Several of the Colombian fishermen detained by the Nicaraguan navy in disputed waters spoke out Tuesday about their mistreatment by Nicaraguan authorities.
“We arrived at the boat at 8 PM and about half an hour later, when we were already in bed, some guys arrived in speed boats, without emblems or anything; they turned off our GPS and they forced me to move the boat in the middle of the night to Nicaragua, against my will,” Ulises Serrano said.
Ulises Serrano called his family on Monday from Nicaragua, where paperwork is being prepared for his deportation.
The engineer was one of five crew members aboard the Laura Anny, which is owned by his brother Alejandro Serrano, when it was detained. Eighteen fishermen were also reportedly on board.
According to Alejandro Serrano, the boat and its occupants’ illegal detention and towing can be proved by the vessel’s on-board GPS. Alejandro Serrano said that at the time of detention, the GPS indicated that the boat was in Colombian waters. Although it was later turned off, an internal battery would have ensured that the boat’s movements were tracked for the following 12 hours. Serrano said that this evidence should prove that the boat was towed illegally.
The crew of the Laura Anny also allegedly sent out two S.O.S signals reporting that their boat was being transported against their will into Nicaraguan territory.
Colombia’s Foreign Ministry said that it will begin an investigation into these claims, in conjunction with the Colombian Defense Ministry, the navy and the Colombian Consulate in Nicaragua.
Meanwhile Uriel Zuñiga, another of the Colombians in Nicaraguan custody, told W Radio that he and his fellow detainees had not eaten or slept for two days.
“We are in a very small station, we are in subhuman conditions. We’ve started to despair, there are several compañeros that have fallen into depression and anxiety,” said Zuñiga, calling for the Colombian government to help.
Colombian fishing boats the Laura Anny, along with the “Red Tail” and the “Daniela M,” were detained by the Nicaraguan navy last Thursday evening.
Colombia’s Foreign Ministry Tuesday sent a letter to Nicaragua, protesting against the Laura Anny’s “illegal” detention by the Central American country.
The letter does not mention the other two Colombian fishing boats and crew reportedly also detained last Friday.
Managua announced Monday that only five of the 28 Colombian fisherman arrested by the Nicaraguan navy are set to be repatriated this week, despite earlier reports that all the detainees would be deported by Wednesday.
There is a long-running dispute between Colombia and Nicaragua over maritime rights. Nicaragua announced in April 2008 that it would detain any Colombian fishing boats that entered the disputed area in the Caribbean.
Relations between the nations became frosty after the Nicaraguan government gave asylum to three guerrillas from the FARC and a Mexican female student, the only survivors of the Colombian military’s attack on a FARC camp in Ecuador on March 1, 2008.