May 02, 2018
by James Dyde
Nine days ago, as Nicaragua burned and violence erupted, I compared the situation to the Arab Spring of 2011.
That comparison drew criticism from many, both inside and outside Nicaragua, but I stand by it. The Ortega regime was using Middle-East-strongman techniques to repress its own people.
It wasn’t meant as an insult and it wasn’t meant to either disparage the situation in Nicaragua or to blow it out of proportion.
But I never meant to compare Nicaragua to those countries. What I was comparing Nicaragua with is Tunisia.
The Arab Spring started in Tunisia in December 2010 when a street vendor called Mohamed Bouazizi had the electronic scales on his fruit cart confiscated by municipal authorities in his hometown. The authorities wanted a bribe, and Bouazizi had no money.
Afterward, Bouazizi petitioned the local governor in his town to ask for his scales back.
The governor refused to see him and so Bouazizi went outside, doused himself in gasoline, and set himself on fire. An excessive reaction, granted, but a reaction rooted in years of taking crap from an undemocratic and corrupt government.
The rest is history.
Okay, I realize no-one in Nicaragua set themselves on fire over the INSS reforms.
But they took to the streets over a relatively minor issue that soon became overwhelmed by a host of other issues. What started small turned into a roar of anguish over corruption, injustice, and state-sponsored violence. The regime itself came under scrutiny.
For over a decade, Nicaraguans watched their country slip into a dictatorship. The INSS reforms were the breaking point. Enough was enough.