Nicaragua ‘marathon’ protester flees for exile in Costa Rica

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — A Nicaraguan man who became a prominent public face of opposition to President Daniel Ortega’s government for his defiant protest runs through the capital has left the country for exile, his son said on Wednesday.

Byron Vanegas, Alex Vanegas’ son, confirmed to The Associated Press that his father, who came to be known as the “marathon man”, has gone to neighbouring Costa Rica.

“He decided to leave the country because he could no longer stand the (police) siege and harassment,” Byron Vanegas said. He had been briefly detained repeatedly during the protests and in November was jailed for what turned out to be four months.

In a recent interview, Alex Vanegas, 62, told the AP that police patrols were watching his home constantly after he was conditionally released to house arrest in late February, along with about 100 others considered political prisoners, as talks resumed on Nicaragua’s political standoff.

Those people are not supposed to leave their homes, much less the country, but Byron Vanegas said his father crossed into Costa Rica “somewhere along the border”. He did not give further details.