Nicaragua: Students Issue Call to Increase Pressure on a “Cornered” Ortega


University Coordinator’s spokesperson calls for “Roadblocks, strikes, street protests, all at once.”

By Ivan Olivares  (Confidencial)

Students at a cultural protest in front of the Central American University. Although the homemade mortars have been useful for repelling the regime’s assassins, popular support is the most powerful arm that the rebels have.  Photo: Franklin Villavicencio /confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – The private sector should intensify their use of the means at their disposal to increase pressure on the regime, risking their money in the same way that the people are risking their life, health and peace of mind at the roadblocks, marches and even in the Dialogue.

Such was the opinion expressed by three students who are part of the University Coalition, in an interview on the independent nightly news program Esta Noche [“Tonight”] broadcast in Nicaragua on Channel 12.

“The population has been exerting a lot of pressure in different ways, but those who haven’t pronounced themselves in a sufficiently clear way are the private enterprise associations,” stated Ramon Gonzalez, a student at the National Agrarian University (UNA) and one of the spokespeople of this group in the National Dialogue.

“It’s true that they helped a lot during the national strike and that he [Ortega] was frightened when he saw the population’s response to the work stoppage. But if they would exert a little more pressure on an economic level, (let’s not forget that Ortega has a lot of companies and businesses in Nicaragua) this would be a different story,” Gonzalez insisted.

“The people have pressured: with the marches, the roadblocks, and they’ve made their voices heard. The Nicaraguan people have maintained firm pressure against Ortega and Rosario Murillo, so we feel that private business can exert more pressure than they’ve done,” he insisted.

Sitting next to him, Lyris Solis, a student at the National Engineering University and one of the spokespeople for the University Coordination for Justice and Democracy (CUJD), affirmed that “the consistency of the pressure exerted by the people” will be critical in successfully getting the presidential couple to leave power.

“There are different ways to pressure: through the Dialogue, in the streets, the roadblocks and the marches. If all of this happens at the same time and is maintained, it will produce enough pressure so that they are cornered and end by leaving power,” she assured.

Move up the elections, but without Ortega

The young people explain that, in general, they don’t have any political ambitions (referring, in reality, to party affiliation) beyond expelling Ortega and his circle from power… and from the country. In passing, they also want to recover the autonomy of the universities.

Jonathan Lopez, an economics student from the Nicaraguan National Autonomous University (UNAN) in Managua, and also a spokesperson for the CUJD, asserts that “our movement doesn’t have any political ambitions, [although] we’d like in the future to have a representative elected by the students when decisions are being made regarding the nation.”

Gonzalez explains that “the Agricultural University students are against the political parties and against the politicians. We don’t have any party goals. We’re only fighting for a free Nicaragua,” he declared.

The university student believes that the country could call for a process of early elections, but without Ortega in power. “There’s a legal basis for it. The elections could wait until March, but he has to leave power before.”

He recalled the words of fellow student protest leader Lesther Aleman: “This can’t be a dialogue table where you negotiate and yield…since Ortega began the killing. Here, the only thing that’s going to be accepted is the departure of him and Murillo, and the resignation of all the deputies, because they’re also responsible for everything that’s happening.”

Gonzalez adds, “In the Agrarian University, we maintain our request for the election of new university authorities: rector, vice-rector, deans and representatives of the UNEN (national student organization).

For his part, Lopez recalled that at first, “the occupation of the university was mainly a means of protest against our internal authorities,” a protest that proved to be fully justified when the riot squad began shooting in the Agricultural University on April 19th, and again when they found that their rectors were at the Dialogue table, but representing the government. All of this shocked them out of the “indignant apathy” they were living in.

“Our campus struggle now is to exert pressure, on the UNAN authorities as well as on the national authorities,” he added.

Gonzalez explained that “if the UNEN (national student union) is going to continue, it must be headed by true leaders. In the UNEN of the Agricultural University there are people whose academic level is too low, like this guy Andino who’s at the Dialogue table: he’s been studying at the UNA for many years and that’s not right for a university student.”

Bullets against mortars

Nicaraguans have given evidence of their drive for freedom and a heroism that’s hard to understand, especially when they face murderous bullets armed with slingshots and homemade mortars, knowing that “a mortar can’t compete with a firearm. It’s impossible, because a mortar is a defensive weapon,” Gonzalez declared.

That tremendous imbalance explains the need to set up barricades, “because it’s the only barrier that defends us against the arms, even if it’s not so effective. The mortars are our weapons to confront the repression that we’re experiencing.  Personally, I believe that the government is giving the last kicks of a drowning person. They know they’re coming to the end. The people know it too, and that’s why we continue to stand on our feet and fight,” he said.

“We know that the Ortega-Murillo regime is finishing their cycle, and that’s why we keep fighting, because the dream of all Nicaragua is to be a free country once again, where there’s no repression, where anyone can go out on the street and express what they don’t like, without fear of being repressed by any government nor by any political force,” the university student stated.

Although it’s true that they don’t reject the role that the mortars are playing in the resistance against the dictator and his hordes, Lopez specifies: “our principal defense is the people. We count on the support of the residents. Above and beyond the mortars is the capability and the support of the people.”