We were already in a state of heightened anxiety over the marches planned for Saturday, and then Thursday night we got this from the embassy:
“The Embassy reminds U.S. citizens that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can escalate into violence. American citizens are therefore urged to exercise caution. Activities observed during past demonstrations include, but are not limited to the use of tear gas, rubber bullets, firing of improvised projectile launchers ("morteros,") rock-throwing, tire burning, road blocks, bus/vehicle burning, and other types of physical violence between law enforcement and protestors or between rival political factions.”
The kids had plans to go to the movies after school at the mall right by ground zero of the protest and we decided not to be paranoid and told them they could go ahead with their plans. But then at 11:00, the Chief of the National Police announced that they were going to clear out the Sandinistas (their own party) out of the rotundas by force if necessary. Sometime Friday afternoon. I called Thelma in Miami to see what she thought. We agreed movie viewing was not a good idea. I called the kids to tell them that they needed to come right home, but could move the party to our house. Since Hobbes (Thelma’s son who was staying with us for the week) thinks I overreact, I was really gratified when he told me his great grandmother had called him at school to say, “You aren’t still thinking of going to the movies are you.”
Hobbes brought his friend over here and I was really happy to have my family gathered around me at the Shabbat dinner table instead of worrying about them in Managua. They cleared the rotunda out at 7:00, but it was quite peaceful.
In fact, despite all of the threats and posturing before the marches, both went off “without incident.” Thousands of citizens united for democracy in Nicaragua protested the fraud of the last election, the establishment of the dictatorship, the abuse of the constitution, state sanctioned violence against the opposition and Daniel Ortega and his families personal abuses of power. They stretched out over a mile long, wearing Nicaruagua’s blue and white, carrying copies of the constitution, photos of their heroes – Sandino, Camillo Ortega (the good brother) and other revolutionary matyrs and Alexis Arguello, the Sandinista mayor that is widely believed to have been assassinated for starting to talk about the election last year. There would have been a lot more people if they hadn’t been afraid for their lives and if they had had access to the resources the Ortegistas did. The police had a very strong presence.
The Sandinistas filled municipal buses from all parts of the country and brought them to Managua, leaving no public transportation for the opposition. The marched to celebrate last years election “victory” and upcoming anticipated election victory. Masked youth shooting homemade mortars started out the march while some official explained it on TV as a folk custom. Red and White was everywhere. The masks are pretty funny because these are people who belong to the dominate party that has absolute control. They have no need to hide their identity.
Everyone is very relieved there were no major incidents. Sandinistas shot mortars at departing buses of the opposition, but no major injuries. Daniel replaced the Head of the Army. More wacky antics from Rosaria who tooled around the celebration of the people in her Mercedes Benz.