They hide in safe house with hearts in Nicaragua

The News Tribune - - Nation & World - BY FRANCES ROBLES New York Times

The pa­tio is clut­tered with mat­tresses and suit­cases, clothes spilling out of them. Sheets sep­a­rate fam­i­lies from strangers, gen­tle­men from the ladies.

Women cook over an open fire fu­eled by freshly cut wood be­cause the kitchen in this mod­est three­bed­room ranch home in the Costa Ri­can coun­try­side can­not pos­si­bly ac­com­mo­date food prepa­ra­tions for 50 hun­gry fugitives.

This is a se­cret safe house for Nicaraguan pro­test­ers who are try­ing to avoid cap­ture by the coun­try’s au­thor­i­ties. It was not de­signed for crowd com­fort.

Even though the ranch is across an in­ter­na­tional bor­der, those liv­ing here take turns on nightly guard duty, con­cerned about agents from Nicaragua in­fil­trat­ing their haven.

The woman who runs the refuge, who goes by the pseu­do­nym “the God­mother,” looked around while a com­pa­triot slammed a ma­chete against a tree stump to cut more fire­wood.

“We con­sider our stay here to be tem­po­rary,” she said. “We are tired already. We want to go home.”

The God­mother’s real name is Lis­seth Val­divia. She used to own three cloth­ing stores in Mata­galpa, a city north of Nicaragua’s cap­i­tal, Managua. A 39-year-old mother of two, she liked work­ing out at the gym. She rode a new scooter. She was earn­ing a de­cent liv­ing.

Then her life, and the lives of tens of thou­sands of other Nicaraguans, were up­ended in April, when first the el­derly, and then the young, took to the streets to de­mand the re­moval of Pres­i­dent Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice Pres­i­dent Rosario Murillo.

She fled and never looked back, leav­ing be­hind three shut­tered busi­nesses, a house, a car, the scooter – and, for his own safety, her 7-year-old son, put in the care of his father, who has sided with the gov­ern­ment and some­times sends Val­divia an­gry text mes­sages about her al­le­giances.

In the Nicaraguan gov­ern­ment’s ver­sion of this story, the pro­test­ers are ter­ror­ists and mur­der­ers. Those stu­dents who par­a­lyzed com­merce when they broke off bricks from the streets and used them to build road­blocks at in­ter­sec­tions across the coun­try were armed and aligned with well-fi­nanced rightwing coup-plot­ters, in­clud­ing the Catholic Church.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.