NicaNotes: Defending Nicaragua During the 2018 Coup Attempt

Edited and translated by Nan McCurdy

[This is primarily a translation of accounts by Edwin Mendoza. Mendoza is a member of the July 19 Sandinista Youth Association. He has begun writing his own story and that of other young people about what happened during the 2018 US-backed coup attempt. I found the following accounts on his Facebook page and I also heard them read on Sin Fronteras, a tri-weekly analysis program on Radio La Primerisima with William Grigsby, journalist/analyst/historian.]

May 10, 2018
A group of about forty-five JS19J (Juventud Sandinista 19 de Julio / July 19 Sandinista Youth) went to the District 6 delegation office of the Managua Mayor’s Office, our only mission – to defend these facilities where, at that time, a large part of the heavy machinery used in the capital for the cleaning of drainage canals, restoration of streets and roads, public cleaning, etc., was kept. [Note: This was the machinery that in the future could be used to bring down the roadblocks still existing in that area.]

Lentt Perez Rivera and his mother Lilliam Rivera defended their country during the coup attempt of 2018 and Lentt saved Edwin Mendoza’s life.

That night, the installations were attacked by about 50 armed delinquents on motorcycles.  The JS19J, that only had its conviction, its wits, and about 20 homemade mortars, managed to repel their aggression.

They bombarded us all night long, and we were unable to leave for two reasons:
1. Our instructions were simple: safeguard the facility, don’t attack the aggressors.
2. In addition to those besieging the delegation, a large number of common criminals were also waiting for us when we left; they had taken over the UPOLI (Polytechnic University) installations a few blocks away just two weeks before and, from there, they were waiting for us to leave.
JS19J resisted all night.
At sunrise, the aggressors left.

May 11, 2018
In the morning there were reports that as they left, the aggressors murdered an inhabitant of the neighborhood. The population was alarmed and angry.

From neighbors, by word of mouth, we got a message….
“Kids, get out of here…. At night they are going to come to kill you. They want to burn you alive.”

Since April 20 [near the beginning of the coup attempt], Josué Sandino had been with us to defend the homeland. This kid had already been days without going home and without talking to his family. That morning, Josué woke up next to me, smoking a cigarette and screwing around, proud of what he’d done – “We accomplished the mission.” (Josué is from the Martha Quezada neighborhood, he joined the JS19J from the time he was little. He grew up with us and up to that point I didn’t remember ever seeing Josué angry. The kid was always happy.)

May 11, 2018, 6pm
On the main street of the Mayor’s Offices, a motorcycle with two riders passed by, noisily, accelerating rapidly, one of them with a gun in his hand starts yelling….
“Today we burn them alive, sons of bitches.”
“The dogs of the Juventud are there.”
“Tonight they are ours.”
My brothers and sisters – when the sun went down, our hopes for life went down too…
How unbelievable was the number of shots fired at the delegation!
How incredible the number of armed people!
More than 100 motorcycles!

That day we met the “Viper” [leader of the opposition gang that had taken over the university and was being provided with money, arms, drugs and alcohol to engage in violence and cause chaos] and his people from “Monimbo” who in reality were not inhabitants of that neighborhood of Masaya, but criminals coming from all over the country.

They threw contact bombs at us, high caliber firearm blasts, and screams…. Screams that psychologically defeated you.

A cameraman from Channel 4 [a Sandinista channel] managed to get to District 6 (my respect to this compañero) and he let the whole country know the situation, he started broadcasting live.

In those times when some people felt they had to hide their love for the Front [FSLN], I remember Ximena, Gaudy and Prado, going out live in that Channel 4 transmission and giving our version of what was happening…. One of these people said goodbye to her family “just in case” and made a call to the National Police: “Please act.”

I remember the calls parents made to their children….
“Son, what is that I hear, is that an AK47 I’m hearing, tell me and I’ll get over there, I’d rather they kill me.”
“Love, what are you doing there; you have a daughter, come home, don’t leave her without her mother.”
“Don’t be scared, you have to keep a cool head, I know you have a lot to lose, but if you are smart you can win; I know you will come back.”
“You have to stay down, there will come a time when they will have to leave, if that happens… move forward crouching down.”
“Come home now, your mom is crying….”

We endured hours.
In absolute fear.
They managed to surround us.
I want to emphasize something…
None of us had any military experience whatsoever; we were not up to combat level. We were outnumbered and outgunned. We only had two shotguns from the security guards and a comrade who carried his 9mm pistol.

The coordinator of the JS19J of Managua, who I am sure never imagined himself in a situation like this, behaved as the leader that he is, approved the majority consensus: that the best defense was to attack.

