Why you should care about the Nicaraguan crisis
A horrific genocide; pure evil… – Al Gomez on the continued violence in Nicaragua
By Joe Bachman
MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Deep in its third month, violence in the county of Nicaragua has claimed close to 300 lives now at the hands of the Nicaraguan government.
Such violence has seen the repression of students and citizens, denying them the human right of peaceful protest. According to Esteli-native Alvaro (Al) Gomez, who now lives in Stevens Point and was in Nicaragua at the beginning of the protests, the devastation created by pro-government forces has had destructive effects on the nation, once considered one of the safest Central American countries.
“People live in fear as students are threatened, some detained and tortured, and even taken from their houses,” said Gomez. “It’s a different Nicaragua than three months ago..what began in the capital city of Managua is now felt in every part of the nation. The domino effect has outplayed not just in violence and fear but with loss of jobs and fear of the unknown.”
In April of this year, anti-government protests broke out over increased taxes and the reduction of pensions for millions of citizens in the country. This is in addition to potential election fraud, where in 2016 President Daniel Ortega was elected to his third term, gaining reportedly 72 percent of the vote.
However, the Broad Front for Democracy reported that 70 percent of Nicaraguan voters actually abstained.
Such corruption in government has undoubtedly led to the disappearance of at least a hundred citizens, and the death of approximately 280. According to the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights (ANPDH) six civilians and four riot police officers died in conflict just this Sunday.
Also on that day was the reported death of a 10-year-old girl who was shot in the stomach by pro-government sharpshooters. However, Gomez has not lost hope that the violence will soon desist.
“I will say this of my people — they are strong and determined for a free Nicaragua,” said Gomez. “With homemade “morteros” slingshots and bricks to make barricades they continue to fight even when they are guaranteed death.”
According to Gomez, and reported by many on the ground, many of the injured are denied access to medical treatment, leaving some to bleed out on the streets — a sight hard to fathom just months ago.
“The international community needs to wake up and see what is going on in Nicaragua,” said Gomez. “Until Ortega is out, the repression will continue and as we have seen unfortunately in the last week even, get worse. July 19 is the anniversary or liberation day which commemorates overthrow of the Somoza family dynasty.”
The Somoza family dynasty was, in fact, a dictatorship that ruled from 1936 to 1979, until overthrown by the Sandinista National Liberation Front during the Nicaraguan Revolution. Throughout all of this, Gomez simply wants the Nicaraguan people to be free, and for those in the community to take notice.
Another person who would like residents to take notice is Mayor Mike Wiza, who has visited Esteli earlier this year.
“The Wisconsin/Nicaraguan partnership has been going on for decades,” said Wiza. “There is significant impact that the residents of Central Wisconsin have on Nicaragua, and it’s not on this government’s level, but person-to-person, which is why we try to keep politics out of it. However, just over the course of this weekend, four people are dead.”
Wiza notes that the lack of national news coverage of this crisis both frustrates and angers him.
“I’m disappointed because you’re not seeing this on national news,” said Wiza. “I sort of half-joke that people care more about what’s happening on The Bachelor or one of these reality shows than what is actually happening in the world.”
As a local government, there isn’t anything the city can do directly to help the cause in Nicaragua, but according to Wiza, sometimes the best intentions of support can be far-reaching to those on the ground in Managua.
“I hope people will take an interest in what’s happening in Nicaragua because of our partnership/relationship, and be proactive and see what news stories are available,” said Wiza. “…seek out information, and seek out if that information is valid — not just in Nicaragua. I don’t know anyway we can get involved and help except by showing that support.
“When they know people hear them and help support them, it means something — knowing that someone’s out there in your fight — it’s not just you; there are people that support you, there are people that are thinking of you and praying for you, I think that will mean a lot to them.”
To become involved, you can send letters of support to the Mayor’s office where it will find the right people in Nicaragua.
For updates from Al Gomez and his personal mission in Esteli, visit https://www.gomezmission.com/