President Ortega Outlaws Protests in Nicaragua
Thirty-eight individuals were arrested in Managua for protesting this past weekend, after President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua outlawed anti-government demonstrations, deeming them illegal. Eight of these individuals have been released.
Since April of this year, protests broke out due to pension reforms made by President Ortega. The motives behind the protests have since expanded to general anti-government sentiment under the motto “United for Liberty.”
Since the demonstrations began in April, 300 individuals have been killed in protests and thousands have been injured, although those figures are disputed by the government’s official death toll which is currently at 198.
Journalist Manuel Rapalo reported via Twitter, “The Nicaraguan police had announced [on Friday] that any protest against the government today would be considered illegal and would not be allowed. Despite this, we have seen several people come out on the streets to protest the government.”
President Ortega accused demonstrators of “calling for marches not for peace, but for blood.” He also stated that the protests are an intent of a coup d’état, undermining the legitimacy of his elected government and inciting violence.
In addition to arresting several protestors, the police beat demonstrators and threw clubs and grenades into protesting crowds in Managua.
President Carlos Alvarado of Costa Rica condemned the Nicaraguan government, demanding “an urgent and immediate end to the repression in Nicaragua.”
Luis Almagro, chief of the Organization of American States, stated over Twitter, “We demand the government of Nicaragua [to] release the protesters who have been detained, that it respect the right to peaceful protests nationwide, and stop repression and all intimidation of political leaders and civilians.”
One angry protester in the streets stated, “We’re being repressed, they won’t let us march, they’re violating our constitutional right to protest.”
Journalists who report on these protests are also at risk of governmental repercussions. Miguel Nora, founder of 100% Noticias, a Nicaraguan news channel, shared that being a journalist in Nicaragua is “a matter of life or death,” adding, “We [journalists] have been harassed, shot at by angry mobs sent by the government to intimidate us. At one point we were under siege, unable to leave the building for several days.”
Whether the protests will continue or whether President Ortega will be successful in containing public demonstration is still unclear.