April 18 should be a day to remember the more than 300 people who were murdered by regime police and paramilitary forces in the months of protests. It’s also an opportunity to challenge the Ortega dictatorship’s current narrative that the country has moved on.
A report released recently by a group of independent experts — backed by the Organization of American States and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights — affirms that the Nicaraguan government committed crimes against humanity for its “generalized and systematic attacks against the civilian population.” Local activists and journalists, as well as international organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, continue to document persecution and repression.
Meanwhile, Ortega has made a mockery of negotiation efforts. It’s clear he has no plans to release all political prisoners or allow the safe return of those who were forced to leave Nicaragua. One day he signs peace agreements, the next he unleashes violence against the slightest sign of popular expression. On the eve of the anniversary of the mass demonstrations, the police cynically banned all protests.
But Nicaraguans have discovered the power that rests in them, and they will keep calling for change that could improve the lives of generations to come.
The movement, first led by students, then followed by activists and peasants and other members of civil society, reformulated the vision we had in Nicaragua of political participation. That’s why the resistance continues.
Resistance from the jails, as more than 600 political prisoners endure torture and inhumane conditions.
Resistance from newsrooms, as journalists inside and outside Nicaragua continue to report the truth even as they face threats and prosecution. Reporters Miguel Mora and Lucía Pineda are in prison, accused of the absurd crime of “inciting hate.”
Resistance from the streets, because even the heavy police presence won’t keep Nicaraguans from demonstrating and finding creative ways to outwit power.
Nicaragua might have disappeared from international headlines, but the dictatorship continues to oppress the people.
But the resistance lives, and the struggle will continue until Ortega steps down.