“I’ve been able to share illusions and dreams with talented students, only to witness later how they’ve been abducted and taken to the regime’s jails, accused of terrorism.”
Daniel Rodriguez Moya* (Confidencial)
HAVANA TIMES – Over the last three weeks, I’ve been able to confirm with my own eyes the true dimension of what’s happening in Nicaragua. It’s a lot more terrible than what we see on the news. I’ve accompanied doctors working clandestinely to treat the young people wounded by bullets from Ortega’s police and paramilitaries, because in the public hospitals the doctors have been forbidden to help them. If they do so, they lose their jobs, as has already happened to dozens. I’ve seen how the police used a syringe to tattoo the letters “FSLN” (for the Sandinista Front) on the arm of a boy of 14.
I’ve spoken with parents who were Sandinistas, even Ortega supporters, whose children have been killed by the Ortega-Murillo regime for saying “Basta ya” [We’ve had enough] to the dictatorship, and I’ve cried with them. I’ve been able to share illusions and dreams with talented students, only to witness later how they’ve been abducted and taken to the regime’s jails, accused of terrorism. I’ve chatted with a saintly man, Monsignor Silvio Baez, who reconciled me with a Church that has nothing to do with the hierarchies cemented to those in power.
I’ve shared a table and beans with the most dignified and empowered woman that I’ve ever known in my life, the rural leader Chica Ramirez, who almost alone defied Ortega’s rule for five years in order to stop his hare-brained scheme for an inter-oceanic canal.
I’ve seen the sorrow in the eyes of former guerrilla fighters who’ve had to watch yet another dictator steal the revolutionary dream and betray its most basic principles. I’ve been able to verify how my fellow journalists from the independent press in Nicaragua are threatened, persecuted, or killed for telling about what’s happening.
I haven’t seen even the tiniest indications of CIA financing, foreign government influence or the other nonsense that is still being emitted by some people of the outmoded Stalinist left in Europe, whose spokespersons couldn’t stand to live even one day under a regime like the one they’re defending. I’ve seen the death squads intimidating the population in their Toyota Hilux pick-ups, accompanied by the police.
I’ve walked through a solitary and frightened Managua, where there’s no more tourism, almost no open restaurants, and where before 6 pm everyone is in their house behind closed doors. I’ve lived in a closed hotel where my cameraman, Isidro Prieto, and I have been the only guests – a hotel that before April 18 easily filled their comfortable and well-located rooms. In Nicaragua, nothing is normal, although on the regime’s television channels – purchased by Ortega with the Venezuelan oil money – the deranged Vice President, Rosario Murillo, insists over and over that everything is normal.
I’ve had to leave the country precipitously, following a warning that we’d been detected, due to the risk of being deported, as happened to a Brazilian documentary filmmaker who was detained for 30 hours and had all the material registered in her camera wiped out.
I’ve seen in Costa Rica how many of the over 25,000 exiles who’ve arrived in the last three months are living. I’ve gotten emotional while accompanying Comandante Masha, the young cancer patient who remained at the barricades and became a symbol of the struggle against Ortega, now giving encouragement in a shelter in San Jose, Costa Rica, to dozens of Nicaraguans who arrived there fleeing from the repression, from death or from jail with only the clothing they had on their backs.
But I’ve also seen a civil society that – although very battered – continues to believe in the civic insurrection and not in taking up arms, as the way to bring about the fall of the dictatorial regime. A society that fills the streets in each march, in each protest, despite the enormous risks to their lives that this implies. A society that deserves to have the international community react decisively in response to what’s happening. Today, [September 5th] the matter will be taken up by the UN Security Council. May they take it seriously.
* The author is a Spanish journalist and writer.