the unclear circumstances surrounding the case, we hereby submit a formal denunciation of these events to you, inasmuch s the law has delegated to the Ministry in your charge the responsibility for locating the prisoners who disappeared, and establishing any guilt there may be. Thus, we demand a thorough and complete investigation into the military authorities who were part of the General Staff of the city of Granada at that time, those persons responsible for the custody of the prisoners, who drove the vehicle which took the prisoners to the aforementioned places and other individuals who participated and who can testify to the events that took palace. We ask that you inform us when the specific inquiries will be made, so that we ourselves can cooperate with you by contributing documents or new information on these cases. We expressly request that this denunciation as well as the measures which you or your delegates conduct be well publicized so that other families in similar circumstances who, out of ignorance of fear, have not dared to present their cases, may present them to you as soon as possible. It is our belief that in the new Nicaragua, effective respect of human rights must be guaranteed, especially the right to life and to personal freedom, without discrimination, as provided by law and set forth in the international conventions signed by Nicaragua and solemnly ratified by the Junta of the government of national Reconstruction. In the hope that justice will be done and in the name of the blood of our countrymen that has already been shed, we demand that a diligent investigation be conducted and that those found to be responsible for criminal acts be punished with exemplary rigor since once the crimes committed against the prisoners at La Pólvora have been established, they will assuredly constitute a clear case of genocide, described in our Penal Code as a crime against the international order. We have requested the assistance and guidance of the Permanent Commission of Human Rights of Nicaragua (CPDH) which, as a humanitarian and impartial body, has taken up our cases out of fraternal interest and has studied them objectively and calmly. It is precisely as a result of a suggestion made by this humanitarian organization that we turn to you today in one more effort to clarify the facts, to establish the whereabouts of our relatives who are still alive and to achieve the for immediate release of those found to be free of any responsibility for the crimes for which they were arrested. We are confident that our request will be heard and processed, with the urgency that the gravity of the situation requires that you will put into operation all the mechanisms at your reach. And that you will use the staff and resources that the law assigns for the proper exercise of justice. We place our faith in god and our trust in the authorities of our Government of National Reconstruction. Any information should be forwarded to the Office of the Permanent Commission of Human Rights of Nicaragua (CPDH), Montoya District, 2 blocks to the lake; in this capital city.
10. Relatives of the 24 prisoners who were taken to La Pólvora and who are presumed to have been executed signed the letter. The names of these individuals are as follows:
Máximiliano Jaime López, 47 years old
Vicente Cuadra Chamorro, 31 years old
Alberto Varillas Chamorro, 45 years old
Luis Rey López Cajina, 24 years old
Hernaldo López Cajina, 20 years old
Amado López Cajina, 22 years old
David Salvador Argüello Pasos, 40 years old
Bismark Rodríguez Salazar, 41 years old
Julio César Urbina Vargas, 48 years old
Gustavo Adolfo Marín Guzmán, 23 years old
Julio Morales Carache, 41 years old
Iván Alfonso Molina Mercado, 21 years old
Luis Martínez Mercado, 42 years old
Diego Carrillo Cruz, 45 years old
Armando Mercado Muñoz, 20 years old
Armando Mercado Mora, 54 years old
Antonio Pérez Sequeira, 36 years old
José Mercedes Alonso Pasos, 36 years old
Juan Alfredo Rojas Silva, 22 years old
Jorge Villalobos Toruño, 42 years old
Exequiel Zavala Jiménez, 49 years old
Roberto José Marenco Ramírez, 18years old
Modesto Orlando Mayorga Ricera, 47 years old
Ignacio Muñoz Espinoza, 25 years old
11. During its visit to Nicaragua, the Commission received denunciations that the following prisoners disappeared from La Pólvora prison in July 1979, and are presumed to have been executed:
José Antonio Arroliga Ríos, 16 years old
Víctor Manuel Murillo Hurtado, 24 years old
José Octavio Vásquez Miranda, 37 years old
José Vicente López Morales, 22 years old
Juan Francisco Mayorga Rivas, 45 years old
William José Vargas Alaniz, 24 years old
12. Later, the Government of Nicaragua informed the Commission that the Supreme Court, by means of an official letter dated May 18, 1981, ordered the Examining Judge to continue the proceedings and to report the findings to the Supreme Court. To date, the Commission has received no further information.
