Nicaraguan bishops have announced they are abandoning peace talks with the embattled socialist (Sandinista) administration of president Daniel Ortega after at least 11 people were killed and 79 wounded during the latest mass protest against his rule.
Tens of thousands of dissenters poured on to the streets of the capital, Managua, on Wednesday afternoon to mark Nicaragua’s Mother’s Day with a massive demonstration against Ortega’s 11-year reign.
The protest – dubbed “The Mother of All Marches” – was led by the mothers of some of the 83 protesters who have been killed since the uprising began on 18 April, The Guardian reports.
But an initially peaceful procession descended into violence after armed pro-Ortega forces opened fire on protesters, activists said. Demonstrators armed with improvised bottle-rocket launchers also opened fire.
Citizens have set up roadblocks (tranques) across the city, and the tranques vary in size, from about 4-foot-high walls on Managua avenues that slow car traffic, to piles of metal and burning tires on vital highways that delay trucks transporting food staples to other parts of the country, causing food and medicine shortages in some regions.
Protesters, whom authorities have allowed to maintain the tranques without interference in most — but not all — cases, say they plan to block roads until they get justice for the more than 70 people who were killed during protests against the government’s plan to increase social security taxes and cut benefits.
What that justice entails depends on who is describing it, but generally consists of some iteration of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega leaving office.
“The tranques will stay up until he is gone because that’s the only way we will survive,” said a 19-year-old demonstrator in Managua who gave his name as “S-1.”
“We have to show that the people are in charge of Nicaragua and this pressure shows that,” he said. “The government wants to say that people are hurting because of the tranques but how can they talk when they’re the ones who are murdering the people?”
The Managua-based opposition newspaper La Prensa accused Ortega of transforming the peaceful demonstration into “a bloodbath”. “Due to the situation of insecurity that reined throughout the night it was difficult to arrive at the exact number of fatal victims,” it said.
The latest eruption of violence came just days after Amnesty International released a report accusing Nicaragua’s government of unleashing a deliberate campaign of deadly repression designed to snuff out the revolt. “The Nicaraguan authorities have turned on their own people in a vicious, sustained and frequently lethal assault,” claimed Amnesty’s Americas director, Erika Guevara-Rosas.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
May 31st, 2018