It was decided that 20 colleagues would go out. No one was forced; you had to put yourself forward. The plan was to make them believe that the JS19J was ready for the confrontation and to put fear into them. The idea was that these brigades would go out every so often to prevent their advance, until daybreak….

One of the women made the selection; I begged her to let me and some other kids who want to accompany me go instead. Of those 20 who went out, eight were from my district 2. Ten of us were carrying mortar tubes, and the ten others had backpacks of ammunition for those tubes.

The first brigade included Josué Sandino and Carlos Miranda.
At the moment when we went out, a team of the national police was present – about ten police with motorcycles and shotguns. Firing shots in the air, they began to repel the attackers and create the conditions for the JS19J to leave….

I came out pressed against the right boundary wall, my pants were torn on the wall, I was almost naked. I went from north to south, watching for them. Josué carried the backpack with mortars and cigarettes. Juan was behind me with more mortars, that was enough for me and I didn’t pay attention to the rest…. A police officer was moving along with us; close to the left wall, throwing tear gas so that the smoke made it difficult for them to see that we were advancing. I went ahead. I went to the front, I was ready! I managed to advance. I threw the first mortar. I managed to get it in the corner where they were. I hid behind a tree and asked for another mortar; I wanted to hit them with the second one….

When I asked for the second one, I saw that I was alone. Josué and Juan couldn’t advance; they got stuck. The rain of bullets started again; I lay down. I heard screams. I scream too, “Advance sons of bitches! Advance!”

I was scared. I went back and told Juan, “Get up, we are not going to die here.” Lisandro, who was close by and had mortars, moved forward with me; we took position. After 15 minutes, from behind, they told us to go back. Something happened!

Everyone retreated. I couldn’t…. the shots were directed only at me. I was the most visible; I lay down next to the tree and I could see that the officer with the tear gas and I were the only ones left… [He yells,] “That’s as far as I can go! If I get up, I’m a dead man!” Hearing an AK47 shot grazing your head for the first time is an experience that I don’t wish for anyone….

I couldn’t go back; a couple of them were advancing….

All of a sudden, a toothless kid fought his way through the bullets,
He got on top of me.
The detonations blasted my ear,
I got up; he shot and they shot at us. This brother, he covered me with his life and managed to get me out, me and the officer…. And, oh my God, I love this son of a bitch. This was Lentt Perez Rivera.

When I was back in district 6, I was really angry with this Josué, how could he have stayed behind? He was carrying the mortars for me. How dare he leave me to die? They left me alone!

I grabbed a kid and I asked him….
What about Josué? Where is that son of a bitch Josué?
“Dog… An AK bullet went through Josué’s arm and into his chest. I think the guy is dead.
“But not only him, the kid from district 6 was hit. They blew out the bro’s chest.”
I asked, “With an AK47 as well?”
“Yes, he’s dead. And also, the policemen, they shot him in the throat….”

That’s why they didn’t advance. “I went as far as I could; can’t you see how I’m covered with blood.” From the adrenaline, I never paid attention to the guys behind me, I only looked ahead.

It was a massacre! Josué’s arm was left disabled. The police officer who was hit by a bullet in his throat—to be honest, I don’t know if he survived.

And Carlos Miranda, also in our group, he gave his life for the sovereignty of Nicaragua. He gave his life for me and for you. We could not even go to his funeral. (That very morning, Carlos Alberto Miranda had awakened and played soccer. Carlos was 19 years old, a proud JS19J member. He lived a few blocks from the District 6 Mayor’s Office. Carlos Miranda, like many FSLN members, understood from the beginning, that revolutionary theory does not work without revolutionary practice.)

Carlos Miranda died on May 11, 2018, defending the District 6 Mayor’s Office

That same day, to save our lives, we left the District 6 Mayor’s Office and they indeed set it on fire.

I did not survive by miracle, nor by luck. I am alive and I returned to the arms of my daughter and mother because Lennt Perez Rivera did not want me to die. Because even without teeth he had plenty of balls. And later I was able to return the favor.

I understood something that day,
The fight for the homeland was going to be to the death.
And the mortars were no longer enough… we had to dust off the iron….
Honor and glory to Carlos Miranda!
He left loving the Sandinista Youth,
Loving his country,
Loving the FSLN.
(I am not ashamed to tell you that I cried while writing this).

