“We can all get more together than we can apart. And this is the way we gain power. Power is the ability to achieve purpose, power is the ability to effect change, and we need power.”
– Martin Luther King
What comes to your mind when you hear the word “protest?” A large group of angry faces taking the streets, with big posters or boards demanding something? Or a group of inspired and empowered faces with their fists up, screaming for something? What about a very mixed group of people joining together for a common cause? I guess it´s hard to tell, since it can be all or none of that.
In the last 9 months I have learn about demonstrations and the way people make it possible to protest. I´ve seen how protesting can develop and even mutate. You see, I was in Nicaragua when on April the 18th a new revolution started, the Nicaraguan people woke up and decided to no longer be quiet and tolerate more abuses from Daniel Ortega anymore. I participated in some of the first demonstrations, but decided to go very low profile as it was becoming very dangerous, and I was alone in my country. If something happened to me, I don´t know how my family, who live abroad, would find out about me.
When people decided to take to the streets against their presidential oppressor, with blue-white flags, handwritten posters, speakers, and their guts, Daniel Ortega moved to shut them up. It started like always, with a limited group of people, in this case students. They were the first ones to make use of their rights and take to the public spaces. Then mothers joined to support their sons and daughters and suddendly there were thousands of people on the streets, public places, and also on social media adding their voices in protest. That´s when the shooting, the tear gas, and the attacks against the people began. The dictator wanted to “clean“ the spaces and take away the rights to demonstrate and speak-up against him. But one thing I have learned about Nicaraguan people, my people, is that if somebody tries to take away our freedom, we invent ways to counter their efforts. Fighting to be heard and to be free overcomes the fear of retribution, that´s why we continue inventing new ways to keep protesting.
The Nica ingenuity is amazing and the way my people have learned to adapt and to survive in a country beaten-down by so many dictators, is something to admire. When the streets and the public places were stolen, demonstrations and protests had to change. Some examples of how the protests had to mutate are: protesting with the “pico rojo“ (women from all ages putting red lipstick on), and building revolutionary and vandalic altars for the “purísima“ (festivity dedicated to the Virgin Mary). People were using their imaginations, painting walls, writing on paper money, asking for the bill with the name of a murdered friend, family member or collegue printed on it, dancing, writing, and more. Suddendly protesting became an art, capitulation was not an option.
I think that the mutation of our protests, made us discover a little bit more about ourselves and what we were capable of. Thinking out of the box, makes you discover things that you didn´t know were there. Through art, invention and creativity, we continue to alter our voices so we can keep screaming “¡Patria libre para vivir!“ (free homeland to live in) and “¡Nicaragua florecerás!” (Nicaragua you will bloom).
Daniel Ortega hasn´t stopped, he is after everybody that is ready to keep fighting and looking for other ways to protest. I left my country a month ago and I don’t know when I will be able to return. The feeling I have leaves a dark hole inside of me. I´m wandering the world, sleeping on friend´s couches and beds, healing from the things I heard, things I saw, emotions I had, writing words about a country that I fear I may never see again. This is my way of of keeping alive the essence of my homeland, in my mind and in my heart. This is how I made my protest a piece of art, HE can´t take that away.
The photos for this post were taken from different nicaraguan newspapers.