Disclaimer… The information presented within this article does not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of the LNFA, AFI or the author. The author is presenting the facts that have been established by various international news outlets.
Penning a heart-felt article.
Over the past 7-years while promoting year-round American football in the Central American region, I have witnessed many challenges the leagues have endured and overcome to continue growing the sport. Their passion, determination, resourcefulness and tenacity has always, and continues to leave me awe-struck. Although for the most part, the dominant plight for the leagues has been extreme financial restrictions and acquiring equipment to develop teams.
However, what our international American football family in Nicaragua has experienced in recent days, has put the privilege of participating in the sport outside of North America truly into perspective.
The Liga Nicaragüense de Football Americano (LNFA), Nicaragua’s American Football League, has postponed its game schedule in the wake of politically charged protests in the streets. Multiple deaths. Dozens more missing. TV/Media censorship. A journalist shot dead on live streaming video. Use of excessive police force. Destruction of commercial and private property. Violent physical assaults and injuries…
Liga Nicaragüense de Football Americano (LNFA) is the ‘premier league’ comprised of teams from the federation league, Guerreros of Nicaragua (Guerreros, Aguilas and Toros de Masaya) and the private league teams; Iron Wolves and Lobos.
The LNFA embarked on its 2018 national championship calendar just 3 weeks ago with the initial games hosted in the capital city of Managua. There was anticipation for the Week 3 Games to celebrate the growth of the sport outside of the capital city. As games were scheduled to be hosted for the first time ever in the town of Masaya, where the newest team of the league Toros of Masaya resides.
On Monday, April 23rd, I discussed with Guerreros of Nicaragua, President, Eduardo Cordoba regarding the current ‘civil unrest’ situation and the affect it has had on the Nicaraguan American football family.
“The situation in Nicaragua is still very bad. Our league has been affected with Week 3 Games being suspended as a result of the Nicaragua situation with the government and the civilians rising up, fighting for their rights. We believe the security and integrity of all the players, coaches and referees is vital and of the utmost priority. We believe in the power of God to re-establish peace in our mother land.”
Where Do We Go From Here?
Inquiring if Cordoba has concerns about being able to re-establish the league after the situation is resolved.
“ No concerns, we will continue! But being sure we will have peace! ”
IFAF, President, Richard MacLean, has already been in communication with Cordoba expressing his hopefulness and well wishes that both his family and the American football family remains safe and that the situation will be resolved soon.
The Tipping Point – Wednesday April 18th – Tuesday April 24th
Nicaragua erupted into ‘civil unrest’ on the early evening of April 18th when alleged government-backed supporters and police began attacking the peaceful protestors of a reform imposed on April 16th by the Nicaraguan Social Security Institute (INSS), to litigate the deficit. The reform was approved through a ‘presidential decree’ with the main factors being a 5 percent deduction to the pension currently received by people who are already retired and already fulfilled their legal obligation while increasing the monthly deduction rate from workers paychecks and introducing a new formula to calculate pensions.
Later that same evening these “supporters”, apparently protected by the police, began attacking the Central American University students on campus while vandalizing property and forcing students to evacuate.
On April 19th classes were canceled for most, if not all universities across Managua while students continued to ‘peacefully protest’ the reform but only to be attacked again by these “supporters” again allegedly aided by the police, to counter protests. As day turned into night police enforcement escalated from tear gas and rubber bullets to beatings and real bullets while medical assistance for the injured, was reportedly denied by the government and medical supplies were being confiscated by police during vehicle checks en-route to the wounded victims. Many university medical students volunteered to treat the wounded even while fearing for their own lives.
As well, a few local TV stations, not owned by the government were apparently taken off the air after broadcasting the demonstrations live and government-owned TV stations were airing news that seemingly contradicted the reality in the streets and what ‘civilian journalists’ were documenting and posting on various social media sites.
Why the protests? The government has been accused of using the INSS funds apparently as ‘petty cash’ and for the presidential family . Although this reform was just the tipping point for an ongoing series of issues that have apparently oppressed the people of Nicaragua for years.
On Sunday, April 22nd, the Nicaraguan people won their protest when President Daniel Ortega said in a message to the nation that the social security board of directors has canceled the changes implemented on April 16.
On Monday, April 23rd, the streets of Managua were filled with peaceful protestors against government repression.
On Tuesday, April 24th classes for university students were still suspended.
How all of this will continue to affect the growth and development of American football in Nicaragua remains to be seen. The LNFA has plans to resume play this coming weekend, provided that violence does not erupt again in this Central American country.