Por Soraya Rodríguez Ramos

Women at the Forefront

Women's Resistance in Nicaragua, three years after April’s Revolution

Photo: Jorge Mejía Peralta under BY CC 2.0 license

On 18 April 2018, a demonstration took place in Nicaragua against reforms to the social security system, which led to a much broader resistance movement. During three days of peaceful mobilisations, Nicaraguan society demanded structural reforms in the country. In response, the authorities of Daniel Ortega's regime brutally repressed the protests. The "April Rebellion" left the country with at least 328 people killed during the protests, more than 2,000 injured and more than 1,600 arbitrarily imprisoned in those days alone.

On the third anniversary of April’s Revolution, MEP Soraya Rodriguez talks to Nicaraguan activists Gioconda Belli, Suyen Barahona, Dora María Téllez and Vilma Núñez. Today, as in so many other moments in Nicaragua's history, women are at the forefront of the ongoing resistance to Daniel Ortega’s regime.

Full talk with Gioconda Belli, Suyen Barahona, Dora María Téllez and Vilma Núñez on the third anniversary of Nicaragua’s April Rebellion (19 April 2021).

Feminism, key to democracy in Nicaragua

The four women participating in this talk are the living testimony of the resistance for the re-establishment of human rights and democracy in Nicaragua. Their activism makes clear the historic resilience and determination of Nicaraguan women. Through their voices, Nicaragua asks for international support to reopen the country to the Human Rights Commissions and calls for international observers to guarantee free elections.

Gioconda Belli, writer

During her intervention, the writer in exile expresses that the feminist struggle in Nicaragua is focused on the overthrow of the dictatorship in the upcoming elections. This would bring real change on the oppression and marginalisation of women.

Belli talks about the role of women in the country's politics and the current virtual resistance, given the limitations on freedom of assembly and mobilisation inside the country. She also praises the emancipatory power of literature, denouncing the closure of the International Writers' Organisation (PEN) in Nicaragua.

"Words have an extraordinary power and this is a country of words, of poetry" ​


Suyen Barahona, activist, president of the Democratic Renewal Union (Unamos)

Accused of "inciting foreign interference in Nicaragua's internal affairs", Suyen Barahona is one of the political opposition figures, who have been arrested. Both her and her family have been victims of police harassment. Since Daniel Ortega's return to power, she says, there has been a regression of women's rights. Women activists have suffered criminalisation campaigns, discrediting campaigns, torture, imprisonment and threats.

From the opposition, she profoundly rejects the reform of the electoral law, as it reinforces repression and is absolutely contrary to the demands of the Nicaraguan people: "It is aimed at preventing citizen participation, repressing organised political forces and ensuring absolute control of the electoral apparatus".

"Seven months before the presidential and legislative elections, there is no guarantee of free elections".


Dora María Téllez, historian and activist

Téllez was a victim of kidnapping and detention along with Suyen Barahona and other Nicaraguan opposition activists and politicians. In her intervention during the event, she called on the international community to make it clear to the regime of Ortega and Rosario Murillo that it will not accept a government that emerges from elections without legitimacy. She also called for solidarity with the Nicaraguan people.

She asks young Europeans to remember that the rights they enjoy are a triumph of previous generations.

“Justice is peace. Freedom is peace”


Vilma Núñez, President of the Nicaraguan Centre for Human Rights

As a human rights lawyer, Vilma Núñez de Escorcia emphasises the historical role of women in the defence of peace and justice in Nicaragua. She also recalls the women who were at the forefront of the reception of the European Parliament delegation and were repressed by the authorities under the Foreign Agents Act. She also recognises the "Mothers of April" and highlights the role of the murdered and political prisoners’ families in the fight against impunity.

"I see the Nicaraguan woman not only as a victim, but also as a permanent fighter".


The European Union’s commitment to democracy in Nicaragua

In the European Parliament’s resolution on the situation in Nicaragua promoted by MEP Soraya Rodríguez, the European Parliament condemns all the repressive actions of the Ortega-Murillo regime, calls for the immediate release of political prisoners and for a reform of the electoral law in accordance with international as well as the requested OAS standards. The aim is to work with the Nicaraguan people to fully restore democratic values; reparation for the damage caused to the victims and their families; and that the elections take place in an atmosphere of complete legitimacy so that the resulting government guarantees peace and freedom to all citizens.

Nicaragua does not forget April. Neither does the EU.

Suyen Barahona (top left), Gioconda Belli (top right), Dora María Téllez (bottom left) and Vilma Núñez (bottom right), during the streaming on the third anniversary of Nicaragua’s April Rebellion (April 19, 2021).

Women at the forefront

Women at the forefront is a space for reflection led by Spanish MEP Soraya Rodríguez Ramos. Its aim is to make visible and recognise the role of women in different areas of political, economic and social life around the world and contribute to the recognition of the fundamental role of women in the construction of a fairer and more equal society.