Editor’s Note: the partial pension was reestablished on July 19, 2013 by Presidential decree 28-2013, which entitles senior citizens over the age of 60 who have paid into the social security system for fewer than 750 weeks a reduced pension ranging from $48 to $110 dollars, depending on how long they paid into the system.
It’s been more than four months since Nicaraguans witnessed one of the ugliest human rights abuses in their country’s recent history: the attack on the youth protest movement known as #OccupyINSS, or #OcupaInss
The abuse of June 22 is ongoing since the National Police and the Attorney’s Office have yet to give any answers about the seven vehicles and other items of personal property were stolen that day.
The mission of the youth activists was clear: to support the elderly in their just protest for a reduced pension from the Nicaraguan Social Security Institute (INSS), and provide supplies to the senior citizen demonstrators who were holding a vigil outside the INSS offices in Managua. But the peaceful protest was disrupted during the predawn hours of June 22 by violent “paramilitary” groups associated with the Sandinista Youth.
If anything was made clear by this incident, it’s that the fight for pension rights was mostly in vain; so far the elderly have received only crumbs from the INSS because the government institution claims it “does not have the sufficient funds to cover such demand.”
But I think the real story of “Occupy INSS” is different. A large group of young people with courage and selfless solidarity supported “los viejitos,” and in turn were beaten and abused by members of the Sandinista Youth who were identified by their JS19 t-shirts, alluding to their allegiance to the ruling party. Even though evidence and videos revealed the heinous acts of violence and theft by the Sandinista Youth, the National Police continue to claim there is not enough evidence to proceed with a criminal investigation.
Maria Gabriela Ortiz, a student at the University of Central America (UCA) says, “This is an abuse and a shame, both the police and the perpetrators are unscrupulous human beings; I cannot believe that Central America’s self-proclaimed top police force continues to deny the allegations when the proof is right there in their faces.”
Another young student, who requested to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, added, “It can’t be that the police continue to insist they have no means to find suspects––that just makes them accomplices in a coverup.”
Many citizens suffered during this incident and remain indignant and disappointed in the police’s handling of the situation. But, as one member of the Sandinista Youth known as “Pancho” said, the youth activists who were beaten down got what they deserved because they got involved in “a situation in which they didn’t belong.”
After such a tiring and harrowing ordeal, none of the protestors involved in the Occupy INSS movement got what they wanted. The elderly’s pleas for a just pension were not answered –– only muted by paltry handouts from the government.
Nicaragua’s young generation has been criticized for being apathetic and lazy, but the INSS protests didn’t fit that narrative. For me, the only redeeming part of this story is that through the adversity we youth activists showed that Nicaragua is full of young people who are dedicated and brave and who refuse to be quashed or bullied by the corrupt upper echelons of power.
In Nicaragua, our rights as citizens are being ignored and trampled every day––the recent proposed changes to the constitution come to mind––and I have no doubt that we have not heard the last from the committed, intelligent and stubborn youth activists who rose to the cause during the INSS protests in June.
Tadeo Sequeira Antonio Castillo, 19, is a student of Business Administration at the UCA. He is a Nicaraguan committed to freedom of expression, social justice and true democracy.