Nicaraguan immigrants in Miami, Florida are eager to provide assistance to their home country and are planning to deliver medical supplies to relatives and people in need. Anti-government protests taking place in Nicaragua have nearly pushed the local government into a complete government shut down.

Nicaragua is in complete crisis, and on the brink of an even graver and bloodier conflict to take place. The current president, Daniel Ortega has lost power and any sort of control of the streets, and along with it, the confidence of his people. Nearly 100 people have died since the anti-government protests started under six weeks ago, and over 1,000 victims have been hurt or seriously injured; when pro-Ortega forces opened fire on a peaceful Mother’s Day march that was led by the mothers of victims. The incident it galvanized the opposition and stirred unrest in the once peaceful country. State officials have placed the blame on “criminal gangs”, but witnesses report that the violence has mainly been demonstrated by police and paramilitary crews using opening fire on peaceful demonstrations. The victims of the violence include a 15-year-old boy along with a journalist who was shot and killed as he livestreamed protests.

Injured protesters have no access to proper medical care, according to the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights. The United Nations office of human rights has asked Nicaragua's national government to allow them to enter the country and gather evidence on the deaths of protesters, many of whom were students and young adults. Over 800 Nicaraguans have been injured, according to local news sources.

Over the weekend, Floridians collected over 30 large boxes of bandages, rubbing alcohol and pain-relievers for wounded victims in the politically torn Central American nation. According to the Florida residents, injured protesters in Nicaragua are not able to receive regular shipments of medical supplies.

Due to concerns about restrictions on shipments outside countries such as the US, Nicaraguan-American businessmen Dimitri Largaespada and Norman Fitoria have decided to fly to Costa Rica and physically deliver the supplies across the Nicaraguan border and into the hands of victims. Their plan to do so represents an outstanding effort among Nicaraguan-Americans in Florida who are working diligently to help their family and friends who are suffering back home.

According to a June 1st report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a branch of the Organization of American States, nearly 100 Nicaraguans have been violently killed in the protests since April 18th.

“The supplies are needed, the people are dying because they don’t have supplies as simple as Aspirin and Advil," Largaespada said.

Fitoria has realized that the Nicaraguan customs officials have refused shipments of medical supplies into the country. Fellow Florida resident and aid organizer Francisco Larios also claimed that shipping medical supplies through Nicaraguan Customs would most definitely fail.

“They are going to extremes to prevent any medical help from reaching these kids,” Larios said to the reporters. When sending medical supplies “you run a high risk that they would be lost,” he says.

These restrictions have prompted Fitoria and Largaespada to deliver the supplies through Costa Rica and across the Nicaraguan border.

Lately, we have seen an increase in deaths in Managua, including one U.S. citizen who was travelling to the country. Over the weekend, parts of the colonial city of Granada were burned to a crisp during violent protests that erupted in the streets. Largaespada said that many doctors and nurses have decided to open makeshift clinics in homes and offices to tend to those hurt by the state police while protesting. These makeshift medical centers are in dire need of supplies they want to help.
Between the dates of May 17 and May 21, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights conducted a working survey to assess the situation in Nicaragua. The commission spoke to hundreds of different witnesses and gathered loads of data on the situation. In a report published on May 21, the IACHR claimed that many victims of the Nicaraguan state violence are afraid to seek medical attention for fear of retaliation from the national government.

The IACHR report also states, "there were administrative orders in the public hospitals to restrict access to care for the wounded and to obstruct access to information." The report details complaints of restricted access to healthcare and aid from five particular hospitals in the state, one of which is part of the Nicaraguan Social Security Institute. The additional four hospitals all belong to the Ministry of Health.

On Wednesday, officials at Miami’s Consulate General of Costa Rica told Largaespada and Fitoria that any shipments marked as “in-transit” would be accepted to Costa Rica without any trouble from customs. From there, they will then deliver the medial supplies to the Nicaraguan border using a semi-truck, or even on on a fleet of motorcycles if necessary.

“If we get to Costa Rica, we expect that the people will support us,” Largaespada said.
Fitoria claims he's optimistic, because "the people at the border likely disagree with the violence that’s happening."

If for some reason, they are unable to cross into Nicaragua, Fitoria and Largaespada will establish a makeshift clinic directly at the Nicaraguan border border and help victims to cross over to them for medical aid.
The team estimates that it will cost roughly $5,000 to bring the medical supplies to Costa Rica, which they will pay out-of-pocket themselves.

The two men travel often between Florida, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua, and are not disturbed at all by the possibility of violence erupting. The two men have a strong connection to their home country and refuse to sit back while their community is being torn apart by the state. Many others in the Nicaraguan Florida community are praising Largaespada and Fitoria for their courage, bravery, and willingness to take action when others won’t.

“Why should we be afraid?” Largaespada said. “When you do the right thing, and you have the right values, and you’re fighting for freedom and you’re fighting for the people, there’s nothing to be afraid about.”

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Hey there, I’m Nancy and I’m absolutely in love with food and health blogs. I’m on a mission to share my insider cooking, food and health tips with all of you…