Before and during its visit to Nicaragua in October of l980,
the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights received complaints
on alleged illegal and secret executions of persons in detention in
the "Heroes and Martyrs of New Guinea" Jail, known as "La Polvora";
a Granada garrison during the last days of July l979. The
information received alleged that an undetermined number of
prisoners were taken out of the Jail at night to an outside
location, executed and buried in common graves. Commander Marvin
González Ruiz, who went by the alias "Wilmer", was in charge of the
Jail and allegedly gave the order to carry out the executions.
These places were inspected by the inmates relatives,
representatives of the Nicaraguan Permanent Commission on Human
Rights and legal authorities from the city of Granada.
For example, some of the communications received by the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights include the following:
Case 4566: Dr. César Rivas Guillén
The Commission received the following complaint with respect
to the disappearance of the Granadian gynecologist, Dr. César Rivas.
This, the first of several communications relating to the events
taking place in "La Polvora", was received in October 1979:
That on July 22, 1979, César Rivas Guillén, adult, married, a
doctor residing in Granada, was captured in that city by a group of
militiamen serving at the Granada Command "La Polvora."
He was accused of belonging to the organization called "Mano
Blanca"; he remained in the jails of Granada for approximately seven
days, where he was visited and taken food; however, on the 29th we
realized that he was staying there because he sent us a piece of
paper; since that date we have had no knowledge of his whereabouts
although a "Comrade" said that he
had been moved to Managua at midnight. We learned that on that
morning several guards in those jails had been executed. After
these events, the heads of the Granada Command were replaced and are
now imprisoned and under investigation.
However, in light of the events, I fear for his physical safety
since I know nothing of his whereabouts. Because of this
uncertainty I have taken the case to Commanders Hugo Torres and
Walter Ferreti, who have full knowledge of the case and have not
given an answer even though they have known of this matter for a
month. I have also informed the Ambassador from Spain of this case,
since Guillén's wife is of Spanish nationality.
I must add that I have reason to believe that his arrest was
due to ill-intentioned accusations by unscrupulous persons who
because of personal quarrels or out of jealousy have always tried
to cause him harm. This is obvious because, upon his arrest, his
work colleagues proceeded to seize his medical equipment and
personally urged him (when he was at "La Polvora") to confess that
he belonged to "Mano Blanca", a false accusation since he was not
found guilty of anything. Still, they do not say where he is.
The second complaint received by the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights relating to the events at "La Polvora" referred to the case
of Dr. Francisco Mayorga Ramírez, a lawyer. In a communication dated
October 17, 1979, the following account was furnished to the Commission:
Case 7057: Dr. Francisco Mayorga Ramírez
On Sunday July 22, 1979, Francisco Mayorga Ramírez, 42 years
of age, a lawyer residing in Granada, was notified that he would
report to the Granada Military Police. At approximately 1:00 p.m.
he reported to the Granada Military Police office where he as
detained. Afterwards, he was transferred to the Command called "La
Polvora", where he remained in detention until the 26th of the same
month when he was set free and given a safe-conduct.
When Francisco returned to his house after being held, he said
that the charges made were that he had been a judge in criminal and
civil matters; that was approximately ten years ago.
On July 28, 1979, he was at a house located thirty yards from
Granada's Criminal District Court on Real Street, attending a
lawyers meeting to organize a visit to Granada's Military Staff and
to the local Government Junta to request a determination on the
limits within which they could practice their profession.
Two members of the Sandinista People's Army showed up at the
meeting and proceeded to arrest Francisco again, ignoring the
safe-conduct he was carrying and taking him to the "La Polvora"
The next day, Sunday July 29, when a relative went to the "La
Polvora" Command to take Francisco his breakfast, the person in
charge of distributing the food on that day said that he had been
transferred to Managua.
