Wednesday 5 May 2021

Nicaraguans fear return to civil war past

When still just 16, Alvaro Gomez fought with revolutionary forces against a US-backed dictatorship during the Nicaraguan civil war.

Alvaro Gomez lost a leg fighting for Sandinista revolutionaries against the Somoza dictatorship. INTI OCON, AFP

He lost comrades and a leg after he was hit by a grenade fired from a rocket-propelled launcher. But nothing during a decade-long war prepared him for the pain caused by the death of his son in April, three days after protests broke out against the leader of that revolution, President Daniel Ortega.

They started out of anger over planned pension reforms but since then the protests have mushroomed into a broad campaign against Ortega himself, who is accused of acting like a dictator. Some 250 people have been killed in violence that has sparked fears of a return to the dark days of the 1970s and 80s.

- Advertisement -

Among the victims was Gomez’s 23-year-old son, also named Alvaro.

“I’ve been told that they grabbed him, beat him and shot him in the chest. He was already dead when they arrested him,” Gomez told AFP as his voice cracked.

“It was the police. When I was told, it didn’t affect me because I thought my son was at work. I went to the morgue to see. It was him.”

Alvaro Gomez fought in a civial war as a teenager but says nothing compares to the pain of losing his son. INTI OCON, AFP

His son worked in a factory and was studying finance. He died at a barricade near his home in Monimbo, a suburb of the opposition stronghold of Masaya.

- Advertisement -

Anti-government protesters set up barricades all across the country but armed forces and hooded pro-government paramilitaries, backed by snipers, were sent in to clear the barricades and break-up protests, resulting in a heavy death toll.

Monimbo is one area where the protesters have held firm and the barricades remain, though the local community is practically besieged.

One notice near Gomez’s house, placed by hooded protesters, informs people that “the trenches close at 6pm.”

‘History repeating’

Monimbo was once a hotbed of the Sandinista National Liberation Front resistence movement that ousted the US-backed dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979, resulting in Ortega assuming power.

Almost 40 years on, revolutionary sentiments remain strong in the area but Ortega — who served from 1979 to 1990, and was re-elected president in 2007 and has been in power ever since — is now public enemy number one.

“There’s a lot of fear that history is repeating itself. It’s demoralizing,” sociologist Adriana Trillos told AFP.

- Advertisement -

“People are expressing fear related to the existing danger, but also of a return to the situation that caused so much trauma during the war.”

Sitting in his sweaty front room, 48-year-old mathematics teacher Gomez reflects on how the revolutionary fight served not to oust a dictator but, he says, merely replace one with another.

“The Ortega-Murillo family is doing the same as Somoza,” he said, referring to Vice President Rosario Murillo, Ortega’s wife.

The Somoza family created a dynasty that ruled Nicaragua for 43 years.

“I get so angry because we’re fighting for the revolution — while they give the order to kill the children and grandchildren of those who carried Daniel to power in 1979 and fought to keep him there.”

The Nicaraguan revolution didn’t end with the exile of Somoza, who was later assassinated in Paraguay, as Sandinistas spent a decade battling US-backed right-wing counter-revolutionaries known as the Contras.

“I’m crippled from the war and I feel useless,” said Gomez, who described himself as a Sandinista “not a Danielista and even less a Murillista”.

Weapons against stone

“Since my son’s death I’ve felt powerless and courageous in seeing so many deaths and not being able to do anything in such an imbalanced war.

“They (Ortega’s forces) have weapons; the youngsters have stones and cement.”

The feeling of the past coming back to haunt the present is palpable in Monimbo.

Angela Aleman, 69, says her mother was shot and several relatives imprisoned and tortured by Somoza during the war.

“Now I live with fear as my children are in the trenches,” she said.

Sociologist Adriana Trillo says Nicaraguans are suffering from post-traumatic stress. INTI OCON, AFP

Trillo says Nicaraguans are suffering from “clear symptoms of post-traumatic stress” such as insomnia, nightmares, hypersensitivity, evasion and fear that weren’t treated after the war and have led to an “exodus” in recent weeks.

There is alarm that the country might descend into a repeat of the “disappearances, arbitrary imprisonment, torture and that children disappear only to reappear dead,” that marked the Somoza dynasty, said the sociologist.

Gomez for one is already tormented by his nightmares.

“I dream about my son: I seem him at work, I see him studying, I want to see him get married, have a family, but this government…” he said, unable to finish his sentence, consumed by pain.

He sees himself ringing his son, talking to him, listening to him, visiting him at his home 200 meters away. He sees them walking together — him with difficulty — through his beloved cobbled streets of Monimbo.

At times he sits silently, tears and sweat trickling down his cheeks, a blackboard visible over his shoulder with square root calculations chalked on it that he teaches to local children he hopes will one day live a future free of fear and suffering.

Read more: Digital Journal

Article originally appeared on Today Nicaragua and is republished here with permission.

- Advertisement -

We strive for accuracy in its reports. But if you see something that doesn’t look right, send us an email. The Q reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it’s accuracy.

Q24N is an aggregator of news for Latin America. Reports from Mexico to the tip of Chile and Caribbean are sourced for our readers to find all their Latin America news in one place.

Related Articles

Political crisis and pandemic lead Nicaragua to three straight years of recession

TODAY NICARAGUA – The pandemic arrived in Nicaragua when the country...

Seismic activity in the surroundings of the Masaya Volcano

TODAY NICARAGUA – Ineter, the Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales (Nicaraguan...


After 200 years, two women manage to preside over Congress in the same period

QCOSTARICA - It took 200 years, but it was achieved, two women to preside over Congress in the same legislative period (2018-2022). On Saturday, May...

7 out of 10 Costa Ricans accept the coronavirus vaccine; 3 doubt or reject it

QCOSTARICA - Seven out of ten people in Costa Rica accept getting the covid-19 vaccine, while the other three have doubts, reject it or...

Woman who lured men with a motorcycle, drugged and robbed them

QCOSTARICA - A 22-year-old woman with the surname Rivera Cubillo was arrested, suspected of luring men through the internet and then robbing them. She was...

Entertainment Or Nature. What’s Better In Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is a country filled with beautiful nature, miles of coastline, and even volcanic formations. All these things make it a wonderful place...

“There can be no divorce between economy and health”

QCOSTARICA - Following is an opinion piece by Dr. Rodolfo Hernández Gómez, former director of the National Children's Hospital and former presidential 2018 presidential...

Ruta 27 this Friday collapsed due to the number of vehicles heading to the Pacific

QCOSTARICA - Globalvía, the concessionaire of ruta 27 to Caldera, reported Friday at least three points of road collapse on the road due to...

Central Bank intervenes to remove upward pressure on dollar exchange rate

QCOSTARICA - The Banco Central (Central Bank) increased its presence in the foreign exchange market to remove the upward pressure shown on the U.S....

Puerto Viejo, Limon, Costa Rica

  Photo by digitaltravelcouple, "In Puerto Viejo we were located on the sunrise side of Costa Rica so we watched (sic) as many sunrises as...

Today’s Covid News: Daily cases of COVID-19 continues to decline; young adults most infected

QCOSTARICA - After breaking all records last week, the number of new daily cases of Covid-19 in Costa Rica continues on the decline, according...


Get our daily newsletter with the latest posts directly in your mailbox. Click on the subscribe and fill out the form. It's that simple!

Article originally appeared on Today Nicaragua and is republished here with permission.

Log In

Forgot password?

Forgot password?

Enter your account data and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Your password reset link appears to be invalid or expired.

Log in

Privacy Policy

Add to Collection

No Collections

Here you'll find all collections you've created before.