Nicaragua Unrest: A local’s inside view

By Amanda Rose Curtis

Staff Reporter

Nicaragua Nicaragua2Imagine being a “subject.” You know, an unknown. A number in a sea of other unknowns. You don’t have a say. What is on your mind is not to ever see the outside of those membrane walls because if you were to accidentally let any derogatory words slip out, they may be your last.

As a “subject”, you must obey what the government demands of you. To them, your only purpose is to advance their agenda. Free thinking? Nope. Innovators? No way. Patent holders, not a chance. Your family is not allowed to worship who or what they want to when and where you please. What news you do get, whether printed or on the screen is manipulated to fit the agenda of those in power. This has been shown recently with Journalist, Angel Gahona’s murder as it was captured on video and broadcast around the world.

A quick Pizza Hut pizza for family night? Yeah right. Even importing rice, grains and vegetables are out of the question right now. Famine is rampant due to the inability to import goods in spots, and nothing much is being done about it.

If you are so used to the liberties that we so freely enjoy here in this great country that you can’t imagine that lifestyle, I encourage you to do a simple youtube search of the words, “Authoritarian Government.” This is what is going on in Nicaragua right now.

Cuts to social security programs is what first brought the students out in protest. Brutal Repression and media censorship is what turned the protest into a popular rebellion. The government even retracted the pension reforms, but the unrest only intensified.  That’s because they were really in a battle with the idea of authoritarianism, not just one specific policy.

Mateo Jarquin Chamorro, the grandson of Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, a Nicaraguan civic leader murdered by the country’s regime in 1978 spoke out about the turmoil as well, “Since 2007, President Daniel Ortega has co-opted all branches of government and personalized the country’s institutions and security forces. Through a sham electoral system, he re-elected himself after abolishing all constitutional term limits. Increasingly, he has groomed his children for future leadership roles, and in 2017 he installed his wife, Rosario Murillo, as vice president. More on that witch later.

Michelle Bonville has been going to Nicaragua since she was 13 years old to minister to the people there. She recently made a visit, but due to the unrest, her trip was cut short and she returned early.  The following is a report on her most recent experience.

“The people I spoke to in Nicaragua have asked that we all pray hard for their country, and I’m determined to do so.”

Nicaragua is a gorgeous country that is home to active volcanoes, beautiful beaches, and gorgeous mountains. I first went to Nicaragua 13 years ago during a time of peace, but this year was anything but peaceful.

Many of the people of Nicaragua are currently protesting the actions of their president, Daniel Ortega, who has acted more as a dictator than a president. When I left for Nicaragua, I knew that there were protests, but upon arrival I was amazed at the extent. The protests themselves are peaceful protests of unarmed people (mostly university students) who feel President Ortega has overstepped his bounds. Exactly 40 years ago the Sandinistans, led by Mr. Ortega, led a revolution against another dictator, they eventually overthrew the government and Mr. Ortega became president. Now, 40 years later, the people have started to fight Ortega’s own dictatorial agendas. The recordings of his own speeches against the former government are often used against him in these protests.

When I arrived in Nicaragua this time, I found the people full of different emotions, everything from hope to fear. Many of the Christian churches have been gathering in public rotundas and having beautiful worship and prayer services, asking God to come and bring peace. They also have groups gather at midnight and 3 AM every day to pray and worship. My group was part of the midnight prayer group, sometimes we would start at midnight, sometimes we would start at 10 PM and continue until after midnight. Prayers were lifted for different things, the president, the protestors, peace, the economy. They chose midnight so that people were praying for the new day as it began.

Other groups pray at 3 AM because that is when the witches gather at a rotunda to call on the spirits, specifically the spirit of Chavez. The First Lady (who was also appointed the Vice President by her husband) is a well known witch. She has called on witches from all over to come and call on the spirits. The people told me that usually when they call on the spirits the water at the rotunda moves, but since the Christians have been praying at the same time the water has been still. The witches say there is “interference”, we knew what that interference was!

From the Christians I saw hope, a fierce desire to see God move in their nation and a willingness to pray and fast over and over until they see God move. From the non-Christians I was told stories of fear. They are afraid for their safety, and also for their livelihood.

The majority of the protests have centered around Universities. The people would begin a protest, then the government would send policemen and a group called the Sandinistan Youth to go and take care of them. There have been shootings (even by snipers), and people kidnapped and tortured to death. While I was there they had begun to use poison against the protestors, which also made people in the surrounding area become sick. Policemen who refuse to participate in the massacres of these unarmed protestors were put in prison themselves. Their families shown on television standing by the gates of the prison crying for their loved one.

To try to keep the violence away from their homes the people have begun to erect road blocks. Unfortunately, these roadblocks are also a deterrent for the normal citizens trying to go about their day. The ministry I visited had to close school on Tuesday through Friday of this week because the children were unable to get transportation to school due to the blocked roads. It has really come to affect the more rural areas. I spoke to a lady who lived in a rural village who said it had been over a week since they had seen vegetables in their area because the majority of their food comes from other parts of the country, and the blockades have cut them off. The prices of what was available also skyrocketed, a pound of salt that was normally sold there for 3 cordobas per pound is now being sold for 34 cordobas. Unfortunately, most of the Nicaraguan people are not able to afford to stock up on food ahead of time, so the lack of fresh supplies to the outlying areas is a devastating effect of protests in other parts of the country.

There was a feeling of tension in the people of Nicaragua. The Christians combated it with prayer, the others seemed unsure of what to do. Their protests are met with such horrible violence and so many deaths, the people are afraid. Many of the older people expressed their fear. They said during the first revolution they were ready, they were young and prepared to fight. But now they are old and too tired to fight. They don’t know what this new revolution means for their generation.

My heart was wrenched for this beautiful country and all of the beautiful people who live there. Many are determined to do all they must to bring change, often causing them to lose their life for the fight. Others are fighting a spiritual battle unlike any I’ve ever experienced, while others still just want to live their life the way they had without being fearful that they may accidentally get caught in the violence brought against the protestors.

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