What does the future hold for the Christians in Nicaragua?
The Christians of Nicaragua live in a country that is in crisis and are continuously exposed to violence from the government. According to estimates from Christian Solidarity International, more than one hundred people have lost their lives so far in Nicaragua.
In April 2018, the head of state, Daniel Ortega announced reforms to the national pension scheme —even before they had been passed into law. His actions resulted in a series of protest demonstrations throughout the country.
The violent reaction of the people came as a surprise to Ortega, yet since his re-election, his government has been famous for corrupt acts such as: the arbitrary expropriations in a project to build a canal; huge price increases and mass staff firings in the public sector.
In addition, his regime manipulates elections and systematically blocks every attempt by the opposition parties to bring about accountability. The State controls the justice system and suppresses civil protests.
All of this contributes to the growing dissatisfaction of the people who have tolerated these injustices for a long time. Even the higher council of the private companies (COSEP) refuses to collaborate with the government.
For many years, even though the Ortega family made a lot of money running by illegal businesses, private companies could manage their affairs without worry.
Currently, the Nicaraguan citizens protest on the streets against the government. These marches started in April but were immediately violently repressed. According to the human rights community, more than one hundred people lost their lives in these protests, and a lot of people (mostly students) were arrested without reason.
On the 31st May, the COSEP asked the police to avoid violence against protesters and to look for a peaceful solution. The UNO and the Organization of American States (OAS) demanded the cessation of violence, the right to peaceful protest, and the freedom of the press. Businesses, other international organisations and human rights communities support the opposition parties.
The citizens are in constant fear because anyone can be arrested at any moment. In this challenging situation, there are lootings everywhere in the country and violence spreads quickly. The people are demanding the resignation of Ortega and of his wife, the vice-president, Rosario Murillo. Both announced that they wouldn’t resign. The Nicaraguans will have to wait for a full paralysis of the country which may end in a coup.
For more than twenty years the Christian Solidarity International (CSI) supports the work of the Carmelite sisters in Nicaragua. Daily, these nuns feed more than four hundred children and senior citizens. They give food and medicines to the needy, run two nurseries, two primary schools, and two residences for girls. Their most important role, however, is giving hope to the people in the slums.
The present situation worries the Carmelite sisters. In her letter to the CSI, sister Guadalupe wrote:
“Our young students are killed and our church is accused of complicity with the students. Hundreds of our girls were kidnapped, some of them killed, and a lot of students disappeared. At the moment, being a student seems to be a crime. Our convent is under surveillance twenty-four hours a day. The houses are burnt, the markets are looted…”
Sister Guadeloupe spoke about Mother’s day that was organised on the 30th May in the capital, Managua: “That day, mothers who lost their children organised a peaceful demonstration. The police opened fire on the crowd. The nineteen students, who led the demonstration died, and countless people were injured.”
Sister Guadeloupe is afraid of a general strike affecting the whole country. Already a lot of people are starving because they are fearful of leaving their homes. The Carmelite sisters are among the few people who dare go out. They collect food and give this to the poor.
Translator: Ildikó Ungvári
Source, photo: JournalChrétien