Popular pressure increases for the Nicaraguan president to leave the government. Massive demonstrations in Nicaragua challenge the power of the Sandinista ex-guerrilla
by Carlos Salinas Maldonado
At 17, Max says he has lost his fear. This young student of Tourism Administration at the University of Managua participated on Wednesday in a massive demonstration in the Nicaraguan capital, in which the main demand was the exit from power of President Daniel Ortega. Max is hurt by the young people who were killed in April, when the president unleashed a bloody crackdown that left at least 46 dead, most of them young people under 25 years of age.
“It’s not fair that we, university students, go out into the streets with only our voices, our desire to express ourselves, and the riot police with bullets to kill students,” said the young man, who painted against Ortega in the downtown Rotonda Rubén Darío , where the demonstration began on Wednesday. Very thin, with long bones, his face and head were covered. Along with other boys as young as he demanded the departure of the Nicaraguan president. “We want freedom in Nicaragua,” Max said. “May Ortega go and pay for the sins committed, because murdering your people has no forgiveness from God. We want him out of power, “added the boy.
Tens of thousands of Nicaraguans returned to march through the main cities of the country on Wednesday. The largest demonstration was in Managua, where it covered at least three kilometers of the main avenues of the city. At the end of the afternoon some calculations spoke to at least 200,000 people participated in the protest of the capital. The capitalists were joined by thousands of peasants who moved from the south of Nicaragua. They also demand that the concession for the construction of an Interoceanic Canal, delivered to a Chinese businessman, be repealed.
It is the third march of this magnitude that is organized against the Ortega government in a country heated after the death of young people in the April protests, when people rose against a reform to Social Security that the president imposed without consensus. Later Ortega repealed the reform, but the harsh repression generated a widespread feeling of national indignation, which has kept the Nicaraguans mobilized in the streets for three weeks, without exhausting, demanding now the end of the regime.
The government also called for a counter demonstration in its favor, which mobilized thousands of state workers to demonstrate force.
On Tuesday night, the Higher Council of Private Enterprise (COSEP), the main business chamber of the country, demanded the Sandinista Executive to guarantee “protection and security” of all the demonstrators who would participate in the march against Ortega and to avoid any type of provocation.
“The guarantee and security on the part of the authority to the demonstration and civic protest of the citizens is indispensable to create a climate of trust. We reiterate our call for an end to all acts of repression and violence against the population,” said the businessmen. COSEP also demanded to open an “independent and credible” investigation to clarify “the crimes that occurred during the April protests.”
The demand for justice for the dead was one of the objectives of the demonstration on Wednesday.
Nora Pérez, who wore the Nicaraguan flag around her neck and shouted slogans against Ortega, said the April deaths should not go unpunished. “We are fighting for the freedom of Nicaragua. May the dead not be forgotten. Their deaths cannot go unpunished. We ask for justice, we ask for justice,” said the woman. “We are remembering all the students who gave their blood for us. We want democracy. We want Daniel Ortega to leave power, to leave, “she added.
The demonstration advanced under the sultry afternoon in Managua. People waved the national flag, claimed by protesters in the country, while horns and protest music played. At some points the avenue was so narrow and the progress of the people so slow that the atmosphere was suffocating. Whenever some of the speakers located in different areas of the route heard I like the students – a song that has animated student movements throughout Latin America – the crowd shouted and danced. The tune has become the soundtrack of the protests in the 21st century Nicaragua. A tribute to the students who paid with death their demand for freedom under the Ortega regime. Long live the students / Garden of our joy / They are birds that do not get scared / Of animal or the police / And do not scare the bullets / Nor the barking of the pack.
Max, a young student of Administration at the University of Managua who was protesting against the government, is clear about it.
“We are fed up with the corruption, the violence that has been imposed on university students. We do not want more murders of our Nicaraguan brothers. We want that dictator of to leave power, “he said.
At her side, Michelle Cortés, an economics graduate of the Polytechnic University -one of the bastions of the university protest against the regime – was of the same opinion.
“I march for the injustice that exists in our country. We are tired of having a dictatorship. We were silent because of fear, fear of Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo, but today we broke the fear, we understand that we are a youth that we can defend our rights. If they (Ortega and Murillo) are listening to me, let them know that the youth will fight. No matter what they do to us, we want our future children to be able to enjoy a free Nicaragua, in a democracy, “said the young woman.
- Carlos Salinas Maldonado is editor in chief of the online TV program Confidencial, and a contributor for 10 years of El País.
(This article first published in the Spain’s newspaper El País).