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Debate on Political Crisis & Violent Deaths in Nicaragua: Camilo Mejía vs. Julio Martinez Ellsberg

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The U.N. high commissioner for human rights says the death toll from anti-government protests in Nicaragua is approaching 300, as an escalating crisis in the country reaches its third month. Both opposition groups and pro-government forces are accused of violence, including kidnappings and killings. We host a debate with Julio Martinez Ellsberg, adviser to one of the main student movements opposing the Nicaraguan government, and Camilo Mejía, well-known Nicaraguan-American Iraq War resister and son of the famed Sandinista singer Carlos Mejía Godoy.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We begin today’s show in Nicaragua, where the Associated Press reports that three people were killed and dozens were wounded when pro-government forces regained control of the Monimbo neighborhood of Masaya Tuesday. The Organization of American States says the death toll from mounting anti-government protests has risen to at least 273 people. Demonstrations to oust Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega began in mid-April, when his government announced plans to overhaul social security. Both opposition groups and pro-government forces have been accused of violence, including kidnappings and killings. The Nicaraguan government says the official death toll is 51, and accuses opposition protesters of using violence to overthrow the elected leftist government. On Sunday, Nicaragua’s National Police accused the opposition of kidnapping, torturing and incinerating a police officer.

AMY GOODMAN: On Monday, hundreds marched in the streets of Managua to demand justice for students killed Friday during an hours-long standoff at the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua between pro-government forces and opposition protesters who had seized control of the university campus. Tuesday, U.N. spokesperson Farhan Haq condemned the violence on behalf of U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres.

FARHAN HAQ: It is absolutely essential to end the violence in Nicaragua immediately and revitalize the national dialogue there for a political solution. He noted the recent human rights report on Nicaragua and affirmed the government’s responsibility to protect citizens, a principle that should not be forgotten at a time when we unfortunately have a death toll that is absolutely shocking.

AMY GOODMAN: Daniel Ortega has served as president of Nicaragua since 2007. In the late ’70s, as the leader of the Sandinista National Liberation Front, he helped overthrow the U.S.-backed Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza. Ortega then led Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990, before being elected again in 2007, then again in 2016 for his third consecutive term with more than 72 percent of the vote. But the current crisis has pitted Ortega against some of his former Sandinista allies. Thursday marks the 39th anniversary of Liberation Day, which commemorates the overthrow of the Somoza regime in 1979 by the Sandinistas.

Today, for more, we’re hosting a debate. Here in New York City, we’re joined by Julio Martinez Ellsberg, an adviser to the University Coalition for Democracy and Justice, or CUDJ, one of the main student movements opposing the Nicaraguan government of Daniel Ortega. He is also part of the Platform for Social Movements, a group of diverse Nicaraguan civil society organizations which organized after the crisis began. And in Pittsburgh, we’re joined by Camilo Mejía, the well-known Nicaraguan-American Iraq War resister. He was the first GI who served in Iraq to have publicly resisted the war, and was imprisoned for refusing to go back for almost a year. Camilo Mejía is the former vice chair—is the former chair of Iraq Veterans Against the War and an active member of Veterans for Peace. He’s also the son of the famed Sandinista singer-songwriter Carlos Mejía Godoy, who no longer supports the Ortega government and has released a pro-opposition album titled Heroes of April. Camilo Mejia is the author of an open letter to Amnesty International condemning the organization for its role in Nicaragua.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! We’re going to begin with Camilo Mejía. Talk about what you believe is happening in Nicaragua today.

CAMILO MEJÍA: Good morning, Amy. Thank you for having me on the show again. Good morning, Julio.

What is happening, again, Amy, it’s pretty easy to see, if you take a couple of steps back and look at the history between the United States and Nicaragua, where you have a number of instances in which the United States government, along with the Central Intelligence Agency and some so-called pro-democracy groups, like the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute and the U.S. Agency for International Development, have funded and directed not only media organizations, but so-called civil society groups and human rights groups, to basically undermine the Sandinista government. And then, before that, of course, to support—the U.S. supported the dictatorship of Somoza.

What we’re seeing right now is a two-faced movement, one that is the clean face, represented by students and civil society organizations that, as I mentioned, are supported by the United States, and a very violent group of people who have been manning these tranques, or roadblocks, that have basically kept entire cities besieged and kept them in a state of terror to basically undermine support for the Sandinista government and also to keep them from speaking out and to also hurt the economy.

