Protesters denounce political persecution

First in a two-part series on the youth protest in front of the CSE

MANAGUA—An anti-government youth activist group known as the Broad Opposition Front (FAO) is denouncing political persecution after a series of violent attacks against protesters, one of whom lost her pregnancy as a result of injuries suffered during a beat down on Sunday.

Lisset Sequeira, an outspoken young woman who was also attacked last month for participating in the FAO’s ongoing protest in front of the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE), was released from the Bertha Calderon Women’s Hospital this morning after being treated for a miscarriage resulting from a beating on Sunday. The hospital’s discharge report shows that Sequeira was treated with a manual vacuum aspiration (MVA), a medical intervention to treat incomplete abortions or miscarriages.

Lisset Sequeira has been attacked twice in the past month (courtesy MRS)

Sequeira was reportedly returning home from the CSE protest Sunday morning to bathe and change clothes when she was allegedly intercepted in the street by unknown assailants who forced her into a taxi at knifepoint. Sequeira was then beaten by two men and dumped in Ciudad Sandino, north of Managua, according to testimony from her friends and family. Sequeira was first taken to the Hospital Alemán and then to the women’s hospital for treatment, according to feminist leader Azahálea Solís, of the Autonomous Women’s Movement (MAM).

Sequeira was eight weeks pregnant, according to her husband.

The victim reportedly tried to file a police report afterwards, but wasn’t allowed to because she doesn’t have a state ID (cédula). Sequeira reportedly had her cédula stolen on July 19 when she and other protesters in her group were beaten and forcibly removed by “250 men dressed in municipal worker uniforms,” according to protest organizer Jairo Contreras.

The youth activists—including Sequeira—returned to protest late last week when they reestablished their makeshift protest camp, which they call “camp dignity,” on the sidewalk in front of the CSE. The protesters remain under the careful watch of police guarding the CSE and a group of municipal workers who appear to be tilling the soil and leaning on shovels in the park across the street. The municipal workers have been fussing about with some slow-motion park beautification project ever since they ousted the protesters from the area two weeks ago.

Now the protesters are back, living in tents on the sidewalk directly in front of the CSE, in the cross-stares of the police and municipal workers.

Relocated: across the street from the protest camp, muncipal workers lean on shovels and stand around under trees in the park where they ousted protesters two weeks ago (photo/ Tim Rogers)

“After a 15-day retreat to regroup, we are back here in front of the CSE to protest. They removed us from the park so now we are even closer to this institution and we will remain here,” protest leader Contreras told The Nicaragua Dispatch. “The days of being afraid are over.”

Activists Denounce Persecution

Political activists argue the two attacks against Sequeira are part of a campaign of intimidation and political persecution. The left-wing Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS) said in a statement that the attack on Sequeira has “the signature of the regime’s thugs.”

“The MRS’ Women’s Network energetically condemns this cowardly act,” the women’s group said, noting that the act of violence should be sanctioned under the new Integral Law against Violence against Women (Law 779). “We demand that the police take action on this matter.”

Sequeira isn’t the only one denouncing political persecution. Denis Torres, a community organizer for the group Hagamos Democracia, which has been supporting the youth protest in front of the CSE, says he too was attacked in the street last week as he returned home from bringing food to the protesters.

“I was hit in the head in the right eye and got knocked out. I didn’t even have time to react,” says Torres, still sporting a shiner under his right eye.

Torres, 53, says at first he thought it was an act of common crime, but several things happened afterwards to change his mind about his assailants’ motivation. First of all, Torres says, he wasn’t robbed, just attacked in the street. That seemed odd to him. But he became convinced his attack was politically motivated four days later, when a strange man visited his home on Sunday claiming to represent “the presidential office for the Executive Secretary of the Law for Democratic Security.”

“I have no idea what that even is,” Torres says; “but he wanted to question me about the attack.”

Torres became even more suspicious when he discovered the strange “investigator” already seemed to know most of the details, including the fact that Torres works for Hagamos Democracia.

“I was suspicious about why this guy was investigating since I hadn’t even filed a police report. I asked him how he had heard about the attack, and he told me he saw it on my Facebook account, which I knew was not true because I hadn’t posted anything on Facebook,” Torres says. “So I asked him to leave my house.”

Torres now thinks that the combination of the attack on Sequeira, his beat-down in the street and curious follow-up visit by the mysterious investigator are all part of a targeted political persecution.

“They are persecuting us individually,” Torres charges. 

The activist says his group is going to appeal to the police, the media and human-rights organizations for protection.

Next, Part II: who is the FAO? What are their demands? And what do they hope to gain from their protests?

  • Jon Cloke

    I presume that, under Daniel’s anti-abortion laws, the authorities will launch a massive initiative to find these unknown assailants to prosecute them for the slaying of an unborn child, in keeping with Daniel’s new-found pro-life (or rather pro-suffering) principles? Or…not.

  • Rodrigo Monjarrez

    This insignificant group of “protesters”, less than 20, has received what they deserve. Protesting is one thing, obstructing the traffic, making obscene hand signals has no place in a what THEY called “a peaceful demonstration”.

    The problem existed in been so little number of protesters, so in order to call attention they took inappropriate actions, such as the ones mentioned. I totally support the police actions after repeatedly requesting to them to step on side walk rather than standing in the middle of the traffic, I was their, I saw the actions and nothing of this hand full of protesters irritated by the lack of attention from the public contributed to anything productive.

    In actuality, no different from the brutal repression applied by police officers to the indigent movements in New York City, Oakland and several other major US metro area, when we all witness on various TV channels paper sprayer been sprayed straight to the faces of protesters while seating peacefully on the streets pavement, NO DIFFERENT!

    • Lucio Rangel

      I can”t be in more agreement with your statements. These characters called “youth” are simply criminals or “youth with criminals instincts” determine to cause damage to others and or to the city infrastructure, an iron fist must be applied to them in order to maintain control of damages and this task belongs to the brave police officers of Managua.

      The article is exceeded on tolerance pretending to gain from the public “full compassion”. If we all want Nicaragua continue to be the safest country as compare to other Latin countries, actions like this of disrespect to the passer-by citizens who care less their protest must be controlled by decisive actions from the police officers.

      The right to protest must be guarded and accepted as long as the right of others is equally respected. The right to protect ends when violence is the mean to get attention, period!

  • Nero

    These kids will be tomorrows leaders and martyrs. They are the real revolutionaries not these dumb ass posers. The Sandinista youth have some free Caballito, disappointment and prison to look forward to.

  • Julio C.

    The violence in the protests committed by police in the states that were mentioned in a previous comment were obscene and VERY wrong. That is why they were all over the news, just like this story. Bloody Sunday which occurred in the civil rights movement in the states was wrong, but I am sure there were ignorant people that were in favor of those attacks, just like I see here. For a group of men or ” thugs” to attack anyone unarmed is very cowardly, specially an unarmed pregnant woman. Godbless Alexis!

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