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In San José, Nicaraguans march in memory and call for justice

June 4, 2019

A blue wave of demonstrators dressed in Nicaragua’s national colors made its way from the Nicaraguan Embassy to the University of Costa Rica campus on Thursday to mark one year since protests in Managua left 15 dead.

May 30 is Mother’s Day in Nicaragua, and last year’s protest in that country was organized to memorialize children who had who died in clashes with police since demonstrations against the regime of Daniel Ortega began in April 2018.

This group came to be known as the Madres de Abril, or the Mothers of April.

Thursday’s march in San José was organized by Nelson Jesús Zeas Paz, a leader of the Movimiento Campesino De Nicaragua (Nicaraguan Farmers’ Movement) and one of the organizers of the original “En Memoria a las Madres” march.

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Exiled in Costa Rica out of fear of becoming a political prisoner, he intends to continue the fight and has planned more marches and demonstrations. Zeas Paz was aided Thursday by the University of Costa Rica Student Federation, which helped organize the demonstration and participated for the entirety of the march.

“Principally, we demonstrate because of the sanctions by the USA and the European Union; we need them to weaken the regime,” Zeas Paz said, “and to get the charter of the OAS [The Organization of American States] to apply to the dictatorship.”

Halfway through the demonstration, it began to sprinkle, but protestors were undeterred as they dutifully made their way from the embassy to the university.

There was a small police presence, but the protest never felt tense — the organizers even kept the crowd to one lane so traffic could pass in the other. Chants lead by Zeas Paz echoed calls for justice for protestors and journalists killed by police in Nicaragua, as well as gratitude to Costa Rica for providing asylum.

As the march reached the University of Costa Rica plaza, it began to rain in earnest, and the demonstrators huddled under coverings. A few danced in the rain.

The crowd held a moment of silence before names of those who had died protesting the government in Nicaragua were shouted by individuals. After each, the crowd chorused back, “presente.

A Nicaraguan activist, who represents the movimiento joven feminista Las Malcriadas and asked not to be named in this story, read a statement on behalf of exiled students in support of the march.

“The feminists of Nicaragua support the Mothers of April because their fight is our fight,” she said. “Their fight is everyone’s fight. The fight of mothers, daughters, brothers, grandparents. We march together.” 

This story was updated June 4 to remove the name of a Nicaraguan activist who contacted us after the story’s publication with new concerns about her safety.

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