Lesther Aleman: The Nicaraguan Youth Migration Is Alarming

Students demonstrate against the government of Daniel Ortega in 2018. Photo: LA PRENSA

Lesther Aleman also notes that it’s hard to engage with politics when you have to prioritize surviving.

By La Prensa

HAVANA TIMES – Student leader and former political prisoner Lesther Aleman laments that the bulk of the current exodus from Nicaragua are the youth. He feels this should be a warning signal for society, because their greatest demographic asset is being wasted.

Aleman and three other members of the Nicaraguan University Alliance appeared recently before the Argentine Courts to denounce the crimes against humanity committed by the regime of Daniel Ortega.

Aleman mentioned that five years after April 2018, when Nicaragua’s ongoing sociopolitical crisis began, it’s worrisome that so many Nicaraguan youth and students are leaving the country because they can’t find opportunities for work or study.

“The youth and the citizens in general should be protected; it’s not the time to put anyone at risk… It falls to us in this moment, in addition to hope, to convey that we’re doing everything possible to maintain connections with the youth who are leaving Nicaragua, with the youth who stay, and the youth who are disposed to make real and substantial changes through political involvement,” said Aleman.

In addition, he stated that continuing to be involved in political change from outside the country presents diverse challenges, because the main concern is surviving. “We’re trying to survive day by day. We need to seek that creativity, so that we young people aren’t left outside the plans for real change and aren’t left behind on the road to building a country,” he noted.

Responsibilities and demands

After five years of sociopolitical crisis and constant increases in human rights violations against Nicaraguan citizens perpetrated by the Ortega-Murillo regime, Lesther Aleman stressed that groups identifying as youth and student organizations should think about their responsibilities.

“We can bring new winds of change to Nicaragua towards constructing a real alternative. We youth aren’t disposed to become a new generation of some political party; we don’t want to be merely subjects of study for a consultant’s agency; but to be active agents in exercising politics inside and outside the country,” he remarked.

The former political prisoner, released and banished last February, also underlined the importance of academic preparation for Nicaraguan youth, so that the construction of the country can be complete.  Also, within the demands they must make of those dealing with this segment of the population is to eliminate condescension and revictimization, just for being young.

“The youth and student organizations and the young people themselves should be identified as active subjects in the political tasks of the day, who can have representation, who can generate proposals, who can carry out their own proposals, and also have the self-determination to be able to channel these processes of unity. We’re not limited just because we’re young,” he specified.

For the solidity of these organizations, the young must be accepted as citizens who need to participate actively in the changes, “and not be taken into account only for the photo ops.”

Lesther Aleman mentioned that although he and many others may be outside of Nicaragua, they haven’t stopped working on the construction of a realistic proposal, so the country can overcome the crisis and Nicaraguans can be offered an alternative to the “vacuum” that Daniel Ortega represents. “We’re there in the denunciations, we’re present in the proposals, we’re in the construction of an alternative that projects coherence, responsibility, strategies that may seem minimal, but that impact once and for all in our struggle on an international level, but especially at the national level,” he concluded.

Denunciation against Ortega

On June 13, the student leaders from the Nicaraguan University Alliance presented a denunciation before the Argentinian Courts, accusing the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship of Crimes against Humanity. The denunciation was presented by Lesther Aleman, Max Jerez, Mildred Rayo and Miguel Flores, all young former political prisoners of the regime who were banished from the country and stripped of their Nicaraguan nationality on February 9, 2023.

Members of the University Students’ Alliance in exile. In the photo, Lesther Aleman is on the left of exiled Nicaraguan bishop Silvio Baez. Courtesy photo

These efforts of the group of young people are aimed at proposing real alternatives in an area where “there’s a lot of talk and a lot of proposals.” The action also reflects the fact that young people maintain the will to struggle for the freedom of Nicaragua, Aleman indicated.

Different human rights organizations have affirmed that since the inception of the crisis in Nicaragua, the regime has used the different agencies under their command to commit crimes against humanity aimed at the Nicaraguan citizens.

“This also reflects the recommendation made by the investigation team from the UN Human Rights Council, that the victims of this repression should take giant steps like these, that could be seen as tiny in their moments, but we’re marking out a before and an after,” Aleman commented to La Prensa.

In the same way, he continued explaining that in order to be consistent with the search for justice for the victims, it’s necessary to exhaust all the demands on an international level so that Nicaragua doesn’t stop being seen as a country where human rights are violated.

“The hemisphere should understand that the Nicaraguan government hasn’t demonstrated a single instance of willingness to change. To the contrary, it’s gone backwards in terms of promoting the rights of free expression, of religious freedom, of freedom of association, freedom of movement, even the freedom to live. They’ve stripped many of us of our nationality. Therefore, many of the measures taken by Ortega, so many political errors, should be universally punished. As such, we hope they’ll also be involved in supporting the direct and indirect victims of the repression,” he explained.

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