Sensing a tragic outcome I met with some friends who told me
not to worry, that they would to go "La Polvora" to find out the
whereabouts of Francisco. At that Command they were met by the
military head of the same, Marvin González Ruíz, known as "Wilmer",
who informed them that Francisco "has been transferred to the
International Red Cross and that if they wanted to see him they
should hurry because on that same Sunday he was being transferred
Upon learning that, I immediately went to Managua where I
realized that I had been deceived, because the International Red
Cross was closed and a member of that institution informed me that
no prisoner had been taken there for that purpose.
On that same day, July 29, at approximately 5:00 p.m., several
persons who looked like peasants and whom I did not know came to the
house and stated that they knew Francisco and that they had seen his
body in the fields of the Santa Ana Ranch, located on Los Malacos
Road. These persons also stated that there were some fifty (50)
more bodies at that place and that they had their hands tied behind
Efforts have been made through different individuals and
institutions in order to exhume Francisco's body and give it a
Christian burial, but until now, it has been impossible for me to
It is for all these reasons that the death of Dr. Francisco
Mayorga Ramírez is denounced. To this date, no motive for his death
is known since none of the authorities have claimed responsibility
for his death; although it is true that by family tradition he
belonged to the Liberal Party, he never harmed anyone and, on the
contrary, he was very much liked by all those who knew him.
Besides, there is no knowledge that the death penalty exists in
We request that Francisco's body be exhumed in order that, in
keeping with our religious beliefs, it be given a Christian burial
in a place appropriate for that purpose.
Some time later, the Commission received the following information
from the Permanent Commission on Human Rights of Nicaragua:
On Tuesday, October 3, 1979, at the request of Mrs. Marlene
Taleno de Mayorga, we conducted the first inspection of the site
called la Montañita de San Ana. It is a mountainous terrain located
on the road to Los Malacos, some four kilometers northeast of the
city of Granada.
Some thirty meters after crossing the barbed wire we noticed
tracks made by a heavy vehicle. They were tracks made by a
bulldozer which had been operating at the site digging a ditch of
A little further on we found a depression approximately six
meters long an three meters wide. At ground level, there was a
skull, bones and shoes. The ground was soft in the whole
At Mrs. Marlene's insistence, who claimed that the body of her
husband, Dr. Francisco Mayorga Ramírez, had been seen on top of a
pile of bodies, we dug up the ground a bit.
It was enough to go in two or three centimeters; immediately,
worms and decomposed human remains appeared. Mrs. Marlene
recognized her husband's trousers.
We proceeded to cover the human remains and we went to the city
of Granada where we talked with relatives of the other victims who
had gone to the site of the massacre alerted by the peasants of the
area and who had even seen when some of the piled up bodies were
consumed by flames since diesel had been poured over them.
Witnesses claim that some of the bodies had their hands tied behind
Mrs. Mayorga tried to obtain the exhumation of her husband's
body in order to give it a Christian burial. In search of a legal
solution the case, she brought the matter to the attention of Judge
On October 9, Mrs. Marlene Taleno de Mayorga presented a brief
to Dr. Agustín Cruz Pérez, Judge of Granada's Criminal Court,
denouncing the death of her husband and requesting that his body be
On Saturday, October 13, Judge Cruz Pérez accompanied by his
secretary, conducted the visual inspection requested, drawing up the
appropriate document. The judge, in addition to verifying what the
officials from the Permanent Commission on Human Rights had seen in
their first inspection, made a tour of the whole site identifying at least two other places where there
were human bones scattered at ground level, shoes and pieces of
clothing. Several deep holes were also found which would seem to
indicate that relatives of the victims had been digging up the
bodies of their kin under the cover of darkness.
In a petition presented to the same Judge of Granada's Criminal
Court, Dr. Agustín Cruz Pérez, Mrs. Marlene Taleno de Mayorga
insisted on her request to exhume her husband's remains and, in
addition, charged that some of the persons responsible for the
denounced acts were trying to flee the country to evade justice.
The Court issued the following decision with respect to Mrs.
Granda, November 2, 1979, at 10:05 A.M.
