The Montenegro Rye They are a peasant family of 12 siblings settled in Kilambé, Jinotega, a mountainous massif in northern Nicaragua, which for two years has been persecuted, practically hunted, by policemen and hitmen. Four of its members have been murdered in different circumstances and two more are in jail and are considered political prisoners by human rights organizations.. Other members of this family have fled into exile, and the rest live in hiding or fearful that at any moment a new fatal news will arrive.
This week the Montenegro family released videos showing policemen besieging, and trying to force entry to the house of the clan’s patriarchs: Don Bibiano Montenegro and Doña Angela Centeno. Days before, they denounced the kidnapping of the young Dorling Montenegro, who this Wednesday was presented by the police and initially accused of the death of a member of his own family.
“They throw salt in the wound “says Enoch Montenegro, the defendant’s uncle, for whom he has dressedor the “most twisted face of the dictatorship’s justice”, because he has left the murders of his family in impunity, and now attributes the death of one of them to another of its members.
“It is not only that they have not taken their lives, but also the right to a decent job, we were all removed from our jobs, persecuted, humiliated and violated. We live in anxiety, doom, that feeling that at any moment another member of the family is taken away from us is constant, ”laments Elia Montenegro. “All the time we live with worry. To mobilize we seek contact with friends, we ask if the path is safe. We have brothers in exile, those who were able to leave have left, ”he says.
Enoc and Elia are brothers of Edgard and Oliver Montenegro, uncles of Yalmar Zeledón and brothers-in-law of Francisco Blandón Herrera, all of them murdered within eight months. They are also uncles of Oliver Montenegro (son), sentenced to 10 years in prison, and Dorling Montenegro, finally accused by the Prosecutor’s Office this Thursday before the judge of the attempted murder of three policemen.
Despite this environment of persecution and siege, says Enoch, they, especially women, tend their farms, dedicated mainly to raising animals and growing coffee.
One of the Montenegro brothers, Oliver, died in these labors. He slept hidden in the mountains at night and during the day he would come to work at the farm at times. On January 23, 2019, he was riddled with bullets when he was pulling mules to get the harvested coffee. A witness, according to Enoc, assures that among the hit men who ambushed his brother, he saw men in police uniforms. This death was never investigated nor was the witness called to testify.
The older brother, Edgard, a former guerrilla fighter who fought the Sandinista government in the 1980s, got up, unearthed some rifles and recorded a video calling for the armed struggle against the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega. The Montenegro family assures that they suffered relentless persecution that forced them to take refuge with their son Yalmar in the neighboring country of Honduras, as in the old days of the counterrevolutionary struggle.
There they were, believing themselves safe, when On June 27, 2019, Edgar and Yalmar were ambushed and killed while they were traveling by motorcycle on a highway in the Honduran municipality of Trojes.
The hunt continued. Two months later, August 29, 2019, Francisco Blandón Herrera, husband of another Montenegrin sister, Thelma, was killed when he was returning to his home in Kilambé, by a shooter who fled on a motorcycle, according to witnesses.
The persecution of this family originates, according to Enoc, in the protests that began in April 2018 against the Daniel Ortega regime. The Montenegro, with a long anti-Sandinista tradition, became leaders of the protest marches and barricades that were installed in these communities in the north of Nicaragua.
“We were leading marches in Wiwilí, El Cua, Pantasma and in the departmental capital of Jinotega,” says Enoc. “We coordinated the lifting of roadblocks (barricades) at the junction of La Marañosa, El Cua, and Santa María de Pantasma. The Police criminalized us for that ”.
However, the hunt began when the Police accused them on September 15, 2018 of the death of Héctor Moreno Centeno. “A group of coup terrorists who were dedicated to committing crimes in the Wiwilí roadblock, led by the terrorist Edgar Montenegro Centeno, alias El Cabezón, murdered the worker and volunteer policeman Héctor Moreno Centeno, 30, with firearms and knives. ”, Announced at the time through a statement by the Police.
“Héctor Moreno was a recognized paramilitary that the Police armed in this context, who mysteriously disappeared at that time or was assassinated, and immediately the Police, without any investigation, in a matter of hours produced a press release where they linked us and pointed us out. being a band, the Los Cabezones band, because in the war of the 80s that was Edgard’s pseudonym. As a result of this, a whole persecution was unleashed by the Police and paramilitary groups, ”explains Enoc Montenegro.
“We point out as intellectual authors Commissioner Marvin Castro, Jinotega’s police chief, and Leónidas Centeno, political secretary (of the Sandinista Front) of Jinotega,” he adds.
Elía Montenegro says they have no confidence in going to any authority in Nicaragua. “If you are a Sandinista, you are not guilty of any crime and if you are against it, crimes are invented and you are sentenced. This is how justice is administered in this country ”.
The lawyer Yonarqui Martínez, who defended Oliver Montenegro Muñoz in the process for which he was sentenced to 10 years in prison, says that the Montenegro family has suffered the entire repertoire of repression of the Daniel Ortega regime.
“It is a clear example of all the repressions in a single family. All the mechanisms of revenge have had an impact on a family, they are victims of murder, exile, torture, illegal processes, and even discrimination in relief from natural disasters, because Thelma Montenegro lost her home in the rains of the recent hurricane and the government denied her help, “he says.
Enoch Montenegro says that it is “extremely” difficult to live like this. “They have violated us in every possible way, they have raided our properties, they have invaded our houses, they have destroyed our property, they have outraged us in general. The same state that should protect us is the one that violates us ”.
“The only way we can regain peace and tranquility is a change of the system, that this dictatorship has to go. We are going to have justice once we recover the rule of law ”, he concludes.
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