The Latin American Studies Association (LASA) strongly condemns the arbitrary detention and refusal to grant entry to Guatemalan K’iche anthropologist and journalist Dr. Irma Alicia Velásquez Nimatuj to Nicaragua on Sunday, July 24, 2022, upon her arrival at the Augusto César Sandino airport in Managua. When Dr. Velásquez Nimatuj got off the plane, Nicaraguan authorities detained her with no explanation and took away her identity documents. While in detention she asked the person who was guarding her why she wasn’t able to enter Nicaraguan territory, but they never gave her a reason, simply saying “You should have never traveled here.” After several hours in detention, Velásquez was expelled from the country and put on a plane to Panama. Her passport and other personal documents were not returned until after her arrival in Guatemala.
This illegal detention and theft of identity documents is consistent with the Nicaraguan government’s repressive actions against human rights defenders, journalists, students, professors and other civil society actors.
Dr. Velásquez Nimatuj has held positions at Brown University, Duke University, Stanford University, University of Texas-Austin, and the University of Oregon. She received the 2020 LASA/Oxfam American Martin Diskin Memorial Lectureship award given for outstanding scholarship and advocacy.
LASA rejects the Nicaraguan government’s violation of freedom of expression and freedom of movement.
The Latin American Studies Association (LASA) is the largest professional association in the world for individuals and institutions engaged in the study of Latin America. With over 13,000 members, over 60% of whom reside outside the United States, LASA is the one association that brings together experts on Latin America from all disciplines and diverse occupational endeavors, across the globe. LASA's mission is to foster intellectual discussion, research, and teaching on Latin America, the Caribbean, and its people throughout the Americas, promote the interests of its diverse membership, and encourage civic engagement through network building and public debate.
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