What is ‘Agentes de Cambio’? Fighting the socio-political crisis in Nicaragua and promoting youth leadership, Agentes del Cambio hopes to rededicate the role of young people in their countries. Elizabeth Romero, Carlos del Rio and Maria Fernanda Lopez are all agents of change with the Frederick Ebert foundation. The first two happen to be political exiles from Nicaragua and Maria Fernanda is a political activist here in the Dominican Republic, all of whom we had the opportunity to converse with. They are a political foundation allied with German unions and as our guests explained, political parties in Germany have parliamentary participation and can create a center of thought, financial and biological autonomy. They are spread all over the globe with approximately 90 working stations, all in the pursuits to support left-leaning political parties and promote youth leadership.
We specifically invited them to discuss the current Nicaraguan crisis where Jose Daniel Ortega the Nicaraguan president that has been serving for the past 12 years. In the process the country is experiencing severe economic distress; including a significant cut on social security that has left once one of the fastest growing economies in central America with millions of dollars in losses and 400,000 citizens unemployed. In addition, the social instability that has occupied the nation has resulted in the death of approximately 320 people amid government crackdowns on protests calling for President Ortega to step down and has kept more than 700 imprisoned. An issue as momentous as the Nicaraguan crisis begs the question, why don’t we hear about it?
The doubt became apparent while discussing the recent case of Nicaraguan journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro editor and founder of ‘Confidencial’, a combative newsletter, who recently fled the country due to an armed police raid in his newsroom along with several “extreme threats” by the government itself. “Patriotism is the enemy” is how Carlos del Rio described it, further explaining that the lack of freedom of expression resides a lot deeper. Del Rio clarified that not only is protesting against your own government a crime, waving the Nicaraguan flag is considered an act of terrorism. Even so much as singing the national anthem is condemned. The government has dismantled almost every branch of media outlets in the country and owns almost all businesses.
The recent conflicts really began mid-April 2018 when protesters descended on the capital, disobliging Act 870 which criminalizes political and peaceful protests. Most of these protest become incredibly violent, government counter military officers tend to “…spread bullets to those who protest.” This turned the press to report the acts of brutality further ensuring Ortega’s administration’s will to subjugate the media using brute force. In addition to the lack of free-press in Nicaragua, Elizabeth Romero explains that the government’s intentions are to mold the way outside viewers perceive Nicaragua by controlling public information, the media, and other official outlets. Why is the opening of the media imperative to the solution of a growing dictatorship in Nicaragua? Because, as Carlos del Rio asserts, international mediation along with increasing pressure from external entities can create a transition in order to restore peace. How can we accomplish this? Two words, social media.
The definition of freedom of expression resides in the click of a button; social media has become a revolutionary tool for the spread of information around the globe. If it wasn’t for the power of social networks the world might never truly understand what’s really going on in Nicaragua. #SOSNicaragua a social movement mostly erupted from anonymous Nicaraguans, are crucial factors to international awareness; not only do they create a platform for information but a form of peaceful protest. “Technology and the internet have been very valuable during these hard times,” said Isabella Sevilla, creator of the website Nott a Blogger. “They have given us the power and authority to condemn injustices…it’s empowering.” Once we share individual stories and enhance them through the Internet anything goes viral allowing room for improvements in their own country. It is because of this we must use it to inform our superiors, and embolden what should be a vexed community of activist. Nicaragua deserves to be recognized and supported by all of mankind.