Mariela Lissette Molina Peña is a woman human rights defender who has been fighting for the rights of the sugar cane cutters of the western region of Nicaragua. She is also Secretary of the Board of the Asociación Nueva Esperanza IRC (an association of those affected by Chronic Kidney Infections). For 10 years they have championed the cause of the current and former sugar cane workers who are demanding compensation from Nicaragua Sugar Estates Ltd. for damages to their health caused by exposure to agrochemicals, grueling workdays, and dehydration during the workday.
On 7 October, after leading a protest of former sugar cane workers which ended in violent acts of repression, Mariela was arrested while visiting a friend’s house. She and 15 others were charged with organized crime together with aggravated robbery and aggravated damages.
Currently, Mariela is being held in a jail cell at the Auxilio Judicial or El Chipote, a police station which has been highly questioned for its practices of isolating inmates and violating their human rights. Mariela suffers from high blood pressure and is being held in the nude. She is only allowed to receive one 20-minute visit from her mother per week. According to the Criminal Procedural Code, she should have either been let go or given a judicial order within 48 hours of her arrest. To date she has only had a preliminary hearing, and no trial or movement on the case has been scheduled. As of today she has been incarcerated for 2 months and 7 days.
The Mesoamerican Initiative of Womn Human Rights Defenders (IM-Defensoras) denounces the use of criminalization as a means of inhibiting and repressing social protest. We demand that the Nicaraguan authorities immediately release WHRD Mariela Lissette Molina Peña, protect her health and physical integrity, and guarantee full respect for her rights and due process.