Photo Credit: INTI OCON
Nicaragua's First Black Presidential Candidate Being Targeted By The Cops
George Henríquez is making history as the first Black presidential candidate in Nicaragua …ever.
His small town of Bluefields on the country’s Atlantic coast is thousands of miles away from Minneapolis but when he saw the video of George Floyd’s murder, he and other Black Nicaraguans joined the rest of the world in their feelings of shock, anger, and frustration.
“All of us put ourselves in that position, thinking, you know, this could have been me just because of the way I look, and where I come from,” the first Black presidential candidate told Vice News. “It really had an emotional effect on us Blacks living in the diaspora.”
For Henríquez, Floyd’s murder especially hit home as the activist and social justice organizer has become a target for police.
“I have the police constantly by my house, during the morning, during the evening, during the night, and they line up these shotguns and AKs. They are standing in front of my house guaranteeing that I don’t come out to assist in some meeting or whatnot,” he said.
He has been leading the charge in speaking out against Nicaragua’s authoritarian president Daniel Ortega. His administration kicked a United Nations team out of the country in 2018 for its critical report of the government detailing repression, torture, and abuse of protestors by the government, NPR reports.
The police harassment, however, is what fueled the fire for Henríquez to become the country’s first Black presidential candidate.
And while his quest seems far-fetched to many, he has put the marginalized Afro-Nicaraguan population on center stage.
“Nicaragua is plagued by institutional and structural racism,” he said. “They got surprised that someone from the coast is launching a candidacy for president of the country, because they are used to seeing people from the Mosquito Coast launching themselves in baseball, basketball, music, dancing, modeling. Now, we’re breaking the stereotype.”
When he announced his candidacy, the ugliness came out.
“How barbaric! How vulgar! Now even a cousin of Bob Marley is running for president,” José Manuel Urbina, a well0known lawyer and ally to a right-winged group posted on Facebook under the caption “Candidacies: The New Pandemic.”
Nicaragua’s Black community represents about 9 percent of the population, but Henríquez says their political demands are often largely ignored.
Through his candidacy, he hopes to give hope to the disenfranchised populations in Nicaragua at a time when the coronavirus pandemic and political upheaval have plunged the country into its worst crisis since the civil war of the 1980s.