The 25-year-old has received threats for talking about the Ortega government, but he assures that he’ll continue manifesting his opinions from his trench on You Tube.
Por Keyling T. Romero (Confidencial)
HAVANA TIMES – Juan Sebastian Gomez began making videos for fun. He wanted to make people laugh, and in 2012, with that in mind, he encouraged his friends from the university to open a YouTube channel with him. But it wasn’t until a year ago that he decided to open a channel just for himself. He continued making comic videos and rarely spoke about politics. Up until now.
He’s the only YouTuber who’s used his channel openly to refer to the crisis that has swept through Nicaragua since April. Although his channel only has some 6,000 followers, his videos have been viewed over 100 thousand times, between Facebook and YouTube. This has provoked constant threats against himself and his family.
The majority are insults written from fake accounts, calling him a “clown”, “stupid”, “a rat”, among others that are profanities. But a little over a month ago, when he announced that he was going to reveal unpublished information regarding a government official, they came to “warn” some of his family members and acquaintances that “the order’s been given to shut him up at any price,” states Gomez.
The curious thing is that he’s not even Nicaraguan. He was born in Colombia, but he’s lived half his life in this country. That’s why his accent can still be noted. This is the story of the Colombian that chose Nicaragua as his second home, and who’s willing to use his channel as if it were a trench from which to do battle against the Ortega-Murillo duo.
Prophet in a strange land
Juan Sebastian was 12 years old when he came to Nicaragua. He arrived from his birthplace of Colombia with all of his suitcases to join his parents. For him, it was just one more trip, and he never thought that he’d be willing to raise his voice for this nation. It was easy for him to adapt. Soccer helped him make new friends and soon he’d grown so fond of the Nicaraguan culture that when his parents returned to Colombia, he didn’t want to leave.
That’s when he opened his channel in YouTube and found his passion. As he tells it in a telephone interview, this has given him many opportunities to work. From the time he began making videos with his friends, other acquaintances encouraged him to keep making them. And just for that reason, he’s received contracts to collaborate on audiovisual projects.
His first “political” video deals with the strategy the government utilizes to exercise power in the social media networks – what he calls the “media apparatus”. These are groups composed of members of the Sandinista Youth who are used to circulate fake news on social media, to control and threaten those who don’t follow the government line, as he revealed in his most viral video.
“I’ve always been a politically well-informed person and one who’s critical of power, because I grew up with a certain aversion to authority, to the figures of power,” says YouTuber Juan Sebastian Gomez.
Juan Sebastian’s participation in the struggle didn’t begin with YouTube. During the first days of the protests, he followed the struggle of hundreds of Nicaraguans who took to the streets to demonstrate. On more than one occasion, he was a witness to how the riot squads repressed them.
However, at the end of June of this year, he decided to leave the country. He did it for his safety and because his economic situation was difficult. He couldn’t get work. It wasn’t until then that he began to learn more about the political context of the protests and the repression, in order to take on the crisis in his videos.
Here are some of the questions I asked him, and his answers:
Why are you supporting a country where you haven’t always lived?
I’ve lived half my life in Nicaragua. Also, I’ve never been tied to that concept of one’s country. I’ve always had a lot of empathy for all kinds of people, beyond seeing what nationality they are. If I see that a government is using its power to assassinate and kill, it’s always going to seem to me like a despicable act, and I’m going to look for a way to make my voice felt.
After all the threats made against you and your family, are you going to keep making videos?
Yes. I plan to continue making videos. My friends are there, and I believe that Nicaragua is where there’s one of the bloodiest dictatorships in Latin America, given the level of savagery that Ortega and Murilla have shown.
For those readers who understand Spanish here are three of Juan Sebastian’s videos about the crisis in Nicaragua.