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Nicaragua: Ortega redoubles repression against critical Sandinistas

By Judith Flores

The Daniel Ortega regime has imprisoned the sociologist and economist Oscar René Vargas, the man who saved the life of the Nicaraguan tyrant in 1967, and has sentenced to almost 13 years in prison the well-known ex-guerrilla, Sandinista militant and paramilitary Marlon Sáenz, known as “El Chino Enoc”: two characters who at different times were unconditional to the dictator.

The sociologist Vargas was an adviser to the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) during the first Sandinista dictatorship 1979-1990.

He was one of the people closest to Ortega. He accompanied the dictator and his vice president, the writer Sergio Ramírez Mercado, and Bayardo Arce —part of the leadership of that dictatorship— during the press conference in which the Sandinista leaders recognized their electoral defeat in 1990, after more than a decade of persecution, confiscations and crimes against humanity practiced against the opposition.

sociologist and economist, Nicaragua: Ortega redoubles repression against critical Sandinistas
The president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega (Photo internet reproduction)

Crimes that remain unpunished thanks to the amnesty approved by the FSLN, and later ratified by the government of Violeta Barrios de Chamorro in the name of “peace and reconciliation.”

He is a left-wing intellectual with 36 books written in his own name and 20 co-authored ones. After the social outbreak of 2018, he became a critic of the regime of his former ally, whose life he saved during a raid carried out by the National Guard for the execution of a sergeant of that military corps; crime in which the current dictator participated, along with a group of Sandinistas.

Vargas and Sáenz are not the only Sandinistas who governed and supported Ortega during the first dictatorship and the current one, to whom today the bill is passed for “dissenting.”

He has imprisoned several of his former comrades and left the retired general and founder of the shadowy State Security, Hugo Torres, founder of the Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS), now known as “Unamos,” to die in jail.

He was one of the participants in the assault on the house of Chema Castillo, a minister in the government of Anastasio Somoza, who was assassinated during the robbery with which they managed to free Ortega himself and other guerrillas imprisoned for the death of the National Guard sergeant and for the bank robbery. Torres died facing cancer under a prison regime.


“For all the dissident Sandinistas, militants who agree with Ortega, but not with Rosario Murillo, jail or death awaits them. Because the policy of the Ortega Murillo family is absolute obedience; and everything that Rosario, her children and her main executors, Néstor Moncada Lau, Adolfo Marenco, deputy director and head of Police Intelligence, and the head of the Army, Julio César Avilés, do is with the approval of Ortega”, assures Christiam Martínez, Nicaraguan political exile.

Marenco, by the way, was sent into retirement on November 25; two days after he was appointed to the Service Commission at the Institute for Social Security and Human Development (Issdhu). Martínez assures that the regime seeks to lower his media profile, since he is accused of crimes in the context of the protests, but he remains in the circle of power around Ortega.

However, with the return of Sandinismo to power in 2007, Vargas was appointed Nicaragua’s ambassador to France in June of that year, but was dismissed from the position two months later at a time when he was preparing to travel, presumably, for some statements to the media in which he would have criticized the way in which Rosario Murillo -the dictator’s wife- had integrated the so-called People’s Power Councils, (former Sandinista Defense Committees in the 1980s), structures of “vigilantes” who are pointed out by the population as “toads”, for being informants of the repressive apparatuses.

On the other hand, the Sandinista regime sentenced the former member of the Special Troops Pablo Ubeda, Marlon Sáenz (alias “El Chino Enoc”), not for being a paramilitary, but for openly criticizing Rosario Murillo, whom he has accused of “managing” Ortega and taking control of the FSLN without having the “merits.”

The dictatorship sentenced Sáenz to 12 years and six months in jail. It accuses him of drug trafficking and carrying weapons. Daniel Ortega, the man he defended, for whom he has repressed opponents by participating in the massacres of the April protests, did not lift a finger in favor of Sáenz, his stalwart whom he crushes today with his steamroller.


In 2018, Vargas made an analysis of the four possible scenarios to get out of the dictatorship, called the “hot exit”: “A la Pinochet, which is the one he (Ortega) has adopted; that is to say, he adopted the way out of repression, death and injuries, that is what must be expected”.

The second option would be that “the marches in which we participate could go to El Carmen,” Ortega’s place of residence where he office and where the offices of the FSLN are located, the party of which he has been the eternal secretary.

“And even if there are 200, 300 or 400 deaths, it is resolved, that is another way out,” he said in July 2018, to the 100% Noticias channel.

The sociologist defined a coup d’état as the third exit. And the fourth would be a military invasion that defined “the way out for (Manuel) Noriega (former president of Panama): they come, they intervene, there are deaths, injuries and everything, because it is not only a Nicaraguan problem, but it has already been transformed in a regional problem and there are statements by different senators, including (Marco) Rubio, that Nicaragua is a security problem for the United States.”

The Administration of the President of the United States, Joe Biden, recently extended the national emergency decree on the situation in Nicaragua because he considers that it represents “a continuing unusual and extraordinary threat to the security and foreign policy of the United States.”

However, and although the United States extends the emergency decree, until today it has not applied the legal tools that shake the foundations of tyranny.


Vargas and Sáenz are senior citizens. The first one has a pacemaker and his health is delicate. Vargas’s son, René Vargas Zamora, blamed the Ortega dictatorship for anything that happens to his father.

“The Ortega-Murillo regime has captured my father, Oscar Vargas. My father is an elderly person, in delicate health. I hold the regime responsible for any discomfort that happens to him,” he wrote on social media. Meanwhile, Sáenz’s family complains about the inhumane treatment of “Chino Enoc”, who assures he has a heart condition and is not given the medicines he requires.

The regime has also arrested several officials of the judiciary, including the spokesman of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ), Roberto Larios, a staunch defender of Ortega who ran over journalists with the endorsement of the presidency of the Court and some sandinistas magistrates. Larios was arrested in October and is charged with treason.

With information from La Gaceta

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