By Danae Vilchez (Confidencial)
HAVANA TIMES – A group of Nicaraguans gathered in front of the Foreign Ministry on Friday to demand that Daniel Ortega’s government allow the transit of thousands of Haitian and African migrants who are attempting to cross Nicaragua in the direction of the United States. Some 30 demonstrators advocated for opening the borders and guaranteeing a humane resolution to this crisis which affects more than seven Latin American countries.
Up until now, the official policy of Nicaragua has been to militarize the border, pursue whoever enters illegally and later deport them to Costa Rica. In addition, there have been reprisals against Nicaraguan citizens who show solidarity with the migrants. The most notable case is that of the teacher from San Juan del Sur who was jailed for 46 days for aiding a Haitian woman and her 15-month-old baby.
“We’re here in the name of this heroic teacher. We’re a people that has lived for many, many years from solidarity and with solidarity. Despite the fact that this government is so cruel, we Nicaraguans haven’t lost our disposition to be compassionate,” expressed Marlen Chow, a feminist in attendance at the demonstration.
“It’s unbelievable that a country of migrants would inflict so much harm on other migrants,” the protester added.
The demonstrators attempted to deliver a letter to Foreign Minister Samuel Santos, but were denied entry into the state institution. It’s been estimated that in Peñas Blancas alone, on the border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, there are more than 1,500 stranded Haitian and African migrants. Many have attempted to enter Nicaragua with help from coyotes and human traffickers.
Two weeks ago, in the community of El Tamarindo near the coast in the Carazo department, a group of migrants were aided by residents, after being left abandoned by “coyotes”. The riot squad from the National Police then invaded the community to take the foreigners away, with an extreme display of violence. In a clash with the population, the officials lanced tear gas grenades and rubber bullets.
“We oppose what they’re doing to the migrants. It’s inhumane to have jailed the teacher for an act of love, not to mention the repressive measures of the police. It’s not just that they block the migrants from entering, but they also beat them. That’s unjust,” declared Paris Medina, a member of the Council for the Defense of the Earth, Lake and Sovereignty, a movement struggling against the inter-oceanic canal project.
In the beginning of August, ten cadavers were found on the beach of the Lake of Nicaragua, near the Sapoá River. Five of the bodies were unofficially identified by a Haitian citizen, Irlande Bien-Aime, as her relatives: Romane Fatjam Domani, 26; Derisma Olgins Fatjam, Skeezy Civil, Claudy Djoudjou Joseph, and Viergeline Valery. The identity of the other five people is still unknown.
“They’re fleeing wars and famine in their countries, and the least we can do is support them. In this country, they’ve encountered nothing but blows and jail from the government. We want to tell them and the entire world that the Nicaraguan people don’t agree with the treatment that this government is giving to the migrants,” Alicia Henriquez expressed.