2018 Nicaraguan protests

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2018 Nicaraguan protests
Part of 2013–2018 Nicaraguan protests
2018 Nicaraguan protests - woman and flag.jpg
Protestas en Managua, Nicaragua de 2018 (1).jpg
Protestas en Managua, Nicaragua de 2018 (2).jpg
Top to bottom:
A woman holding a Nicaraguan flag near a burning barricade.
Large crowds demonstrating in Managua.
A candlelight vigil held in respect to those killed.
Date 18 April 2018 – ongoing
Location Nicaragua
Caused by Social security reform and corruption
Goals
  • Cancellation of social reform
  • Cancellation of Nicaragua Canal
  • Release of detained protestors
  • End of police violence
  • Restoration of free speech in media outlets
  • Reformation of the Supreme Electoral Council (including the resignation of all magistrates in duty)
  • Resignation of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo[1][2]
Concessions
given
  • Cancellation of social reforms
  • Release of 200 prisoners
  • Investigation into deaths during protests
  • Truth commission
  • Resignation of the president of the Supreme Electoral Council
  • Resignation of National Police chief
Parties to the civil conflict
Lead figures

Government of Nicaragua

Number

Hundreds of thousands[3]

  • 250,000+ (23 April)[4]
  • 150,000+ (28 April)[5]
Tens of thousands[5]
Casualties
Death(s)

215[6] [8] [9]

[10]
Injuries 1,000+[6][7]
Arrested 350+[11]

On 18 April 2018, demonstrators in several cities of Nicaragua began protests against President Daniel Ortega's decree of social security reforms that increased taxes and decreased benefits. After five days of unrest in which nearly 30 people were killed, Ortega announced the cancellation of the reforms. However, the opposition has grown - also through years of repressed protests - to denounce Ortega and demand his resignation, becoming one of the largest protests in his government's history[12] and the deadliest civil conflict since the end of the Nicaraguan Revolution.[13]

As a result of the unrest, the Nicaraguan public and international governments alike have called for the next presidential elections to be moved ahead, with the European Union supporting this move.[14]

Background

Pensions for small contributors

The protests initiated in June 2013, when elder people, with little contribution (less than 750 weeks) demanded from the Nicaraguan Social Security Institute a reduced pension. Soon, students and young people joined their protests[15]. After a week of demonstration, the peaceful protesters were violently beaten up by paramilitary government mobs, associated with the Sandinista Youth[16], while police had moved back only moments before[17]. Later, to calm down the protests, concessions to the pensioners were made by president Daniel Ortega to supply a reduced pension[18].

Proposed canal

Over a year later protests started again, this time opposing the construction of a proposed Chinese-funded inter-oceanic canal through Nicaragua, with environmental impact, land use and indigenous rights, as well as Nicaraguan sovereignty among the chief concerns of demonstrators.[19] By February 2018, the project was widely viewed as defunct,[20] though absent a 60% vote to revoke the 2013 legislation creating the project, the Chinese company (HKND) granted the concession to develop the canal maintains legal rights to it as well as to ancillary infrastructure projects.[21]

Forest fires

In early April 2018, demonstrators marched in Managua, the country's capital, to protest what they regarded as an insufficient government response to forest fires that burned 13,500 acres (5,500 hectares) of the Indio Maiz Biological Reserve,[22] a tropical nature preserve that is home to Rama and Kriol indigenous people, as well as significant biodiversity and endangered species. It was suspected that the government had an interest in the fire, as it is the biggest natural reserve through which the Nicaraguan Canal is planned to cut. Counterprotests also occurred at the time in support of the Sandinista Front government.[23]

INSS crisis

In 2013, the Instituto Nicaraguense de Seguridad Social (INSS) entered in a deficit situation that has grown annually, reaching 2,371 million Córdobas by end of 2017.[24] This deficit has increased by over 50% annually for the last two years.[24] The IMF alerted Nicaragua in 2017 that in absence of reform, the cash reserves would be depleted by 2019.[25] The government of Daniel Ortega prepared a reform plan for the INSS based on the IMF's report. The government rejected some of the proposed remedies, such as increasing the retirement age, arguing that older people have fewer possibilities of finding employment, and that the urgency of the reform required fast results to ensure the INSS's viability, as some measures suggested by the IMF would not yield results for three or four years.[26]

