Aquí no se rinde nadie, que se rinda tu madre?
“No one here is giving up, only your mom will” is what hundreds of thousands of Nicaraguans have been shouting in the streets since April 19. I never imagined I would be in a similar situation my parents were in when they were my age.
On July 19, 1980, Daniel Ortega became the leader of a rebellious group of students called the “Sandinistas,” which helped overthrow the Somoza Dynasty, a family of dictators that ruled Nicaragua for almost 40 years.
After the last member of the Somoza Dynasty was killed, Ortega was voted president of the Republic. When his first term ended, he was acting like a dictator himself, which caused a civil war between his leftist regime, the Sandinistas, and the conservative party, the Contra.
My mom was around my age during this civil war and she tells me story of how basic needs like water or toilet paper were rationed, how she had to buy toothpaste from plastic bags, and eventually had to leave her parents and home to finish high school exiled in the United States.
Now, it is 2018 and Ortega is yet again the president of Nicaragua. He has been in power for three consecutive terms, which used to be illegal in the country until he decided to change the constitution to make it possible for him to run again and steal the votes. Ortega and the vice president, who is also his wife, Rosario Murillo, stole and misused all the funds the government collects from workforce taxes. This led to the government passing a decree where contributions by workers and employers into the Nicaraguan Institute for Social Security (INSS) would increase: however, payouts would reduce by 5 percent.
On April 19, students from the Polytechnic University of Nicaragua started peaceful protests because they did not want to pay for the mistakes of the government, which is supposed to take care of its people. Instead, the government paid the Sandinista Youth to go hurt the students who were peacefully protesting, and with the help of the police, killed 12 of the students. The rest are currently being held captive in the university and are slowly appearing dead in the streets.
The past few days, the Nicaraguan people of all different social classes, religious affiliations and ages joined together with one purpose — take out Ortega’s and Murillo’s corrupt regime and bring democracy back to the country.
I can’t even describe how I am feeling right now. On one side, I am very happy that our country is mad enough they are trying to make a change united. However, seeing pictures and videos of how Nicaragua, my home country, looks right now breaks my heart. I can only imagine what my mom felt being there for the first part of the war — but not being there, not being able to attend the protests, or see how my country united for a common goal has been really hard for me, too.
This is the second time this happened. It is history repeating itself. Lives and souls of decent people have been lost. This is no longer a situation where the government can redeem itself. The dead cannot come back to life, and the lives of those who died fighting for their rights should be honored by forcing Ortega to leave.
Since April 19, many different marches have been organized by different organizations not affiliated with the government, and at one of those marches 300,000 Nicaraguans attended, which has been said is the biggest protest. Nicaraguans all over the world have also been trying to make known what is actually going on for the rest world.
Nicaragua and its people have been screwed over by power-hungry dictators too many times. And too many times there have been violent rebellions and wars to take these dictators’ power. It really upsets me that a country with so much culture and resources has never reached its true potential because of bad governance and lack of good education.
This time, however, the mood is different. Nicaraguans are encachimbados — extremely mad and tired. They not only wish for change, they demand it and will not stop until Ortega is finally out of power for good.
Since I am not back home and cannot physically help, I have written this as my way of helping — raising awareness about what is actually going on in my country. However, I really wish I could be there out in the streets helping out the brave souls who are fighting for their human rights that have been violated since the government actually prohibited the public hospitals to help injured people.
This week has been a rough one, but I can full-heartedly say I have never felt more proud of my country, unified together fighting to achieve a well-deserved and long-overdue freedom.