Dual citizen – Costa Rican and Nicaraguan – Lucia Piñeda remains in a Nicaragua prison following her arrest last December while she worked as 100% Noticias news anchor in Managua.
She was arrested, along with the owner of the television news cable channel Miguel Mora, for “provocation, proposition, and conspiracy to commit terrorist acts and of inciting hate for the national police”.
She was to have faced trial in January. The trial was postponed and today Piñeda is being held in the La Esperanza prison in Tipitapia, north of Managua, under strict guard.
Visitors are scrutinized as to their relation with the prisoner and subjected to searches and intimidation by prison guards.
The following is the story by Lucia’s sister on her first time visit to the prison in a letter sent to Confidencial.
Today I visited my sister Lucia Pineda Ubau for the first time in the prison “La Esperanza,” in Tipitapa. I really wanted to see her, but I feared what I would feel when I saw her. I hesitated days before and I declined. I refused to visit her because I thought I could not bear it, that I would break down and make her feel bad and that Lucia will suffer even more than in these 116 days.
We arrived on time, at eight o’clock in the morning, according to the schedule established for today’s visits, from 8:00am to 11:00am.
First we were subjected to an entire protocol of admission for visits: first they elaborate a card to each visitor, consult with the Interior Ministry, verify if in reality one is a relative or not. They take you to a private inspection room where you take off your shoes off and from head to toes they scan you without a scanner.
After forty minutes or more of this protocol, we were escorted to a visiting room. I was nervous because of the secrecy and because I have not seen her for almost a year, due to her fears that we visited Nicaragua, and of seeing her again in totally adverse and arbitrary circumstances, and accused of totally groundless and preposterous things.
While my mother, my cousin Noe and I waited impatiently, I was able to observe that inside the prison existed an organization of prisoners doing activities to clean cells, pavilions and other areas of the prison. I peeked through a window and I could see other relatives visiting areas in an atmosphere of sadness, tension and uncertainty just like us.
Finally, after almost half an hour I saw my dear sister coming through a pavilion. I did not even know how to react so as not to affect more her emotional state. It was hard and impressive to see her escorted by more than six prison guards, shielded and guarded as if she were the worst criminal in the history of drug trafficking or terrorism. And to my mind came the image of when they captured Pablo Escobar in Colombia.
I did not know whether to laugh or cry, because it gave me great joy to see her and a lot of sadness at the same time. It was totally ridiculous, a whole arbitrary spectacle. I cried and hugged her so strong, very strong, and during the three hours she was guarded without any privacy.
We found Lucia without spirit, reluctant to eat, sensitive, distressed by so much loneliness, subjected to solitary confinement 24/7, where she is not allowed a book, go to the yard, get recreation, breathe fresh air, attend occupation therapy workshops, congregate for mass or worship, talk to another person, share with other women prisoners.
She expressed to us her depression, that she wants to read news, read a book, write, that she needs company, to talk to someone, to share with other prisoners, a request that was ignored by the prison. She is in a cell of limited dimensions, suffocating, without ventilation or natural air intake. She has felt despair, disorientation and sometimes daze, but she is always in prayer and that strengthens her day by day.
Lucia is pale, weak, speaking in a very low and thoughtful voice. She told us that she is graceful to all the people who, although they do not know her, pray for her. She asked us about many people who at some time were in her life and today, speaking in a biblical way, as Peter denied knowing Jesus Christ, these supposed friends also denied that they had a friendship or relationship with her.
She thanks her true friends for following her situation, for the wonderful letters she has received and for the food they have sent. She is grateful to national and international media that are following her case.
Lucia told us that besides the abuse she has suffered, she is stronger than ever. More strengthened and hopeful for a new Nicaragua. That despite the fact that her health and appearance have deteriorated markedly, she continues to pray as she has always done, with or without adversities. Praying for Nicaraguans, praying even for the current government to reflect on their actions that day by day are taking Nicaragua down the path of misery and despair.
I am proud of my sister. She is a woman with an unwavering faith, leaving me her determination, her strength, many teachings on patience, struggle, perseverance, dignity. Teaching me that patience is the art of having and not losing hope. That if there were only joy in the world, as human beings we would not learn to be brave and patient. And that each one of us must acquire a firm and true faith.
I love you, sister. God be with us.