Sometimes, we stop telling the story of comrades like Carlos Alberto.
The population is then persuaded to believe the opposition story….
They put Carlos Miranda’s picture on a poster and marched “for him” after he was murdered. [It was common for them to kill Sandinistas then say that they were “their” dead, killed by the Sandinistas.] They also said that the JS19J had burned down the District 6 Mayor’s delegation….
And that it was us who stole buses and left them at the UPOLI, etc.
Our history has to be told, the people have to know that there are kids like Carlos Miranda,
Like Maudiel,
Like Kevin…
Honor and glory comrades.

[Here we go back to very early in the 2018 coup attempt and we see the historical connections: Sandino, Clara Rosa Huerta, Jacoba Huerta, her children who participated in the insurrection against Somoza and in the defense against Reagan’s Contras. These included Lilliam Patricia Rivera and her son, Lennt Perez Rivera, who defended his country during the 2018 coup attempt.]

When his wife Blanca Segovia died in childbirth, General Sandino entrusted the care of his daughter Blanca Sandino to a peasant woman named Clara Rosa Huerta. Clara Rosa Huerta had just given birth to her daughter Jacoba and, in addition to taking care of her daughter, she became the wet nurse of the General’s daughter until Blanca was transferred to Cuba.

When she grew up, Jacoba (Clara Rosa Huerta’s daughter) had children, among them Roberto Rivera Herrera and Roger Rivera Herrera – both heroes of our revolution.
Also, Lilliam Rivera was born to Jacoba and, from a very young age, joined the struggle for our sovereignty. Lilliam Rivera gave birth to Lennt Perez Rivera, who in 2018 gave continuity to the defense of sovereignty that throughout its lineage this family has been able to defend, even with their lives….

This is where I, Edwin Mendoza, get to be part of their story…

April 20, 2018
After the liberation of the National Engineering University (UNI) [from the violent opposition aka “peaceful” protesters] and protecting the Central Delegation Offices of the ALMA [Alcaldía de Managua – the main Managua Mayor’s Offices] we moved to different sectors of the capital as groups of Sandinista youth, ready to protect our FSLN party offices.

Relevant fact for history: we had been incommunicado all day.
In my case, I was with the Managua coordinator’s brigade which was in charge of the actions in this district. Within my brigade is Lennt and many comrades whom I esteem and who are part of the structures of District 2 (the district where we grew up).

One block away from the Giant store, there by the Guanacaste (a tree and landmark in this district for giving directions), we observed a considerable number of people trying to burn down our party office. They were launching mortars, burning tires, throwing rocks and firing guns….

We immediately joined the confrontation and we were able to defend the district and make the whole country see that District 2 would never be burned. This is the district where the President lives, no kidding!

We did not know that it was the mothers of many of our friends and companions that had been defending our party office for hours, alone, and with more bravery than many others showed. They stood with their own incredible courage and confronted the aggressors for hours. And while their children were in another trench, they decided they would never back down.

Among those mothers was LILLIAM PATRICIA RIVERA. And yes… I write it in capital letters.

When Lentt found Lilliam there that day, she did not know that Lennt had escaped from work and joined the defense. When she saw him, she urged him to continue the fight, in memory of his uncles who were heroes of the revolution, for her, for him, for her daughters and for the sovereignty of Nicaragua….

That was the day that Lennt lost his teeth trying to save the lives of six compañeros and of the FSLN political secretary of District 4. The aggressors threw a rock at his face.
He left the hospital two days later and rejoined the brigades.  Lilliam started to support our brigade in many ways, to the point that her house was shot at one night….

But Doña Lilliam also knew how to defend herself!
Friends, in District 2 of Managua we did not allow the building of one single roadblock!
The latter thanks to many colleagues of whom we will speak in due course.

But without a doubt, it is because of people like Lilliam that there are young people like Lennt….
Blessed is the womb that gave birth to a Sandinista son.
Happy birthday my mother.
With much, much love, respect and appreciation.

By Nan McCurdy

Government Built 2,000 Houses in the First Quarter of 2023
The government, through the Institute for Housing (INVUR), in the first quarter of 2023 built 2,000 houses out of the 9,000 projected for 2023, said Gabriela Lorena Palacios, co-director of INVUR. Currently there are 22 affordable housing projects. Families have access to a subsidy applicable to credit so that they can have access to a house. The government is executing projects through developers and other programs throughout the country, including in Managua, Ciudad Sandino, Granada, Mateare, León, Tipitapa, and Jinotepe. “In the rest of the municipalities the government provides a contribution that is channeled through INVUR, so families can build a house.” Nine thousand houses are planned for 2023 between the private sector, INVUR, and the municipalities. The co-director of INVUR said that another government program in 63 municipalities is in charge of the construction of housing for families in extreme poverty. (Radio La Primerisima, 24 May 2023)

