Nicaragua’s Student Leaders Continue Firm in the Civic Struggle
The students note that they were not released under Ortega’s self-Amnesty Law, because they never committed any crimes.
“Nobody has to pardon us because we never committed any crime. Those who need to pay for their crimes and ask for pardon are those who killed so many citizens, mostly university students, and they’re from the government, the high ranking police officers and State officials involved,” said Amaya Coppens, one of the student leaders in the civic struggle, when approached by national media after her release from prison.
Coppens, in different live broadcasts during the liberation and reception of the released political prisoners throughout the day, was clearly seen emotionally moved after finally being released from prison. However, she claims she will continue supporting the civic struggle: “We’re going to continue working until they leave. We are going to continue demanding justice and democracy. We won’t forget our dead”, she commented.
The medical student, of a Belgian father and Nicaraguan mother, was released along with 55 political prisoners, which included several university leaders involved in the civic protests against Daniel Ortega’s dictatorship on April 18, 2018.
Meanwhile, university student from Leon, Byron Estrada, carried out one of the many “express demonstrations” that appeared after the release of the prisoners, during which he demanded justice for all the citizens killed in the protests, democracy in the country and early elections.
Estrada claimed Nicaraguans “have awoken” and Ortega needs to realize “that the country is not his farm.” He promised to continue in the civic struggle from within any space he can.
“This doesn’t end here, (Daniel) Ortega’s permanence in power is the real problem in Nicaragua, because we are in prison, not only those of us in dark dungeons, in prisons where we are beaten, but all of Nicaragua still continues to be a prisoner of the dictator,” he said.
“Long live Nicaragua!” shouted Nahiroby Olivas when he arrived at his home in Leon. He immediately hugged everyone who came to receive him and began to ask them not to give up.
“We need to fill the streets, they are ours. We cannot abandon the mothers who are still crying over their dead, disappeared, exiled children. We achieved the release of the political prisoners, but we still need to free Nicaragua”, he said.
In the same way, the university student leader and outstanding law student commented about the hard and emotionally difficult times he experienced in prison. He claimed that the last days were the worse, when the first political prisoners were released.
“We felt the anxiety of wanting to get out and support the effort that’s been lost in the streets of Nicaragua. I experienced May 16 [the repression at the prison] when there were 97 injured. What pains me the most was the death of Eddy Montes, but after experiencing all that, we come with a vision of returning to the streets and accompanying the mothers so their pain may heal. The only way we can do that is ousting this government”, stated Olivas.
Edwin Carcache: Freedom for all
After nine months in prison, Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo’s dictatorship on Tuesday “granted” freedom under the Amnesty Law to Edwin Carcache, a leader of the “April 19” Student Movement.
However, Carcache was forceful in saying that he wasn’t released due to that ordinance but because of a political agreement reached at the negotiation table.
“This morning when they released me, they showed me that I was being freed due to that law. I told them I would sign under one condition. I would place an asterisk stating that I was not being released because of that law but due to an agreement that was reached at the negotiation table and that the people’s will should be respected”, stated Carcache, who was received by dozens of neighbors at his home around seven in the morning.
The struggle continues
The student leader reaffirmed his leadership within the Civic Alliance and the April 19 Movement. In fact, a few hours after his arrival to his home, he received the visit of Juan Sebastian Chamorro and Max Jerez from the Alliance.
“My responsibility is with the civic struggle of this wonderful and courageous people. An important step for me now is to demand that the government complies with the agreements. I am also going to continue denouncing just as I use to. The only thing that has changed here is that Ortega continues to kill more people and the figures continue to increase and he’s still in power and that can’t be”, said Carcache, who expressed that Ortega should have a date for early elections and that’s the only way Nicaragua could head down the desired path.
He expressed that while there’s no justice and impunity remains while “this bunch of police and paramilitaries continue on the streets repressing the people”, true normality will not exist in this country. He also demanded that the government respect public freedoms, the right to protest, freedom of press and of the prisoners.
“The world wants Ortega out. Since Daniel Ortega has no education, he doesn’t realize it. Today we are insisting that he has to leave, he has to hold early elections that are clean, fair and transparent and that all the rights of Nicaraguans be respected”, he said.
Harvin Esteban Lesage: We are not criminals
“I knew God would allow me to be free. I dreamed of being free so many times since July 11 of last year and exactly eleven months later I was released. We are going to continue fighting for a better Nicaragua”, declared clearly emotional Harvin Esteban Lesage, a young university student and singer imprisoned for protesting in the streets of Jinotepe.
This young university sophmore, studying marketing at the Universidad Central de Nicaragua (Central University of Nicaragua) in Carazo, loves to sing romantic songs. One of his videos of him singing went viral during the protests. Happy to be reunited with his parents and other two brothers, who had also been imprisoned, he promised to continue denouncing the Ortega regime.
“Our struggle is going to continue being civic. They have tried to belittle us and have called us criminals, but that’s not so because the people know who we are. The people don’t want war and we are going to defeat Ortega with our civic struggle”, he said when he was received in Jinotepe after being released from prison.
Esteban Lesage denounced having experienced torture, poisoning and beatings from the penitentiary authorities in prison. “They would constantly threaten to kill us, but we didn’t allow them to break us down because we know that our struggle is just. All we want is democracy”, he insisted.
The last of three brothers to be released recalled all the killings in Jinotepe after the brutal “Clean-up Operation” carried out on July 8, 20018 by the Ortega regime in Carazo. Three days later, these young singers were imprisoned.
“The only ones here who need to be imprisoned are those who committed crimes against humanity”, declared Esteban Lesage