Things That Matter

Hundreds Of Anti-Government Protesters Are Dead In Nicaragua And The People Are Crying Out For Help

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The crisis in Nicaragua keeps escalating, with journalists, students, and anyone who stands up to the dictatorship are risking their lives to speak up. Nicaraguans are using the hashtag #SOSNicaragua to get the attention of the world to help their fight for libertad.

Some background: the current President Daniel Ortega, was a a student leader in the Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN), which overthrew then-dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle. Today, a new uprising of students are reclaiming the Sandinista name and spirit that ousted the last dictator and their target is Ortega.

Here’s why.

In April 2018, President Daniel Ortega announced a “comprehensive social security reform.”

CREDIT: @nicadispatch / Twitter

Translation: workers and employers would have to contribute more to their social security and expect 5 percent less of the benefits. Protesters fled to the streets, only to be met with militarized police attacking citizens.

The protests weren’t simply about the social security announcement, as much as the policy change was the last straw. Many Nicaraguans are upset over government corruption and believe that government officials have been using citizens’ social security savings as their own petty cash.

More than 400 people are reported dead since the violent conflict began.

CREDIT: @nicadispatch / Twitter

“We are in the streets asking for Ortega and his wife to go. This has already gone beyond the social security issue. Here there have been dead, wounded, and he does not even apologize for his killings or the savage repression against the people,” Mauri Hernandez, one of thousands of demonstrators at a central rotunda told NBC News.

The scale of the police response has prompted even more unrest.

CREDIT: @Midori1900 / Twitter

Imagine if Trump set police on protestors at #FamiliesBelongTogether marches and you were actually risking your life to speak up? It would create a widespread crisis by anyone’s standards, and it would not be OK.

On top of that, anti-Sandinistas have created a paramilitary that is backed by Ortega.

CREDIT: @BlueLaurita / Twitter

Ortega contradicts himself in multiple statements regarding his aiding the paramilitia who have wounded or killed Nicaraguans, but the fact remains: the National Police and these armed gangs are working side by side.

Plus, a picture’s worth a thousand words.

Ortega cancelled the social security reform but, for months, citizens continue to call for Ortega to step down.

CREDIT: @twosixxx / Twitter

The movement is largely student-led, and the deaths are heart-wrenching. Even Oretega’s own hermano, who once led the Nicaraguan military, called for Ortega to disband the paramilitary just last week.

Then, last week, this happened:

CREDIT: @BretBaier / Twitter

FOX News gave Ortega a platform to speak into President Trump’s ear, and to millions of Americans. When asked why paramilitary are involved in protests against his government, he responded, “Turmoil has stopped and matters are becoming more normal, and there have been some demonstrations both in favor and against the government.”

Nicaraguans and Nicaraguan-Americans are using #SOSNicaragua to call attention to the crisis.

CREDIT: @CDiriangen / Twitter

Brett Baier actually responded to several people, and he did follow through on his promise to grill the leader, who did exactly as expected. He claimed that the people who have died reacted violently, and their murderers were not affiliated with his government.

Nobody bought it.

CREDIT: @nicadispatch / Twitter

One Nicaraguan even tweeted this photo and said, “Someone thought it would be a good idea for Daniel Ortega to give an interview to @BretBaier on Fox News. Someone was wrong. Ortega appeared demented, mendacious and cagado. #sosnicaragua”

Some people tried using Trump’s favorite social media platform to convince him to take action.

CREDIT: @OpaKoukla / Twitter

Y’know, since Trump just parrots everything he hears on FOX News, and Ortega called the paramilitary attacks “terrorism” in an effort to distance himself from the groups. In response to seeing a video of mothers crying over their sons’ bodies, he basically said it’s propaganda to scare people.

The White House responded with a resolution to sanction officials under the Ortega regime.

CREDIT: @MarcoRubio / Twitter

Marco Rubio aided in getting a resolution passed that would prevent Ortega officials from visiting the United States, while allegations of officials poisoning the food and water of students and journalists, and the continued state-led violence ensues.

