Long Gallery Wall: Bearing Witness/En Testimonio: Nicaragua Since 2018

Central America at The Latin American Library

Bearing Witness/ En Testimonio:

Nicaragua Since 2018


The photographs displayed along this gallery wall were taken by Nicaraguan photographer Jorge Eduardo Mejía Peralta (Managua, 1972). They document the massive demonstrations that erupted between April and September 2018 when Nicaraguans took to the streets to protest the Ortega-Murillo regime. The images are selected from a collection of 113 photographs by Mejía acquired by the Latin American Library. Mejía, who lives and works as a photographer in Managua, has documented demonstrations and political events since 2006 as part of his political commitment to civil liberties, freedom of information, and to expose corruption.

Between April and September 2018, the people of Nicaragua took to the streets to protest the regime of President Daniel Ortega and his wife and Vice-President Rosario Murillo. Initially, the protests focused on concrete issues: an unpopular mega deal between the Ortega government and a Chinese entrepreneur to construct an interoceanic canal through Nicaragua; the mismanagement of a forest fire in Indio Maíz Biological Reserve, a large protected rainforest in the southeastern part of the country; and the announcement of controversial welfare reform. Initially, the majority of the demonstrators were pensioners, students and activists, but they were soon joined by workers, feminists, clergy members, opposition politicians, entrepreneurs and people of almost all sectors of Nicaraguan society who took to the streets to denounce Ortega and demand his resignation. The protests spread to major cities and swelled as government forces responded with extreme violence, to the point of employing sharp shooters to kill demonstrators in the streets. The repressive actions of the Ortega-Murillo regime are considered the bloodiest in Nicaragua during peacetime, and left a toll of approximately 325 dead, over 2,000 injured, an estimated 100,000 who have fled to other countries, and over 1,400 political prisoners, 300 of whom continue to be in jail in deteriorating circumstances.

In September 2018, after militarizing the country, Ortega approved a series of legal reforms to criminalize social protest. The regime illegitimately won the recent November 7, 2021 elections through a series of repressive and anti-constitutional measures. Between May and October 2021, the authorities arbitrarily detained all seven aspiring presidential candidates and 32 prominent members of the opposition, all of whom remain imprisoned under inhumane conditions.



Long gallery wall exhibit at The Latin American Library