In early April 2018, the Superior Council for Private Enterprise (COSEP) announced it has started negotiations with the government to reform the INSS, declaring that the solution must include an increase to the contribution of the employers and employees, as well as a fiscal reform.[27] These negotiations excluded Small and medium-sized enterprises.[28] The reforms were announced on April 16, 2018 and published by presidential decree 03-2018 in La Gaceta (official government record) on April 18, 2018. The reform included an incremental increase of 0.75% (from 6.25% to 7%) on the employee contribution and 2% (from 19% to 21%) on the employers, starting July 2018. The employers' contribution would increase annually until reaching 22.5% in 2020. Pensions would also be taxed 5%.[29] The 5% tax has been criticized as unconstitutional, as only the National Assembly has the power of taxation, and Law 160, signed by Ortega, indicates that pensions are not subject to any retentions.[30]

The government-aligned unions Workers' National Front and the Employees National Union supported the reform,[31][32] while the COSEP rejected it, indicating it did not have consensus and filed a recurso de amparo in an attempt to reverse it.[33]

Timeline of events

April

  • 18 April – Citizens already angered by the handling of the fires expanded their protests in response to the Ortega administration's announcement of social security reforms that raised income and payroll taxes while reducing pension benefits by 5%.[34] Demonstrations involving mostly elderly individuals,[35] university students,[36] and other activists[37] broke out in Managua and six other cities, which were met with a heavy response from the authorities ordered by President Ortega.[38] Authorities were seen using live ammunition on protesters while also arming Sandinista Youth mobs with weapons.[39] At least 26 people were killed, including journalist Ángel Gahona (es) of the news program Meridiano, with Gahona being shot to death outside of city hall in Bluefields while streaming on Facebook Live. Various forms of independent media were censored during the protests.[38][40]
Anti-riot police outside the National University of Engineering loading ammunition in Managua, 19 April 2018.
  • 19 April - Vice President and first lady Rosario Murillo made a speech mocking the demonstrators and labeling them of "small groups, small souls, toxic, full of hate", bent on the destruction of the country, attempting against peace and development. Also labeled the demonstrators that had been attacked as "aggressors" and the attack by pro-Ortega groups and police as "legitimate defense".[41]

There were major protests and confrontations in León, Managua, Granada, Boaco, Carazo, Estelí, Rivas, Matagalpa and Masaya.[42][43] TELCOR ordered the suspension of transmissions of four independent TV channels that were reporting the news: Channels 12, 23, 51 and 100% Noticias.[44] Also of the Catholic Episcopal Conference's TV channel.[42] The suspension lasted several hours, except for 100% Noticias, who was out of the air until April 25.[45] Murillo accused the protesters of being manipulated and trying to "destabilize" and "destroy" Nicaragua.[46]