It’s something, but it’s not enough.

Plus, there’s some confusion over what to call the rebels.

CREDIT: @roxana54755021 / Twitter

Some Nicaraguans consider themselves anarchist Sandinista, holding root to the original intent of the party, which was to overthrow corruption and dictatorship. But since Ortega ran under the Sandinista party, we’re not sure what the U.S. government means by this statement.

Protests escalated when an armed gang took over a Catholic church in Masaya, the battleground for freedom.

CREDIT: @vivanicaragua12 / Twitter

This video shows an armed gang beating down the iron gates of a church raiding it, while students and priests hide behind home-made barricades, meant to block the open fire of the pro-government militia.

After the event in Masaya, tens of thousands of Nicaraguans poured into the streets to support the Church.

CREDIT: @inesanma / Twitter

Catholic officials have been outspoken against Ortega while this brutality has taken place, and Ortega has blamed the Church for encouraging the protests. The Nicaraguan Catholic Church maintains that they are only encouraging dialogue and peace.

Which is why the U.S. decided to have an opinion.

CREDIT: @VoCommunism / Twitter

Thousands of people brutally injured and killed y nada ni nada from the U.S. government, but once a Priest is involved, then they’re humanized. Protestors kept chanting, “Queremos a nuestros Obispos como mediadores!” which means “We want our bishops as mediators!”

Nicaraguans who can’t be there on foot, are doing what they can using the #SOSNicaragua tag.

CREDIT: @rickJMoncada / Twitter

@rickJMoncada is tweeting this at anyone who has a platform to raise awareness around the crisis. Since April, more than 400 people are dead and more than 2,000 injured for resisting Ortega.

Others will carry the flag wherever they go.

CREDIT: @structures3 / Twitter

When you’re Nicaraguense, no matter how far away you are from the crisis, el dolor goes with you.

Nicaraguans at home are doing the work that journalists barely can…because they’re dying.

CREDIT: @NavyBullDog79 / Twitter

If you’re using the #SOSNicaragua hashtag, it’s because you’ve run out of options. If you’re tagging POTUS, Rubio and Pence, it’s because you’re so desperate for help from the country that has always helped free democracy in the past.

Public hospitals are allegedly refusing to treat anti-government protestor’s for their injuries at the hand of the paramilitary.

CREDIT: @gueguensa / Twitter

There was an instance when eight doctors were allegedly fired after they did treat injured protestors, in direct violation of the new rule. The government is turning its back on Nicaraguans.

Meanwhile, women have been at the front of the rebellion.

CREDIT: @brujamistica / Twitter

Oh, did we mention that last year Ortega announced that his wife would become his vice president? His 15 year term comes to an end in 2021, but many fear that she will proceed her husband, and he would still control the government.

Women are straight up defending their rights and turf however they damn well please.

CREDIT: @ComandanteMacha / Twitter

Because es la verdad que la revolución es feminista. Women are actually shooting mortars out into the walls of police officers.

Todavia, Ortega has refused to step down.

CREDIT: @_pizzacloud / Twitter

People continue to die. Mothers continue to bury daughters. Fathers continue to mourn their sons. Just like the revolution that started 40 years ago, young people are fighting for their lives, and many are losing. Nicaragua needs our help.

While we expect the violence to continue, we pray for paz en Nicaragua.

CREDIT: @AJEnglish / Twitter

What can we do? Raise awareness. Share this article, or any article that is telling the story of Nicaragua. Call your representatives and demand that the U.S. takes action. If corruption, nepotism, and authoritarianism can happen in Nicaragua, then it can happen here.

Estamos con Nicaragua. #SOSNicaragua.  🇳🇮

The Drama Continues: Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court Says New Governor’s Oath Was Unconstitutional

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The Drama Continues: Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court Says New Governor’s Oath Was Unconstitutional

@rafernandezlaw / Twitter

It’s been five days since former Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló resigned following massive protests against scandalous and incriminating chats, and the archipelago still does not have a lawfully recognized successor in La Fortaleza, the governor’s mansion.