What is happening right now in Nicaragua is nothing short of a bloody, Gene Sharp-style soft coup, with the entire support of the United States, the civil society unit, organizations that are operating in Nicaragua, the movement—the Sandinista Renovation Movement, or MRS, as well as the international corporate media, the same international corporate media that has also worked with the United States to create a mirage of, you know, weapons of mass destruction and mushroom clouds, for instance, in Iraq, that led to a very bloody invasion and occupation that killed over a million Iraqi citizens and then turned out to be based on false claims. Something very similar is happening in Nicaragua. The war drums are beating. They have the entire support of Western media and human right organizations to create this image, to basically undermine support for the Sandinista revolution not only nationally, but internationally. The coup is failing. The tranques have been removed. The people are out celebrating. But the international media is not reporting it that way, because they’re aiming to more strongly, more directly intervene in our affairs.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Camilo, let me bring in—

CAMILO MEJÍA: Like I said, a quick look at history—

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Camilo, if you can, let me bring in Julio Martinez Ellsberg. Your perspective and your, obviously, very different viewpoint on what’s going on today in Nicaragua?

JULIO MARTINEZ ELLSBERG: Yes. Thank you for having me.

OK, so, Daniel Ortega betrayed the Sandinista revolution many years ago. OK? And this has been an alert that the Nicaraguan progressives have been giving for many years. Everyone that you know from the 1980s, anyone that’s famous, has already turned against him, because they can see that he is not a progressive, is not left-wing. And right now he’s gone full-on dictator, the same way that Somoza was. The same people that fought against him during the 1970s—against Somoza in the 1970s and '80s are now in the social movements fighting against Ortega. He does not represent anything that's progressive. And the murder that he’s done, in pure daylight, using paramilitary troops and the police, has everyone furious.

And really, there is just really no question on the ground as to who is responsible for the deaths. This debate, these talking points about the CIA and the United States being behind this, this is something that he’s using with his former allies from the 1980s, people that are on our side, progressives in Europe, progressives in the U.S., who think that it might be plausible. However, this is the reason that, from the beginning, we’ve asked for human rights organizations, for as many people to be on the ground and see it for themselves, so it’s not just me or Camilo having some sort of debate, where everyone can see for themselves. And it’s unanimous. Every single human rights group that’s attended has seen with their own eyes that, during daylight, these people are shooting protesters for the sole reason of exercising the right to protest and for speaking freely against the government. He is a dictator, and he is a murderer. There is no doubt about this.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: When you say he’s a dictator and a murderer, and people have been raising these issues for a while, he was elected just in 2016 with 72 percent of the vote in the country. So, is it something that’s rapidly happened in the last year and a half, or if—and if it was happening earlier, why did so many people vote for him?

JULIO MARTINEZ ELLSBERG: OK. For the past 10 years, he has completely undone the democracy in Nicaragua. OK? He’s taken over every single power—the electorate, the judicial system, the parliament. Everything is completely consolidated. He has been threatening people from the opposition for the past 10 years. That’s why so many people—so many progressives left him behind. There has been election rigging, starting in 2008, that only received slaps on the wrists—on the wrist from the international community. And his absolute power was brought together with the Nicaraguan capitalists, with the Nicaraguan right wing. From the very beginning, he made a deal with them, where he wouldn’t ask for them for any taxes, and, in exchange, the people that have traditionally had power in Nicaragua would not say anything about his power grabs, leaving a very tiny civil society to march. And every single march during the past 10 years has been met by paramilitary troops. This has been a reality for the past 10 years. This is not something new. The only thing that’s new is the level of brutality, the level of murder, that we’ve seen in the past three months.

When these elections have been happening in the past few years, there’s no opposition anymore. Anyone that speaks out has been completely neutralized. If you had a job that has any links to the government, you’re fired. If you speak out and you are from a local community, then you have no right to any kind of social programs. He’s completely neutralized the opposition, with the help of the Nicaraguan private sector, who, well into the protests, were still with him about a month in. They turned back on him about five weeks after the protests started, saying that he had gone too far, and now thinking that he wasn’t a safe bet anymore. They thought that he was going to be toppled, so they were looking to leave. But he has depended on them fully for the past 10 years.

