“Mama, mama, forgive me.”
The students sob in front of the camera, tears running down their young faces. Their choked voices are briefly drowned by the sound of a gunshot in the background.
“To my mother who I haven’t seen since April when I left home, I want her to know I love her very much. I did it for my country, and I don’t regret it…I am going to die, mama.”
They lean against a brick wall, yet the wall may not be able to deflect the gunfire. Someone screams nearby. The students look away, nervously.
Over 400 people have lost their lives since the Nicaragua Protest started on 18 April 2018; many are students, or even young children. The protest is the direct consequence of President Daniel Ortega’s social security reform proposal. The leader of Nicaragua since 2007, Daniel Ortega plans to increase taxes and cut welfare spending, which has led to the largest protest seen during his time in power.
However, this social security reform is not the only cause of the anger of Nicaraguans. This protest is the culmination of a series of demonstrations beginning in 2013, which included a protest for the reduction of pension in June 2013, a protest against the construction of an inter-ocean channel that may damage the environment in 2014, and anger over the government’s insufficient work in fighting a forest fire in early April this year. The accumulated discontent of the Nicaraguan people is what has made this protest last over 100 days and become the bloodiest crisis since the 1990 Nicaragua Revolution.
As the center of the protest and public attention, President Daniel Ortega does not intend to step down or change his plan. Along with Rosario Murillo – his wife, Vice-President, and spokesperson – he claims that Nicaragua “will defend itself,” chaos will not be allowed, and order shall be re-established. He will not resign until the next election in 2021. His supporters believe that the president is trying to prevent a civil war and solve the problems with peaceful dialog. For them, the protesters are criminals who plot to divide the country.
The protesters are mainly made up of students. Young people walk out of school into the streets, cover their faces with masks, and demand for changes. With great enthusiasm and bravery, they believe that they are fighting for their country, as well as their own future, yet the path of protest is rough. There are continuous reports of students who have gone missing or been killed. The Facebook live video of student protesters saying their last words to their loved ones has been viewed by millions, but the conflict show no signs of abating.
“Forgive me,” the students said, yet they are not the ones who should be responsible for this violence and death.
100 days have passed. People mourn over the ruins, the burning houses, and the bodies, while bullets and blood are still flying around. The protesters who were injured and lost everything remain in the fight. They are fully aware that the next and the last thing they lose might be the only thing they still have – their lives.