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After 30-years in Canada, a local father accused of war crimes in Nicaragua is fighting to stay

Jaime Carrasco Varela is accused of committing war crimes while serving in the military for a left-wing regime during the mid- to late-'80s
Photo from CBSA

After spending the last three decades here in Canada, a local father accused of war crimes is fighting to be allowed to stay.

Jaime Carrasco Varela is accused of crimes against humanity while serving under the Sandinista National Liberation Front government in Nicaragua from 1983 to 1989. Neither he nor his family dispute he did serve the left-wing government of the day but do maintain he was not involved in the atrocities he's now accused.

"[He was] caught up, I would say, in a civil war where he had to join one side or another," said Javier Carrasco, just a toddler when his family fled Nicaragua ultimately to settle in Canada.

"If you didn't join you were dragged into it and sent to the mountains," the younger Carrasco said. "So he had friends that were taken from their homes and then, in the following days, were brought back dead to their families."

The family claims its patriarch has been 'open and honest' with immigration officials since arriving at the Fort Erie port of entry back in 1991 about what had been happening in Nicaragua but says he was not personally a party to any of it.

They say the community now surrounding them in Kitchener has been supportive but successive Canadian governments haven't been willing to see the bigger picture.

As for the pending deportation, Javier Carrasco said that had been scheduled to happen Tuesday but the removal order is back under review -- the concern being his father would be tortured or killed upon his return.

"He's seen as a traitor, basically, if he's sent back," Carrasco said, noting the Sandinistas remain in power in Nicaragua to this day. "Our fear is that he gets thrown in jail and ends up dying there eventually because of the situation that's going on there right now."

"There's always the fear that he goes back and he gets locked up right away and tortured for what he's said or exposed because, at the end of the day, he's come here and he's been honest about everything," he said.

For the time being, the Carrasco family will be able to remain together in the community it calls home, but knowing at any point the phone could ring and a new deportation date could be set.

"We're working with a lawyer right now and we're looking at our options, but those are disappearing quickly."

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