And the fact that he—the fact that he didn’t request taxes from them, the only reason that he was able to have social programs or anything of the sort is with Venezuelan oil money, that he funneled through private companies. He did not do it through the normal public sector. He did not use parliament. He has absolutely no oversight. Over $5 billion of Venezuelan cooperation, there is absolutely no—we have absolutely no registry of what he’s been doing with it, only leaked documents that show that two-thirds of it were actually used to buy for-profit companies, which are now used to provide the money for the repression.

AMY GOODMAN: Camilo Mejía, your response?

CAMILO MEJÍA: Thank you, Amy. Well, I think Julio is right: You shouldn’t listen to him or myself. Just listen to what representatives of USAID and NED have been saying to the U.S. Congress, telling them, bragging basically about laying the foundations for insurrection in Nicaragua, bragging about doing the work that in the past was done by the CIA. All you need to do is look at the support that this movement has, in the likes of Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Senators Rubio and Cruz. These are some of the most conservative politicians in the United States. The Trump administration, the U.S. representative at the Organization of American States and the oligarchy that Julio speaks about is 100 percent behind this opposition. In fact, they are the ones who originally called for the protests. So, it’s all right there. You don’t have to listen to us. I have sent you some articles about who is behind a lot of these organizations, like I mentioned before. So, don’t listen to us. Just look at the document that’s there available for everyone.

In terms of this being a progressive government, I think that 74 percent of people who voted for Ortega in 2016, you know, that can give you a pretty clear idea of who the people are behind. And if you look at the programs that we have, Nicaragua, just before April 18, was one of the safest countries in Latin America. It had one of the fastest-growing economies. It was not dependent on the United States. In fact, it was completely clear from loans and from debts to the United States and to the IMF. And 70 percent of the jobs in Nicaragua are created through the popular market economy, which means that we’re not dependent on transnational money or big capital. That’s one of the big reasons why this is happening right now. Another big reason is that we signed a treaty with China to build a canal, which has been basically at the heart of rivalry between Nicaragua and the United States since the mid-1900s, when the United States basically set its sights on Nicaragua because of the canal. And then, once the canal was built in Panama, it kept, you know, an interest in Nicaragua to prevent Nicaragua from building a canal that would stand in opposition and competition to the U.S. canal in Panama. So, it’s really hard to see where Julio is coming from, when you have 74 percent of the electorate in Nicaragua voting for Ortega, and you have all the social uplift programs and the safety and this economic growth, that is even recognized by the IMF and the World Bank. The Nicaraguan people are not unsatisfied with the Ortega administration. They are very happy with the Ortega administration. And I think the elections, you know, are a testament to that.

And I think that what’s happening with Mr. Julio’s friends and his political opposition in Nicaragua is that they’re hungry for power, and they don’t have a popular base. The last time that they ran in an election, in 2006, they have approximately 1.3 percent of the vote. And they—ever since, what they have done, rather than building a progressive people’s agenda or a platform, a progressive platform upon which to become popular and gain more support from the Nicaraguan people, what they have done is that they have allied themselves with the right. They have run elections alongside some of the more oligarchic, right-wing, conservative parties in Nicaragua. And they have slowly gravitated towards the nonprofit world, which is what we’re seeing right now in the form of these so-called civil society organizations leading the charge against Ortega, leading the charge against a government that has—that offers universal healthcare to all of its people, including medication, including treatment for chronic disease; a government that has free education at the primary, secondary and university level; a university that has—I’m sorry, a government that has supported over 4,000 cooperatives led by indigenous peasant women; that has supported over 300,000 small businesses and 100,000, you know, self-employed families, that have lifted up the economy and have created food sovereignty, which is a pretty radical concept these days. These are the wins that the Nicaraguan people support.


CAMILO MEJÍA: And this is why the people support the government.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Camilo, if I can ask you, though—if I can ask you about some of the stuff that Julio raised, because, obviously, since Ortega has now been—he’s in his third term, this issue of his consolidating power to the point—or what he is claiming, that Ortega has consolidated power to the point where the elections really are not that meaningful, in terms of an expression of democracy. If you could talk to that point, in particular, and also about the issue of all of the people who have been killed? Who is doing the killing? If it’s—whether it’s 60 or 80 or 200 or 300, that’s a significant number of people who have died in the past few months in Nicaragua.

