Another harrowing report from Managua on the confrontation between increasingly multitudinous protesters and the Ortega government – this time from Bianca Jagger and Christopher Dickey in the Daily Beast.
Human rights groups have recorded more than 140 deaths, more than 1000 injured, and counting. Families search for relatives, especially young people, taken violently on the street and disappeared into the country’s prisons—or disappeared altogether. Bianca, representing the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, participated in a press conference where Amnesty International presented its investigation of the violence. The title summed up the government’s policy in three words: “Shoot To Kill.”
The regime of Daniel Ortega has shown it will stop at nothing to crush the opposition. Yet the spirit of the opposition will not be crushed. “The students are exhausted,” Bianca said, sounding exhausted herself. “They are worn out. They are drained. And they are aware of how much in danger they are. How threatened they are. Their courage and determination to achieve justice and democracy and free elections is astonishing given the horror they are facing.”
As we talk, I am in something of a time warp. Bianca Jagger and I have known each other for almost 40 years, having met in Nicaragua when the Sandinista revolution still seemed like it might be something to celebrate. She was a passionate defender of human rights and democracy even then, although best known in those days as a beautiful actress who had married a rock star.
In this uprising there are so many echoes of the past, so many images from the old days. For the young men and women at the barricades today, even the smells must be much the same as they were during the uprisings 40 years ago—the lacerating fumes of tear gas, the dust of cinder block barriers, and the sweat dripping off young men and women waiting under the hot Central American sun for the inevitable attacks on their thrown-together redoubts. They are far too young to remember first hand. But what they do know is that one aging, corrupt leader of that old revolt has become the savage enemy of this one.