SPAIN/NICARAGUA: Spain has offered citizenship to more than 200 political prisoners from Nicaragua who were freed and flown to the United States on Thursday, the top diplomat of Spain said on Friday.
Following the unexpected release of 222 Nicaraguan inmates who were later sent back to the US, Jose Manuel Albares, the Spanish foreign minister, made the announcement to the news agency.
Following their release, MPs loyal to authoritarian President Daniel Ortega voted to cancel their Nicaraguan citizenship, which might thwart any future plans to return. However, as it calls for a constitutional amendment, a second vote is required, likely not until 2024.
In the interview, Albares praised Ortega for releasing his adversaries from prison, many of whom were well-known journalists, legislators, and religious leaders from the opposition.
He continued by saying that Spain was prepared to accept others, noting that the decision had been made in Madrid “after press reports that proceedings had started to declare them stateless.”
The detainees, who entered the country on a temporary humanitarian visa, will be contacted by Spanish officials so they can legally apply for citizenship.
Several opposition presidential candidates, including several who planned to oppose Ortega in a 2021 race but were arrested and incarcerated in an unprecedented dragnet and the criminalization of political dissent, were among the political prisoners who were freed.
The majority of international observers called the 2021 vote a fraud. Ortega portrayed the prisoner release on Thursday as a measure to expel criminals who wanted to harm Nicaragua, but the US described the action as a “constructive step” that might lead to additional talks between Washington and Managua.
Famous Nicaraguan cultural icons were eager to applaud Spain for acting quickly. Sergio Ramirez, a well-known novelist and essayist who was once Ortega’s vice president, called it a “beautiful gesture” in a tweet, adding that those liberated “will have a homeland as long as Nicaragua does not recover its freedom and democracy.”