I went to the Sandinista march today, the ruling party´s answer to the previous two massive manifestations from part of the opposition. To show muscles – because the two previous manifestations of the 23rd (the student´s ), and the second of the 28th (convoked by the Catholic Church), were – massive.
I have covered many demonstrations during my years in the region and yes, I can see the difference, also now still without any drone-images. And today it did not seem massive, in spite of official media´s claims of the opposite.
I had some hope. For it to be peaceful, balanced, to hear some hopeful messages, optimistic faces. Not to see repressing forces.
That is not my bottom line, end of the day.
Busloads entering Managua. Somebody shouts from a bus-window, seeing me with my camera: “Here comes the CIA!” A reference to an American journalist who left the country a few days ago, after he, according to the opposition paper La Prensa, had felt threatened.
I am not a gringa, but I am, like the US-journalist, also tall and blonde and, perhaps, not so popular these days.
The streets are lined with police, also with “antimotines”, the riot police.
As I get closer to the destination of the concentration, La Plaza de las Victorias, I see regular police-forces beside young Sandinistas, all of them lined up as soldiers, turbas, supposedly, the paramilitary forces. Listening to orders. Some of the young are starting to cover their faces.
Protecting themselves from – whom?
My camera is small and discrete, but I keep it in my bag.
People are entering the plaza. But there are no songs, no shouts of victory like during gatherings not a long time ago. They seem to come directly from the office.
Public employees are obliged to participate – or they fear to lose their jobs. Not just a rumour – people have personally told me so.
There are some V-signs, and I hear an occasional “Viva Daniel!”, but I decide to leave.
On the way back home, I see more busloads entering the city. But without the usual screams of victory, without lots of flags and faces sticking out through the windows, and without people on top of the buses – which seem half empty.
At home I listen to Ortega´s speech on tv (something this way):
“We have managed to recover calm, stability and have established a dialogue related to social and economic justice and the safety of the Nicaraguans, and to justice regarding the reprehensible things that have occurred”.
“These are situations that have to be investigated and are being investigated so that the guilty can be found. Nicaragua has chosen the way of peace, stability, and security”.
May that be so.
And may it not be true that what social media now state: the videos of the supposedly massive mobilization are fake and recorded during previous, bigger demonstrations.