Eleven months after the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo exiled him to the United States along with 221 other political prisoners, businessman Michael Healy had just found a job that made him “happy.” However, this Thursday, January 25, he died of a heart attack in Panama. Healy's unexpected death shocked Nicaraguan opponents in exile in the United States and Costa Rica. The businessman was one of the presidential couple's most visible critics, as he was the last president of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (Cosep), the employers' association that was dissolved by the regime in March 2023.
Before taking over the presidency of Cosep in 2020, Healy was chairman of the Union of Agricultural Producers, in a context in which the alliance between the Sandinista regime and big business was broken by the repression of police and paramilitaries against citizens who shook the government of Nicaragua (Upan). “As president of Upanic, he always represented a critical voice against the regime when there was an understanding between Cosep and the regime,” says Félix Maradiaga, a political scientist and also a political prisoner who was exiled with Healy in February 2023, to EL PAÍS. .
Tracked and confiscated
Among the big businessmen, Healy was one of the most persecuted by the Ortega-Murillo. First, they confiscated his family's property. It was a farm in the Rivas department in southern Nicaragua. 200 properties were illegally confiscated by a group of armed men. The land was used to grow sugar cane and bananas. The farms are called Santa Lucía, Zopilote and Chatilla, where there is also a Healy family cemetery.
At the time, Healy denounced that regime-backed “land grabbers” had seized up to 9,800 blocks of land in eight departments of the country. “91% of the conquered land belonged to the agricultural sector,” said the businessman.
In October 2021, Healy was arrested by police officers after attending an appointment with the public prosecutor's office in which opposition leaders, journalists and presidential candidates were arrested. Later, in May 2022, the businessman was convicted in a trial that violated procedural rules and his constitutional rights, as he was tried in secret and without the right to a defense.
The regime imposed 13 years in prison on Healy, along with businessman Álvaro Vargas, who was sentenced to nine years in prison, for political crimes of “laundering money, property and assets to the detriment of the state and Nicaraguan society and carrying out acts that undermine Nicaraguan society.” Independence, sovereignty and self-determination.”
Captivity in El Chipote
According to human rights organizations, Healy was held in the dreaded El Chipote prison, where he was subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment. When the presidential couple exiled the 222 political prisoners eleven months ago, the businessman arrived in Dulles, on the outskirts of Washington, emaciated and with health problems.
Healy was also an American citizen. When Washington sent a plane to Managua to rescue political prisoners, he was one of the most enthusiastic about regaining their freedom, according to a report released by the State Department last December. “Marta, I love you!” Healy shouted on the plane (referring to Marta Youth, deputy chief of mission for the US diplomatic team that coordinated the rescue of the political prisoners).
“Healy was in good spirits. He walked up to Bill Muntean, who had grown a long beard during the pandemic, and asked, “Bill, what the hell happened to you?” “Mike, you're the one who's been in prison for the last year and a half!” “Muntean replied,” according to the chronicle published by the State Department.
Juan Sebastián Chamorro, an economist and exiled political prisoner, told EL PAÍS that he was “shocked and very saddened by the departure of our dear friend Mike,” as they called the businessman.
“Mike was someone I knew my whole life. An extraordinary person. Mike had a big heart. He had a tremendous ability to apologize when he felt an apology was needed. A tremendous generosity and belief in cell ten. He was very strict about his rosary at 10:00 and 3:00 in the afternoon. And their prayers filled us with a lot of faith and a lot of hope,” says Chamorro. “Mike suffered greatly in the last phase of his life. First, with the arbitrary and legal confiscation by the dictatorship, the destruction of his farm, which he loved so much and which was always expressed in his prayers to return to his beloved homeland where his father is buried.”
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