C. Other Denunciations Concerning Illegal Executions
1. The IACHR has received complaints of executions throughout Nicaragua. The reported executions occurred primarily during the month of July 1979, although there are some cases of later executions. By way of example, the following complaints are cited:
Case 7735: Juan José Vallejos Jarquin
This person was 22 years of age, single, and a salesman living in León. He was picked up in Leon’s Coyolar neighborhood on July 20, 1979. He was then taken to the Providence Command Post in that city and later sent to Pochote, where the individual in charge was a militiaman known by the pseudonym “Eliseo.” They said that he was on El Cardón Island in Corinto, but presumably he was executed on July 23, 1979, by militiaman known as “Alesio” and “Bill,” and then supposedly buried in El Pochote prison.
Case 7735: Miguel Angel Guevara Aleman
Twenty-two years of age, single, a farmer with domicile in Managua. This person was picked up on July 28, 1979 in Rama by Comrade “Andrés.” His two brothers were also picked up. He has not been found in any prison since then and is presumed dead. A man by the name of Doming, who lives near the place where they killed them, told their mother that they had been executed and that he (Domingo) had buried them; he showed her the place only in order for her to obtain an order to exhume the bodies. It seems that they were buried on the El Guarumo Bridge, on the road to Rama.
Case 7735: Mauricio Ramón Escorcia Posso
A 19 years old student in his 4th year of high school at the Military Academy of Nicaragua. Mauricio was handed over by Monsignor Barni, a representative of the Matagalpa Red Cross at that time, to the Estelí Red Cross, where the individual in charge is Dr. Orlando Moncada Z. Mauricio’s name, along with the names of other refugees, appears on the for July 19, 1979 list. The militiamen came to take him away and he was held prisoner at Nuestra Señora del Rosario School and the Calvario Church in Estelí. When I appeared, they told me that he was not there; but I was able to obtain information from a prisoner, who told me that one night they had taken Mauricio and another group away to kill them. The individuals in charge at that Command Post were Germán, Francisco Rivera, Dumas, José María, and Claudio. Claudio was the one who had come to take him away. They told me that if Mauricio did not turn up, to say an “our father,” because he was flying; they laughed sarcastically and it was impossible to get any information about him. At this point; I have spent 15 months in Agony, not knowing what they did to Mauricio.
Case 7321: Roberto José Gutiérrez Guevara
A former private in the National Guard, Roberto was apprehended on July 24 of last year, in the city of San Isidro, Department of Matagalpa. He was taken to on eof the Command Posts in that area, the person in charge was Comrade “Rito.” Later he was taken to the Command Post at the Baptist church in the city of Estelí. A prisoner at that Command post told me that Roberto had been brutally tortured and that one night they had taken him away to question him and that he had not returned to the prison. Since that time we have had no information about him.
In the process of making inquiries, I went to the Palacio de la Revolución, to the Office of Complaints, which is part of the Ministry of the Interior, to denounce Roberto’s case. At the Ministry of the Interior, a woman who works there told me that they has executed Roberto and that they had cut off his head.
Case 7317: Juan Castrillo Dávila
A worker, 22 years old, Juan Castrillo Dávila was taken to the Sébaco Command Post on July 19, 1979, since Comrade Antonio Soza had ordered his arrest. It should be added that a sister and a brother were taken prisoner for wanting to ascertain his whereabouts.
At the office of the Attorney General of the Sandinista People’s Army, comrade “Noel” reported that they had executed him, but said nothing as to what they had done with the body.
In Yalagüina – Somoto:
Case 7061: Antonio Cruz Vallecillo
Sixty years of age, a farmer living in Yalagüina. He was taken to the Palacagüina Command Post by militiaman Rafael Molina Benavidez, and turned over to the individual in charge, whose pseudonym was “Efraín.” The day after his detention, Efraín was asked about Antonio’s whereabouts and answered that they had taken him to Somoto. We immediately went to the Somoto Command Post and the individual in charge assured me that no prisoner from Palacagüina had arrived there and to bring him proof of arrest. I arrived in Palacagüina four days later; they searched through the files and told me that his name was not there. Since that time, I have searched for Antonio in all the prisons in the country, but without success.
