Things That Matter

As Human Rights Violations Continue In Nicaragua, The Catholic Church Is Calling For Peace Talks

There are increased concerns coming out of Nicaragua due to an on-going human rights crisis that began in April 2018 over planned cuts to welfare benefits. The government of President Daniel Ortega has been at the front of this situation and have done everything they can to silence and stop protesters.

This has all lead to multiple violent clashes on city streets between pro-government forces and protesters that have claimed more than 300 lives, injured more than 2,000 people and countless more have been imprisoned. According to human rights groups, this has included torture and the denial of due process. In return, the violence has prompted thousands of Nicaraguans to go into exile. 

Here’s how we got to this point and what is being done to put an end to the violence in Nicaragua.

Credit: @hww_intel / Twitter

Back in April, the Nicaraguan Government announced that there would be cuts in social security payments. This resulted in immediate nationwide protests that brought flashbacks of the violence seen last year. These cuts were eventually rescinded but not the protests and calls for the resignation of President Daniel Ortega, who’s in his fourth term, to step down and for swift elections to follow. President Ortega balked at the notion of leaving office and says he’ll serve his full term until the next elections in 2021. 

The Catholic church continues to be the mediator between the Ortega government and opposition forces in its efforts to initiate talks between the two bitterly entrenched sides to resolve the crippling ongoing crisis. Last week, a Vatican representative called for the continuation of talks and negotiations. The goal here is to try to release reforms to begin “free and transparent elections” in Nicaragua. 

“The Holy See has been following with great attention the sociopolitical situation in Nicaragua and believes that the unsettled disputes should be solved as soon as possible,”  Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, the Vatican observer to U.N. agencies in Geneva, told Reuters.

The Vatican is hoping to bring both sides together in a “renewed spirit of responsibility and reconciliation” to hopefully bring forth a resolution “that respects the truth, reestablishes justice and promotes the common good.”  Jurkovic said at a speech on Sept. 10 during a session of the U.N. Human Rights Council on the situation in Nicaragua that these talks will be necessary if there is any hope of peace in the country. 

“The Holy See strongly believes that it is essential to implement the agreements reached last March, to return immediately to open and mutually respectful negotiations and to realize, at the earliest, the electoral reforms for the holding of free and transparent elections with the presence of international observers,” Archbishop Jurkovic told Reuters.

The United Nations has also called for the immediate resignation of President Ortega, who has overseen violations of human rights in Nicaragua. 

Credit: @civiccusalliance / Twitter

As the Vatican voiced its concern about Nicaragua, Michelle Bachelet, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, made comments on the same day about the violence in the country. She noted that while violence has decreased since the Ortega government and the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy met for peace talks in February, there is still human rights violation occurring. 

“Between August 2018 and July 2019, human rights violations continued to occur in Nicaragua,” Bachelet told the Human Rights Council. “However, since the end of February 2019, when the Government and the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy resumed their dialogue, the number of violations against life and personal integrity has decreased, proof that dialogue is a possible and peaceful way to overcome the crisis.”

From mid-March to mid-June, the Ortega administration had released nearly 400 people who were detained due to protests over the last year. The majority, however, were released under restrictive measures. While most major protests have calmed over the last few months, there have been multiple human rights violations that have occurred. The government has banned public demonstrations from those that have criticized them and have also used violent tactics to stop citizens from public self-expression.  

“We cannot remain in total silence, we cannot be silent,”  Juan Mata Guevara, a bishop of Esteli, Nicaragua, said at the bishops’ conference.“This way of proceeding is an exercise of irrational authoritarianism. This reflects how the regime does not see the needs of those who suffer.”

READ: These Quesadilla Fails Will Make You Wonder How It’s Possible For People To Mess Up A Tortilla With Cheese

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Black Lives Matter Protests Are Working As Murders By Police Drop In Cities Across The Country

Things That Matter

Black Lives Matter Protests Are Working As Murders By Police Drop In Cities Across The Country

The Black Lives Matter movement is not new. Black Americans have been fighting for their lives for generations. But since the high-profile murders of unarmed Black men at the hands of America’s police officers, the country has been coming to terms with its racist identity. 

Over the summer, despite a deadly pandemic, millions of Americans poured into the streets in cities across the country to demand justice and shout to the world that Black Lives Matter! These protests grew into an international movement that is helping to hold police officers accountable for their actions and it seems to be working. 

Police killings have dropped in cities that held BLM protests.

Since the Black Lives Matter movement grew to national prominence in 2014, protests have spread to cities around the U.S. A new study shows that police homicides have significantly decreased in most cities where such protests occurred. 

