Hugo Torres, a former guerrilla chief who helped spring Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega out of jail, solely to be imprisoned by Mr. Ortega himself final 12 months, died on Friday at a hospital in Managua. He was 73.
Mr. Torres’s demise was introduced in a press release by his three kids. The trigger was not specified.
According to Luis Carrión Cruz, a politician, former Sandinista guerrilla and longtime buddy, Mr. Torres started feeling sick in early December after months of residing underneath poor situations in jail with out medical therapy.
“They didn’t take him to hospital until the moment he collapsed completely unconscious,” stated Mr. Carrión, who resides in exile in Costa Rica. “We never knew and we still don’t know which hospital he was in, what health problem he had.”
“The government,” he added, “is taking no responsibility.”
In a press release, the Nicaraguan prosecutor’s workplace stated that Mr. Torres had been taken to a hospital as quickly as his well being started to deteriorate, and that it had “asked judicial authorities to definitively suspend the start of his oral public trial for humanitarian reasons.”
A former guerrilla commander who fought in opposition to the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza Debayle, Mr. Torres was jailed final 12 months as a part of a nationwide repression marketing campaign waged in opposition to opposition politicians, activists and journalists within the lead-up to nationwide elections.
With all credible challengers jailed or compelled into exile, Mr. Ortega gained an election well known as a sham. Now in his fourth consecutive time period, Mr. Ortega has continued his crackdown marketing campaign; the authorities have put a number of personal universities underneath state management in current weeks.
“These are the desperate throes of a regime that feels it is dying,” Mr. Torres stated in a video posted final June, shortly earlier than his arrest. “I never thought that at this stage of my life I would be fighting pacifically and civically against a new dictatorship.”
Jorge Hugo Torres Jiménez was born on April 25, 1948, within the northwestern division of Madriz, to Cipriano Torres, who served within the National Guard, and Isabel Jiménez de Torres. When he was a younger boy, his household moved to the town of León.
Mr. Torres studied regulation at the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua in León, an establishment that was at the guts of the nascent Sandinista motion opposing the Somoza dictatorship.
Mr. Torres joined the Sandinista National Liberation Front in 1971 and later left the college to go underground. He went on to take part in two of an important army operations in opposition to the Somoza household.
The first was the takeover of the Somoza minister José María Castillo’s home, Quant, in December 1974. Mr. Torres, together with a number of guerrilla commanders, held a bunch of Somoza officers hostage, utilizing the kidnapping as leverage to safe the discharge of various imprisoned Sandinistas, together with Mr. Ortega, after which flee to Cuba.
The second operation was the seizure of Nicaragua’s National Palace in 1978. The guerrilla commanders held deputies and senators hostage for 2 days, securing the discharge of some 60 political prisoners.
After the triumph of the Sandinistas, Mr. Torres was given the honorary title guerrilla commander. He served as deputy minister of the inside and chief of state safety and in 1982, was awarded the Carlos Fonseca Order, the very best honor within the Sandinista motion.
He was later moved to the protection ministry and named brigadier basic within the Sandinista Army. During the battle within the Nineteen Eighties with the contras, the insurgent group backed by the United States, Mr. Torres was put in control of the military’s political coaching.
“This guy was one of the frontline fighters in a war against imperialist aggression,” stated Stephen Kinzer, a former New York Times correspondent who’s now a senior fellow in worldwide and public affairs at Brown University. “The ludicrous part is that he’s now being accused of being a tool of that aggression. So turns the world.”
Mr. Torres was additionally a member of the Sandinista Assembly, a type of central committee for the celebration, till Mr. Ortega was defeated within the 1990 presidential election by Violeta Barrios de Chamorro. He retired from the military in 1998 and later turned important of Mr. Ortega’s more and more autocratic tendencies.
In 2007, he joined the Sandinista Renovation Movement (M.R.S.), an opposition political group, and in 2011 he was elected to the Central American Parliament as a deputy. In 2017, he turned vice chairman of the M.R.S., now referred to as Unamos.
During the brutal authorities crackdown on protesters in 2018, when greater than 300 folks had been killed, Mr. Torres was a vocal critic of the Ortega authorities. He continued denouncing the regime after that.
“He was a very strong, clear voice,” stated Mr. Carrión, the previous guerrilla chief. “Calling for democracy, for freedom.”
Mr. Torres was arrested in June 2021 and later charged with “conspiracy to undermine national integrity.” He was one in every of greater than 40 critics, journalists, politicians and activists jailed by the Ortega regime within the lead-up to November’s elections.
His demise in custody has been extensively condemned, together with by the Organization of American States, which stated in a press release this week that it “considers the fact of keeping political prisoners, with terminal illnesses and without necessary medical assistance, an abominable act, violating their fundamental rights.”
Mr. Torres’s survivors embody his three grownup kids, Hugo Marcel, María Alejandra and Lucía Aracelly.