I have strong suspicious that they killed him because a combatant who came in August to drill the militiamen in Yalagüina told his wife that “they sent Antonio Cruz to Panamá.” And when that expression is used, it means that they have already killed him.
Case 7242: Uriel Martínez González
A married adult, and former bill collector for the Office of the Mayor of Matagalpa.
This person turned himself in at the Lupe Moreno Central Command Post in Matagalpa, on August 9, 1979. He remained there for twenty days and was released when proven innocent. He was given a safe-conduct.
On October 2, two members of the Sandinista People’s Army stationed al “El Complejo” came to his home to pick him up again, although he was released on condition that he appear the following day. He showed them his order of release, which had been given to him earlier, but they said that it was invalid.
On October 4, 1979, at 8:00 a.m., he appeared at the “compound;” his wife accompanied him. He was turned over to comrade “Charol,” and was taken to the Totolate Command Post, where he remained until October 15. Then he was taken away, destination unknown. Since that time no one knows of his whereabouts.
Case 7319: Juan José Mungia Medina
Mr. Juan José Mungia Medina was picked up on July 24, 1979, in the city of Chinandega, and taken to the Command Post located in the Hotel Cosigüina, the individual in charge being Comrade Hernán and his assistance, Comrade Carolina. He remained there 5 days, and was then taken away, destination unknown.
Case 7243: Rufino Marcial Jarquín Lovo
Rufino Marcial Jarquín Lovo and adult and former private in the National Guard was picked up on August 16, in the town of San José de Monte Redondo, Department of Masatepe. He was taken to the Command Post there, and then to the Masaya Command Post. His relatives were unable to obtain information as to his whereabouts at that Command Post. In a subsequent inquiry at that Command Post, they said that Rufino Marcial Jarquín Lovo was at the Managua Modelo prison. Everything that had been said earlier was false. Since, according to statements made by Comrade Manuel, a member of the Sandinista People’s Army stationed at that Command Post, he had been executed and he and a number of other militiamen at the Masatepe Command Post had taken part in that action. His body was allegedly to be found near the Health Office in that town. The Army Attorney’s Office had information on the case, but has not made any statement of the facts to date. Efforts to have his body exhumed have been unsuccessful.
Case 7329: Manuel Montenegro Salazar
Mr. Manuel Montenegro Salazar was detained on August 18, 1979, at the Command Post at the Masaya Social Club, where the individual in charge was Comrade Alvaro González (Antollín), who said that Mr. Montenegro had been executed.
The individual indicated as a suspect is Narciso Calero (Bosuergues), since at the time of his capture, Narciso Calero told Mr. Montenegro that “he had debts and was going to pay them”
In Nueva Guinea:
Case 7323: Zacarías Montoya Ponce
On July 20, 1979 Zacarías Montoya Ponce. 27 years of age and married, who had been forced to serve as watch for the National Guard, turned himself in at Nueva Guinea, Department of Zelaya. Later they said that they had transferred him to Tipitapa, and then that he was in Modelo prison; but all of that is a lie, since up until now his relatives have learned nothing of his whereabouts. However, neighbors in the area said that they had seen him and 20 other prisoners taken out of Nueva Guinea for execution. Supposedly, the individual responsible for this act is Remigio Estrada, who was in charge of the Nueva Guinea Command Post. At the present time his relatives are being harassed in the sense that the Agrarian Reform Institute wants to confiscate their property.
2. Convincing evidence has been presented to the IACHR that a number of executions took place in various parts of Nicaragua during the period immediately following the fall of the government of General Somoza, however, for no city the information as detailed as in the case of Grenada.
3. During its visit to Nicaragua, the Commission also received evidence that summary executions had occurred during the first days of the new Government. During his meeting with the Commission, Commander Borge, Minister of the Interior, acknowledged that some executions had in fact, occurred. He stated the following:
In a historical step, the revolution decided not to execute anyone; these were the guidelines we followed even during the war. There is proof of that. I remember when I was tortured brutally, beaten, I told them: When we are in power, our vengeance will be to spare your lives. Let us suppose, Mr. Chairman, that they kill you wife, your sister and your son; it may be that the leaders have the moral stature of forgive this, but not the enormous mass of people who have suffered all the horrors of the dictatorship. The natural reaction would be to execute all of them once the revolution triumphed; however, it was an insignificant minority that was executed. When I came to the Ministry, they gave me two million cordobas, I began to turn the money over, without even asking for receipt. I don’t know where the money is now. We punished many people. We expelled a soldier whom I found to be committing abuses; we sent comrades who were committing abuses to prison. There was no control over anything in the first months of the revolution. When we founded the Ministry, there were no judges, there were no courts, there was no Supreme Court; all that we could do was to keep them form executing the people held at the Red Cross. We asked the Church for assistance to help control the enraged masses; we have asked for its assistance to improve the conditions in the prisons, where we have serious limitations, overcrowding, and lack of food. This is a country that was destroyed, reduced to rubble, one must not forget that.
