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Nicaragua six months after soft coup attempt: An interview with a Sandinista

By staff

Fight Back! interviewed Amanda Martinez, a patriotic Sandinista. Her name has been changed to a pseudonym, as counter-revolutionaries have made violent threats against her and her family. She lives in the small city of La Concepcion that is south of Managua and west of Masaya. La Concepcion has a population of around 30,000 people and is mostly an agricultural area. Fight Back!: How did the soft coup against President Ortega play out in the town of La Concepcion? Were there roadblocks? Did they sequester people? How did they treat Sandinista members? What did the National Police do?

Martinez: [For us], the soft coup was already in process and the leaders of the opposition who have always been against our government started meeting. In La Concepcion, all of a sudden in the dawn of May 11, they installed the roadblocks and from that day on they did not allow any cars to pass and nobody even on foot. There were different phases of the roadblocks, all of them violent. First, they started allowing private vehicles to pass if they were known sympathizers with the coup attempt.

Later, they began allowing some public transportation to pass but they made them declare their support for the opposition in order to pass. Then, they allowed some traffic to pass but only by forcing them to pay a toll each day but always at their whim.

The treatment of Sandinistas by the tranquistas, the golpistas, was uneven. [The roadblocks used by the opposition were called tranques and those who set them up were called tranquistas. In Spanish, golpe del estado is an overthrow of the government and those who support it are called golpistas.] Because it is a small town, some of the golpistas have family who are Sandinista and so they were not abused for mistreated. But some did receive physical aggression and many other verbal threats. They did kidnap an active Sandinista who was defending a Sandinista family. He suffered a brutal attack by the criminal groups who later robbed his house then set it on fire. They did this to other families who have scarce resources and mostly wood houses. At this time, the National Police were under orders to stay out of action and did not even go around patrolling the town. We felt unprotected.

Fight Back!: How did the soft coup affect La Concepcion and the other small towns?

Martinez: The greatest impact was economic and so many of the small and medium agricultural producers could not transport their products and when they could, it cost them a lot. Even when they were able to reach the market, the roadblocks prevented so many consumers and buyers from getting to the market, so their prices dropped and they lost a lot of money. In our region, we have a little tourism industry because we are close to the Masaya Volcano and the roadblocks prevented tourists from moving and spending their money. The other impact was that the whole situation prevented tourists from coming to the Spanish school at La Mariposa Hotel that employs many people and helps their families.

Fight Back!: When did the situation in La Concepcion change? Did the Sandinistas rise up to take control?

Martinez: The Sandinistas in our town, we were very fearful. We did not directly do anything to end the terror and torture. It was only when the undercover militantes [masked civilian and police forces] arrived and forced the golpistas to flee and hide. But we know many of them hid with the local priest. We know that’s what happened in other cities too.

Fight Back!: In the months since the people and government retook power, how has it felt? Is there division among the people? Are the tortured and injured mobilizing to demand justice?

Martinez: Since the people and government have regained control things have started to return to normal. It has been a difficult process, but we’ve achieved a lot through unity and organization, more than partisan division. What happened drove divisions through families and the society. But from the perspective of the party [Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional], we have strengthened with a unity because of the painful situation that we all lived through during the roadblocks. The victims of the violence by the opposition have demanded justice and they participate in the marches and demonstrations.

Fight Back!: What do you think needs to happen in Nicaragua to prevent another soft coup attempt?

Martinez: The unity among our Sandinista sisters and brothers is very important. This is how we should speak with our families and neighbors who were deceived and cheated by the right-wing golpistas. They were victims of manipulation.

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