Que se rinda tu madre

ortega

 

Nicaragua is in chaos.

Roads are blocked, fuel and food shortages are making themselves felt, while in the towns the police are shooting those who demonstrate their opposition to the regime of  President Commandante Daniel Ortega and his wife – and Vice President – Rosaria Murillo.

The thugs of Murillo’s private army, the Juventad Sandanista, have burned and sacked Monimbo, the indigenous quarter of Masaya, famed for its revolt against the dictatorship of Somoza. The old fort, turned into a tourist attraction as a centre for the sale of local crafts, has gone up in flames with the loss,  not only of stock, but of the jobs of those who worked there.

There have been similar incidents on other towns, but the attack on Monimbo, that icon of the revolution,  strikes at the heart of what the original Sandinistas fought for…an end to corruption, proper education, a chance to make better lives for themselves and their children…self respect.

A revolution which brought so much of good in its wake has been betrayed by Ortega and his wife…a tale too often repeated in the post colonial world….and now the people have had enough.

Given the censorship it is hard to follow what has been happening…Nicaraguan friends, in contact with and worried about their families, give snapshot pictures of the violence… social media sites give other glimpses…

Let me just say that I will not put up videos of a young man shot by police whose body is then kicked around by his killers..another, dying in the street despite his friends giving him the kiss of life…badly wounded young men evacuated on the back of motorbikes to be treated – not in the public hospitals and clinics, whose staff have been ordered not to treat the ‘delinquents’ – but in churches and presbyteries where the same staff do what they can with the resources at their disposal.

I have walked those streets…I recognise some of the faces…

The black and red flags of the Sandanistas are now countered by the blue and white of the national flag as the protesters march forward, only to be beaten back by live rounds and tear gas.

Priests and monks march in the front, arms raised in sign of peace…but the shots continue.

The women who set up the museums of Heroes and Martyrs to record the horrors of the Somoza regime and the incursions of the Contras march in revolt against the movement for which they fought…but the shots continue.

Today there was a meeting arranged by the Catholic Church, one  of the members of the troika which includes the government and big business, to hear the protests of the farmers and the students..the most visible of those rising in revolt.

Ortega described the protesters as delinquents…the student representative called for the resignation of Ortega and Murillo..the church moderator closed the meeting.

Where are we now? The Ortega regime is fighting for its life…the protesters are not organised…who knows if the U.S.A. will be sticking its finger in the pie…

But the people are in the streets despite all…and the cry is

‘Que se rinda tu madre…’

Nicaraguan friends explain…

Literally…let your mother surrender…

But in Spanish usage mention of the mother is for emphasis…so, if a person you dislike asks you for help you tell him to ask his mother…in other words, you need help, ask your mother…I’m  buggered if I am going to help you.

And so with ‘que se rinda tu madre’…

ln the struggle against Somoza’s forces the young poet Leonel Rugama Rugama found himself on the front line.Summoned to surrender he replied

‘Que se rinda tu madre’

Or, colloquially, get stuffed.

Needless to say, he was shot.

 

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The Trees of Life go Down in Managua.

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Erikabrenner@Wordpress.com

As you may be aware, Nicaragua is undergoing social upheaval.

Thirty dead, many more injured and damage to property in the main centres of population.

The origin?

President Ortega announced that to resolve the deficit in the social security budget an increase in the contributions of both workers and employers was required, coupled with a five per cent cut in pensions.

The upshot was a howl of fury bringing people out onto the streets in protest, only to be met by young party thugs and riot police.

For many, the pensions cuts were the last straw in a process which has disenchanted them with President Ortega, his wife – and Vice President – Rosaria Murillo and the tripartite oligarchy of the Catholic church, big business and the Sandinista party which has ruled Nicaragua since 2006.

The Sandinistas – and President Ortega – are now a far cry from the movement which overthrew the dictatorship of the Samoza family in 1979. Then its black and red flags were the symbol of hope…hope for a better life for the ordinary family in a country whose assets had been stripped to the bone.

Unfortunately the first task of the new government was to beat off attacks by the right wing ‘Contras’, based in Honduras and, lamentably, Costa Rica. A guerilla war of unequal forces, which eventually came to an end in 1989, and which slowed down the hoped for advances, despite a reduction in the illiteracy rate from fifty per cent to 13 percent in just a few months, resulting in a business led government being elected in 1990 and a return to the misuse of public assets while cutting spending on education and health and trying to reverse the Sandinista land reform which gave property rights to the rural poor.

The Sandinistos lost election after election until Ortega came to an agreement with the third business led government. They would change the constitution to allow a candidate with more than 35% of the vote to be elected on the first round. In return, the incoming Sandanistas would not prosecute members of the outgoing government for corruption.

Ortega returned to power backed by the Catholic church and the business sector….and the black and red of the Sandanistas become the blue on pink of the new regime….increasingly controlled by his wife….which has become increasingly authoritarian – and corrupt.

Rosario Murillo seems to be following in the footsteps of Grace Mugabe and Winnie Mandela…though instead of the latter’s ‘Football Club’ she has the Juventad Sandinista…gangs of young thugs who attack and intimidate any opposition and who were much in evidence over the days of violence that have shaken the country.

Murillo peddles a type of New Age spiritualism with a dash of Christianity…thus the Trees of Life , based on the Klimt painting, which she had had installed all over Managua at vast expense. They consume an obscene amount of electricity for a country where rolling power cuts are the norm…they have had to be guarded by private security officers…real trees have been cut down to accommodate them…an all too accurate representation of image over action, the very thing with which even veteran Sandinistas reproach the current government.

There might be some residual respect for Ortega…but none for his wife who seems to be preparing her ascent to power with the aid of her armed thugs.

So no surprise then that the ‘trees’ were one of the first targets of the protesters…

tree of life destroyed

I found it interesting that these were not Trees of Liberty, on the model of the revolutionary American and French  societies, which you might expect from a once revolutionary party.

Too dangerous to plant a Tree of Liberty in Managua? Clearly…it might remind people of the hardships they suffered to bring about the free society of which they were now being deprived…

Not that the Trees of Liberty had had a free pass….

Revolutionary France planted them in cities, towns and villages on the model of the Boston Tree of Liberty made famous  by the reaction to the Stamp Duty Britain wished to impose on its American colonies. They were regarded as national altars, the exemplar of freedom, and attacks on them were severely punished….even to death under the guillotine.

Needless to say, with the advent of Napoleon, followed by the restoration of the Bourbons, the trees had a hard time of it. They were to be destroyed, though in more radical communes cuttings were made to keep the soul of liberty alive…

I suspect that their hold on people was more than just revolutionary fervour. Though decried by the Catholic church…and by the Puritans… the old fertility symbol, the Maypole, still attracted people…probably more for the festivities associated with its erection than for anything else…and the Tree of Liberty gave it life again in a ‘respectable’ form.

Not that it is completely forgotten, even now. Driving through the Correze many years ago  I was astonished to see maypoles in domestic gardens. Wound in tricolour stripes they bore a notice

‘Honneur a notre elu’.

A homage to the elected councillor…who, no doubt, had been obliged to wet the  whistles of his voters as the pole was installed.

Somehow I cannot see these installed in Managua….

But I can hope that the spirit of those who fought and died under the black and  red flag will triumph again to regain freedom for Nicaragua.