Powerful Images From Nicaragua's Political and Humanitarian Crisis
THE ORTEGA CURSE
For almost two years, Nicaraguans have been protesting against injustice and corruption in their country, demanding that the Ortega family leave power. Yet President Daniel Ortega and his wife Rosario Murillo, who is vice president, have not listened.
AN ENDLESS BATTLE
The government has used its police force to silence public opposition. Ortega, a former guerilla fighter and controversial leader of the Sandinista National Liberation Front, has remained in power despite a collapsing economy, sanctions from the United States and mass emigration. Religious leaders like Father Edwin Román have become strong voices of dissent.
A NATION IN TURMOIL
In April 2018, Nicaraguans organized massive anti-government protests in the streets and faced police violence. According to Human Rights Watch, "a brutal crackdown by the National Police and heavily armed pro-government groups against protesters that lasted several months has left more than 300 people killed and more than 2,000 injured."
TIME IS UP
A student writes "Ortega criminal," "Viva Nicaragua" and "let the water pass" in grafitti at a campus of Central American University in November, supporting the mothers of political prisoners who are on hunger strike at the San Miguel Church in Masaya. According to reports, Nicaraguan police held 13 opponents as they attempted to take water to the mothers at the church besieged by authorities. The New York Times reports the government cut off the water supply to the church and threatened the women, saying they would come out in body bags.
A group of anti-goverment activists and feminists protest against femicide, gender violence, patriarchy and mistreatment of women in Managua during the 71st International Celebration of Human Rights on December 10.
The military and national police have remained loyal to Ortega, causing violent clashes with civilians.
In September, a protester is assisted after being wounded by a rubber bullet used during a demonstration to demand the release of political prisoners and the end of violence.
In October, anti-government demonstrators took part in a vigil at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Managua to demand the release of political prisoners and justice for the victims of protests. To appease the opposition, the government is reported to have released over 300 political prisoners.
KEEPING THE FAITH
Anti-government protesters attend a mass to celebrate the release of political prisoners at the Managua Cathedral on June 16.
Yubrank Suazo (raising his arm), a prominent figure in the student protests against the government, embraces a friend after his release from prison in June. According to reports, over 800 people have been arrested for participating in demonstrations and rallies. Protesters demand that all political prisoners be released and their charges dropped.
A MOTHER'S GRIEF
A member of the Mothers of April association attends mass on Mother's Day in Managua on May 30. She is one of many Nicaraguan mothers mourning children killed during the protests against the government of Ortega. As civil rights violations and political unrest continue to shake the country, Nicaragua enters 2020 with dimming hopes of a brighter future.