The students won the day today with an enormous march through Managua. It was, according to unofficial sources, a historical event with its some 100 000 participants – totally independent of the government or any political party – an unseen event in Nicaraguan history. The mass marched 6,5 kms, ending at the university of UPOLI, where only last night students were killed.
The students won the day. The march was originally planned by COSEP, the powerful business-association, and a close ally of the government. That is, until the pension reform announced a week ago, which implies higher costs to some of the “ones who already have”.
But the march took a different turn, literally, when the students took over.
Instead of marching a few blocks around the commercial centre of Metrocentro, the students led the way to UPOLI.
And some 80 000 people did it, accompanied by others on the way, and with clear messages: “Away with La Chayo and Daniel” – the couple leading the government, “Stop the violence and the repression”, “We don’t dialogue with assassins”. A clear message to the allegedly responsible for some 30 dead the past six, violent days, most of them students or other civil people, but also policemen and one journalist.
The past weeks’ protests started about a fortnight ago, with student riots over the Sandinista government´s allegedly deficient tackling of the devastating fire at Indio Maíz, Central America´s largest natural reserve and the lung of the region. The student protests were brutally repressed by the government and its forces.
Only a week later came the unwelcome reform of pensions and social security. The protest was small Wednesday last week – there could have been some 30 students, shouting and stopping the traffic. Half an hour later there were a hundred, and later in the night – 500.
And then it all exploded, and students throughout the country were protesting not only about the reform, but of repression, lack of freedom of expression, lack of opportunities. The convocations were done through social media, twitter, with hashtags like #SosInss and #SosNicaragua. Independent media were blocked by the government – but actually, the students don´t seem to care anyway. They are neither left nor right, they don t seem to believe in the traditional parties – they want to create their own future.
See the pictures for yourselves:
“Jaime” is distressed not only about many dead students, but also the ones that are locked in or disappeared as a consequence of the riots. He is a student of UCA, the Jesuit university, and is, or was, before the riots, supposed to finish his degree in three days. Now he does not know about his close future.
Other students missing…
…and the dead/injured journalists…
There were hilarious faces…
…as well as extremely angry ones, especially as passing by the police headquarters, as in this case…
…but the message is: we are not afraid anymore
And the symbol of the government – “The trees of Life” – is not sacred anymore
Even the older generation recognizes it: “You are the real heroes”
This girl is not in doubt: “We are the new revolution”
She might be right or wrong – but there is no way back. The violence of the past weeks will not be forgiven, neither by the younger, nor the older population.
In the enormous crowd, there were many historic Sandinistas.
Nicaragua is at a point of no return. And the youth might lead the new way.