Saturday, May 19, 2018

Nicaragua: some volcanic eruptions give little warning

Down with lies! 64 people killed in Nicaragua -- Long live socialism! Freedom for the heroes!

Echoes of the popular uprising in Nicaragua demanding the resignation of President Daniel Ortega have come to light poles in San Francisco's Mission District.

Even with the current rapid gentrification, the Mission remains very close to Nicaragua and that Central American country's ups and downs erupt in our streets too. In 1978, during the insurrection against the dictator Somoza, the initials of the insurgent "FSLN" predominated in the local graffiti. Today the posters set a heavily armed pig figure labeled "SFPD" alongside "La Chayo" -- a reference to Ortega's wife and omnipresent Vice President Rosario Murillo, also as a heavily armed pig figure. (As usual, click on image to enlarge.)

The digital magazine Envio, a publication of the Jesuit Universidad Centroamericana – UCA, reports from Managua in sorrow and hope. Some excerpts:

No one expected such a flare-up, but it was ignited by innumerable pent-up grievances. It started when pensioners protested social security reforms. Once the student-supported protest was met by violence, it was surprisingly joined by even more, not fewer people. Rural areas have lived with terror and deaths for years while Managua just seemed to slumber through it all. But once awake, the entire country came together. This spontaneous and unexpected explosion wasn’t the product of an outside conspiracy, but the eruption of pent-up grievances. Volcanoes don’t forewarn. ...

Two Nicaraguas now stand opposed to each other to a degree unimaginable only a month ago.

One continues to support the Ortega-Murillo government despite everything. The reasons include common economic interests on the one hand, and an impenetrable ideology on the other. Those in that Nicaragua believe the government, which still holds all the levers of power, will be able to recover its hegemony by force and reglue its alliance with big business, thus recovering the stability shattered in April. ...

The other one, the Nicaragua of the insurrection of consciousness, can’t forget or forgive the spilling of so much unnecessary blood or the continuation of a regime that went way beyond the nation’s patience and tolerance. That other Nicaragua is demanding not only justice but a change of government. Some, particularly students, intellectuals, peasants, owners of various-sized business and much of the population in general want that change now. Others, above all the powerful economic groups, want a smooth and ordered change, step by step, even if it takes until 2021, very likely because they have a clearer idea of what it would cost to unseat this government, and prefer to protect their interests. Whatever the timeline, those who want a real change are inspired by that insurrection of consciousness, one that is still growing.

There are also two Nicaraguas in a chronological sense, with a clear dividing line between them: the Nicaragua of before those unexpected days of rebellion and the Nicaragua of today. There’s no way to know yet how or when the new country born of that insurrection will take shape, but virtually no one believes anything will remain as it was before. ...

I can only report all this with almost immeasurable sadness. Nicaraguans have been through so much in the last 50 years; they apparently will have to go through more to determine the direction of their country in the days ahead. They are smart, enduring, and believe in their country's resilience.

Meanwhile, I continue to support the work of El Porvenir, helping Nicaraguan communities at the end of rutted dirt roads to enjoy clean water and healthy sanitation facilities. Director Rob Bell writes:

After a brief interruption, our Managua and field staff are back to developing projects and working side by side with communities who desperately need water and sanitation services. Our work is more important than ever as the Nicaraguan economy will suffer from reduced tourism; economists are predicting at least a 100 million dollar decrease.

... we are preparing for lower income and working to raise the funds for the projects that were to be built with income from the canceled [visiting work] groups. We urge you to make a special donation today at elporvenir.org /donate so that we can continue to partner with rural Nicaraguans on much needed water, sanitation, and watershed projects. In 2017 alone, El Porvenir worked with 20,271 rural Nicaraguans to build 24 water projects, 6 school handwashing facilities, 405 latrines , and 81 fuel-efficient stoves. Additionally, community members planted 102,840 trees throughout their watersheds.

We plan to work with even more people this year, but we need your help to be able to do that.

We hope for peaceful and just resolution in Nicaragua.

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