18 Aug Dora María Téllez: #DontLetDoraDie
Please join our campaign, #DontLetDoraDie, with a massive outpouring of support this Monday, August 22nd – the anniversary of the taking of the National Palace in Nicaragua in 1978 – to honor Dora María’s leadership and call for her immediate release from prison.
Dora María Téllez, 66, is slowly being starved to death in a Nicaraguan prison. She will die if not released. She has been held in solitary confinement for more than a year. Her health is deteriorating and she receives no medical care and inadequate food. Dora María is kept in total darkness and has no books, pens nor paper. She has been subject to constant interrogations and has no legal representation. She was tried behind closed doors and found guilty of “treason” and sentenced to eight years. Dora María is in prison for challenging President Ortega’s drive to reverse Nicaragua’s progress towards democracy and concentrate power in his own hands.
Dora María has worked and fought all her life for democracy and justice in Nicaragua. She was a legendary guerrilla leader in the fight against dictator Anastasio Somoza in the 1970s. At just 22 years old, she was second in command in the taking of the National Palace in 1978, a turning point in the growth of the Sandinista Front for National Liberation (FSLN). As an FSLN military commander, she liberated the city of León, the first major city to fall to the Sandinistas in 1979. Two weeks later Managua fell and the FSLN took power. During the 1980s Dora María led the democratic efforts in civil society as the Minister of Health, where she advocated for women’s rights and integrated alliances to rebuild the country.
After the FSLN lost the election in 1989, she, along with Vice-President Sergio Ramírez and many other Sandinistas broke ranks with Daniel Ortega over his corrupt and centralized leadership of the party. She was a founding member of the Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS) that challenged Ortega’s stranglehold on the FSLN, seeking a more democratic political program.
Spontaneous protests erupted in Nicaragua in 2018 and grew massively after the government of President Ortega and Vice-President Rosario Murillo cracked down, which led to more than 350 dead, hundreds imprisoned, thousands wounded and tens of thousands fleeing and seeking exile and safety outside the country. All protests were proclaimed illegal and a police state has been operating ever since.
As the election scheduled for November 2021 approached, Ortega ordered the arrest and imprisonment of all seven anticipated opposition candidates, along with students, journalists, businessmen, human rights activists, and church and political leaders. One of those arrested in June 2021 was Dora María Téllez.