Tens of thousands marched to commemorate the month of struggle and the slaughter ordered by Daniel Ortega
The blocks of Leon became a blue and white tide that celebrated the new liberation of what is known as Nicaragua’s university city. There was also a caravan in Managua
By Yader Luna and Ivan Olivares (Confidential)
HAVANA TIMES – Wearing a typical white cotton dress with the coat of arms of Nicaragua in the center, Francis Batres, a teacher, gathered with thousands of other inhabitants of Leon, known as the University City, up until now considered a bastion of the FSLN Party, tightly controlled by President Ortega.
They came together for a march to demand an end to the presidency of Daniel Ortega. “Here we are all out in the streets because too much abuse has been committed by the Ortega Government,” said Batres.
Her dress had embroidered on it the phrase “this is my shield”, because, according to Batres, her body is her only weapon against Ortega’s blows.
Shortly before 3:00 p.m., the demonstrators continued to arrive and fill Pedro Arauz Palacios Ave., where the march began to commemorate the victims of the April massacre. “The streets belong to the people,” they chanted.
“The people are asking us to liberate our nation, says the giant Gigantona and her big headed dwarf,” repeated in chorus, while tens of thousands of citizens of Leon and neighboring cities marched through the streets.
“They were students, they were not criminals”, was one of the cries most repeated, [the Ortega government tried to justify the murders by saying they were just criminals].
Mayra Gutierrez, 73, says she’s been writing poems as long as she can remember. In a black notebook, which she showed the young people, she had several of them written down. Many, dedicated to the student struggle.
“I came from far away to support these brave young people who are fighting for a better Nicaragua,” she said.
She says that Ortega must leave power. “Nicaragua, as Pedro Joaquin Chamorro once said, will be a Republic again.”
When the march passed in front of the CUUN-Leon university, dozens of young people shouted: “Ortega must go,” while calling for a return to “university autonomy.”
“A bastion of the people”
Alan Garcia, a student at UNAN-Leon, said that although this city has historically been a Sandinista Party town, that has already changed. “There are a lot of Sandinista people here, but we are not Ortega people, they have killed our ideals,” he declared.
Cristina Zambrana, a young woman from Barrio Sutiaba, insisted that all the thousands of people who took to the streets demand the resignation of Ortega.
“We suffered so many deaths of our brothers and although we have been a Sandinista people, we are also a people that fight against injustice,” she said.
Zambrana believes that the national dialogue must be “transparent”, because the people demand “that they find the culprits of such a massacre.”
Sutiaba rose up
Francisco Javier Gonzalez says that the town of Leon is roaring. “We’ve had it with Ortega and his corrupt government.”
The massive march ended in the indigenous barrio of Sutiaba. In the square, in front of the church, hundreds began to arrive and to wave their flags.
“Long live Leon,” the demonstrators chanted while a giant screen reproduced images of the different marches carried out in different cities of the country.
Aracely Cruz, a 30-year-old university student, says that dozens of young people were attacked in April by Ortega’s mobs.
“Enough is enough and the people from Sutiaba are here to tell Daniel Ortega that we are not afraid, that we do not want him to continue killing us,” he said.
They demand his resignation
Ana Valle, from the “April 19th University Movement”, estimated that more than 12 thousand people gathered in Sutiaba, but that many more came out of their homes “to demand justice.”
“We know we are in a truce [this weekend], but we will not leave the streets, because repression has to be stopped and the culprits who murdered our comrades must be found,” she said.
“Honor and glory to the heroes and martyrs of April 19th,” declared the constitutionalist Gabriel Alvarez, one of the organizers of the blue and white march.
The voice of the peasants
Peasant leader Medardo Mairena attended the march and said he was “proud” to have told Ortega in his face “to leave.”
Dozens of young people applauded Mairena during his intervention. They danced, sang and jumped up and down on the first day of the 48-hour truce after a month of protests in Nicaragua.
“Here we are fighting for a country with equal rights for all. Respect human life and our constitutional rights,” he said, adding they will remain “firm in their demand for justice for our murdered brothers.”
“We thank the young people for sitting Ortega in the bench of the accused, thanks to their efforts, to their struggle,” he insisted.
“Ortega has reached his end,” Mairena concluded. “He must go”, those around him shouted.
IACHR visits Leon
“There are no mysteries, come and file your complaints,” urged Francisco Eguiguren, one of the rapporteurs of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) delegation that visited Leon.
Although he did not want to give more details, he said that they have already collected numerous complaints. He explained that they receive information from both the State and civil society but they work with “proven facts and not rumors.”
The delegation of the IACHR that visited Leon included Edison Lanzas, Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression. They mentioned that they would visit hospitals, universities and media such as Radio Dario that was burned during the protests.
Anibal Toruno, owner of Radio Darío, said that he met with the representatives of the IACHR. “They visited our burned station and we told them that we are transmitting from somewhere in Leon.”
“During the meeting we presented them with evidence and they were surprised to see what we have been through; I think they will know how to compile all the abuses that journalists have experienced to date,” he explained.