THERE ARE NO GROUNDS FOR THE EXHUMATION REQUESTED BY MRS. MARLENE
TALENO DE MAYORGA IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT THE REQUIREMENTS
ESTABLISHED IN ARTICLE 68 HAVE NOT BEEN SATISFIED. LET NOTIFICATION
In a communication dated October 17, 1979, the execution of Roger
Alfonso González Ibarra, 29 years old, a chauffer with the rank of
sergeant in the National Guard, was denounced. The complainant described
the following events:
Case 7056: Roger Alfonso González Ibarra
Roger Alfonso González Ibarra, adult, former member of the
military, was captured in Malacatoya, jurisdiction of Granada, on
July 19, 1979. He remained in detention at the Jail for Women of
that city for another four days.
On July 23, he was transferred to "La Polvora" where the
Commander was "Wilmer", whose name is Marvin González, who allowed
me to talk to Roger on July 26, at six p.m. Roger said that if I did
not find him there the next day, to stop looking for him.
I was totally surprised to learn that he had been taken out of
the "La Polvora" Jail at midnight on the 27th, together with 50
other people, that they were executed without orders, without and
investigation and with no respect for human life. Enclosed is a
photocopy of the death certificate and you can be assured that the
Staff of the City of Granada is aware of such facts.
It is requested that an exhumation order be granted with the
purpose of giving a Christian burial since his body is located on
the road to Los Malacos, in the outskirts of Granada and I can point
out the exact location where he can be found.
Some time later, the complainant submitted the following
...on July 26, I was able to meet with him at the jail, where
I went after reading a message that he had sent me that morning, and
which read as follows: "...that I immediately speak with the
Criminal Judge of Granada, Agustín Cruz Pérez, because on the
previous night some twenty persons had been taken out tied up and
that he was told that they were going to send him to Panama and in
parentheses he added...or is it a disguise to kill me? ...and rush
to speak with the above mentioned official to intercede on his
behalf." When I went with the Criminal Judge from that locality in
the afternoon they only let me in (...); we talked with him and he
told us that if we did not find him the next day, to stop looking
for him. The next day I went to the jail to take him his breakfast
and clothes and the guerrillas, Commander "Wilmer" among them,
returned them to me and told me that they had transferred him to
Managua without mentioning the place where they had taken him.
...I therefore resort to this Commission in order that, through
it, his whereabouts be determined in some way...
On the other hand, the September 13, 1979, issue of "La Prensa"
reports that Commander "Wilmer" is under arrest at "La Polvora"
Granada, but it does not give any other information as to the reason
for his arrest.
Another communication dated October 17, 1979, denounced the
execution of Exequiel Zavala Jiménez:
Case 7064: Exequiel Zavala Jiménez
Exequiel Zavala Jiménez, married, a businessman from Granada,
was arrested for the third time on July 22, 1979. He was arrested
by a group of militiamen accompanied by Comrade "Marcel" and was
taken to "La Polvora." When I asked these gentlemen to show me some
identification, they told me that they belonged to the Sandinista
Military Police whose officer in charge was Commander "Marcos."
I should point out that he had been arrested on two previous
occasions, supposedly because he was a friend of the guard called
"Gato Colindres." However, he had been set free after being found
innocent of the charges against him.
But with this last arrest, he remained at the "La Polvora" Jail
for five days where he was personally questioned by Commander
"Wilmer." On Thursday July 26, we were told that he was going to
be set free and that they had not already done so because there was
no one to write the memorandum.
And so it was that the next day I went to the Command and they
told me that he was no longer there, that he had been taken to the
Bunker, in Managua. From that date on, we have looked for him
without rest in all the jails; we entered a complaint with the
Complaints Office of the Ministry of the Interior with the purpose
of enlisting their assistance in locating Exequiel.
However, on Thursday, October 11, 1979, an official at the
Interior Ministry told me that he had heard that Exequiel had been
shot and that, since several inmates had been executed, the
Commanders of Granada had been arrested and discharged from the
army; that there were only two or three innocent persons among those
executed and that he could not lie to the relatives because he did
not want them to go into any expenses; that several arbitrary acts
had been committed in Granada in those days and that he could not
do anything about it.
