Protests against the government of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillio in Nicaragua have resulted in 45 fatalities and still counting, human rights organizations say. Amidst the violence and uncertainty that has shaken the country, heartwarming acts of solidarity have appeared and will remain imprinted in the Nicaraguan people’s memory. We did a quick survey of some of the most commented moments.
Hugs to the National police
On May 2nd, the 19 April Student Movement called for a peaceful march towards the National Assembly [to deliver a letter]. During the protest, riot squads appeared to block the students’ passage. The latter responded by painting agents’ shields white and blue, hugging them and putting Nicaraguan flags on them.
Even though they didn’t manage to reach their final destination, police forces weren’t violent. The image of a young anti-riot policeman smiling and bewildered by a hug went viral on social media.
When farmers and students met
Rumors of farmers from the anti-canal struggle coming to Managua began to spread as soon as the protests broke out. Even though initially they weren’t able to mobilize, they protested in their communities the whole time.
A week later, Francisca Ramirez, leader of the anti-canal struggle, announced that farmers were going to attend a pilgrimage summoned by the Catholic Church in Managua.
On Saturday April 28th, farmers traveled at dawn in their trucks and work vehicles, straight to Managua’s Cathedral so as to attend the pilgrimage that the Church had summoned. They recited slogans like: “Long live a free Nicaragua! Long live the student struggle!”
Inside the Cathedral, a group of farmers and students came together. They held a moment of silence for those who had fallen from both groups and they congratulated each other: “This is everyone’s fight”, they said.
Street vendors give away their merchandise
On April 19th, young people protesting at Nicaragua’s University of Engineering (UNI) didn’t have water or food. Cold water vendors, who were nearby, decided to give away their merchandise to those who really needed it. Ever since then, similar acts have been reported at every protest in the country.
Social media users managed to organize themselves to give clothes and provisions to these street vendors, in thanks for their heartwarming acts. “When I looked at what was going on, it was something that touched me and God told me that they needed water,” William Zambrana confessed, who gave students water.
“I was taught to share. I thought it was necessary,” Carlos Morales said, the young man who shared his enchiladas with students at the Cathedral.
On April 19th, young people at Nicaragua’s Agrarian Univeritiy (UNA) also took to the streets to protest, after students were violently repressed the night before at the Central American University (UCA).
In the middle of a pitched fight between attacking riot police and students entrenched in the UNA, local merchants showed solidarity with the university students and donated some of their products to feed them.
The population that opposed looting
The morning of April 22nd reports began coming in of the first looting in commercial establishments in the capital. Residents of the attacked businesses began to leave their houses to protect the premises and return the stolen goods. The population chanted slogans such as “No looting” outside the facilities.
Although the economic losses were large, Walmart, the international chain that owns Pali and MaxiPalí in Nicaragua, said in a statement that they were “deeply grateful and moved by the determined and spontaneous support provided by the community, neighbors and customers of their stores in the country.”
Merchants sympathize with murdered students
On the afternoon of April 29, there was a fire in the Mercado Oriental in Managua that affected some 15 stalls. According to firefighters, the fire was caused by an electrical fault. When official media came to report what happened, the merchants decided to protest in memory of the students killed.
“They were not criminals, they were students,” the vendors repeated. The next day they blamed the government for the fire and claimed it was “a smokescreen” to divert attention from the protests.
Eye prosthesis for young people who lost an eye
The attacks and repression during the student protests caused nine young people to lose one of their eyes. As a result of this, the Ocular Prosthesis Program for Students emerged. The purpose of this initiative is to raise money to pay the cost of manufacturing the prosthesis and donate them free of charge to the young people affected.
Through a Facebook page, the progress of the nine affected young people and the money that has been raised has been disclosed. According to a statement, the Ocular Prosthesis Program for Students “is an initiative of ophthalmologists and volunteers that emerged in the face of the urgent need to support university students who lost one of their eyes during the recent protests.”
Groceries for university students in protest
During the first days of demonstrations, in several points of Managua, collection centers were established for food that would be destined to the students entrenched in the universities. Groups of citizens donated bottles of water, canned food, etc.. Also several doctors and medical students joined the cause and served as volunteers in conflict zones.
One of the main collection centers was established in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Managua, where Alvaro Conrado, the youngest of the deceased, was shot in the throat after an attack by riot Police and violent groups of civilian Ortega supporters. Alvaro had bought water to take to the collection center and was passing it on to the young protesters.