After two weeks of violent and deadly protests, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has scrapped a proposed social security reform plan which would have increased taxes to workers and employers and reduced retired workers’ pensions. In response, the Nicaraguan Catholic Church called for peaceful marches. The church is also taking the position of mediator to address the cause of the protests. More than 60 people have died and over 400 have been injured in Nicaragua due to anti-government protests and most of the victims are students.
Many leaders in the country’s Catholic church support anti-Ortega protestors taking to the streets.
Another march underway in Nicaragua. This one organized by the Catholic Church. It's a march for peace and justice. Big turnout as the population of Nicaragua is very religious. End destination for the march is the cathedral. #SOSNicaragua pic.twitter.com/TYrPhmwS4k
— #SOSNicaragua (@smsisita) April 28, 2018
“The government has just one month to come through. If it doesn’t, the people will be told that it couldn’t,” Leopoldo Brenes, a cardinal in Nicaragua’s catholic church, told The Washington Post. Human rights groups have denounced the country’s response to protesters which has led to National Assembly president Gustavo Porras calling for the creation of a truth commission to look into the deaths and violence during the clashes.
The Nicaraguan government has not confirmed or denied casualty figures which has been estimated to include at least 60 dead and almost 400 injured.
Nicaragua's Permanent Commission on Human Rights (independent) says 63 people have died in the protests. A real bloodbath! There has been too much complacency with a president who has broken the constitution to grab absolute powers: https://t.co/DdikBUyygk @miamiherald pic.twitter.com/tajAH2g7pq
— Andres Oppenheimer (@oppenheimera) April 27, 2018
Nicaraguans are demanding Ortega’s resignation and that of his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, describing them as oppressive and corrupt violators of human rights, civil rights and the freedom of the people. President Ortega who has held a tight grip on power since his election in 2007, has also seen his share of supporters who took to the streets on Monday to rally in his support.
“We must say no to death, no to destruction, no to violence, no to barbarity!” Ortega said to supporters during the rally, according to The Miami Herald. “Yes to life, yes to dialogue, yes to work , yes to peace!.”
Young people have been at the center of protests calling for the resignation of the President Daniel Ortega.
A reflection on the current protest and social unrest in #Nicaragua, the demands of the students, and the legacy of the Sandanistas by a Los Angeles based Nicaraguan anarchist.https://t.co/wobapKMNvh pic.twitter.com/s0tCURD4W1
— BlackRose?RosaNegra (@BRRN_Fed) April 26, 2018
The protests were started by students at the Polytechnic University of Nicaragua in the capital city Managua. Peaceful protesters were attacked by police in an attempt to stop the students from voicing their discontent. This led to nationwide protests against the current government instead of just about the proposed social security changes.
As protests continue, the world is watching to see if Ortega and his wife will leave their position of power.
International community is in solidarity with #Nicaragua and supporting the unconditional open Dialogue process by the Government, with all society represented and led by the #church with #students #workers #business to restore #peace & #stability -> https://t.co/1ba72HHPYe pic.twitter.com/flMvaU6d2x
— Embassy of Nicaragua (@embaniclondon) April 24, 2018
President Ortega has been in power for 17 years. First from 1984 to 1990 and he resumed power again in 2007 until now.
“He either lives in a civil way, obeying the law and stopping the brutality and the corruption, or he becomes the Nicaraguan version of the Ceaușescu,” Nicaraguan journalist Alvaro Cruz, editor of the Salvadoran newspaper Diario El Mundo, told the Miami Herald.
The reference of Ceaușescu is of Nicolae Ceaușescu, the last Communist leader of Romania. He and his wife were overthrown in 1989 by a revolution. They were tried and convicted by a court for their crimes against the Romanian people and were among the last people executed in Romania.