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#SOSNicaragua

The war you haven't heard about.

A protester in Managua. Photograph: Alfredo Zuniga
Via The Guardian

Most popular news outlets have not been using their platforms to raise awareness about the conflict between the corruption in the government and the youth that are fighting back in Nicaragua. The bloodshed in this once beautiful country has been growing more violent day by day, with over sixty people dead since the protests first began around April 16 after the INSS board of directors approved social security reforms.

The unrest originally began after wildfires broke out in Nicaragua. It is speculated that the fire began due to loss of control by the government as they were dissipating land. Although they denied this rumor, it’s still widely spread via social media and believed by many, especially since the country declined the help extended from Costa Rica to subdue the fires. After their refusal, the young people of Nicaragua began protesting peacefully.

Soon after the protests first began due to the wildfires, the Institute of Nicaraguan Social Security (INSS) announced a reformation. The reform called for a 5% deduction of incomes for the disabled, retired, and widowed citizens of Nicaragua. It also called for an increase in the rate of workers, and an entirely new formula to calculate pensions. Due to the new formula, workers would now only be receiving 43.2% of pensions when it was previously 62.5%. All of this money being taken is rumored to be going towards President Daniel Ortega and his family, to feed into their lavish lifestyles, although this also has not been confirmed.

Once this reform was announced, the country immediately began protesting and forming strikes. Many Nicaraguans have taken to social media to attempt to raise awareness, succeeding when #SOSNicaragua went viral on Twitter. The first official march held in Nicaragua in protest of the reformation was held on April 18, two days after the news was made public. This march consisted of mostly the youth, but they were also accompanied by a few adults who had taken to standing against the government as well.

What had originally started out as a peaceful demonstration quickly escalated when an organization in support of the government and their actions, the Juventud Sandinista, arrived on the scene. They reportedly attacked the protestors with sticks and rocks while the police stood idly by. Some witnesses even claimed that officers reinforced the attackers and helped them. On this day, over 26 demonstrators were killed.

After this first protest, police officers armed with guns loaded with rubber bullets roamed the street; tanks were also seen in neighborhoods. Still, the people of Nicaragua persisted. The protests continued on, and the outcry for peace and justice grew louder. Throughout the duration of these revolts, over 200 protestors were arrested.

On April 21st, Ortega publicly announced that he would hold talks and perhaps reconsider the social security reform, which was originally supposed to go into action in early July. During his appearance, he also claimed that protestors were being influenced by gangs. His statement only led to more riots and frustration throughout the people. The next day, he announced the cancellation of the reform, but still suggested a possible negotiation. Still, Nicaraguans continued to protest, now calling for the resignation of the president and vice president.

University students are known to be the individuals speaking up more than others about the mayhem in Nicaragua. They continue to protest despite the fact that at least over one hundred people have been reported to have been sent to the hospital due to serious injuries. According to reports, one student lost one of his eyes, and another pregnant woman had a miscarriage during one of the uprisings. This isn’t even the tip of the iceberg of the massacre happening in Nicaragua.

Despite President Ortega’s recent promise for peace, the unrest continues. Police have stopped using rubber bullets and instead have settled on using real ones on the protestors, no matter how peaceful their demonstrations may be. On April 23rd, University students held a Walk for Peace, demanding that President Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, resign from their positions of power. Across the country, over one million activists marched. Afterwards, the students in the capital of Nicaragua, Managua, held a vigil for the individuals who have passed away due to the turmoil in the country. Although they did not resign, on April 24th, President Ortega released most of the previously arrested marchers due to the public uproar.

Still today, the bloodshed in Nicaragua continues on. The call for peace grows louder day by day, although the media attempts to filter and silence the people’s cries. Even if this is not your country, everyone must do their part to raise awareness and publicize the truth of the war that is still happening. It is no longer a protest against the INSS or the wildfires that started it all; it is an order for peace and justice, which can only be achieved and maintained with the resignation of President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo.