Rousseau argued that “force creates no right.” By this he meant that when a state that has power and force, it does not mean that they have the right to use it. 300 years later, governments across the world continually ignore this proposition, and prioritize their own desire for order over the human rights of their people.
Nicaragua is yet another example of a government that is using violent force in response to protests from the people. From Senegal to Venezuela, authorities are acting with a misguided ideology: that brute force and fear can destroy the seeds in the minds of many. While they can disguise symptoms of discontent, they will never destroy growing ideas.
The situation in Nicaragua
On April 17th, the Nicaraguan Social Security Institute announced changes in pension plans that will negatively impact employees’ salaries, as well as put economic pressure on businesses.
Unsurprisingly, the changes were met with anger from the Nicaraguan people, and within a day, protests began to emerge across the country, mainly sprouting from University campuses in the capital, Managua, as well as in cities such as Leon, Granada, and Masaya.
What started as peaceful protests quickly turned violent, and many blame the state for their use of unnecessary force. As of April 21st, at least 24 people have died at the hands of state violence. One journalist was shot dead while reporting the situation on Facebook Live. Amnesty International have criticized the Nicaraguan government for not allowing citizens to exercise their right to protest.
The universal right to protest
The rights to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of association are universal human rights. These are the rights that are exercised when citizens protest. These are the rights the Nicaraguan State is denying their people.
As a global society, we have the duty to take action in standing up for those whose rights are being repressed. Positive change cannot occur until everyone can express themselves peacefully without fear of retaliation.
The Nicaraguan government has force and power, but this does not mean that they have the right to use it. The Nicaraguan government may be able to shoot down people, but they can never shoot down ideas.