Nicaragua has been governed by Daniel Ortega for much of the last 40 years. Today, many people in his own country see him as an autocrat who will never leave power. His wife is the country’s vice president. However, any attempt to protest his rule is met with a crackdown from authorities loyal to Ortega.
As pro-government activists sow violence in the streets, voices of dissent are silenced by arrest and assault. Roughed up and robbed by government supporters, protesters sometimes return home from demonstrations without phones or even shoes.
“If we go outside with a flag, we go to jail,” Ms. Lacayo said.
So when a small group of women held a hunger strike in a local church, it was seen as requiring a police response. This women wanted to know what had happened to their husbands and sons who had been arrested during protests and jailed ever since. In response to this minor challenge, the church was surrounded by police and electricity and water were cut off for nine days.
Father Román said: “When we opened the windows, the police outside would say to the mothers, ‘You are going to come out in black bags, smelling bad.’ We were hostages.”…
The government has said that many protesters are armed and that the news media has ignored atrocities they have committed, including murders and burning down government buildings. Protesters like Karen Lacayo reject the claims.
“They say we have missiles, this and that, but the only weapon we have is the flag and our voice,” she said. “We want a free Nicaragua.”
With tensions rising around the country, police officers have stormed the homes of opposition activists, tied them to chairs and humiliated them by recording video of them promising to stop harassing Sandinistas.
Just like in Venezuela, the police have become nothing more than enforcers for the regime. The NY Times reporter who was at the scene was assaulted by Ortega supporters and police did nothing:
The first time was a quick whack by a woman angry over having her photograph taken. A day later, a crowd of Mr. Ortega’s Sandinista Front party activists, who had gathered outside the chapel surrounded me, pushed me to the ground and tried to wrestle my phone away. Then someone smashed a paving stone through my rental car’s windshield as I fled.
The police, who were present, did not intervene.
Ortega is said to be nervous because of the recent ousting of Evo Morales after he attempted to steal an election. The next Nicaraguan election takes place in 2021, but Ortega has already done away with term limits so there is nothing to prevent him from running indefinitely and proclaiming himself the winner. This is how democratic socialists wind up clinging to power in failing states.
Here at home, one of the leading candidates for president is a long-time fan of Ortega and the Sandinista revolution. Bernie was even present during a rally for Ortega in Nicaragua where people were chanting, “Here, there, everywhere, the Yankee will die.” When Sanders was asked by the NY Times if he remembered hearing those chants, he denied having done so but claimed it wasn’t surprising that there was anti-American sentiment at the time.