Upon stepping down on Friday, August 2, the embattled politico nominated Pedro Pierluisi.

Peirluisi was to fill the secretary of state vacancy left by Luis G. Rivera Marín, who resigned last month for his own part in the leaked messages. As secretary of state, Pierluisi would have been next in line to become governor. However, Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Wednesday that part of the law used by Rosselló to name Pierluisi his successor is unconstitutional.

But the Supreme Court ruled against that part of the law Rosselló used to appoint Pierluisi was unconstitutional.

“The governor’s oath of office was unconstitutional,” Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court said, as reported by NBC News. “Therefore, Hon. Pedro R. Pierluisi Urrutia can’t continue his work as Governor after this Opinion and Sentence becomes effective.”

The decision, which takes effect at 5 p.m. EST, follows a lawsuit filed by Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz on Monday. In the litigation, Rivera Schatz asked the courts to immediately remove Pierluisi from the position because his governorship was unlawful according to Puerto Rico’s constitution. 

While the social codes do say that the island’s secretary of state should be the new governor if the position is vacant, it requires the person nominated to the post to be confirmed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate. However, Pierluisi had only been confirmed as secretary of state by the House when he took his oath as governor on Friday.

“It’s unconstitutional to allow a Secretary of State to become Governor without having been confirmed by both legislative chambers,” the Supreme Court said in a press release.

The Senate postponed its vote for this week, days after Rosselló’s resignation became official, meaning that Pierluisi’s governorship was unofficial and that the Caribbean island hasn’t yet filled the top seat. 

This week, instead of voting on the matter, Rivera Schatz went to the courts to argue that Pierluisi did not “occupy the position of secretary of state in property” because he wasn’t confirmed by both Houses.

In response, Pierluisi contended this wasn’t the only way that the secretary of state could be ratified, citing the law of succession of 2005, which included a recommendation by Puerto Rico’s Department of Justice to waive a secretary of state’s confirmation requirement in case of an emergency.

He is expected to be making a comment later today.

Puerto Ricans are celebrating the ruling.

Since Rosselló nominated Pierluisi as secretary of state, many have taken to the streets for “¡Pierluisi, renuncia!” demonstrations. Opponents have several issues with Pierluisi, a former resident commissioner and an attorney, but predominantly condemn his ties to the unelected fiscal control board, known on the archipelago as “la junta.” 

In the historic protests that removed Rosselló, demonstrators called for both his resignation and the disbanding of the largely-loathed Obama-appointed board that has slashed needed public services on the island. “Ricky renuncia, y llévate a la junta,” went one of the most popular chants of the rallies. Pierluisi has a long history with the board, representing Puerto Rico in Congress when the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act, or PROMESA, was passed, which created la junta; his brother-in-law is the chair of the board; and Pierluisi has been working for the law firm that does consulting for the board — a post he resigned from to take on the role as governor.

But the drama isn’t over yet since the woman next in-line still doesn’t want the island’s top job and Puerto Ricans don’t want her.

According to the Puerto Rican constitution, next in line to fill the governorship seat is Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez, who has said repeatedly that she is not interested in the job. Puerto Rican media are reporting that Vazquez, who has also faced public disapproval for her defense of the leaked chats and her own problematic history as an attorney, will nominate Jenniffer Gonzalez, the U.S. territory’s representative in Congress, as secretary of state, who would then takeover as governor if Vazquez steps down.

When questioned about this scenario, González told local newspaper El Nuevo Día, “that is decided by the bodies and the governor. I will support whomever they choose. That has been my position since day one.”

Even more, Puerto Rico Sen. Zoe Laboy told Central Florida cable news outlet Spectrum News 13 that should Gonzalez be nominated as secretary of state by Vazquez, then she hopes both the House and Senate would have the chance to ratify the nomination.

This would pose an even greater challenge for Puerto Ricans fighting for a just and free future for their island, as Gonzalez is not only a member of the same pro-statehood party of the Rosselló administration but is also a Trump-supporting Republican.

