Nicaragua releases political prisoners after international pressure

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The prison guards arrived at 2 a.m. to wake up Scannierth Merlo Lacayo, saying it was time to change the cells.

But then he saw other political prisoners move and disperse. "They were giving everyone new pants, shirts, cutting their hair," he said.

Then, Mr. Merlo saw representatives of the Roman Catholic Church and the Red Cross and realized that the moment he had been waiting for for 14 months had finally arrived: he and dozens of other political prisoners in Nicaragua were released after months of international clamor.

His sudden release on Monday came after the United States government strengthened sanctions against the authoritarian government of Daniel Ortega, tightening a financial knot around a regime that has been condemned worldwide for its repression against dissent. .

"I had been sentenced to five years for allegedly stealing the identity document of a member of the Sandinista party. Card, but the real reason was because I was against the government, and I will continue to be against the government," Merlo said in a Telephone interview shortly after release.