  • 21 April – Ortega makes his first public appearance and announced he would hold negotiations for possible revision of the reforms, planned to take effect on 1 July; however, he said he would only meet with business leaders and alleged that demonstrators were being manipulated by gangs and other political interests. Demonstrations increased in response, with protestors objecting to the repression of demonstrations and the exclusion of other sectors from the negotiations, as well as the reforms themselves. The business chamber COSEP announced it would only participate in the negotiation if police violence ceased, detained protestors were released and free speech was restored.[38] Nicaragua's Roman Catholic Conference of Bishops also called for an end to the police violence and criticized unilateral reforms; Pope Francis subsequently added his call for peace in the country.[47]
  • 22 April – As press described the unrest as the biggest crisis of Ortega's presidency,[38][48][49] Ortega announced the cancellation of the social security reforms,[48] acknowledging they were not viable and had created a "dramatic situation".[34] He again proposed negotiations on the issue, this time to include Catholic Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes as well as the business community.[34]
  • 23 April – Marches of citizens, businessmen and students were held in Managua demanding the end of violence in the country, the release of students arrested by the police, the cessation of censorship of television media, and a response from the government about the students who died during the protests.[50] The protests were the largest seen during the Ortega administration, with tens[12] to hundreds[4] of thousands of demonstrators participating and calling for the president's resignation.[12]
  • 24 April – Over 200 detainees were released by Nicaraguan authorities. This was the result of dialogue between the government and other organizations.[51] Leaders of the campesino (peasant) movement released a statement in support of youth and self-organized grassroots protestors and called for a national strike until negotiations included all sectors of society.[52] Peasant rights leader Francisca Ramírez called for Ortega's resignation.[52]
  • 26 April – Nicaraguan Attorney General Inés Miranda announced a formal investigation into the deaths during the protests.[53]
  • 27 April – President of the National Assembly Gustavo Porras announced a truth commission to examine the deaths and violence during the unrest.[54] Head of the National Police Aminta Granera announced her resignation in face of criticism of her handling of the unrest and alleged police repression of protests.[55]
  • 28 April – Hundreds of thousands participated in marches for "peace and justice" organized by the Catholic churches in Nicaragua in the cities of Managua, Matagalpa and León, León.[3][54] At the events, "bishops, feminists, homosexuals, family members of those killed in the repression ... and thousands of peasants" gathered in unity to demonstrate.[3] Peasants who lived in rural areas traveled to Managua by a caravan of trucks, arriving to protest against the Nicaragua Canal proposal by Chinese businessmen and the Ortega government.[3]
  • 29 AprilAnonymous attacked the websites belonging to the Government of Nicaragua.[56]
  • 30 April – Tens of thousands of Ortega's supporters participated in a rally showing him support. The rally consisted mostly of singing and dancing to music of 1960s and 1970s music popular to the former guerrilla Sandinistas. There were some reports of government workers being forced to join the pro-Ortega rally.[5]

