Cielo Vista

Nicaraguan ‘marathon protester’ escapes to Costa Rica after leaving prison

March 15, 2019

Alex Vanegas, the 62-year-old Nicaraguan marathon runner who was jailed for nearly four months for supporting the protests against president Daniel Ortega, fled to Costa Rica shortly after leaving prison, his son said Wednesday.

“He escaped this week and is currently in Costa Rica. He had issues with one of his testicles due to the beatings that he received in prison,” his son, Byron Vanegas, who refused to provide any more details for security reasons, told AFP.

He also refused to reveal whether his father had traveled to Costa Rica in order to obtain medical assistance or rather to seek refuge in the neighboring country.

Vanegas, who was not formally charged during his imprisonment, was one of 100 protestors released on Feb. 27, before the recommencement of talks between the government and the opposition.

Conversations were suspended this week following the opposition’s demand to free the remaining “political prisoners.”

Popularly known as “the marathon runner,” Vanegas ran holding signs which demanded the expulsion of Ortega from power or which remembered the victims of his oppression.

He was temporarily imprisoned at least five times and was “outraged” by this, he once told the AFP, before his prolonged arrest that began Nov. 2.

After being freed in February and placed house arrest, he was briefly detained at least twice more for going out into the streets to protest while running.

Former prisoners are unable to go out into the streets, to work, to go to the doctor or to have a social life, and are regularly watched and harassed by the police or neighbors who belong to the party of the government, said ex-prisoners who spoke to AFP.

Faced with this situation, Vanegas decided to flee to Costa Rica, where there are already more than 50,000 Nicaraguans who have escaped the oppression following the protests that broke out last April. The protests ended in October due to a law that punishes protests with up to 20 years in prison.

During his youth, the marathon runner supported the fight against the government of Somoza, which was overthrown with the revolution in 1979. That was led by the Sandinista National Liberation Front, which is still in power today.

The violence of the protests against Ortega, who has been in charge for 12 years, left at least 325 dead and more than 700 arrested, according to humanitarian groups. It also caused significant damage to the economy.


This story was made possible thanks to The Tico Times 5% Club. If only 5 percent of our readers donated at least $2 a month, we’d have our operating costs covered and could focus on bringing you more original reporting from around Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we can only do it with your help. Join The Tico Times 5% Club and help make stories like this one possible.

Support the Tico Times

Facebook Comments

You may be interested

Cases of microcephaly quadruple in Costa Rica due to Zika
Costa Rica
69 views
Costa Rica
69 views

Cases of microcephaly quadruple in Costa Rica due to Zika

Monserrat Cordero Parra / Semanario Universidad - May 23, 2019

Health authorities reported Wednesday that the births of children with microcephaly in Costa Rica have quadrupled since the appearance of…

TBT: When LACSA flew the colors of Costa Rica across the Americas
Throwback Thursday
58 views
Throwback Thursday
58 views

TBT: When LACSA flew the colors of Costa Rica across the Americas

Alejandro Zúñiga - May 23, 2019

LACSA, or Lineas Aéreas Costarricenses S.A., once flew the colors of Costa Rica throughout North, Central and South America. Founded…

No Navas as Costa Rica names roster for Peru friendly
La Sele
20 views
La Sele
20 views

No Navas as Costa Rica names roster for Peru friendly

Alejandro Zúñiga - May 22, 2019

The Costa Rican soccer federation on Wednesday revealed its roster for an upcoming friendly against Peru. The list includes Álvaro…

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!