4. During its meeting with the members of the Junta, the Commission again expressed its concern with respect to allegations of executions of Somocists prisoners in July 1979. Dr. Córdova Rivas replied that in the period between July 19 and the end of that month, the Government did not have full control over the law into their own hands and the government recognizes that excesses occurred, which it does not try to justify. For his part, Dr. Hassan added that many individuals took their own revenge; they felt wounded and hurt because they lost relatives in the war or had relatives murdered by the Somocists Guardsmen. The government could not accept responsibility or reply, precisely because this was a question of the people’s revenge.
5. During the Commission’s meeting with members of the Political Directorate of the FSLN, commander Arce made the following observations: one must not forget that he Nicaraguan people lived under a dictatorship for 45 years and endured 18 years of an armed struggle that cost more than 100,000 lives. Despite this very high cost, the Revolutionary Government has avoided institutionalizing the death penalty and has avoided the concept of revenge by eliminating torture. But, of course, there are problems. The FSLN spent years in the mountains, in underground, there were no police. Today there is a serious problem in dealing with delinquency. The FSLN taught people how to carry out attacks and even how to kill, they cannot be re-socialized overnight. This explains the initial excesses.
6. In the Commission’s view, while the government of Nicaragua clearly intended to respect the lives of all those defeated in the civil war. During the weeks immediately subsequent to the Revolutionary triumph, when the government was not in effective control, illegal executions took place which violated the right to life, and these acts have not been investigated and the persons responsible have not been punished.
 The American Convention on Human Rights states the following: I) Every person has the right to have his life respected. This right shall be protected by law and, in general, from the moment of conception. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life. Ii) In countries that have not abolished the death penalty, it may be imposed only for the most serious crimes and pursuant to a final judgment rendered by a competent court in accordance with the law establishing such punishment, enacted prior to the commission of the crime. The application of such punishment, prior to the commission of the crime. The application of such punishment shall not be extended to crimes to which it does not presently apply. Iii) The death penalty shall not be reestablished in States that have abolished it. Iv) In no case shall capital punishment be inflicted of political offenses or related common crimes. V) Capital punishment shall not be imposed upon persons who, at the time the crime was committed, were under 18 years of age or over 70 years of age; nor shall it be applied to pregnant women. Vi) Every person condemned to death shall have the right to apply for amnesty, pardon or commutation of sentence, which may be granted in all cases. Capital punishment shall not be imposed while such a petition is pending decision by the competent authority.
 Article 38 of the Constitution of Nicaragua of 1974 allowed the death penalty as punishment for the following crimes: high treason committed in a foreign war; serious crimes of purely military nature, and the crimes of homicide, patricide, arson or theft followed by death, under circumstances classified as serious under the law.
 Article 53 (i) of the 1977 penal Code.
 Article 126 establishes a punishment of 10 to 15 years imprisonment for the crime of patricide; Article 149 establishes a penalty of 15 to 20 years imprisonment for the crimes of genocide, while Article 529 establishes a penalty of 10 to 20 years imprisonment for treason. Article 92 establishes 30 years imprisonment as the maximum penalty permissible under the law.
 After concluding its discussion of this Report but before giving it its final approval, the Commission was informed that on the night of Saturday, June 27, and in the early morning hours of Sunday, June 28, 1981, Sandinista soldiers killed 16 prisoners in the “Heroes y Mártires de Nueva Guinea” prison near Managua, when putting down a prison riot. The Commission is now investigating these facts, in accordance with its regulations.
 The paragraph quotes in this case are the pertinent parts of the communication presented.
 CPDH: “The La Pólvora prisoners. What happened to them?”,
June 6, 1980.