CAMILO MEJÍA: Sure. Thank you, Juan. To the election question, I think that every government has issues. I’m not going to say that the Sandinista government is perfect. They have made alliances, it’s true, with the business sector. They’ve made alliances with the church. They’ve made alliances with big national money. They did that because in order to government, you have to make alliances. The Sandinista government runs on a platform of consensus and reconciliation. The model—the economic model that they have created includes building consensus not only with the employers, but also with the employees, so big business sector and the syndicates, or the labor unions. This model has been so successful that it’s now being adopted by the rest of Central American countries. So, this is something that the Sandinistas had to do out of necessity, to be able to govern.

In terms of, you know, like all these other constitutional or electoral issues, I’m not going to say that the Sandinista government is perfect. They have made mistakes, like any government make mistakes. But, you know, to put things in perspective, in the time that I have lived in the United States, we have elected two presidents without the popular vote. That hasn’t happened since the Sandinistas have been running as a political party. They’ve always won with a majority of the popular vote. We also don’t have primary elections with superdelegates overriding the popular vote to decide who is going to run for the party. We also don’t have an Electoral College that, again, overrides the will of the majority of the people. So, yes, we do have some issues, but nowhere near the level that would throw people into the streets to kill one another.

In terms of the deaths, it’s really hard to come up with a definitive number of how many people have been killed, because a lot of the deaths that have been claimed by the opposition are people who we know from media reports have been—basically taken out of media reports, who have died of—for various reasons, including suicide, including armed robbery. People have died of heart attacks. Some of them are repeated—their names are repeated. And there is an entire report on this. So it’s really difficult to say who has been killed and how and by whom.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to—

CAMILO MEJÍA: And the position—

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to the mother of one of the students who’s been killed during nonviolent protests in Nicaragua, Moroni López, killed by police in Managua in April. He was linking arms with other demonstrators to form a human chain, when he was shot and killed by the police. A series of videos captured the final moments of his life. He joined the protests after watching video of police hurting elderly protesters, his mother said. I interviewed his mother, Alba García, to respond to government claims that they’re not using live ammunition.

ALBA GARCÍA: [translated] I would ask Daniel then, “How is it that my son is dead? How is it that the sons of other moms are dead? How did those two bullets come through his chest? How did those three shots enter the bodies of the other two kids?” Because there were three shots that were right on target—two in the chest and one in the neck, one in the head. They’re not going to do that with handmade mortars. That’s false. How is it that more kids are dying? And how is it that the people who disappear return dead with signs of being tortured—without eyes, without teeth, with their bones broken? Who is doing that, then? I would like Nicaragua, the country that is crying, to explain to me why this is happening. Explain to me: How is it possible that my son left alive, and now he’s dead?

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Alba García, the mother of Moroni López, killed in April in Nicaragua. Julio Ellsberg, your response to Camilo saying it is not clear who is doing the killing, when you’re coming up to this number of 300? You have the government saying 50, around 50, and you have the United Nations saying around 300 people have been killed.

JULIO MARTINEZ ELLSBERG: OK, I’ll try to respond to the points that Camilo mentioned. One, who is—who is on our side? It’s, one, the student movement; two, the peasant movement; three, Monimbo. All of these are traditional Sandinista bastions. These people have always been on the side against dictatorship. They were on the side against dictatorship in the '70s, and they're on that side now. The idea that right now the government is touting, celebrating that they’ve killed that many people in Monimbo, is absolutely outrageous. These are all people that consider themselves Sandinista. They’re simply not with Ortega.

Who else supports us? I mean, you keep on talking about Marco Rubio. How about Pepe Mujica? He spoke out against Ortega yesterday, asked him to step down. Podemos in Spain, the socialist party of Spain. The Socialist Party in Chile. The Latin American and Spanish-speaking left are already 100 percent sure about who’s doing the killing, and they say, without mincing words, there is no doubt about who’s doing the killings. They’re not talking about, you know, “Let’s make the violence stop.” They’re talking about the government is using paramilitary troops to kill its own people, and they’re saying clearly that it’s the government that needs to stop.