May

  • 1 May – The Government of Nicaragua rejects the Inter-American Human Rights Commission's request to investigate the violence surrounding the weeks of protest.[57]
  • 2 May – Student groups created a deadline for the Nicaraguan government to allow the Inter-American Human Rights Commission and the United Nations Human Rights Office to send in personnel to investigate the killings of protesters.[58] A student march from Central American University (UCA) to the National Assembly was blocked by police in riot gear, with students instead marching to the Polytechnic University of Nicaragua (UPOLI) to show solidarity with other groups entrenched there.[59] Another planned march was cancelled after pro-Ortega groups appeared on their route, so students reinforced barricades surrounding UPOLI under the watch of authorities.[58] Anonymous Nicaragua hacked the website of the National Police of Nicaragua, calling for their support of anti-Ortega protesters.[60]
  • 3 MayShock troops of the Nicaraguan armed forces and police assault UPOLI in the early morning at about 01:00 CT, dispersing students stationed at the university. The incident left six students injured, one seriously. Student group Movimiento 19 de Abril responded to the incident stating that they would not participate in dialogue with Ortega after he sent forces to attack them, placing peace talks in jeopardy.[61]
  • 4 MayParamilitary groups, reportedly supervised by Sandinista mayor of Masaya Orlando Noguera Vega, attacked protestors at the entrance to the Niquinohomo municipality, birthplace of Augusto César Sandino. The protesters were surrounding a statue of Sandino painted blue and white, the colors of the Nicaraguan flag that had become a symbol of the protests.[62]
  • 6 May – University groups of Alianza Universitaria Nicaragüense, Movimiento Estudiantil 19 de abril and Movimiento Universitario 19 de abril create a coalition to participate in dialogue and condemned the pro-Ortega National Assembly's move to create a truth commission which they deemed to be biased.[11]
  • 8 May – The National Coalition of Nicaraguan University Students announced that it was ready for dialogue with the Nicaraguan government.[63] Students of the National Agrarian University (UNA) and of the Catholic University (Unica, private), have added this to the protests in Nicaragua, manifesting their discomfort in the streets and more Nicaraguans joined the protests throughout the day.[64]
  • 9 May – Members of the Independent Press of Nicaragua condemn massacre, censorship and repression of the Government of Nicaragua.[65][66][67] The Apostolic Network of Nicaragua, which brings together some 1,500 evangelical churches throughout the pine-tree country, called for the resignation of Ortega and Murillo, and join the clamor of the majority of the Nicaraguan people.[68] The capital of Nicaragua, Managua, was the living reflection of the existing division in Nicaraguan society around the Government of Ortega, in the framework of a sociopolitical crisis that has already lasted 22 days and left at least 47 dead. Thousands of people marched in a multitudinous way through the streets under the slogan "For Justice and the Democratization of Nicaragua". In a new show of popular strength, the third in three weeks, the crowd, dressed in T-shirts and flags of Nicaragua, meanwhile in another sector of Managua, people sympathetic to the government met in Avenida Bolivar to give support to the ruler and his wife.[69][70][71][72][73] It is reported that there were 4 police officers injured during the demonstrations.[74]
  • 10 May – Dozens of peasants carry out a sit-in at the intersection of Lóvago, jurisdiction of the municipality of San Pedro de Lóvago, in the Chontales Department, demanding that the government of Nicaragua accelerate the installation of a dialogue involving all sectors. The march of the buses, trucks, trucks, among others, that covered the route from Managua to Nueva Guinea, from Managua to San Carlos, and vice versa, was paralyzed in that place because of the traffic jams.[75] The National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN-Managua) demanded the delivery of the Rubén Darío campus, where since Monday, May 7, a group of students has been entrenched in demand for the dismissal of the student leadership and expressing their support for the citizen protests.[76] The Truth Commission indicated that it will contact the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH), as part of the investigations it will make about the April protests, which left at least 47 people dead. In a statement issued on May 10, the five members of the Truth Commission promised to clarify the deaths, wounded, imprisoned, disappeared and the destruction of infrastructure during the April protests.[77] The Nicaraguan government said the Catholic Church that will define when a dialogue will begin to address the crisis. Murillo said that Ortega awaits the call of the bishops.[78][79][80] An armed attack on students entrenched in a university in Managua left one dead and 11 injured, said Víctor Cuadras, spokesperson for the Student Movement April 19 (M19A); the student died in the hospital where he had been taken after being shot during the attack UPOLI.[81]
  • 11 May – The Government of Nicaragua, through its official website, El 19, recognized the death of three people during the clashes that occurred in the early hours in UPOLI in Managua, which would increase the death toll in the protests.[82][83] Additional protests occurred nationwide against the Sandinista National Liberation Front and Ortega and in solidarity with the university students who died in the early hours of May 11 in UPOLI, Managua. The Catholic Church and the private sector of Nicaragua, main interlocutors of the next national dialogue with the Government, rejected the attacks that occurred in the early morning.[84] The First Lady and Vice President of Nicaragua Rosario Murillo indicated that the Government is prepared to attend the dialogue when the bishops deem it convenient.[85] The university students and the private sector of Nicaragua stated that they are also open to the dialogue.[86]
  • 12 May – More than 10 cities were the scene of heavy fighting in at least eight departments in the north, center and Pacific areas of Nicaragua. The biggest clashes took place in Chinandega, Granada, León, Managua, Masaya and Rivas in the Pacific, as well as Estelí and Matagalpa in the north. In Masaya, the clashes lasted for more than 12 hours between demonstrators, anti-riot police and youth shock groups of the ruling Sandinista party.[87][88]

The Catholic Church of Nicaragua gave the government of Daniel Ortega 72 hours to provide conditions to start a dialogue amid the protests calling for the resignation of the president. The ultimatum of the bishops came after three people died on Friday in a new day of protests in the country. The four conditions that the president of Nicaragua must fulfill according to the Catholic Church are:

