My Eternal April, and that of Nicaragua

Women in exile. Ilustración por Juan Garcia, Niu


“I have never felt so close to death like that afternoon, the day of the Mothers’ March,” she recalls.


By Ana Siu (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – Since I left Nicaragua on June 8, 2018, I have dedicated myself to resolving my life outside of my comfort zone and to write about what I feel, from my privilege of being outside and the pain of being away.

I began my catharsis writing about my grandmother “Mamarru,” mother of Arlen Siu. I went on to tell the exile story of a close friend. I narrated how hard it is to leave and start over, as well as a letter I wrote to my aunt. I shared the story of when I was confronted with xenophobia in Mexico and of course, I explained in great detail about my depression after the crisis.

The day it all began

I still remember when I read the news of the Social Security decree and told my friend and boss: “We are screwed!” Despite the fear, I was preparing to go to a sit-in at Camino de Oriente with my colleagues. We never arrived.

Through a live stream on Instagram, I saw a friend from the university being attacked by mobs. I heard how she screamed and struggled not to be hurt, while the men who attacked her did not stop.

From the beginning of the protests, the demonstrators used the national flag as a symbol. Photograph taken on April18. In Camino de Oriente. Carlos Herrera / Niu

Finally, the “motorized” man let her go, but took her cellphone without knowing that it was still transmitting. Then, he said: “Let’s go, let’s go. We have to take all these cellphones and examine them.” This continued for about 20 seconds, until finally the transmission was cancelled.

I didn’t know if my friend was safe, if I would be exposed when they examine the phone because of our WhatsApp group, or what would happen to Nicaragua from there on. Since April 2018 I was assaulted by life.

I say assaulted, because I did not expect it. It was like walking on the street and suddenly being ambushed by people who took everything away from you. To feel that fear and helplessness, because you know that you will not recover it and that you will never walk the same way on that street. I knew that my mind and my heart will never be what they were, that after seeing and hearing what happened, I could not remain with my arms crossed.

Massive marches were being called in Nicaragua, as the one held on May 9 in Managua.

I know that I was not the only one who felt that: a rage and indignation for having to go and reclaim what they stole from us. So, from that day on I changed the contents of my backpack and now I brought a can of spray, a handkerchief and my enthusiasm to set the world on fire.

For that reason, I did not miss a march, sit-in or vigil near my house from that day until the date that I left. Even the company I worked for gave me permission to leave early and attend. I worked hand in hand with artists, foreign media and friends, to do any project that would lead us to build the “New Nicaragua.”

I will also never forget running to the BAC building on April 20 seeking refuge, because Ortega’s police attacked us with bombs, while a group of “godinez” (office workers), as they call us in Mexico, sang the national anthem and raised our hand in peace, I saw for the first time a wounded person, a very young girl whose face full of blood, hurt by those bombs.

I remember that I cried and had a little panic attack. I could not believe what had happened. I asked myself: why did they do it? If we did not do anthing.

I felt like a coward for crying and I could only think of my aunt Arlen, how she had given her life on a mountain, while I was crying, sheltered in a building of the Pellas corporation. However, later I understood that she had fought precisely so that I would not have to go through something similar. I was crying with anger and not with fear.

After May 30

This day changed the way we lived the protests. Those of us who were in that huge march saw how they murdered young people. It was the first time they attacked a massive march with lead bullets. I had never felt so close to death like that afternoon.

The attack on the march of the mothers. Photo: Carlos Herrera / Confidencial

The permission to leave at four in the afternoon to go to protests was over…but I had to leave at that time so that they would not kill me or kidnap me in the streets. Every city was under siege by the dictatorship’s paramilitaries and fear invaded every corner of the country. Then it was when I left, for a “two week” vacation that my younger sister helped me pay, a “vacation” that made me one more number of the Nicaraguan diaspora.

If you have read me before, you already know what happened to me during this time. The shock process and adaptation to this change that I did not ask for. You know that I still feel guilty for continuing with my life, you know what I have learned and unlearned in a different culture. Somehow, since April 18, when everything was stolen, I decided to open up to others, because I no longer have anything left to lose.

My life fits in a suitcase, as my friend Fatima so perfectly illustrated, a suitcase full of pain, memories, longing and some hope packed in a very small container. Because despite everything we have lived it is difficult to remain positive and avoid blocking what hurts from your mind, as a defense mechanism.

My best recollections

-When I saw a “chayopalo” (Rosario Murillo’s metal trees of life) fall for the first time.

-The April 23 march to the UPOLI, where we all laughed full of a common emotion, while weeping for those killed. The amount of people that had gathered, without fear and in natural order, without the need of having policemen on the side. A march in which we shouted slogans of this new struggle, with memories of the past sacrifice.

-Being close to Metrocentro with an aerosol paint and my handkerchief writing: “Young people returned to the street to make history.”

-The feeling of union and courage, that I had never felt in the country before.

-Saying good-bye to my loved ones, not knowing if I would see them again.

My biggest learnings

-To be humble and accept the help of other people in difficult times.

-To realize that the only constant is change.

-To make real friends is difficult.

-To organize with unknown people to achieve things in common.

-Your abuser can enjoy political power, if you remain silent.

-The “New Nicaragua” is not so close, as we once thought. And, if we really want to have it, it will not be enough to overthrow a dictatorship. We need not to repeat mistakes: empower women and do not put abusers in power.