What is happening in Nicaragua?
By now you’ve probably heard something about Nicaragua, and no, we don’t mean nice travel stories about the pretty towns or beautiful beaches. For the last six months, the country has had ongoing anti-government protests. Why? It all started with the government’s decision to cut social security benefits and increase retirees’ taxes. Needless to say, the country has been suffering financially for quite some time so this new sent the people of Nicaragua over the edge. Students, retirees, doctors and other civilians took to the streets to protest against these changes.
But first, a few facts about Nicaragua’s government for better context:
- President Daniel Ortega has been in office for the last 11 years. His term ends 2021, but the people are asking for his resignation.
- The Vice-President of Nicaragua is Rosario Murillo, the active President’s wife.
- Daniel Ortega was part of the Sandinista movement. A democratic socialist party that overthrew dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979.
- For the last few years, other former Sandinista supporters have abandoned Ortega. “The Ortega-Murillos don’t have an ideology, only interests. And they act accordingly,” Dora Maria Tellez, a former Sandinista, declared for The New Yorker.
- Ortega is allied to Cuba and Venezuela’s government.
Back to the protests. Initially, President Ortega sent forces to calm the demonstrations but soon everything turned deadly. Twenty-six people died during the initial protests which only aggravated people’s sentiment against the Ortega-Murillo government.
According to La Prensa and BBC News, as of last month, it is estimated that approximately 500 people have died in these confrontations, 200 have been detained falsely accused of terrorism and over 1,300 have disappeared. What is the government saying? They are not responsible. They claim these deaths and disappearances are not linked to any government entity, but (there’s always a “but”) the Sandinista paramilitaries responsible for most of these acts are Ortega supporters. They are actually working closely with the police force. According to The New Yorker, there are pictures circulating on social media where Ortega is seen with the hooded blue shirt army responsible for all these killings.
Good thing the media is covering this, right? Well, in the last two months, journalists like Carl David Goette-Luciak, a reporter for publications like The Guardian and Washington Post, have been deported by Nicaragua officials for covering anti-Ortega protests.
So how is this getting resolved? Ortega has declared protesting illegal. Meaning, people have to keep silent or ask for prior authorization to protest. The good thing? One, people are smarter and refuse to stay silent against these acts. Two, all these government efforts to suppress the opposition are hopefully a sign of a weakening government, as analyzed by Today Nicaragua.
#SoyPicoRojo & #SOSNicaragua
After protests were ruled to be illegal without prior authorization, a group of civilians were arrested during a peaceful protest in Managua. Among them, was Marlen Chow, a former Sandinista supporter who during a protest quoted poet, Claribel Alegría, by claiming she was part of Asociación de Mujeres Nicaragüenses de Pico Rojo. Ever since, she brings red lipstick to protests and encourages the women of Nicaragua to paint their lips red in support of releasing political prisoners and bringing back peace to their beloved blue and white. After her release, the people of Nicaragua took their anti-government protests to social media, with red lips.
View this post on Instagram
It’s a simple way to show their sentiment against President Ortega. The idea is to post a picture of themselves with red lips with the hashtag #SoyPicoRojo and #SOSNicaragua. So far, the movement has garnered over 100K posts. Let’s see how much this grows. Follow #SoyPicoRojo, #SOSNicaragua, and show our fellow LatinXs that the world is paying attention. Pucker up Nicaragua.