Managua to León during the protest

In my way to Managua

When we are waiting for your flight at the airport, we all do the same thing : checking our phones and the social networks. End of April last year, I was waiting for the first of my two flights for Nicaragua in Charles De Gaulle Airport (Paris, France). I’ve decided to check my social networks.. That’s when I’ve discovered that Nicaragua was facing a huge protest with students riots in every big cities of the country!! Few people already died because of it! And to make it even scarrier, Managua, where I suppposed to land, the capitol, was, of course, the heart of this prostest. That’s where the demonstrations were the strongest and the more violent and that you shouldn’t stay there at all because of the risks. :/

Saying this, I have to tell you, I am not someone who is easily scarry about something or a situation but I have to admit that I wasn’t that confident when I left France. 

In my bad luck, I was lucky enought to meet another girl like me during our stopover in Atlanta (USA). She was going there to catch up with her boyfriend in Las Peñitas while I was supposed to meet up with some friends, in León, that I have meet while traveling around Costa Rica. She gave me the opportunity to leave Managua straight away after we’ve landed. Her boyfriend sent her a driver to pick up her and as Las Peñitas was few kilometers away from León, she offered me to drop me in León on her way. What a relief! But, unfortunately, it didn’t last really long…

First impressions

When we finally arrived in Managua with our empty flight we had this king of weird sensation of Déjà-vu… but in a movie not in real life! 

The taxi driver was waiting for us in the airport. He gave us some instructions to follow during our trip (close the window everytime he asks for example). Around us, the airport car park was full of soldiers. Nothing was “happening” but there was this weird and heavy atmosphere where you fell really uncomfortable…

In the car to León

We sit there, we were kind of laughing not because of a joke but because of the tiredness and the stress of the situation. Few minutes after we left, we both noticed that the driver had a kinfe (like a really big one!!) sticked in the dashboard.. ready to be used if necessary…

We were stopped every 200m : The demonstrators had built barricades with rocks and burning tyres. The driver had to give them money (only small amounts but every time something) and to beep the horn so they could let us go in peace. After a while, we find our selves in the middle of a confrontation. The demonstrators were trowing rocks on the forces of order. Even some Molotov cocktails might have been used because of all the smoke that was around there.

It took us more than two hours and a half to get to Leòn instead of one hour and a half usually.

León after 5 days of protest - Nicaragua - April 2018
León after 5 days of protest – April 2018

The initial context 

The Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega reformed the social security. It was the starting point of the riots. Most of the demonstrators were students. In 5 days, almost thirthy people got killed. That’s when he decided to cancel the reforms. The prostest calm down a bit. A lot of peace walks were organised. After a couple of weeks, everything started again: now, the population was claiming for his resignation (which still didn’t happened).

Today

Apparently, the protest is still going on but not as brutal as it was at its start. Only few concessions have been made by the Ortega government like the cancellations of the social reforms or the release of some prisoners.

More than 300 people died, 2500 got injured and 350 got arrested (Source : Wikipédia).

If you want to know more: I invit you to take a look at “Nicaraguan protest 2018” in Google.

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