Candlelight vigil for the victims of violence, courtesy of SOSNicaraguaGlobal.

In 1978 and 1979, Nicaraguans took up arms to depose a dictatorship, and I am forever thankful for their heroic actions and for getting rid of the 43-year-old Somoza tyranny.

In 2018, people are protesting nonviolently to end a second dictatorship, which is made up by some of the people who fought against the previous Somoza dictatorship.

Sure, there are some violent protesters, but by-and-large, the overwhelming majority of killings, tortures, disappearances, and injuries have been caused by the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship. This has been verified by reputable national human rights organizations — such as the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) and the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights (ANPDH) — as well as international bodies, including the United Nations and the Organization of American States.

So even though the cycle of a dictatorship is repeating in Nicaragua, the vast majority of Nicaraguans have recognized that violence produces more violence, that an armed uprising will not bring peace, and that a lasting solution for change in Nicaragua will come about through nonviolent civil disobedience and dialogue.

And yet, many people are still confused about what’s going on, because they desperately want to hold on to a vision that a self-professed left-wing government would never kill its own citizens, like so many right-wing dictatorships have done in Latin America.

It’s time to wake up from that dream, and realize that truly being in solidarity with people in Latin America should mean that we will not condone the repressive actions of a dictatorial government, regardless of how much they speak out against U.S. imperialism. Saying that you support the poor does not give you license to commit gross human rights violations.

Because this moment is not about what this government did that was better than 16 years of neoliberal governments. This moment is about demanding the right to life, the right to voice our opinions even if they are different from the party line, the right to not be tortured and disappeared, the right to freely elect our government under internationally observed elections, and the right to demand justice for the hundreds who have been killed by this regime.

¡Patria Libre y Vivir!