Branded a terrorist by the Ortega government and a hero by her fellow protesters, Nahomy Urbina has become a leading figure in the uprising against Daniel Ortega.
Known as “comandante macha”, or the blond commander, facing a cancer diagnosis earned widespread respect for her efforts in mobilizing young people since protests began in April.
From Costa Rica, where she was forced to flee, last week she addressed her followers with a defiant message following death threats and a raid on her home in Managua, in which her mother and grandmother were seized by police.
Urbina says she was targeted as part of a “witch hunt” in July’s terrorism law.
While she remains stranded, Urbina was fortunate to escape, unlike many other young female protesters who have found themselves incarcerated in detention centers where they have suffered torture, rape and sexual violence.
Since April, an estimated 500 people have been killed by police and paramilitary forces loyal to the Ortega.
“Within a month of the protests starting there were close to 300 people killed. They were executed by snipers during marches, shot in the head or gut – it was incredibly brutal,” said Lydia Alpízar, executive director of IM-Defensoras, a regional network supporting female activists
“In the past few weeks, we have seen a new wave of oppression, a witch hunt, accusing people of terrorism. Every day there are detentions and disappearances.”
Alpízar’s organization has been assisting the UN – now banned from the country – in documenting the violations as well as helping women flee Nicaragua.
“We are campaigning for the release of all 340 political prisoners, but we are raising awareness about around 40 women who are among the most vulnerable,” she said.
In a video posted on Facebook, Urbina, who was diagnosed with cancer in December and received chemotherapy during the uprising, revealed that she is pregnant.
She remains defiant. “I am firm in my support for our struggle … I will not remain silent. I will continue giving interviews and telling the world what is happening in Nicaragua,” she said.
“They want me killed or detained. It is hard for me to say how my heart feels at the moment with so many political prisoners, for so many young women who have been raped and are asking for emergency contraception so they don’t have to carry forward a pregnancy that is the result of rape.
“So many young people are losing their freedom but I want you to know that I will continue the struggle with you all.