Growing up, I learned that my father had been a part of a revolutionary war long before I was born. He lost two sisters and many friends in the fight to freedom. It was never a topic we casually discussed at home. It wasn’t until mid-April that I read headlines about riots in Nicaragua. I read that the same events that took place in the revolutionary war are beginning to reoccur in present times. I was devastated for the sake of the country I love and the family I have living in it. My worry and curiosity pushed me to research more about it. I was curious as to how the government’s violence affected the families in Nicaragua, and I want to know how the revolutionary war correlates to the current protests.
I began my research and learned that from the early 60’s until the late 70’s there was an ongoing war throughout Nicaragua against communism. My father was a rebel during the war. The rebels, civilians who were against communism, did everything in their power to make sure their country didn’t lose to communism. My dad, along with many others, had no weapons to fight with, however, they continued to fight. Jon Lee wrote, “1978, rebels fighting a repressive government erected barricades against the National Guard, and held out until they were overwhelmed by airplanes and tanks.” The communists won, sadly, and Ortega took power. I know these were difficult times for my father and his family. Nicaraguan residents were against Ortega’s government and the war restarted less than a year after Ortega took over. Nonetheless, he remained in power for the next thirty nine years. With that, I dove deeper into my investigation about the current protests. I read that the protests began in mid-April of this year when Ortega announced cutbacks on social security and increase in tax. The students of the universities stood up with the elderly against it. I called my aunt, a student at a Nicaraguan university, when I found out about the riots. Aside from the violent environment, her attitude remained positive and hopeful. She stood with her classmates during every parade and protest to voice her opinion and be heard. After hearing about her experience, I continued to read about the country’s tempestuous government. They didn’t like that citizens voiced their opinions, so they put a stop to it and began killing citizens. Over the course of three days, twenty-six adolescents had been killed. The students had no form of defense. “Nearly every day there were battles, between rebels armed with homemade mortars and slingshots and Ortega supporters with military weapons,” wrote Jon Lee Anderson. Eventually, students began to build “blockades of paving stones” to hold out against paramilitary forces. Even so, no form of blockade or homemade weaponry could protect Nicaragua’s residents from being crushed by abhorrent military forces and a corrupt government.
Ortega tried convincing the nation that the protestors were terrorists and deserved to be killed. Civil society, including myself, didn’t agree with him. Older generations of Nicaraguans, such as my grandparents, felt that the same events that started the revolutionary war were going to start one today. With that being said, Ortega resorted to canceling the social security reforms that started the riots in the first place. However, the protests were no longer about reforms, but ones about the citizens’ dissatisfaction with Ortega in power. In consonance with what Jon Lee wrote, “The official said, “the bloodshed makes it harder for a negotiated solution. There’s deep, seething indignation here. The Nicaraguans are not going to forget what Ortega has done.’” This was a new fight for freedom. It was obvious President Ortega was uninterested in what citizens were protesting for. On Mother’s Day, May 30th, townsfolk, like my aunts and uncles, risked their lives to march in Managua to show respect to the mothers who lost their children protesting for their right. As reported by Jon Lee, “at least sixteen people were killed in clashes with police, and more than two hundred others were wounded.” I thought to myself how lucky I was to have my family unharmed from their courageous acts. I read that two weeks after the parade the government announced they’d back down, but less than twelve hours later they set a mother’s house on fire for refusing to let paramilitaries base a sniper on her roof. The mother lost her entire family in the blink of an eye, this was just one example of the many cruel things Ortega was capable of. The pain he is forcing citizens to bare makes this experience traumatizing to Nicaraguan citizens.
It’s evident to me that the students fighting against the government are taking inspiration from the same events that happened over thirty years ago. As stated in the Playbook, “Lesther Aleman acknowledged that he and his friends needed help preparing to face this kind of violent conflict: “We have learned from history that sometimes it is necessary to make tactical retreats.”’ Lesther, a student who stood up to Ortega during a national dialogue, told the president that it was no longer an opportunity to fix things because they no longer wanted Ortega as president. Lesther’s life had been in danger ever since he made those bold statements. Nonetheless, he is not hiding. Lesther Aleman is a symbol for bravery.
Before researching the events happening in Nicaragua, I was unaware to how poorly the war affected my family and many others. The revolutionary war was many decades ago and in current times, Nicaragua seems to be reliving it. The newer generations of Nicaragua’s citizens are trying everything they can to remove Ortega from power, the same way civilians tried back in the 80’s. The Nicaraguan Revolutionary War continues to impact families as they struggle to fight in current protests for the democracy they never got thirty years ago.