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Ex-guerrilla commander on hunger strike | Jun 12, 2008

Dora María Téllez endures the hunger strike on her hammock and underneath the plastic roof
The ex-sandinista guerrilla commander Dora María Téllez has been on hunger strike since Thursday, June 5, to show her position in defense of democracy and the right to live, disregarded by the government of Daniel Ortega and its allies, as she explained to the press since she started her strike. Dora María is known for her participation as the leader of a battle front at the end of 1970s during the revolution, as well as for her subsequent role as Minister of Health, and for her political dissent of the FSLN party.

The hunger strike takes place on the Rubén Darío roundabout, located in front of the Metrocentro shopping mall, along the Carretera a Masaya, in the new center of Managua. A hammock with a plastic roof and several tents form the scene from where Tellez launches her protests, which have already lasted over a week. She is accompanied by friends and sympathizers.

Two other persons have joined her, and are on hunger strike as well. The first one is Efraim Payán, candidate for mayor of Managua for the Alianza Liberla Nicaragüense (ALN) in the upcoming municipal elections at the end of this year. Physical problems caused by the fasting have forced Payán to cease the strike, and he was hospitalized yesterday, Wednesday, June 11. The other person on strike is Róger Arias, candidate for the university counsel for the Movimiento Renovador Sandinista (MRS). He is still on strike.

Ever since the first day of her hunger strike, Dora María has been receiving visits and expressed support from national figures, such as poet and priest Ernesto Cardenal, singer and songwriter Carlos Mejía Godoy, writer Gioconda Belli, as well as from national organizations such as the Movimiento Por Nicaragua, the Centro Nicaragüense de Derechos Humanos (CENIDH) and the Coordinadora Civil. Hundreds of sympathizers have united on the roundabout every day, lending their support to the protest. Concerts and marches have been organized, as well as a multitude of other activities.

Strike continues despite the suspension of the MRS

Yesterday afternoon, on Wednesday, June 11, the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) announced their decision to suspend the legal status of the political parties MRS and Partido Conservador (PC). This suspension means that both political parties will not be able to participate in the municipal elections taking place later this year. The CSE had announced the beginning of the process of cancellation of the legal status of these two parties (as well as of a third party in the Caribbean region), due to the non-completion of several requirements of the electoral laws.

National opinion leaders have dubbed the aforementioned decision by the CSE as an organized political move, a pact between two national parties, with the aim of eliminating their opponents during the election. Reason for having this opinion is the known political belligerence held by the officers of the Nicaraguan electoral organ, who are members of the Partido Liberal Constitucionalista (PLC, led by ex-president Arnoldo Alemán) and the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN, led by incumbent president Daniel Ortega).

Dora María Téllez is fighting for the MRS, and her protest includes striving for the right to political participation by this party. Despite the denunciation of the party's legal status, she announced to continue her hunger strike, protesting against the actions of the current government.

Guerrilla, minister, and dissenter

During the years of revolutionary struggle against the Somoza dictatorship, who remained in power due to their control of the National Guard, Dora María Tellez became known throughout the country as well as on an international level, for her participation in the guerrilla cell that took over the National Palace in 1978. She was also commander of the western front of the FSLN during the insurrection that helped overthrow the dictatorship in July 1979.

During the years of the Revolutionary Government, Tellez was the Minister of Health, implementing different health programs throughout the country. After the Sandinista party (FSLN) was defeated in the elections by Violeta Barrios de Chamorro at the beginning of the '90s, Tellez started disagreeing with the leaders of the party. This eventually led to her leaving the party in 1995, when she decided to join the Movimiento Renovador Sandinista, together with other ex-revolutionaries and ex-vice president and writer Sergio Ramírez Mercado. Tellez is 61 years old.