New Buses for Transportation Sector
President Daniel Ortega announced that initiatives are being taken with Mexico, Brazil, China and Russia to acquire more buses and renew the entire fleet of urban and interurban transport. During the ceremony for the delivery of 150 buses sent by the Russian Federation, Ortega emphasized that transportation and housing are fundamental for families. He added that, in 2007, 50 buses arrived from Japan; in 2009, 380 Russian buses arrived; in 2012, 170 Russian buses and 350 Mexican Dina buses arrived; in 2021, 250 Russian KAVZ buses arrived and this year 350 new Russian buses are being incorporated for a total of 1,550 buses.

He pointed out that transportation is a fundamental complement to the continuing development of the culture, education and health of the people. “We must have more transportation available for school transportation… to transport people to health centers, for workers in the city and the countryside.” He recalled that, in the 90’s, the neoliberal governments wanted to take away the cooperatives from the transportation worker/owners, “but the transport workers stood up with the strength of El Danto [Comandante Germán Pomares who died in the early days of the 1979 Final Offensive of the Revolution] and fought so that they would not be robbed of their cooperatives. I do not forget those feats, those heroic battles that we fought together with the cooperatives, when we went to the streets to defend the right of the carriers to be owners of the cooperatives.”

“We know that there is still a shortage of transportation; we are not going to say that with this we have solved the problem, because it is not true. We have been making great strides, with the initiatives we are taking with Russia, with the People’s Republic of China, we will also be taking initiatives with Mexico and Brazil.” The President stressed that the government is purchasing the buses with credit. “In other words, we are not asking for a gift, we are not asking for alms. We are not a beggar people; we are a dignified people,” Ortega stressed. [The cooperatives own their buses; buses brought in by the government are sold to them under very favorable terms. The government also provides tires and parts under favorable terms – all this so that the cost of riding a bus can continue to be equivalent to about US$5 cents.] (Radio La Primerisima, 25 May 2023)

Nicaragua Recognized by OECD for Tax Revenue Collection
On May 23 the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) presented its “2023 Revenue Statistics in Latin America and the Caribbean” report which states that with 27.1% fiscal revenue of the gross domestic product in 2021, Nicaragua has the highest tax revenue collection as a percentage of GDP in the region, followed by Costa Rica (24.2%); El Salvador (23.3%); Honduras (21.2%); Dominican Republic (14.5%); Guatemala (14.2%); Panama (12.7%). (Nicaragua News, 24 May 2023)

Dignified Diversity Booklet Released
Residents of the municipalities of Chichigalpa and Posoltega participated in the presentation of the booklet: “Dignified Diversity, The Right to Choose and the Duty to Respect,” published by the National Commission for Harmonious Life. Chichigalpa  Mayor Fanny Zambrana said, “We are proud of how diverse we are, because each one chooses their option…We are people who respect and love under the Christian principle of loving our fellow man.” Minister of the Family Johana Flores said that the person, the family and the community are the center of its activity and this is the most important space to promote love and respect, without discrimination. Participants learned that they have rights and also duties, in equal conditions, as Nicaraguan citizens. At the same time, they highlighted the importance of family values, such as love for each other, respect, solidarity and communication to live together in peace. Nahomi Canales, from the transgender community, emphasized that the fundamental value in the family is love. “It is important that fathers and mothers accept their children and respect them, she said. Juan Linarte said, “The booklet encourages us to continue developing love, peace and justice; it is framed in the respect we should have for our fellow men and women.” See photos:  (Radio La Primerisima, 30 May 2023)

New Epidemiology Lab in Rivas
The Ministry of Health inaugurated the new epidemiology laboratory in Rivas benefiting 590,201 inhabitants of Rivas, Granada, and Carazo departments. The US$360,882 lab was financed by the General Budget and will increase capacity to diagnose diseases such as dengue, chikungunya, Zika, leptospirosis, tuberculosis, COVID-19, influenza and HIV, as well as provide conservation of medical samples for investigation of highly infectious organisms capable of causing public health problems. (Nicaragua News, 24 May 2024)

