Although Nicaragua has not hit the head lines recently, it does not mean it’s all peace and quiet here. Far from it.
Police violence and injustices have been the order of the day since these started 6 months ago, but what has changed is the means by which the Government maintains control: from brute force with fire arms to ‘legal’ measures against government opponents.
To keep up appearances that all is peaceful again, the government has ruled that demonstrations of any kind can only go ahead with police clearance. Needless to say anti-government demonstrations are not expected to get this permission.
That’s why a few weeks ago organizers of a demonstration did not request permission. People gathered, but before the demonstration could even start they were surrounded by a large police force, to nip the demonstration in the bud.The police arrested forty demonstrators that day, a minority of whom were released the same day.
In the meantime everyday people who are seen to be demonstrating are arrested by para-police without show of arrest warrants and delivered to the prisons. More than 550 people have been picked up this way since the protests started. It’s not clear where the prisoners are sent, because most prisons around Managua must be extremely crowded. Witness accounts tell of the crowded conditions, the lack of fresh air, the damp and the pests. Prisoners have no or only scant contact with relatives. The worst case scenario is physical or mental torture. The judicial process is not fair either: prisoners are treated as terrorists and risk prison sentences of 20 years or more. The majority of prisoners are students.
But protests continue. This requires a lot of courage. Please remember Nicaragua.