“Black Lives Matter represents a trend that goes beyond the decentralization that existed within the Civil Rights Movement,” says Aldon Morris, a sociologist at Northwestern University, who was not involved in the new study. “The question becomes, ‘Are Black Lives Matter protests having any real effect in terms of generating change?’ The data show very clearly that where you had Black Lives Matter protests, killing of people by the police decreased. It’s inescapable from this study that protest matters—that it can generate change.”

According to the study, posted by the Social Science Research Network, municipalities where BLM protests have been held experienced as much as a 20 percent decrease in killings by police, resulting in an estimated 300 fewer deaths nationwide in 2014–2019. The occurrence of local protests increased the likelihood of police departments adopting body-worn cameras and community-policing initiatives, the study also found. Many cities with larger and more frequent BLM protests experienced greater declines in police homicides.

The study shows just how important the Black Lives Matter movement is at saving lives.

The difference was significant in this study: it found police killings fell by 16.8 percent on average in municipalities that had BLM protests, compared with those that did not. When Campbell compared municipalities that already had similar trends in police homicides before BLM began, the estimate rose to 21.1 percent. 

BLM protests may have this effect because they push police departments to adopt reforms such as body cams or community policing, as the study found. Another reason may be that the protests affect police morale, causing officers to adopt a less aggressive patrolling posture that reduces police-civilian interactions in general. And not all cities experienced declines amid the protests. 
But not all cities witnessed the same declines. Police homicides increased in Minneapolis, Portland, San Francisco and St. Louis during the five-year period.

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These Nuns Have Become TikTok Sensations due to Their Videos

comedy

These Nuns Have Become TikTok Sensations due to Their Videos

Screenshot via daughtersofstpaul/TikTok

When you normally think of a Catholic nun, images probably come to mind of a stern and serious older woman who is quick to scold. But this group of nuns on TikTok go against every one of those stereotypes.

The Daughters of Saint Paul has recently become a TikTok sensation because of their hilarious and playful viral videos.

@daughtersofstpaul

#Catholic #Nuns #MediaNuns #Jesus #FYP

♬ original sound – Alexandra Karadimas

The Boston-based convent has racked up almost 56k followers from just a handful of videos that they’ve posted to the popular social media platform. The sisters have only posted three videos, but they’ve already gotten over 965.k likes and 6 million views.

The sisters have posted videos of themselves dressed up as ghosts while wandering around the convent grounds, what they’ve dubbed the “Holy Ghost photo shoot”.

@daughtersofstpaul

When temptation strikes. ⚡️ #IsThisAvailable #Catholic #MediaNuns @srbethanyfsp @pursuedbytruth

♬ original sound – Lubalin

There is another surprisingly funny video of themselves recreating the internal struggle of resisting Satan. The video is captioned “Thinking about giving into temptation” and set to the TikTok favorite song “Is This Available”. More than anything, its the committed performances of the two nuns that elevate the video to hilarious levels.

And of course, the Daughters of Saint Paul also posted the “This or That challenge” set to the ’80s Run DMC classic “It’s Tricky”. In this one, a group of the nuns split off into different groups based on what they prefer. The categories are super specific: “Morning prayer” is pitted against “Evening prayer” and “rosary” is pitted against “divine mercy chaplet.”

The sisters seem to have struck a chord with viewers because the videos are wholesome, lighthearted, but most of all, unexpected.

@daughtersofstpaul

When temptation strikes. ⚡️ #IsThisAvailable #Catholic #MediaNuns @srbethanyfsp @pursuedbytruth

♬ original sound – Lubalin

The joy and playfulness of the Daughters of Saint Paul have made them bonafide celebrities of the TikTok world. Their comment section abounds with praise like “This is EVERYTHING–y’all are the best,” and “This is so wholesome I love it here.”

Commenters also refer to their account as “NunTok”. There are also people asking for the nuns to pray for specific issues in their lives–like conceiving a baby or passing a test. It truly is one of the oddest corners of the internet.

@srbethanyfsp

I can’t stop laughing at this! (Vid was taken pre-covid) #fyp #Catholic #RareAesthetic

♬ Teach Me How To Dougie – Classics Reborn

In one informative TikTok, Sister Bethany explains why this particular convent of nuns is so present on social media, saying that they are “media nuns” and they use their talents to create content for their faith. But they also have guidelines about what they post.

“We the sisters are always asking ourselves, ‘Is this a good use of time?’ ‘Am I putting out things that are good, true, and beautiful?’,” said Sister Bethany. “And those are things we can all ask ourselves. And those are the ways we moderate our social media use.” No matter your beliefs, that’s definitely some great advice!

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