Nicaragua’s political unrest ignited again Sunday – and a teenager was killed during an anti-government demonstration in Managua, allegedly by security forces loyal to President Daniel Ortega. A top student leader of the movement against Ortega came to Miami Monday night – to a standing ovation.
Lesther Alemán became the poster boy for anti-government protests in Nicargua last spring when he publicly berated President Daniel Ortega at a meeting to solve the unrest. The 20-year-old Alemán is now a student leader of the effort to oust Ortega – who’s widely accused of running a corrupt dictatorship.
At Florida International University, Nicaraguan expats greeted Alemán as a hero at a forum on the Nicaraguan crisis hosted by the Latin American and Caribbean Center. Alemán, who helps head the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy in Nicaragua, also spoke with WLRN about the anti-Ortega movement – and the more than 400 protesters human rights groups say the regime has killed this year.
“Sunday was a black day in Nicaragua because it signaled a new wave of repression by Ortega,” Alemán said. “To keep the economy from collapsing during this crisis, he has to project normalcy – and we’re not letting him do that.”
At the FIU forum – whose panelists included former Costa Rican President Guillermo Solís – some suggested that serious economic implosion resulting from the unrest may be the factor that eventually removes Ortega from power.
But Alemán told WLRN more international pressure is needed to help tip the scales – and to win the release of hundreds of mostly student protesters Ortega has jailed for what he calls “terrorism.”
“My own arrest could come any day when I go back,” Alemán said. “Especially since I’m the guy who insulted Ortega by speaking truth to a violent coward who’s never been truthful to us.”