Nicaragua President Calls for Dialogue with Opposition
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega announced on Thursday that he would restart talks with opposition leaders, who are calling for new elections in the wake of one of Nicaragua’s worst crises, which began a year ago.
Ortega said that the government is organizing a new round of talks for Wednesday, which will aim to “strengthen peace.” The president is also reportedly in talks with the private sector.
Protests began in April over controversial social security cuts. Nicaragua has been facing an economic crisis and a deficit of over $315 million, causing uncertainty within one of Central America’s most stable countries.
The plans were eventually dropped and a dialogue with the opposition was called in May. However, protests continued to intensify in the wake of a brutal government crackdown that left over 300 dead and 600 arrested.
Protesters and opposition leaders have called for Ortega’s resignation following the crackdown. Ortega and the ruling Sandinista government have been accused of consolidating power in recent years, with Ortega’s wife Rosario Murillo becoming Vice President in 2016. Ortega and his wife now control the National Assembly, the courts, the military and the police, with their children controlling enterprises like gasoline and television.
The unrest is the bloodiest protest since the end of Nicaragua’s civil war in 1990. The Nicaraguan Revolution began in 1961 in opposition to the Somoza dictatorship. During the revolution, Ortega was a leader of the rebel Sandinista movement, a group of Marxist guerillas who eventually overthrew Somoza.
Ortega is currently serving his third consecutive term as president after being first elected in 2007. He has been accused of establishing the same family dictatorship he fought to overthrow 40 years ago.