  1. Allow the entry of a delegation of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH).[89][90][91]
  2. Suppress paramilitary bodies and order the withdrawal of civilians in favor of the president.[89][90][91]
  3. Stop all kinds of police repression against protesting civil groups.[89][90][91]
  4. Willingness of dialogue on the part of the government.[89][90][91]
  • 13 May – President Ortega called for a cessation of violence, reading a short statement, in which he called for "an end to death and destruction, that does not continue to shed blood of Nicaraguan brothers".[92][93] The Military of Nicaragua assured that it will not engage in acts of repression against citizens who are protesting and advocated a dialogue to help resolve the crisis in the country, according to statements made by spokesman Colonel Manuel Guevara.[94][95][96] In a demonstration, thousands of people arrived on 13 May from Managua to Masaya in caravan, to support that city for the loss of at least one life and 150 wounded in the past days. The caravan left at 10:00 am from the Jean Paul Genie roundabout in Managua, where citizens gathered early to the sound of bubucelas and the fluttering of blue and white flags.[97][98]
  • 14 May – The Government of Nicaragua accepted the entry of a mission from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights visit (IACHR) to "observe the human rights situation" in the country, informed the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) Luis Almagro.[99] The student representatives, civil society and private sector invited to participate in the national dialogue by the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua, confirmed their consent to go to the dialogue table that will start on Wednesday May 16, 2018 despite the repression of the National Police of Nicaragua and groups of Clashes of the FSLN.[100][101] The strong clashes this Monday 14 May between riot police, together with members of the Sandinista Youth, and civilians protesting against the government in Sébaco, Matagalpa, left at least 16 injured, including four minors.[102] The leader of the anti-Nicaraguan canal movement, Francisca Ramírez, announced that she had been excluded from the national dialogue as representative of the peasantry in Nicaragua.[103]
  • 15 May – Clashes continues in Matagalpa.

National Dialogue (16–23 May)

  • 16 May – When Ortega and Murillo arrived at the Seminary of Our Lady of Fatima, site of the national dialogue, the presidential couple was greeted with shouts of "assassins, murderers" by people on the outskirts of the event.[104] Guatemalan filmmaker, Eduardo Jessi Espigar Szejmer, died in the night- a metal tree sculpture was felled and landed on him. The sculpture was taken down during a demonstration that took place in the Metrocentro sector, Managua.[105][106] Protests in the capital during the development of the first day of dialogue.[107]
  • 17 May – A delegation from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) arrived in Nicaragua to observe 'in loco' the situation of human rights in the country. The IACHR visit occurs with Nicaraguan human rights organizations reporting between 61 and 67 people dead and more than 500 injured in repression exercised against protesters. The delegation is headed by Antonia Urrejola, rapporteur for Nicaragua at the IACHR.[108]
  • 18 May – On May 18, the IACHR called on the State of Nicaragua to immediately cease the repression, said Commissioner Antonia Urrejola, rapporteur of the IACHR for Nicaragua, in a statement. The IACHR informed that they will meet with the victims of the repression, this Friday it was one month old "We call on the State of Nicaragua to immediately cease the repression of the protest, the Commission also calls on the State to guarantee the independence and functioning of The media in the country The rapporteur indicated that the mission of the IACHR in the country will be the observation in the field in accordance with human rights, this is a preliminary visit. He indicated that he would meet with all sectors.[109] [110] Mothers of young people who died in protests filed a complaint with the IACHR.158 There were clashes, protests, and the entrance of "several armed hooded men" to the San José parish in Matiguás, Matagalpa and closures of streets in Nueva Guinea, Jinotega and other Nicaraguan departments [111][112][113][114] León, Carazo, Matagalpa and Jinotega are under strikes or lack of products, due to the crisis in Nicaragua.[115] The dialogue continues on his second day.[116] 164 There was friction between university students and members of the official press before the dialogue.[117]The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights arrived at the national dialogue. The government and the Nicaraguan opposition agreed to a truce over the weekend, a month after having started demonstrations and protests. Several people have appeared before the Inter-American Commission to lodge complaints against the violations carried out by the police forces and supporters of the Daniel Ortega government.[118][119][120]
  • 19 May – The university students announce that they continue the marches and the protests in a peaceful way. On May 19 there were marches in several cities of Nicaragua in commemoration of those killed in the protests that have affected the Central American country for a month.[121][122] On the night of May 19, 2018, there was an attack on students of the National Agrarian University (UNA) who protested near the university grounds – whose rector accused the National Police, who in turn denied it – and who left the eight injured. Students who are entrenched in the UNA and residents of surrounding neighborhoods reported a police and members of youth sandinistas attack on the campus, located near the Augusto C. Sandino International Airport. [123] The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has received thousands of complaints from the population and is making inquiries in Matagalpa and other places where there was excessive repression against anti-government protests.
  • 20 May – There were peaceful protests in several cities of Nicaragua and the violation by the Nicaraguan Police of the truce was denounced.[124][125] The attack perpetrated Saturday night against the students who remain entrenched in the National Agrarian University (UNA) left at least eight wounded, two of them seriously, as confirmed by students from that campus, who this Sunday collected evidence of the aggression that was documented by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH).The university students point to supporters of the Government under the direction of police commanders as those responsible for the aggression, however, the institution, through an official note, reported that it had no presence in the area. Six injured were treated at the medical post of the campus in charge of the students and two other young people, wounded by bullet wounds, were transferred to a hospital.[126] Nicaraguan demonstrators demolish more metal trees called the tree of life that are symbols of the government of Ortega.[127]
  • 21 May – The national dialogue continues on its third day where the resignation of Ortega and his wife and the Nicaraguan government was requested, requesting the return to normality. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), today issues a preliminary report on the investigations of what happened in the protests in Nicaragua. The IACHR recorded at least 76 people killed by the protests in Nicaragua, more than 800 injured and denouncing serious events and violations of human rights by the Government of Nicaragua. It includes the official visit of the IACHR to Nicaragua. The representatives of the organization were in Managua, Masaya, León and Matagalpa.[128][129]
  • 23 May – The National Dialogue between the government of Nicaragua and students, the private sector and civil society that began a week ago was suspended indefinitely. The leader of the Nicaraguan Catholic Church, Bishop Leopoldo Brenes who has acted as mediator of this dialogue, explained that the lack of agreement on an agenda of issues to be discussed prevents negotiations from continuing.[130][131][132]
  • 30 May – On May 30, the day in which the Nicaraguan Mothers are celebrated, a march was held in honor of the victims killed during the protests. It was brutally repressed by the national police in the company of paramilitary groups and government-like mobs, leaving a balance of approximately 15 dead. Most of the victims resulted in fatal and accurate shots to the head, neck and chest. The march was led by the Mothers of April Movement, the Student Movement April 19, Civil Society and Private Enterprise. [133] [134]

