Over thirty thousand angry citizens flowed through the streets of Managua. The largest anti-government protest in recent memory halted traffic, bringing most of the city to a standstill. They had seen enough and demanded change. Streams converged, filling the National University stadium parking lot, spilling over onto walkways and roads. Local news stations followed, capturing images of the noisy but peaceful crowd. Whistles blew and drums pounded. Nicaraguan flags waved in the breeze. Some attached to sticks; some draped over the backs of protesters. Shouts of anxious optimism filled the air. The young and naive believed there was safety in numbers, especially with TV cameras present. Their charismatic leader, the founder of the university opposition movement, hopped up onto the bed of a pickup truck. He stood tall and held a bullhorn. The crowd immediately recognized him and began to chant his name.
“Victor! Victor! Victor!”
He took a moment to scan across the sea of brave souls draped in blue and white. Intensity grew with each chant, becoming louder and louder. His arms went up. The masses roared.
“We are fearless and unstoppable.”
The crowd erupted with their rally cry: “Nobody surrenders, here!”
“Stop government-sanctioned violence!”
The crowd cheered, then shouted, “Nobody surrenders, here!”
“We demand free and honest elections!”
An even louder roar fired back: “Nobody surrenders, here!”
The crowd worked itself up into a fever pitch of excitement. It felt like the start of a revolution, one that would finally free their country from oppression and corruption.
Victor shouted, “Release all political—”
Suddenly, rapid-fire explosions pierced through his words and the noise of the crowd. Victor dropped, injured. Most continued cheering, assuming the loud pops were just celebration from a continuous firecracker roll. Several protesters in front, holding up the poles to a large freedom banner, collapsed. Blood pooled around them. The cheers stopped. A wave of panic spread across the crowd. Cries for help and screams of horror echoed through the campus. A few rushed to help the wounded, the rest scattered. Heads swiveled, searching for the source of the gunfire. From multiple directions, several canisters of tear gas shot up, landing near the speaker. Protesters nearby crawled, struggling to breathe; others ran while covering their faces.
Among the chaos, under the cloak of thick choking smoke, six men dressed in blue shirts and wearing gas masks rushed Victor. With lightning speed, they grabbed and dragged him off into a waiting SUV.