Nicaraguans exiled in Costa Rica celebrate the "Clamor" as resilience

Nicaraguans exiled in Costa Rica celebrate the "Clamor" as resilience

The binational family made up of the Nicaraguan Francisco Morales and the Costa Rican Cinthya Vílchez celebrated for the first time in a neighborhood of San José the traditional “Crying” to the Virgin Mary.

This religious tradition originating in Nicaragua and dating back more than 100 years, has been replicated in Costa Rica where at least 200,000 people are refugees, according to official figures.

The family of Francisco Morales is one of them. Although Morales has lived in Costa Rica with his wife for more than 40 years, this time he joined the religious festivity after his brother arrived in the country in 2018, he said, fleeing “repression from the government of Daniel Ortega “.

“My brother came in 2018 and he always comes with devotion. I have already taught all my children all the songs of the Immaculate; they know them. I have eight children, from the youngest to the oldest born here. Even the lady too. This year is one of the first Purísimas and of course we do intend to continue for the next few years,” Morales says about the celebration.

The “crying” that emerged in the city of León, north of Managua around 1857, according to historians, consists of people erecting altars in honor of the Virgin Mary every December 7, one day before the Day of the Immaculate Conception. de María, which is normally a national holiday in that Central American country.

This year the government of President Daniel Ortega ratified the date as a holiday for all public and private workers as a way of complying with Nicaraguan traditions.

But the more than 200,000 exiles who have left Nicaragua since 2018—which sparked protests against President Daniel Ortega—are looking for a way to keep their religious traditions alive in this way and find a way by having family in Costa Rica, says Morales, who leads more than 40 years living in Costa Rica.

After “shouting” and singing to the Virgin Mary, people receive sweets, fruits, drinks and traditional foods.

During the pandemic, it was not an obstacle for people to take to the streets to “scream.” Nicaraguans celebrated the tradition in a pandemic, and were seen protected with masks, gel alcohol and striving to maintain social distancing.

The tradition of shouting has been passed down from generation to generation in Nicaragua. Photo Houston Castillo, VOA.

Roger Martínez, a former political exile in Costa Rica, says he is happy to be able to celebrate the “crying” together with his family.

He assures the VOA that they invited their neighbors and brought music to his family’s house in order to “set” the altar to the Virgin Mary.

“On these dates we feel proud to be Nicaraguan, to keep our traditions alive, the religiosity that characterizes us,” he adds. “We invite the people of the countries where we are exiled to take to the streets to shout, there are already parishes that do the same and celebrate our traditions.”

Jhoswel Martínez is part of a band of musicians that plays for the purissima on this date. He is also in exile in Costa Rica but says that singing on these dates contributes “to the resilience” that he has as an exile, but also strengthens his culture.

“Here in Costa Rica it is difficult to see these things, several people do not have the resources to do it, but this makes us feel at home, especially where there is music, your friends, companies. This is emotional, it fills us with joy, but with nostalgia”, affirms Martínez.

“It’s a mix of positive emotions,” he says.

These festivities also fill journalists like Héctor Rosales with nostalgia, who religiously covers the “prayers” of Nicaraguans in the Costa Rican capital for the digital outlet Nicaragua Actual.

Héctor Rosales, Nicaraguan journalist

Héctor Rosales, Nicaraguan journalist

“I have mixed feelings because in Nicaragua it was one of my best coverage and now here, it fills me with nostalgia knowing that I am not in my country.”

It is estimated that Nicaraguan Catholics who are in exile celebrate the shouting in the United States, Costa Rica and Spain, which are the main destinations for migrants.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church in Nicaragua plans to celebrate the shouting this December 7 amid the attacks that the administration of President Daniel Ortega has branded priests and bishops as “coup plotters” for demanding respect for human rights.

In fact, seven priests are in prison and a bishop is under house arrest without a formal charge against him, but the Nicaraguan government maintains its discourse that religious freedom exists in the country.

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