Nicaragua protested
April 24, 2018 11:58 AM   Subscribe

Nicaragua protested. People were killed. Changes to decrease pension benefits were rolled back.

La Prensa (Spanish language, local newspaper)
posted by aniola (20 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I think this may be a "straw that broke the camel's back" sort of issue? See also: when Ortega was elected in 2007, there was a limit to the number of terms you could be president. That sort of thing.

Also, minimum wage in Nicaragua is like $4/day, if you can get it. For context.
posted by aniola at 12:27 PM on April 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

This is such a bizarre and unfortunate derail to begin what could have been a conversation about a truly scary and out of control situation unfolding in Nicaragua.

The only country in the Western hemisphere poorer than Nicaragua is Haiti. In this thread, however, they are apparently entitled whiners who should be grateful they have it so good.

My friends in Nicaragua, who have not left their home for four days because their city is on fire, describe something similar to aniola above - this is just the most recent event in a long string, and the story here seems to be that the government has discovered the people's breaking point.
posted by range at 12:36 PM on April 24, 2018 [16 favorites]

[Several comments deleted; let's rewind and start over without a derail about 'what are pensions even'.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:41 PM on April 24, 2018 [5 favorites]

But critics accuse Ortega and his wife, Vice-President Rosario Murillo, of trying to establish a family dictatorship.

I find this sentence frustrating. Is there any validity to these claims? A newspaper should not just print something like that and drop it as if it is unknowable.

Also I happen to have just started a phase of self-education on Latin America but I am still very ignorant so if anyone wants to take the time and effort to answer some of the questions this piece raised for me, I would be grateful. Were the proposed cuts necessary? Were the tax increases and benefit cuts progressive or regressive? And why was Ortega appearing with “business leaders?” Why is he only willing to negotiate with “business leaders?” If it’s a social security type system it seems like the start and finish of the role business should play is making sure taxes get paid?
posted by mrmurbles at 12:54 PM on April 24, 2018

So for a little more context, the BBC has a pretty good rundown of the sequence of events. Folks I know in Nicaragua are describing a sadly-familiar toxic environment -- there were midsized numbers of peaceful protesters, who originally started protesting because the pension cuts were the straw that broke the camel's back. They were joined by much larger crowds once it became clear the government was going to suppress the protests violently. These crowds were joined and/or engaged by smaller groups looking for more violence. There's graphic footage of a TV journalist being murdered mid-broadcast, for example. Of course, this is almost certainly an incomplete picture, partly because I'm filling blanks in the BBC article with scattered reports I get from friends who are, reasonably, freaked the fuck out.

It seems like a lot of people who were concerned by the way Ortega is equated with his party which is in turn equated with Nicaragua (the Ortega/FSLN iconography is inescapable nearly everywhere) got a lot more concerned when term limits were abolished and then had their worst fears confirmed when a peaceful demonstration was crushed violently.

But critics accuse Ortega and his wife, Vice-President Rosario Murillo, of trying to establish a family dictatorship.

I'd propose that this statement is as close to a self-proving assertion as you're likely to find. I can imagine some reasons why a husband-and-wife team might simultaneously fill the roles of President and Vice-President but you're going to have to bring your rhetorical A-game if you want to dislodge "nepotism" and "attempted dynasty" from the top of that list.
posted by range at 1:35 PM on April 24, 2018 [18 favorites]

Thanks, range, that link is really helpful. I wasn’t sure whether the VP wife was appointed or elected but scrapping term limits is certainly ominous. The BBC piece also indicates that the current system is run at a deficit, but the proposed changes are flat across the population — and of course flat percentage charges are effectively regressive.
posted by mrmurbles at 1:52 PM on April 24, 2018

You know, one of the things that bugs me about Bernie Sanders is his record of kind words for the Sandinistas. His dream of a socialist utopia blinds him to some really awful people.

Which isn’t to say I don’t think the Somoza regime wasn’t awful and deserved to be deposed. Rather, that Daniel Ortega may be a good socialist but he doesn’t strike me as a good person.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 2:16 PM on April 24, 2018 [5 favorites]

Out of curiosity, where would Nicaragua get deficit financing?
posted by Keith Talent at 2:19 PM on April 24, 2018

It is worth noting every time Ortega is brought up, that he is a rapist and a pedophile who raped his own stepdaughter (as well as other children) and used his position in the government to deny her justice.
posted by corb at 3:36 PM on April 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

One more article from Univision for anybody looking for more context and history, with some more direct reporting than either the BBC or Guardian articles.

Meanwhile, some background on why the protesters are tearing down those big tree sculptures, and the recent history of the first lady/vice president/chief spokesperson. "Best" part: they ripped up actual trees to make room for tree sculptures that were supposed to remind people about how important... trees... were. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by range at 7:55 PM on April 24, 2018 [5 favorites]

I just had a few friends get back to the USA from Nicaragua. They were on vacation. The said it was insane - they had to escape to the airport in the middle of the night, and the scenes they were describing sounded like actual war-zones. Lots of things on fire, lots of military checkpoints; a totally unexpected end to their long-anticipated vacation.

Even weirder to me was that was the first I'd heard of it. Now I'm reading about it courtesy of Metafilter. This seems like it should be bigger news.
posted by weed donkey at 10:23 PM on April 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

Also, there's apparently a lock down on media in the country. My friends said they couldn't get any news in or out.
posted by weed donkey at 10:26 PM on April 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

Update pulled from my understanding of assorted la prensa articles.

There are still protests. It's now about the deaths of the people killed in the protests, and increasingly about Ortega & co. (Which is what it was probably really about all along, underneath it all, imo.)

The police director has resigned. Tomorrow there's a protest about the canal law that basically gives land away, and if built would be terrible for Nicaragua and Nicaraguans afaict.
posted by aniola at 11:10 AM on April 28, 2018 [3 favorites]

I think there's still a lockdown on media, from something I vaguely remember reading, but I don't understand what that means. Censorship? Clearly La Prensa is still posting articles.
posted by aniola at 11:12 AM on April 28, 2018

Out of curiosity, where would Nicaragua get deficit financing?

Here's a great article
posted by aniola at 1:29 PM on April 28, 2018

The protests are still going. From this video:
- "Managua has awoken. Which means the whole country is now awake"
- "I'm a farmer and I'm here because the killing of all those people is unacceptable. we've had enough of Ortega. He's an assassin."
- "42 people have been killed, at least 400 injured by riot police and pro-government gangs"
- Clip of a peaceful protest with 10k+people shown; there were lots of Nicaraguan flags.

Sounds like there's still the two main issues. People want Ortega & co to resign. They also want resolution about the people who died, through international NGOs, not some truth & justice commission picked by Ortega.
posted by aniola at 5:48 PM on May 12, 2018 [3 favorites]

I have been hearing a protest song all through these Nicaraguan protests, both played on sound systems, on media, and sung/chanted by protesters in the streets. I tracked it down.

Here's a copy on YouTube, with both music lyrics translated into English: "El Pueblo Unido Jamás Será Vencido" by Inti-Illimani
posted by spinifex23 at 8:36 PM on May 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

Here's a more indepth article (unfortunately behind a WaPo Paywall) about the history and the nature of the protests - including the toppling of those huge metallic trees by protesters in Managua.

In massive street protests, Nicaraguans are using Ortega’s revolutionary symbols against him.
posted by spinifex23 at 1:32 PM on May 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

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