The Esteban brothers, from Jinotepe, Nicaragua, were celebrating an aunt’s birthday at their maternal grandmother’s house on July 10 and slept there that night. The next day, a group of hooded and armed police officers showed up and arrested the brothers.
Now they’re being charged with terrorism, organized crime, and kidnapping, just for lifting the white-and-blue Nicaraguan flag on the streets, demanding that Daniel Ortega step down.
Their mother, Juana Lesage, 48, says their house, their neighborhood, and all of Jinotepe hasn’t been the same since they were kidnapped by government forces. She sits alone, in silence, sad.
She’s not the same either. Ever since that day, she cries every night, inconsolable.
Lesage is a housekeeper and her husband is a carpenter. They lived with their three sons: Luis Miguel Esteban, 28; Juan Carlos Esteban, 25; and Harvin Roberto Esteban, 19.
“I don’t know how to live without them,” Lesage said. “As a mother, it’s hard when you only have one son, but they took three away from me. Not even God would forgive that.”
Accused of terrorism
The Esteban brothers are being held at the Granada Penitentiary. They’re accused of terrorism, organized crime, kidnapping, and obstructing the government.
“[The police] came without a warrant. They were violent. They were beaten badly when they were taken to the station,” Lesage said.
The three brothers are university students. Luis Miguel studies computer science, Jean Carlos studies business administration, and Harvin Roberto studies marketing.
“My sons aren’t criminals. They’re university students,” their mother said. “People can vouch for them because everyone knows them.”
She says their only crime was going out onto the streets with a blue-and-white flag, demanding that Daniel Ortega step down.
Before they were detained, their mother said Luis had been shot in the arm when paramilitary groups attacked the city.
Family of musicians
The Esteban brothers always liked music. The three of them are composers, so when the protests started on April 18, they composed some songs against Ortega’s regime. Luis and Jean sing reggaetón under the stage names of Místico and Janco, while Harvin prefers romantic music.
The days go by slowly for Lesage.
“I see them every day, I hear them call me, I dream about them asking me for food,” Lesage said. “This is something I don’t wish on any mother. It’s a nightmare I can’t wake up from. They’ve never been in jail. I don’t know if they’re eating or drinking, or in what condition they’re in.”
The brothers will have their first hearing on Aug. 26.
Ever since they were arrested, their mother has lost a lot of weight. She said she’s lost her appetite. The only thing she wants is to have he sons back home.
Read the original story in Spanish at La Prensa, first published on Aug. 3.
This story was translated into English and republished in The Tico Times as part of a partnership with La Prensa to help bring their coverage of the Nicaraguan crisis to an English-speaking audience.