“Excuse me, sir, I think your flag is upside down,” I began to say as I prepared to take a picture of two gentlemen holding proudly the Nicaraguan flag during the March for Justice protest this past Saturday. “No,” he said. “Nicaragua está de luto.” Nicaragua is in mourning, the phrase meant. And this phrase, as was the symbolic turning of the flag, fully encapsulated why there were so many of us there at that moment, in one of many peaceful demonstrations that are taken place all over the globe: from Spain, to Miami, Los Angeles and every large city in the United States, to every corner of the world that the Sandinista revolution forced us to flee to in the 1970s and 80s. A great majority of us lost loved ones during those harrowing times: brothers, cousins, friends…so many of them. And just as we thought war and death were a thing of the past, all the pain and suffering began to come back in full force, as in mid-April the Ortega-Murillo regime began to unleash a repression so bloody and savage against our people— young university students mostly— the likes of which our beloved homeland hasn’t seen in decades.
The March for Justice, organized by the Nicaraguan-Canadian Association, saw over 200 people dressed in blue and white (our flag colours) or in traditional folklore costumes and armed only with matracas, pots and pans, flags, signs and the loud jubilation of a people that has seen it all, taking to the streets of Toronto (starting at Queen’s Park, marching along University Avenue and ending at the CBC building on Front St.) and hoping to bring attention to the massacre of innocent people that began on April 19 in Managua (Nicaragua’s capital). Over 60 people— mainly students— were murdered in the first couple of days, as they peacefully protested changes to social security that called to increase worker and employer payments and would have reduced future pensions in retirement.
The ability of the media to report on what was going on was shut down almost immediately, and it has been through social media (@asisomosnicaragua and @juventud19deAbril, amongst others) where people were able to obtain information about what was going on over there. Totally unfiltered, the violence the country is experiencing in every town is there for all to see— images and videos so graphic and extremely hard to watch that include very explicit images of two young victims of a nasty (and intentional) fire in the Carlos Marx neighbourhood that saw an entire family perish because they would not lend their 3 storey home to be used for snipers to kill protesters. As recently as yesterday, the unfiltered and bloody image of a 15 month old shot by a bullet was shared all over social media for the world to witness the barbaric and heinous way the Nicaraguan people are being murdered.
“Nos están matando” (they’re killing us all) has become a common slogan in those social media posts that ring so true because the great majority of protesters do not have guns. It is the national police, Ortega’s paramilitary forces, and the Juventud Sandinista (Sandinista Youth organization) who are on the attack, protected by their easy access to guns. As of yesterday, there’s been more than 200 murders since civil unrest started in mid April. The massacre continues. “They were not delinquents, they were students,” chanted the crowd yesterday, hoping the Canadian mainstream media and government officials or anyone who would listen starts paying attention to what’s going on in Nicaragua.
As difficult as it may be for those distracted with Trump’s inhumane circus and the soccer World Cup, the Nicaragua people in the country and abroad are hoping the world joins in speaking out against the Ortega-Murillo regime and help stop shedding more innocent blood.
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