On the Violence in Nicaragua

Every society can be defined in relation to a revolution: Pre-Revolutionary, Revolutionary, Counter-Revolutionary, and Post-Revolutionary. And the history of revolution is cyclical, not linear. Post-Revolutionary societies bleed into Pre-Revolution, and the line is very fuzzy. To achieve success, to truly break out of the cycle of revolution and liberate the oppressed, the revolution itself must eventually become a part of the past, not the present. Prior to Revolution, the desire for one is understandable in the presence of oppression. During the Revolution its existence validates itself. After it is achieved, the Revolution can still be present during the Counter-Revolution to preserve the successes that were achieved (assuming that they truly were virtuous). Once the Revolution has truly succeeded and the enemy has been defeated, the Revolution itself too must become a thing of the past. When the Revolution is still an element of the present in a post-revolutionary society, the people are converted into the enemy, and the cycle begins anew with a Pre-Revolutionary dawn.

– “The Loudspeaker System,” June 8, 2016

Certainly one of my more polemical pieces, I think I wrote that in 2015 but did not publish it until after I finished my Peace Corps Service. Over the past week, protests against changes to social security taxes and pensions in Nicaragua have led to violence in major cities. At least four people are dead, journalists have been attacked, and television channels and radio stations have been cut from the air by the government. There have also been threats of blocking the highways so people can’t travel, and even turning off the national electric and internet system. The situation is bad, and I can only hope that the violence ends soon and the government ceases to repress peaceful political protests.

Facebook has added an element to this that is almost surreal. My friends from Nicaragua are broadcasting “live” from the cities they live in. I just watched tear gas pour into the Cathedral in León. I lived three blocks from there for two years and the entire area is a UNESCO World Heritage site. I just had a Facebook conversation with my host mother. She can’t leave city hall, where she works, because of the gases out on the streets (she’s fine though).

On Monday I launched a project I have been working on since July, ChickenBus. My team and I collected the bus and ferry schedules for Nicaragua and made them searchable online. I feel a little embarrassed – this turned out to be the wrong week for a launch. Inter-city travel is not advisable at the moment, and while I hoped for the launch to partially be a celebration of the beauty of Nicaragua, with multiple people dead, it is not the right time to be celebrating. I am thinking about how to use ChickenBus for positive change in Nicaragua (and eventually the other countries which we will serve). If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.

I desperately hope this is not a pre-revolutionary conflagration, like I wrote about when I left Nicaragua. If there are to be political reforms, and they are desperately needed, please let them be done peacefully, and let the reforms be just. However, I wrote that article two years ago as a reflection on the United States, more than Nicaragua. More so today than when I wrote that two years ago, our own country may be approaching pre-revolutionary status. I hope that we too can make reforms without violence or oppression.

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