Nicaragua Peasant Leaders: The Streets are Our Place to Protest

Francisca Ramírez: “People should take over their municipality, their neighborhood. The only solution we have left is to take to the streets in mass.”

By Yader Luna  (Confidencial)

Francisca Ramirez of the anti-canal movement in a march in San Miguelito. Photo: Carlos Herrera: Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – Faced with the abuses of Daniel Ortega’s government against the Nicaraguan population, “the only way out” that has remained “are the streets,” said Medardo Mairena, an anti-canal peasant leader and one of the members of the currently suspended National Dialogue.

“(Daniel) Ortega has not let the population demonstrate and has always tried to manipulate and repress, so today, the streets are the only place left as a form of struggle,” he said during his participation on the TV program Esta Noche.

Mairena said that they have analyzed the issue of the barricades, but cannot attribute the leadership of them “because many are no longer just peasants or students” but they are also the spontaneous reaction of the population throughout the country. He noted, “we cannot stop them or try to take away their constitutional right to protest.”

During her participation on the Esta Noche program, peasant leader Francisca Ramirez said the roadblocks are a legitimate form of protest and a way to apply pressure to prevent further abuses and murders.

“The only solution we have left is to go out in masses of people and fight from our streets, protesting at the barricades to defend ourselves from the violence of the Government and its repressive forces,” she said.

Intransigent government

Medardo Mairena. Photo:

During the fourth round of the dialogue, on Wednesday, the Nicaraguan foreign minister, Denis Moncada, said that it was “essential” to eliminate the roadblocks.

“It is the agenda of the people who are suffering from attacks, violence and who see their right to work curtailed,” he said.

In this regard, Mairena said that no progress has been made and the dialogue had to be suspended “because they are implementing delaying tactics.”

“We know that Ortega signs an agreement and never complies, that’s why we are on the street to demand his resignation. What we want is for him to tell us when and how he is going to leave power,” said Francisca Ramirez.

Mairena said that when the roadblocks started, they “tried to make them more flexible” so that there would be food supplies in the country, including the 48-hour truce, but the government “has not shown interest and violated those agreements.”

The campesino leader said that it would be “serious” to lose control of the barricades and that there would be shortages in the country.

Mairena said that they have not had official communication from the Government about the possibility of resuming the dialogue, but that he heard Vice President Rosario Murillo on Thursday “repeat the same lines” of the supposed love for the people in her televised daily speech.

“The truth is that if they had love for the people they would not have ordered the masacre, that’s why we blame them for what might happen,” insisted Mairena, a member of the Civic Alliance-made up of representatives of civil society, university students, producers and business people- who participate in the now suspended National Dialogue Table.

Ortega is “unable” to govern

On what decisions will be taken if the government maintains its intransigence and avoids discussing the agenda for the democratization of the country, Mairena responded that the Civic Alliance is only “the voice of the people” who will be the ones “who will decide what to do.”

Daniel Ortega

Mairena said that the government has only wanted to show that the roadblocks “are an economic problem” but have not wanted to “give importance to the lives of the Nicaraguans who have been killed.”

For her part, Francisca Ramirez said President Ortega has already demonstrated “he is unable to govern” because he ordered the population to be repressed. “They are sick from power and they think they own Nicaragua,” she said.

Both the guests on the televising program condemned the new attacks of the Ortega mobs that took place on Wednesday afternoon and evening in the cities of Leon and Chinandega. “We continue adding to the list of dead in this struggle and Daniel Ortega is the main one responsible because he has not shown any political will to reach an agreement without bloodshed,” said Mairena.

Ramirez insisted that the fight must continue until Ortega leaves power.

On the possibility of calling a national strike, Mairena said that this possibility is being assessed even though “we do not want to spend a month, two or three in the street under sun and rain.”

“But if such is the struggle that the people decide upon we are willing to support it… I believe that Ortega should listen to the population which is calling today for him to leave,” he said.