This past Friday, the citizens of Nicaragua declared a national strike in protest of their president, Daniel Ortega, and his oh-so corrupt government. In the city of Managua, pro-government paramilitaries and the police cornered roughly 200 protesters in a church and opened fire on the building. During the siege, the pro-Ortega forces murdered two of the unarmed protesters trapped inside of the church and wounded several others.
The Pro government El 19 called the protestors "terrorists" and "thieves": in effect, they declared the people, brave enough to demand that a dictator return their country to them, an enemy of the people. This labelling of Nicaraguans who would dare to speak out against their government as terrorists, is kind of a thing now. According to El Nuevo Diario, Roger Martinez, a respected psychologist with a practice in the Nicaraguan city of Granada, has been given the same label. He was picked up, along with 23 others by, you guessed it, police and paramilitaries, during a national "cleanup operation." At the time that this post was written, Martinez was still in prison. Yesterday, Dr. Blanca Cajina and Dr. Irvin Escobar, were whisked away from their lives as well. They're the latest in the growing number of professionals and intellectuals and community leaders, to be accused of terrorism by the Ortega government. As this handy guide from the U.S. Holocaust Museum notes, cracking down on a nation's intellectuals is one of the signs that your nation is well on its way to being controlled by a fascist regime.
In his book, On Tyranny: 20 Lessons from the 20th Century, author Timothy Snyder warns:
Watch out for the paramilitaries. When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching around with torches and pictures of a Leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-Leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the game is over.
Snyder also mentions that what happens in other countries can happen here, or anywhere else, as well. Nicaragua's citizens are currently deep in the fight for the soul of their nation and, in many cases, for their very lives. The wheel, for them, has turned further towards fascism at a brisker clip than it has thus far in America. But the wheel is turning and will continue to do so, unless we find a way to stop it.
Image via Wikipedia Commons