June

  • 1 June–In the early hours of June 1, Masaya reported that there had been a new wave of looting and robberies against businesses and stores in the city.[135]The UN urged the Nicaraguan government to allow him access to the country to gather information about the violence and deaths recorded during the protests and to be able to verify the reports of violations of rights, disappearances, torture and arbitrary detentions.The spokeswoman for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said at the UN biweekly press conference in Geneva that the agency is "dismayed" by the ongoing violence in Nicaragua, which this week has left at least 16 dead and more than a hundred injured.[136] Movements, associations of professionals and Nicaraguan social groups called for a Civic-citizen National Strike and civil disobedience since June 1, as a means of pressure for President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, to leave power.[137][138]5 banks have closed in Masaya for looting.[139]The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemned the deaths and new acts of violence that occurred in Nicaragua and urged the State to stop the repression of the protests. The IACHR also urges the Government to investigate and punish the use of force by parapolitical actors, dismantle these groups, and seek a peaceful, constitutional and democratic solution to the current political crisis affecting the country.[140]
  • 2 June-Heavy clashes between government forces and riot police against demonstrators and citizens of sector La Concepcion. It is indicated that there are 2 citizens killed and several people injured. Other Clasehs in Masaya, Carazo y Matagalpa. They report attacks from paramilitary and anti-riot groups since dawn.[141] [142][143][144] [145]The US Embassy in Managua confirmed the death of the US citizen who was found this morning in the Rubenia sector in Managua."The United States Government expresses its condolences to the family of the deceased US citizen last night and to all the families who recently visited legal medicine.The death of a US citizen is of great concern to the Embassy," he wrote in his twitter account. Ambassador Laura Dogu. Residents citizens of the place indicate that Sandinista youth shock groups as the culprits of the homicide.[146][147]A group of children with their parents marched through the streets of Managua against repression and solidarity to university students who died in the protests.[148]

Dialogue

National Dialogue

The National Dialogue began on 16 May. Ortega kicked off the "dialogue for peace" Wednesday" saying, "We all suffer the death of our loved ones, but we have the obligation not to respond to violence with more violence, because otherwise we have scales that end in wars, and the people are tired of that."[149] Students led with a strong demand. "We have decided to be at this table to demand them right now to order the immediate cessation of the attacks that are happening in the country," said student leader Lesther Alemán, as protests continued throughout the country. After hearing the student, Ortega questioned the wave of protests, calling it "irrational violence".[150][151][152][153] Monseñor Mata made three requests to Ortega.[154][155]