Due to complaints received by the Commission before conducting its
on-site observation in Nicaragua, the Commission also opened the
following cases relating to executions in "La Polvora":
Case 7063: Gabino Velásquez Meza
On July 23, 1979, Gabino Velásquez Meza, adult, former private
in the defunct National Guard, surrendered to the "La Polvora"
Command in the city of Granada, due to the fact that he had been
told that "the boys" were looking for him. Believing that his
physical safety would be guaranteed he surrendered to the new
authorities accompanied by his wife and children.
And so, during the next two days we were able to send him food
and he sent us pieces of paper; thus, we were able to verify that
he was there. However, on the third day of his stay at "La Polvora"
a militiaman stationed there told us that he had been transferred
to the "Modelo" Jail. This information was confirmed by a Commander
by the name of Lang who was one of the officers in charge of that
Ever since that date, we have looked for Gabino without rest,
not only in the "Modelo" Jail but in other penitentiaries as well,
but until now, that search has been fruitless.
It is for the reasons described here that I resort to you so
that you may assist me in determining his whereabouts and whether
he is dead or alive since there are rumors that there were
executions in that Command.
Case 7237: Jorge Villalobos Toruño
Jorge Villalobos Toruño, 45 years of age, married, a chauffeur,
was arrested on July 26, 1979, in the city of Granada and taken to
the "La Polvora" from where he disappeared on July 29. According
to relatives of the prisoner, they were told that Commander "Wilmer"
supposedly gave the order that he be executed. However, some time
later, other persons claim to have seen him in the Model Jail and
that he was incomunicado.
Case 7315: Gustavo Adolfo Marin Guzmán
On July 24, 1979, Gustovo Adolfo Marin Guzmán, an army private,
adult, and residing in Granada, surrendered to FSLN authorities and
was confined in the "La Polvora" Jail under the charge of Commander
Marvin González Ruiz, known by the alias "Wilmer", who later gave
the order for his execution. Neighbors of the Santa Ana Ranch area,
on the road to Los Malacos, Department of Granada claim to have seen
the body of this gentlemen together with the remains of Dr.
Francisco Mayorga Ramírez.
Case 7318: Luis Martínez Mercado
On July 25, 1979, Mr. Luis Martínez Mercado, adult, former
member of the National Guard, was confined in the "La Polvora" jail.
He was later taken to an unknown destination by order of Commander
Marvin González Ruiz, known by the alias "Wilmer", and we were
informed that mass executions were carried out. Nothing is known
of his whereabouts. It is presumed that he has been executed.
Case 7308: Cristóbal Vargas Rocha
Cristobál Vargas Rocha, 24 years of age, single a former member
of the National Guard residing in Granada, was arrested on Sunday
July 24, 1979. The reasons for his arrest are not known. Through
a militiaman who was on duty at "La Polvora" (Granada jail), it was
learned that at 11:00 a.m. on July 26, 1979, some prisoners were
taken to a place near the Lake Granada shore where they dug their
The person in charge of the Command was called "Wilmer", whose
name is Marving González Ruiz, and is directly responsible for these
The Commission has received the following information with respect
to this case of Cristóbal Vargas Rocha:
However, in my desperation, I have investigated and
questioned a militiaman, whose name I cannot reveal, who
told me one day as he was on duty at "La Polvora," to stop
looking for Cristóbal, it was in vain because on Thursday,
July 26, at approximately 11:00 p.m., a truck-load of
prisoners, approximately 50, were taken out of "La
Polvora" to the Diamonte, a rice field located near the
Lake Granada shore, also known as Asese. They were made
to dig gigantic ditches which took almost two hours and
then, at one o'clock in the morning, they proceeded to
execute them and bury them there. This young man told me
that he was able to identify Crístobal among those