Following an exhaustive 19-month struggle to help free his father from a Nicaraguan prison, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and his family are to be reunited with patriarch Francisco Aguirre-Sacasa imminently on U.S. soil.
The elder Aguirre-Sacasa was part of a group of political prisoners released from a Nicaraguan jail who arrived in Washington D.C. on Thursday morning.
“This is a miracle,” an exuberant Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa told Deadline. “There’s no other way to describe this crazy story and how it ends other than as the biggest plot twist that none of us saw coming,” he added as he prepares for his trip to the East Coast later tonight to reunite with his father.
As Deadline reported In August 2021, the writer and producer behind shows like Riverdale and Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin was desperate for information about his father after the elder Aguirre-Sacasa was detained on the border of Nicaragua and Costa Rica. When Francisco and his wife neared the local airport for a flight to Washington D.C., he was taken by Nicaraguan police and disappeared.
Francisco Aguirre-Sacasa, an outspoken critic of the Daniel Ortega regime, was later found incarcerated at El Chipote prison, off the books and unbeknownst to his family. He spent months at the notoriously dangerous facility before he was allowed a transfer to house arrest, finally able to take much-needed medication that the prison had banned and to speak with his loved ones. Heartbreakingly for the family, he was again returned to El Chipote after a period at home, where he remained incarcerated until his surprise flight to freedom this morning.
Throughout the 19-month struggle, the Aguirre-Sacasa family was in touch with former U.S. senator and current special presidential adviser for the Americas, Chris Dodd, as well as New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez.
“Senator Dodd spoke to my sister yesterday and asked, ‘Do you believe in miracles?’ She replied, ‘At this point, Senator, I’ve given up on miracles.’ Unwavered, Dodd told her she would be hearing some good news very soon. The phone rang this morning around 4:45 or 5 a.m. confirming a plane carrying political prisoners held in Nicaragua was on its way to Washington D.C. and our father is among them. I could not believe it. Tonight, my father will sleep in his own bed in D.C., my hometown. It really is a miracle.”
Early this morning, the State Department released a statement on behalf of Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirming 222 political prisoners unjustly held by the Nicaraguan government arrived at Dulles Airport and are being provided with medical and legal support.
“The release of these individuals, one of whom is a U.S. citizen, by the Government of Nicaragua marks a constructive step towards addressing human rights abuses in the country and opens the door to further dialogue between the United States and Nicaragua regarding issues of concern,” Blinken’s statement reads. “Today’s development is the product of concerted American diplomacy, and we will continue to support the Nicaraguan people.”
The statement confirms the political prisoners, arrested for “exercising their fundamental freedoms and have endured lengthy unjust detentions,” have been released to the U.S. Among them are political and business leaders, journalists, civil society representatives, and students.
Francisco Aguirre-Sacasa served as Nicaraguan ambassador to the U.S. from 1997-2000 and later as foreign minister of the Central American country.
“I guess the United States and Nicaragua have been having conversations for a while about this, but we were unaware of the behind-the-scenes machinations taking place,” Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa said. “My mother, who is a very religious person, never doubted that I would see my dad again. She had this belief and she’s never wavered, even when things weren’t going the way we hoped.”
Feeling like he can finally breathe, he thanked Dodd and Martinez, President Joe Biden, and everyone who kept his family in their thoughts and prayers during the ordeal.
“I cannot express enough gratitude for all the people who helped made this happen; everyone who shared my father’s story and that of the many political prisoners,” he stated. “This was an eleventh-hour miracle, one I didn’t dare hope for. We’ve been in touch with some of the families of the other prisoners, some were older than my father. We’re all feeling relief. I hope this is a good sign for the future because what happened today was unprecedented.”
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