Given that Nataly and I talked a lot about the issues undergoing in Nicaragua, I wanted to further expand by providing an example of mediated mobilization that stemmed from the violent events. Although this is a very small and unsuccessful example, it came from a country where government plans were never before questioned or challenged by any form of social network like Twitter or Facebook. Two rival groups infact recurred to the use of social media as UNAM’s protest unfolded. The hashtag #OcupaINSS was used by those who supported UNAM in its claim against the government. The hashtag #AmiNoMeEngañaLaDerecha(#RightWingersDon’tFoolMe, or ANED) was used by those who supported the government’s position.
When the elderly organization known as UNAM (National Senior Citizen’s Union) protested for their unpaid pensions, they settled in the Nicaraguan Social Security offices known as “INSS”. The police responded by barricading the entrance of the building, shutting off power and water to the building and blocking others from bringing food, water or medicine to the elderly and bold activists inside. “In the name of God, people give me 10 cordobas or 20 cordobas (.50 cents – .90 cents), and with that I’ll buy food,” says Roger Velazquez, a 77-year-old former construction worker who paid into the social security system for more than a decade of formal employment, says he has no income in his old age.
Many angered reactions developed from these events, specially from university students from the capital city of Managua (UCA, UAM) joined the protest in solidarity with the senior citizens, using the social media hashtag #OcupaINSS to mobilize others. The attacks towards young protesters occurred thereafter, described in the previous post Participatory Journalism in Managua.
Therefore, #OcupaINSS became a short-term manifestation of public opposition to the government. The top tweets that metioned #OCUPAINSS were known people to the country such as Luis Enrique (musician), Sergio Ramirez Mercado (novelist and former VP of Nicaragua), and Carlos Luis Mejia (musician). The hashtag also accompanied tweets by @LaPrensa, an opposition newspaper, and @Canal2Nicaragua, a television station. The rest of the tweets were issued by @OcupaINSS, the primary twitter account that provided information for those who supported the protests or those who merely sought to find out about the events.
The mediated mobilization in these events for the first time challenged the suppressing actions that the government intended, by exposing them on the internet, which is something that the government seemed vulnerable to. They denied the pictures of the street brawls, saying they were enhanced by photoshop and took place in other countries.
“Lol”…Yeah… It seemed like the government itself thought its people so primitive, that their own actions were silly and primitive in response; harming their own people to suppress a peaceful protest, firing officials who went against their ideas in congress (Nicaraguan Canal construction) and creating fake #OcupaINSS websites in their favor.
In the last picture by Tim Rogers, here we can see Zoilamérica Narváez, the president Daniel Ortega’s stepdaughter, who openly protested against the government’s unwillingness to pay. Her husband was later deported since they both were active and present in the peaceful protests. “Confidencial”, a noteworthy opposition newspaper of Nicaragua interviewed her and said her mother (the first lady of Nicaragua) called her and stated that her husband’s deportation was consequence of her actions.