On 23 May, the National Dialogue was suspended. Archbishop Brenes to create mix commission that three representatives of the government and three of the opposition are discussing an action plan to restore the table of the National Dialogue.[156][157] The Nicaraguan Foreign Minister, Dennis Moncada Colindres, objected that the agenda of the National Dialogue involves 40 points that all lead to a single point; an agenda for a coup d'état for a change of government outside the Constitution and violating the Laws of the country. On the other hand, the university students, businessmen and civil society asked that a Framework Law be debated, which would allow to advance the elections, prohibit the presidential re-election and change the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE).[158]

Following the repression and over a dozen deaths in the 30 May protests, the Nicaraguan archbishops cancelled the National Dialogue and protests continued.[159]

IACHR resolution

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights adopted precautionary measures of protection for the entire leadership that make up the University Coalition in Nicaragua and that have led the civic protests against the government since April 18.[160]The US government urged Nicaragua to "fully" implement the recommendations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to prevent further violence in the protests against the government of President Daniel Ortega.[161]

Protest violence

Police responding to protests

Firearms

At least 42[53] people were killed in the first week of protests in April, with most injured by bullet wounds.[162] Nicaraguan authorities used live ammunition to fire upon demonstrators[39][163] resulting in hundreds of injured.[163] Government forces were also reported to have armed pro-Sandinista groups with weapons to use against protesters.[39] Following the government crackdown, rioting and looting ensued.[163] On 2 May 2018, The Miami Herald reported a total dead of "At least 63 people, almost all of them student protesters" since the start of the demonstrations.[39] By the end of May, over 105 people were killed.[6]

The United Nations Human Rights Council condemned what they said may have been possible "illegal executions" performed by the Nicaraguan government.[164]

Torture

Individuals detained during protests alleged torture by Nicaraguan authorities, with the hundreds of prisoners later released by the roadside in the outskirts of Managua with shaved heads and bare feet.[51][163]

The Inter-American Human Rights Commission received allegations about some families being forced by the government not to file complaints about the deaths of their family members, mistreatment of detainees and threats against human rights defenders in the Central American country.[57]

Media

A protester holds a sign saying "No to censorship", April 26, 2018.

There were reports that certain media organizations were censored during the protests.[38][40] Miguel Mora, the director of 100% Noticias de Nicaragua, stated that the Nicaraguan government censored his channel on cable networks in the country.[165] The censorship of 100% Noticias was not lifted until April 25.[166] One journalist, Ángel Gahona (es), was shot and killed while reporting on the protests on Facebook Live. Radio Darío, a radio station known for being critical of the Ortega government, was said to be attacked and burned down on 20 April 2018 by pro-Ortega groups, leaving the facility at a total loss.[167]

The United Nations Human Rights Council criticized the attacks on media and censorship performed by the Ortega government.[168] The Inter-American Press Association also called on the Ortega administration to stop its efforts of censorship, with its president Gustavo Mohme Seminario stating that its actions toward the media "unmasks the authoritarianism of a government that in its eleven years has only sought to dismantle the State for its own benefit and that of his family members".[169]

Response

Domestic

  •  Nicaragua – Vice President and First Lady of Nicaragua Rosario Murillo characterized the protesters as "criminals", "vampires in search of blood" and "minuscule and toxic groups." Following his return to public view after being absent for the first 72 hours of protests, President Ortega quickly reversed the social security reform and agreed to a Catholic church-mediated dialogue.[39]

Protesters were generally spread across the political spectrum and Murillo's statements angered the left-wing sector, which responded by destroying her metal "Trees of Life" public art pieces in Managua. The majority of those demonstrating do not see any negotiation without the results being Ortega's removal.[39]

Domestic NGOs

The NGO Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) stated that President Ortega and his wife "encouraged and directed" the repression against protesters and that "the demonstrations are legitimized by a social rejection of the authoritarian way of governing by President Ortega and his wife, Rosario Murillo" and called for dialogue monitored by the United Nations and the Organization of American States.[170]

