On July 5, 2021, Max Jerez, a student from the Polytechnic University of Nicaragua and a leader of the Nicaraguan University Alliance (AUN), a student activist group, was arrested in connection with his nonviolent activism, and ultimately convicted and sentenced to 13 years in prison for “conspiracy to undermine national integrity.”
The AUN was established in the spring of 2018, spearheading the nationwide, largely student-led, protest movement seeking political reforms and the resignation of President Daniel Ortega. The protests continued for several months, with national troops firing on nonviolent student protesters at a number of institutions.
Jerez was arrested on the same day as his AUN colleague, Lesther Alemán (see report). Both were detained in Direction of Judicial Assistance prison, also known as El Chipote, a facility known for physical and psychological torture. Jerez was ultimately convicted of “conspiracy to undermine national integrity” and sentenced, on February 21, 2022, to 13 years in prison.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arrest and conviction of a student activist, in retaliation for the peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and association – conduct which is protected by international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which to which Nicaragua is a party. State authorities have an obligation to refrain from restricting expressive activity, so long as it is nonviolent and responsible. In addition to harm to the immediate victims, the arrest of nonviolent protesters undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.
On February 9, 2023, Jerez, along with three of his AUN colleagues and about 200 other political prisoners, and sent to the United States.