We can keep on asking for more and more eyewitness people—eyewitnesses to come from the outside as much as we want. The U.N. high commissioner for human rights is already on the ground. The Inter-American Commission for Human Rights is on the ground. Every other human rights commission that’s on the ground sees the exact same thing. We have a brutal, brutal government that’s killing its own people for protesting. There is no doubt. This whole—these government talking points, about there being some sort of fogginess and nobody really knows where the bullets are coming from, is absolutely absurd and is based on absolutely no reality.

Camilo, you haven’t lived there. You don’t live there now. We see this every day, because they do it in broad daylight. We see it by camera phones. And when you, in your article, say, “No, those camera phones are—maybe they’re fixing the videos,” we see it from every angle. Everybody there is filming every single step. And we’ve been seeing this since April 18th. There is no doubt in anybody’s mind. You can keep on sending as many international observers as you want. They will keep on saying the same thing. The international community is completely behind the protesters. And the protesters are completely against Ortega, and they know. There is no minister in charge of the police. Ortega changed the constitution so that the police respond directly to him, the same way that Somoza did. So, every single thing that the police and paramilitary troops do, whether it’s at midnight or whether they do it during the day, is completely ordered from the presidential house. Everybody knows this.

Let’s see. Let’s see. Did I miss any talking points here?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Julio, you’re talking about the question of the violence. But the government is claiming that there were—there have been 10 policemen killed. Are you saying that they killed their own policemen? Or are you saying—is the entire movement peaceful, or sections of the movement already involved in violence against the government? There have been charges of taking over police stations. Can you talk about that, as well?

JULIO MARTINEZ ELLSBERG: OK. The movement itself has been nonviolent from the beginning. You can see this from the very beginning, from April 18th on. About two weeks in, when the violence didn’t stop, the peasant movement took over these roadblocks. They set up about 150 roadblocks, because they’ve been against the government for the past five years, with all other progressive movements in Nicaragua. They took over the roadblocks, and people in Managua and every other major city set up barricades in their own neighborhoods.

The government has been using—has been attacking them head-on, using high-caliber weapons, AK-47s, every single high-caliber weapon that you can think of. When they attacked, when they go into neighborhoods, some people are armed in their houses. OK? So, can we guarantee that not a single person in this entire—in the country that’s against him doesn’t have a gun? I can’t guarantee that. But the police are going into their houses. And we have everything on tape, because they do it in broad daylight. So, some people may have been doing it. The movement is nonviolent. And we’ve been promoting this.

And we have had the largest marches in Nicaraguan history. We had it—we had the first one that was the largest in Nicaraguan history five after this started. On May 30th, that was even larger than the first one. Nicaraguan civil society is 100 percent behind this protest, as are Sandinistas. If you talk—and when you want to talk about other people that are behind us? Anyone that you can think of right now, whether it’s Sergio Ramírez, Ernesto Cardenal, Gioconda Belli, Luis Carrión, Dora María Téllez, Mónica Baltodano. All these leaders, that any American progressive will remember from the 1980s, is on this side.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Camilo Mejía, I mean, actually, we have a very interesting debate here just between the two of you. Camilo, your parents, well-known Sandinistas, your father the Sandinista poet, musician, artist, Camilo Mejía Godoy. You take different positions on this. He just came to the United States. He’s put out a CD to celebrate the opposition, to support the opposition. And interestingly, Julio Martinez Ellsberg, you are the grandson of Daniel Ellsberg.


AMY GOODMAN: Daniel Ellsberg, who worked with the U.S. government, with the Pentagon, and ended up becoming the most famous whistleblower in America around the Vietnam War, releasing the Pentagon Papers. Camilo Mejía, respond to what Julio is saying about the killings, the overwhelming number of killings that he believes there’s no question that Ortega has masterminded these killings, and also the conversations you have with your father, leading Sandinista, who now is a leading opponent of Ortega, the man that he supported for so long.

CAMILO MEJÍA: Amy, let me start by saying that every death is regrettable. My heart goes out to that mother. And every time somebody gets killed in Nicaragua, it’s a loss for the whole Nicaraguan people.

