By Hans Lawrence Ramirez (La Prensa)
HAVANA TIMES – Charismatic and unforgettable. They stood out among Nicaraguans who protested against Daniel Ortega starting April 2018. Some had to leave the country after being threatened by FSLN members, others lowered their high profile to avoid the police siege, and the rest wait for the day when they can march again.
Dona Miriam del Socorro Matus Aleman became the “vandalic” grandmother on May 18, 2018. She decided to give the little bags of water she sells to the mothers of the young people who died because of the government repression. Under the hot sun they demanded justice to the delegation of the government that was at the National Dialogue table in the Catholic Seminary.
Still today she can be found at the bus stop near the Our Lady of Fatima Seminary from seven in the morning. She has an ice water stand where for three cordobas she quenches anyone’s thirst. Although she presents the discomforts typical of her 81 years, she assures that she cannot stop selling because that represents her only income to subsist.
“My thing is to go out and march,” says Doña Coco. She is only waiting for the first call for a demonstration to take her little flag and join the popular demand against Daniel Ortega.
Commander LIttle Red Riding Hood
His name is Fernando Gaitan, but in Masaya where he is from, everyone knows him as “Nando.” He went into exile in Costa Rica after the video he recorded on a street telling Daniel Ortega that “either you leave, or we are going to overthrow you as we overthrew Somoza” went viral. He then received multiple threats against his life. It is almost impossible to contact Gaitan, he is still afraid for his life and declines interviews.
“That guy disappeared” says an old acquaintance of his who requests anonymity. “Daniel Ortega we don’t want anything with you. In June, for the “repliegue” from Managua to Masaya we don’t want to see you even in an image… Neither you or “La Chayo” (his wife and VP Rosario Murillo),” Gaitán said in the video.
He has been in what he calls a harsh exile for more than two years. He assures he has slept on the street, in parks, benches and wherever the occasion demands it. He has subsisted by selling rice pudding, caps, shirts and bracelets, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic his income has decreased.
Alex Vanegas says that he continues to run on the streets of San Jose, Costa Rica, but not with the same enthusiasm as when he ran in Managua. He feels disappointed. For the last four months he has been living in the cellar of a friend who also helps him with food. And at 64, he fears that he will never return to Nicaragua and that death will catch him in a foreign land.
Nobody could miss Doña Flor Ramirez with her folkloric blue and white dress. She participated in each march or sit-in that was called. A few months ago, she still continued going to some pickets to demand the freedom of political prisoners, until the Police stationed themselves in front of her house and did not allow her to leave “even to go to the grocery store,” according to the complaint she made in one of many videos that she published denouncing the fact.
Some called him “Spiderman”, but he prefers to be called “Colochos” (Curly). He is remembered for climbing on billboards, “chayopalos” (Murillo’s metal trees), poles and other tall structures that he found during the routes of the marches. “To put our flag at the highest point, so it would be noticed,” he says.
He currently lays low to avoid reprisals. He has dedicated himself to working and provide food to his home, and he complains of the high cost of living. He assures that he is disappointed in the direction that the political crisis has taken. Above all, by those who lead the different opposition blocs and organizations. He sees them “seeking a position, not the liberation of this country.”