Ten people, including a 15-year old boy and a police officer, have been killed in a skirmish between protesters and government forces in the town of Masaya. In addition, 20 people have been injured, according to the AFP and the Tico Times, and these protesters have had no access to medical supplies, food, or other necessities.
The safety of people of Nicaragua has been called into question ever since student protesters against the pension reforms has lead to a nationwide movement to oust their president, Daniel Ortega. According to the Miami Herald, at least 113 people have been killed, dozens have disappeared, more than 1 000 injured, and hundreds arrested since mid-April. Economic activity has ground to a halt, and public transportation is no longer functioning adequately. Government forces have been sending people to El Chipote jail, according to the Miami Herald, which is known as the prison where Anastansio Somoza’s right-wing dictatorship during the 1960s and 1970s took their prisoners.
Protests have broken out on April 18th in response to pension reforms. According to NPR, as the protests continued across the country, the US state department pulled some of its embassy staff and families out of Nicaragua in response to the violence. Kyra Gurney from the Miami Herald reports that, as police and government-controlled gangs attempt to disperse protests with violent force, the government has instructed the ministry of health to “not treat injured protesters even if they come in with gunshot wounds.” Open rebellion against the government is increasing, calling for the president to step down. The high murder toll and acts of violent repression in response to protesters has only served to make tensions flare. But the original goal of the student protesters still stand – they want President Daniel Ortega and his wife, the vice president, out of office.
However, it seems that time will not be on Daniel Oretga’s side, as a large number of the president’s opponents have been putting increasing pressure on him. There are growing calls for a national strike, which have been supported by social media. Opposition groups have been organizing food drives for those negatively impacted by the unrest in the country.
The peace process, which has been overseen by the Catholic church, is failing in light of stronger and more violent tactics being used to suppress this movement to oust Ortega from office. The long standing crisis, which had briefly been diffused by the Roman catholic church through mediating dialogues and other civic groups, devolved into violence once more on May 23rd. Though Ortega is frequently called a “killer” among protestors, according to the Guardian, he has abandoned social security reforms in light of the mounting tensions and bloodshed. While the unrest had been set off by the pension reform, the policy seems to merely be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Indeed, the crisis had been ignited by issues deeper than just one pension policy. The overstep of violence, coupled with disturbing historical overtures, along with a staunch refusal of the government to admit faults, has created a storm that is not likely to cease until Oretga steps down.
All in all, the peace processes will continue to fail unless the Nicaraguan government takes accountability for the deaths of protesters. While the Roman Catholic church has been a place where both the opposition and the government can have a mediated dialogue, they can only do so much in the face of violent repression. Oretega’s power will likely slowly slipping away, as others in his regime realize that he can no longer uphold the current system that benefits them, while his opponents on the other hand – both in his regime and in civic duties – only have more fuel for their criticisms and acts of open rebellion.
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