What Julio is saying is highly inaccurate. Even the Amnesty International report, which, as I have said, is highly partialized, recognizes that on the first day of the big march, on April 19th, only three people were killed, and one of them was a police officer. All of them died by gunshot wounds. So, that, right there, tells you that from the very beginning, the police have encountered a very violent, armed opposition. This has continued throughout the entire conflict. Police officers don’t go into the neighborhoods where they have these tranques to meet a peaceful resistance. What they have met with is highly armed people. A lot of them are—have been imported from El Salvador and Honduras. There are police reports with, you know, photographic and video evidence of who these people are. A lot of the people who are from Nicaragua who are these tranques, or roadblocks, are people who have criminal records. They have found weapons caches at universities. They have found weapons caches at churches.

And to the point that Julio is making about having video evidence, I have seen all the evidence. I watch opposition channels all the time, and I look at the evidence. And it’s very out of context. And when you look at police officers fighting in one direction, you never see what’s on the other side. You never see what they’re hiding from, what they’re taking cover from, because they don’t want you to see the whole picture. What we have evidence of is police officers being killed and burned publicly. We have seen Sandinista compañeros basically being killed and burned and mocked publicly. These images keep coming out, and they’re undeniable. The level of brutality that we have seen coming from the opposition has never been seen in Nicaragua. And if you look at the way that these gangs operate in the rest of Central America, where they have been working basically as part of the organized crimes with the drug cartels, you see that some of the same tactics are now playing out in Nicaragua—

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Julio Martinez Ellsberg—

CAMILO MEJÍA:—where you see a lot of—

AMY GOODMAN: —if you can respond to this, to what Camilo is saying? People at blockades are brought in from other countries, involved in drug cartels?

JULIO MARTINEZ ELLSBERG: No, there’s—no. Simply, that’s absurd. Camilo, I highly doubt that you’ve seen all of the evidence. It’s thousands of hours of footage. The attacks are every single day. And the videos that people are taking from their phones are every single day. So, you couldn’t possibly have seen it all. You know who has seen it all? The teams of about 30 people of the Inter-American Commission came in to review all of the evidence, interview people, go to the ground, go to the roadblocks and try to provide an eyewitness account that was neutral and that the rest of the international community could see. After having done their extensive investigation and—they found, without a shred of doubt, that this was the Nicaraguan government shooting its unarmed population. And as for the—and the same thing has been seen over and over by every other group that goes there in a neutral way.

As I said, again, you’re not there. How do you know? I don’t know when the last time that you were there, or you’ve never lived there, as far as I know. Exactly how you became an authority on this topic is just beyond—I have no idea how this happened. But these are strictly Nicaraguan government talking points, and with this normal authoritarian intent of trying to say that no one knows what the truth is and there’s nothing—no one you can trust except the government, which is absolutely absurd.

As for—and let’s talk about the three people that were killed on the first day, because I think that’s important. One of them was a 15-year-old called—named Álvaro Conrado. OK? This kid left high school to go take water to his friends, that were already in college. High school students have been mobilizing, because they want to help the other young people. Remember that the people that were leading this towards the beginning were 17-year-olds and 18-year-olds. Álvaro Conrado was handing out water to these people, without any kind of weapons in his hand, when he was shot in the neck. OK? These are the kind of images that galvanize the Nicaraguan population.

About three weeks later, Daryelis Velásquez and Matías Velásquez, ages 6 months and a year and a half, their house was burned down by police and paramilitary troops, early morning, seen by every single person in their block. And when people tried to save them, they were shot at by the paramilitary troops and police. These are—this is the reason that we have a protest right now. There has to be justice. We’re furious about what’s going on.

AMY GOODMAN: We have to leave it there, but of course we’ll continue to follow what’s happening in Nicaragua. Julio Martinez Ellsberg, I want to thank you for being with us, as well as Camilo Mejía, speaking to us from Pittsburgh. Camilo Mejía, well known for having resisted the Iraq War and was imprisoned as a result of that. And Julio Martinez Ellsberg, an adviser to student groups in the—one of the main student groups, CUDJ, in Nicaragua, opposing the Nicaraguan government, also part of the Platform for Social Movements, a group of Nicaraguan civil society groups which organized after the crisis began.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, well, if President Nelson Mandela were alive, he would be 100 today. We’ll speak with his friend, Reverend Jesse Jackson. Then we’ll talk about Eric Garner. This week marks four years after he was killed in a stranglehold by New York police. What has happened to that police officer? Stay with us.

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