Our dreams are stronger than your bullets

By Lyris Solís
Today, I am living in a country that is not my own, I am sleeping in a place that is not my home, without my family, without work or education. And I am not the only one. Young Nicaraguans are now scattered across the world
Lyris Solís

As young Nicaraguans, we have always been engulfed by a history that keeps repeating itself decade after decade, like a cycle of violence in which we are always in the firing line.

Many of us have grown up in the shadows of the violence, wounds and pain suffered by our families in the revolution 40 years ago. Wounds that never closed and pain that never went away and that left their mark on more than one generation.

Before 18 April 2018, very few young people got actively involved in politics. Most of them lived in the Pacific region and in the centre of the country, especially in the capital. But the massive fire in the Indio Maíz Biological Reserve in the beginning of April this year awakened something deep inside us.

This was the first time we left the university campus to go out onto the streets. Carrying placards, we called on the government to take action and give a proper response to this environmental emergency. That was only the beginning.

A few days later, on 16 April, the Ortega government issued decrees reforming the social security system. These decrees were especially harmful to the interests of pensioners. We went out onto the streets again. This time, not only university students but also young people from communities, neighbourhoods and departments outside the capital.

The Ortega and Murillo government responded with repression, deploying the police and armed groups. They all thought they were “defending the revolution” and saw their commander-in-chief as their leader and saviour and all opponents as terrorists.

This wave of repression prompted various sectors of society to react to the government’s brutal attacks. People have hit back in many different ways: roadblocks, occupation of university campuses, meetings, marches and pickets and even releasing balloons and throwing confetti decorated with the colours of the national flag.

Young people participated and continue to participate in each of the forms of resistance that people have adopted in order to survive.

I am one of thousands of young people who broke out of their bubble and went out to protest on the streets to try and do the right thing and support our brothers and sisters. We ripped up paving stones in the streets as we faced live bullets and teargas.

In these times of turmoil and desperation, we weren’t interested in anyone’s social class, race, ideology or religion. It was as though we were united into a single person. Since then, we have continued to make history, acting as a mainstay in the people’s struggle.

But these attacks, detentions and arrests, combined with the prosecution of association and regional leaders on fabricated charges of terrorism, prompted an enormous wave of migration within the country and out of the country.

Fear of losing our freedom or our lives has forced us to flee, leave our homes and seek refuge. And we know that many of us cannot return to our university studies. In fact, some of us have already been expelled, threatened and vilified.

That’s how I became one of the more than 70,000 people who have fled the country because of the social and political crisis. According to the UNHCR, in August 2019, about 68,000 of these people are in Costa Rica, seeking international protection. Men, women, young people and even whole families are trying to survive in these conditions.

As a young university student, just like my old friends and the new ones I have made in these violent times, I fear for the future, of not even having a future, because I am being denied a future. Myself and all the victims of this dictatorship.

Today, I am living in a country that is not my own, I am sleeping in a place that is not my home, without my family, without work or education. And I am not the only one. Young Nicaraguans are now scattered across the world because of a presidential couple who have never taken any interest in us, in our diversity and differences, our similarities and our demands.

I dream that one day I will be able to complete my studies and return to my country. Because we are well aware that the way forward towards the new Nicaragua we all want to build is a long road.

We are young people who are resisting tyranny, because our dreams are stronger than their bullets. We understand what is happening, we are getting educated and learning from our own mistakes and the mistakes of the past. We continue to follow events and support our brothers and sisters in Central America and the rest of Latin America who are also fighting against tyranny, the powerful and our oppressors.

Our generation of young people knows we are not alone and we are all together in the struggle for human rights, including those who have been marginalized for many, many years. We were, we are and we will be present on all the fronts of resistance offered by oppressed people, because we are not only the future, we are also the present and we are making history.