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The Guardian | Daniel Ortega’s most wanted: Nicaragua’s exiles in Costa Rica

Author: The Guardian
Imagen: Nicaraguan students Carlos, 21, Moises, 19, Cristopher, 19, and Randol, 30, at the house they share in San José, Costa Rica. They participated in the protests in Managua in April 2018. Photograph: Rafe H Andrews/Dawning

Forty years ago, Daniel Ortega and his wife Rosario Murillo hid together in safe houses around Costa Rica’s capital while waiting for the imminent fall of the Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza. Today, thousands of their exiled compatriots hide in the same city, San José, awaiting the fall of the presidential couple.

Food and second-hand clothing from the US are distributed to Nicaraguan refugees at this refugee center in San José
  • Food and secondhand clothing from the US are distributed to Nicaraguan refugees at this refugee center in San José.

Nicaraguan exiles come from every walk of life. All of them have one thing in common: if they returned home, they say they would be arrested, tortured or killed. They are some of Ortega’s most wanted.

San Jose, Costa Rica. January 23, 2019 At the Center for Migration of the Costa Rican government in San José, Nicaraguans wait to apply for asylum.
  • Nicaraguans wait to apply for asylum. As of March 2019, almost 30,000 have formally filed asylum applications. According to the UNHCR, ‘with reception capacity overstretched, 26,000 others are waiting to have their claims formalized’.
San Jose, Costa Rica. January 24, 2019 At the Center for Migration of the Costa Rican government in San José, Nicaraguans wait to apply for asylum.

Víctor Barrantes, Costa Rica’s vice-minister of government and police, says “the government has no concrete evidence that would suggest that Nicaraguan paramilitary or counter-intelligence groups are operating in our country. However, we are investigating, as we do receive complaints.” In this project, based on more than 50 interviews over a four-month period in San José and Managua, we hear their voices and see their faces, as they recount their wounds and hopes in the midst of great uncertainty.

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