Matagalpa to Open Technical Training Center
The government is inaugurating the Women’s Technical Training Center of El Cuá, in the Department of Matagalpa on May 29, announced Vice President Rosario Murillo. Murillo said that this center will attend to more than 2,000 young people in special courses, taught and certified by the National Technological Institute (INTA). Classrooms and research labs, along with training and technology development areas will be installed for students and producers: “everything to contribute to production and obtain better results for production with the energy of Matagalpan women,” she added. Work will be done on the production of seeds, composting vegetable matter for coffee crops, non-traditional crops, and courses for agrotourism. “We will be able to develop agrotourism programs around the high-altitude vegetation, birds, orchids, flowers, and the beautiful landscapes we have around there,” said Murillo. (Radio La Primerisima, 23 May 2023)

Nicaragua Advances in Animal Health
During the 90th General Session of the World Assembly of Delegates to the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) held last week in Paris, WOAH Deputy Director-General of International Standards and Science Dr. Monserrat Arroyo highlighted the progress that Nicaragua has made in strengthening public veterinary services. “These substantial advances guarantee the sanitary status of Nicaragua as a country free of foot-and-mouth disease and only negligible risk for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE),” Dr. Arroyo said. Founded in 1924, the WOAH is an intergovernmental organization that develops international standards on health, animal welfare, and veterinary public health, promotes their integration into the national policies and programs of member states. (Nicaragua News, 23 May 2023)

New Women’s Police Stations in Las Minas and Bocana de Paiwás
Vice President Rosario Murillo reported that, on May 31, the second women’s police station will be inaugurated in Rosita, part of the Mining Triangle. And, on June 1, a women’s police station opens in Bocana de Paiwás. This brings the total to 221. Murillo said that the most important thing is the thousands of visits that have been made to women in their homes to ensure that they understand the concepts, the model, the practices of citizen security, security in the family, security in the face of disasters, and, above all, how to advance in the prevention of crimes against women. (Radio La Primerisima, 30 May 2023)

Carnaval de Mayo Ya Celebrated in Bluefields
Fourteen blocks of the main streets of the city of Bluefields, on the South Caribbean Coast, served as stages for the traditional Carnaval de Mayo Ya, which was enlivened by 18 groups that danced to the rhythm of drums. This year, the carnival was dedicated to Ricardo Carson, director of the Bluefields Municipal School of Dance, who was recognized for his contribution to the rescue of Caribbean culture and tradition. As every year, locals, Nicaraguan, and international tourists were present to see the colorful costumes, dances and expressions of culture. The Carnival went through the Punta Fría, Central, Beholden, and Pointeen neighborhoods, ending in the Central Park of Bluefields, where there was a contest to award the best troupes and live musical presentations. See photos:  (Radio La Primerisima, 28 May 2023)

Over 1,000 Inmates Regain their Freedom
Twelve hundred inmates are leaving prison to make new lives for themselves and their families. About 1,000 inmates are freed every year for Mother’s Day and also before Christmas.  A ceremony took place at the Tipitapa Penitentiary System where the head of the Ministry of the Interior, Amelia Coronel, stated that this is an opportunity that should not be wasted. “I want to take this opportunity to thank President Daniel Ortega and our Vice President Rosario Murillo for always being concerned about what is happening in the penitentiary system, like programs in favor of the entire prison population to achieve their reincorporation into society with the necessary tools to work and prosper,” said Coronel. She added, “I know you will have good days and bad days but don’t forget that this opportunity only comes once.” Paola Gaitán is one of the women who received this opportunity to change her life and move forward. She said, “I thank God and what I am going to do is to find a way to work. Here they taught me how to make piñatas, how to make bread, and with all that I am going to find a way to get ahead with my children.” See Photos: (Radio La Primerisima, 28 May 2023)

Police Investigating Several Nicaraguan Dioceses
On May 27 the National Police reported that it had started investigations of several Catholic dioceses suspected of illegal activities. Police were informed on May 19 of illicit handling of funds, and use of bank accounts that had belonged to persons convicted of treason. Investigations discovered hundreds of thousands of dollars hidden in bags in buildings belonging to the dioceses.

The Police reported the findings to the pertinent authorities who started their own investigations. These investigations revealed that money had been illegally taken from bank accounts that had been ordered to be frozen, as well as other illicit acts. They appear to be part of a money laundering network in different dioceses.

The Attorney General’s Office, the Superintendence of Banks, and the Financial Analysis Unit have confirmed criminal movements with funds for the dioceses entering the country irregularly. Proceedings have been opened for all these apparent crimes.

The Superintendence of Banks has requested that the Bishops Conference of Nicaragua and the head of the Church in Nicaragua, Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, present documents showing bank account movements. The authorities are trying to clarify and document everything pertinent to this anomalous situation which is contrary to Nicaraguan law. Investigations continue to achieve transparency in the operation and management of the finances of these institutions. (Radio La Primerisima, 27 May 2023)