Stab Magazine | The People Of Nicaragua Have No More Love For Their President
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The People Of Nicaragua Have No More Love For Their President

“Nicaragua does not want another Somoza regime. The Nicaraguan plan is to do this peacefully, but politically it’s not getting better. The death tolls are not getting better.

news // Aug 14, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

The people of Nicaragua have no more love for their President, Daniel Ortega.

There’s little doubt in my mind.

At this point, I’ve traveled half the country and am yet to see a single portrait of the President and his wife that remains untouched. Instead, they hang torn to shreds, sprayed with paint, eyes blacked out.

The question remains—how badly do they want him out? A violent overthrow will come at a heavy price, and I don’t know whether the people are willing to make that sacrifice.

Hatred of a President, protests that turn violent, divisive partisanship among a populace; while these events are ugly, hurtful, and far from desirable, they aren’t necessarily indicative of an impending civil war.

For proof, look no further than my own country—the USA.

During my three hour drive from Puerto Sandino to Aposentillo, I saw life proceeding as normal. Women ride side saddle on the cross bars of bicycles. Factory shift-changes come and go. Buses run on schedule. Everyone plays baseball on their day off. Pulperias are everywhere, and volcanoes tower against the horizon.

Anti-Ortega graffiti covers walls and buildings in every population center. Chinandega is adorned with scrawled indications of true contempt.

“Killer is wanted”. Photo: AP News

“Daniel es assesino.”

“Daniel es terorista.”

I’m picking minds, seeking explication. I’m fearful every word delivered outside actual interpersonal interaction is either disingenuous or ill-informed. You don’t need to be a conspiracy theorist to accept that misinformation is business as usual in the digital millennium.

But I’ll buy first hand accounts. I believe Jonathan, the owner of Thunderbomb Surf Camp , when he tells me that he has friends who have been killed by police, while other have gone into hiding. Masked men open fire on barricades; the government denies involvement.

But the people do not want war. They want help. They want international recognition of their struggle against a burgeoning authoritarian regime.

The Mothers’ Day march saw 200,000 Nicos take to the streets.

“They want to avoid what happened in the 70s,” Jonathan tells me. “Nicaragua does not want another Somoza regime. The Nicaraguan plan is to do this peacefully, but politically it’s not getting better. The death tolls are not getting better.”

Campesinos are being kidnapped. Those who speak out risk having doors kicked in.

“What’s going to be the breaking point? We don’t know.” Jonathan continued. 

“Out Ortega”, no need to guess what this signs implying. Photo: The Guardian

Speaking with those who fear for their future, facing their reality, while surfing and drinking and having the time of my life feels dirty. Am I tone deaf? Just another oblivious American who sees the world as his playground?

It certainly feels like it here at times. Despite protestations, from both business owners and local Nicaraguans, that they want me here—to spread word that it’s safe, to help tourism return, to allow people to earn a living and avoid a return to the poverty that plagued the nation for generations.

Despite this, I feel a constant nagging suspicion that I’m only pretending to help, that I’m really here to play.

Because there’s a lot of truth to that statement. I’ve been surfing until my arms are limp and my skin is fried beneath a thick layer of Zinka. I’m eating three amazing meals each day prepared by smiling staff. Pouring rum into coconuts and staring at beautiful sunsets followed by skull rattling thunderstorms.

I feel totally safe, completely relaxed. I’m the luckiest boy in the world, benefiting from a return to solitude that I can only experience because of the price paid by local residents.

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