Just trying to keep up with the political turmoil that’s been taking place in Nicaragua can be overwhelming. Following the demonstrations back in April that pit President Daniel Ortega’s government against an increasingly frustrated number of coalitions around the country, there’s been scarce respite from violence. As Fatima Villalta put it in an op-ed published here, “April 18 was the drop that made the 11-year-old cup run over. We were fed up with an authoritarian regime led by a man who has ruled by ending any kind of autonomy within state institutions, including public universities.” Young people all over the Central American country have mobilized against Ortega and what they see as his increasingly authoritarian policies. That they’ve been met with brutal police force, as well as pushback from pro-Ortega paramilitary groups, has meant their protests have escalated to bloody altercations.
For those of us wanting to figure out how to help (and get informed in the process), we should look to journalistic dispatches from Nicaragua. That’s precisely what’s at work in “Inside Nicaragua’s Protest Movement.” New York Times journalists Brent McDonald, Neil Collier, and Ben Laffin have produced a six minute video that works as both a primer on the summer’s unrest as well as an on-the-ground chronicle of Ortega’s eventual takeover of Masaya, one of the few places that the President’s forces had not yet controlled.
“In the past three months,” they write in the accompanying article, “tens of thousands of Nicaraguans have protested against Mr. Ortega’s government. The demonstrations have led to deadly clashes with police and paramilitary forces, killing nearly 300 people, including several officers and many students. Neither side has shown any signs of relenting. The government accuses the protesters of trying to mount a coup. They say Mr. Ortega is eroding the country’s democracy, abusing his power by scrapping term limits and influencing local elections. He has rejected calls to resign and to hold early elections.”
Mixing interviews with protestors, firsthand looks at the makeshift barricades being built to fend off police forces, and even a few smartphone-shot videos that show Nicaraguan students calling Ortega a murderer as shots are fired off-camera, the Times’ video is a must-watch for anyone caring to be informed about the current state of affairs in Central America. Take a look at the full video below.