International

Supranational bodies

  •  European Union – On April 20, 2018, the Delegation of the European Union in Nicaragua and the Heads of Mission of the Embassies of the Member States released a statement lamenting the recent violence, sending condolences to those affected, and calling for dialogue and "social peace".[171] On 31 May 2018, the European Parliament condemned the repression used by the Nicaraguan government and called for elections.[172]
  •  Organization of American States – Secretary General Luis Almagro condemned "all kinds of violence", calling for peace and stating that citizen have a "legitimate right" to protest.[173]
  •  United Nations – Liz Throssell, spokesperson for the United Nations Human Rights Council, called on the Ortega government to "comply with its international obligations to ensure that people can freely exercise their rights to freedom of expression and the freedom of peaceful assembly and association", condemned attacks on journalists, and expressed concern "that several television channels that were covering the events have been closed by the Government".[174] Following continued repression, the Human Rights Council demanded the Nicaraguan government to allow entry in order to "gather first-hand information about the incidents arising from the public demonstrations" of April and May.[175] UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the ongoing violence in Nicaragua, particularly the killing of a protestor during demonstrations in Managua on Wednesday May 30. [176]

Governments

  •  Argentina  Brazil  Chile  Colombia  Paraguay  Peru – In a joint statement, the Latin American countries shared "concern and regret the acts of violence", making an "urgent call" for all sides to cease hostilities, particularly that "security forces exercise their powers with the utmost prudence to avoid excessive use of force and an escalation of the crisis, allowing the generation of a climate that restores both peace and dialogue, essential to overcome this serious situation".[177]
  •  Canada – Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland of Global Affairs Canada stated that she was "concerned about reports of several deaths and injuries in the demonstrations that are taking place in Nicaragua" and called for dialogue.[178]
  •  Costa Rica – Minister of Foreign Affairs Christian Guillermet condemned the censorship of media by the Ortega administration.[179]
  •  Cuba – The Cuban government defended Ortega, criticizing what it called "attempts that aim to destabilize the Republic of Nicaragua, a country that lives in peace and where remarkable social, economic and security advances have been made in favor of its people".[180]
  •  Germany – The Federal Foreign Office called on "all factions to immediately renounce the use of force", asked the government of Nicaragua to "promptly and fully clarify the cases of fatalities", criticizing the government's use of force and demanded "free journalistic coverage", stating that "restrictions on press freedom by the Government are unacceptable".[181]
  •  Mexico – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico called for "the cessation of violence" and supported the idea of dialogue.[182]
  •  Puerto Rico – Governor of Puerto Rico Ricardo Rosselló said, "In Nicaragua there is an attack against human rights by the Government of Daniel Ortega".[183]
  •  Spain – The Government of Spain demanded the "maximum containment" of Nicaragua's security forces and supported dialogue.[184]
  •  United States – Ambassador Michael G. Kozak, of the United States Department of State's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor stated that "Nicaragua ... is going the wrong direction on many fronts", stating that the Ortega government had a "long litany of torture, extrajudicial killing". Kozak criticized censorship, called for the support of NGOs and suggested future targeted sanctions against the Ortega administration, saying that the governments of Cuba and Venezuela are the "same camp as Nicaragua".[185]
  •  Uruguay – The Ministry of Foreign Relations released a statement supporting "calls for reflection and dialogue", denouncing violence and demanding "respect for the law and individual rights".[186]
  •   Vatican CityPope Francis expressed concern about the violence in Nicaragua, asking that "unnecessary bloodshed be avoided and that open questions be resolved peacefully and with a sense of responsibility".[187]
  •  Venezuela – President Nicolás Maduro supported Ortega and Murillo, stating "they are facing a violent ambush", describing protesters as "violent groups".[188]

NGOs

  • Amnesty International – Director of the Americas Erika Guevara Rosas condemned "brutal attacks against peaceful demonstrators and journalists covering the protest", saying it "represents a flagrant and disturbing attempt to restrict their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly" while also stating that the government "must put an immediate end to all acts of aggression against the public and the press, and conduct an expeditious investigation, impartial and independent to bring to justice all those responsible for these sinister attacks".[174]

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