University student leader Lesther Aleman returned to Nicaragua on Monday, after more than a year in exile. During the first dialogue back in May 2018 to overcome the crisis in the country, he dramatically demanded that Daniel Ortega order the cessation of repression.
Aleman, 21, arrived in Nicaragua from the United States. “I have not stopped fighting despite being outside the country, now I’ll do it from here,” said the university student upon his arrival in Managua.
Upon his return to Nicaragua, Alemán was ironic about the security guarantees of the exiles who have returned to the country, including him, and the personal safety of Daniel Ortega.
“There is no one behind me, I am not wearing a bulletproof vest, I do not have an armored Mercedes (Benz), I do not have an army, nor do I have security, I cling to something, my faith in God and in those struggling with me,” he said.
“Nothing is normal”
On his decision to return to Nicaragua, Alemán said that it was “totally personal”, and doesn’t mean anything is “normal” in the country.”
“I know that nothing is normal in Nicaragua because there are still political prisoners, because repression is lived day to day, because in any case you are at risk as journalists and us as students,” he said.
However, he said that “fear can be managed, fear should not immobilize us, and should not condition decisions.”
The Nicaraguan student became known for interrupting an Ortega speech at the beginning of the first national dialogue, on May 16, 2018, to demand that he order the cessation of repression, which at that time had already left more than fifty dead, many being students.
“President, we demand that the repression cease immediately,” said Alemán, in what is now considered a milestone in the history of Nicaragua, when he rebuked the most powerful man in the country for ordering the execution of protestors. Months later, Lesther had to flee into exile over death threats from government supporters.
Aleman is the most recent of a list of well-known opposition leaders returning from exile, and who have denounced persecution from police and paramilitaries after their return.