Life forged its own path between bullets and mortars at a roadblock in Jinotepe
By Yader Luna (Confidencial)
HAVANA TIMES – Ana Damaris Mojica feared it would all end badly. But now, her baby is a day old. It doesn’t know that the country is in deep crisis and in the middle of violent confrontations, but it’s already lived through the worst. The tiny girl, who still doesn’t have a name, was born amidst mortar explosions and bullets in a small medical outpost located at one of the roadblocks at the entrance to the city of Jinotepe.
The baby’s mother never imagined that the first photo they’d take of her daughter would be shared all over the country. In the image, you can barely see the little one’s face; she’s wrapped in a blue blanket, cradled by unknown hands with gloves and blue-and-white bracelets.
It’s a poor-quality image, taken quickly on a cellphone by one of the youths who assisted her, while shouts and explosions never ceased echoing in the city. But now, for this 29-year-old mother, it’s a special photo.
Making way amid the roadblocks
Ana Damaris got out of bed without making a lot of noise, gathered up her hair with her hands and spoke to her husband. It was dark, and in a little under two hours a national 24-hour strike was set to begin in the country. Ana had thought that her pains would calm down, but instead, they were growing ever more intense.
“My due date wasn’t for another a week, but the pain was becoming more and more unbearable. We decided to try to rush to Jinotepe,” she explains.
Ana Damaris left her house in the town of San Marcos around 10:30 at night, accompanied by her husband. According to one of her cousins, they first thought of taking her to Managua, some 35 kilometers (just under 22 miles) away. However, she insisted that she wouldn’t make it there. They then decided to take her to nearby Jinotepe, 7 kilometers away, knowing that even this trip would be difficult because all over the department of Carazo there were roadblocks impeding the access between the cities,
They didn’t believe her
Since last Wednesday evening, Jinotepe had been involved in nearly an all-out war. In a number of the city’s neighborhoods, violent clashes were taking place between protesting youth demanding that Daniel Ortega resign from the presidency of Nicaragua, and paramilitary groups that were attacking them with backing from the police.
When Ana Damaris and her husband Carlos Gutierrez arrived at one of the roadblocks at the entrance to Jinotepe, the youth who were guarding it didn’t at first believe them that they were going to the hospital. After becoming convinced, they decided to help transport her to the Jinotepe fire station. But they would be going on foot.
“While I was walking ever faster, the pains increased, becoming more and more unbearable unitil I thought I was going to have the baby right there in the street,” Ana confesses.
A few minutes before midnight, the group of young protesters and the pregnant woman arrived on foot at the next roadblock, where at least there were two doctors and four nurses on hand, attending to the youth who were wounded.
Life forged its own path there at the roadblock.
The young mother narrates that she was fearful a bullet would hit her while she was being transferred by the young people at the roadblock. The only thing you could hear all around the city were the exploding mortars and shots. But she breathed deeply and tried to trust that everything would come out well, because there was no other alternative.
Horns from the large trucks that found themselves stranded by the roadblock, bombs, pots being banged and whistles all sounded while she pushed. After midnight, thousands of Carazo residents from all over the department came out on the streets to mark the beginning of the national strike. Ana Damaris now says that perhaps it all announced the arrival of her daughter into the world.
On a small mattress on top of some desks, Ana Damaris gave birth to her daughter. She heard the baby cry and breathed easier. Several minutes later, they told her that they needed to transfer her urgently to the Santiago Regional Hospital because she had suffered a hemorrhage during the birth.
On a stretcher, with a youth carrying her baby who he’d covered in a blue and white flag, they went out onto the Jinotepe streets in the direction of a hospital. Once again, fear took over her weak body. The sound of bullets continued to terrify her for the eleven blocks of their journey.
But now, silence reigned in the city. “There’s a reason that God put all these young people on my path, so that they’d help me give birth to my daughter there. When we went to the hospital, the confrontation paused and there was total calm,” she relates, adding, “My daughter is like an angel in the middle of all this.”
They’re not sure what to call her
The parents of the little one had decided to call her Mirelys, but now they’re thinking about changing her name. They say that maybe they’re call her Victoria April, or Liberty, as some of the young protesters who helped her suggested.
“We’re still thinking about it, but when we decide, we’ll let you know,” says Ana Damaris.
According to data from Unicef, every year 16 million babies are born worldwide whose lives are in danger from the first minute because they’re surrounded by violence. This little baby, still nameless, is one of them.
“We hope she grows up in a country at peace,” says her Mom.