Vázquez is expected to be sworn in as Puerto Rico’s new governor on Wednesday at 5 p.m. EST.

Read: The Governor Of Puerto Rico Was Caught In A Chat Using Grotesque Homophobic And Sexist Language And The Entire Island Is Calling Him To Resign In Massive Protests

Puerto Rico’s Governor Is Ignoring More Than A Million Puerto Ricans As He Refuses To Give Up Power

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Puerto Rico’s Governor Is Ignoring More Than A Million Puerto Ricans As He Refuses To Give Up Power

Joe Raedle / Staff / Getty Images

Puerto Rico is in full on crisis mode as more than a million Puerto Ricans take to the city streets demanding the governor’s resignation after a series of shocking scandals. Basically every single segment of society has been wronged by the governor and they want him out.

From leaked text messages that were openly misogynistic and homophobic to major allegations of fraud and corruption, Puerto Ricans have had enough and they’re making sure their voices are heard.

Puerto Ricans fed up with their governor took to the streets by the hundreds of thousands to protest against their government.

Puerto Rico saw more massive protests on Monday as hundreds of thousands lined the streets following Governor Ricardo Rosselló’s attempt to cling on to power despite resigning as president of the ruling New Progressive party and announcing he will not run for re-election next year.

A general strike took place across the US territory on Monday morning, protesters chanting the now familiar cry of “Ricky renuncia!”, waving flags and banging drums.

For the governor’s part, in a Facebook Live post, he admitted that a “huge portion of the population is unhappy.”

So he announced he won’t run for re-election next year and was resigning as the president of the New Progressive Party. But that did nothing to calm angry protesters, who say they won’t rest until Rosselló resigns.

I mean the crowds are huge!

Monday marked the tenth straight day of massive protests across the island, but most agreed that Monday’s turn out was the biggest yet.

Many were calling it a general strike as more than a million Puerto Ricans (out of a population of 3.4 million) poured into the streets, parks, plazas, and even shopping centers.

Even Bad Bunny, Residente, and Ricky Martin are there showing their support for protesters.

Credit: @CNNEE / Twitter

As occurred last week, a number of Puerto Rico’s biggest recording artists appeared prominently at Monday’s demonstrations. Singers such as Ricky Martin, himself a subject of homophobic ridicule in the leaked messages, and rappers Resident, Bad Bunny and the singer iLe, have become unofficial figureheads in the leaderless movement to oust Rosselló.

“They mocked our dead, they mocked women, they mocked the LGBT community, they made fun of people with physical and mental disabilities, they made fun of obesity. It’s enough,” Martin said in a video posted on Twitter before the march.

“We’re we’re going to keep fighting, we’re going to keep being on the streets until he resigns,” iLe told the Guardian. “He knows he has to go in his heart. I know he knows it.”

Protesters aren’t messing around. They’re taking to the streets and blocking access to major highways.

Credit: @cnnbrk / Twitter

Puerto Rico’s largest mall, Plaza de las Américas, closed before Monday’s demonstration along with many other businesses. Last week police used teargas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters at a huge rally outside the governor’s residence in the island’s capital, San Juan.

But most people on Twitter were so proud to see the people fighting for their future.

Credit: @ananavarro / Twitter

Puerto Ricans from the island to New York, even to Minnesota, were overwhelmed with pride. Many on social media commented that it was amazing to see so many people speaking up for their dignity and their representation. And speaking out against a government that has violated the trust of so many.

Many were commenting that Puerto Rico was showing the rest of the world how to keep on fighting.

Credit: @tomaskenn / Twitter

And there were definitely a few people who were hoping this style of democracy, of massive protests, would make its way to the mainland to fight back against the inhuman policies of President Trump.

The protests are coming after a series of scandals that left Puerto Ricans completely unhappy with their government.

Demonstrations have gripped the island since hundreds of pages of leaked text messages between the governor and 11 members of his inner circle were published on 13 July.

The messages contain homophobic and sexist slurs against political rivals and cultural figures. They also contain a joke about dead bodies during Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island in September 2017.

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