Nearly 300 people have been killed and thousands injured in Nicaragua since April of this year as people continue to call for President Daniel Ortega to leave office. Protests started 3 months ago, originally sparked by Ortega’s proposal to decrease pensions and increase worker social security contributions.
In 1979 Ortega helped lead the revolution against the country’s former dictator, Anastasio Somoza. This month marks the 39th anniversary of the success by Ortega and his rebel Sandinistas, and the president led celebrations in the country to mark the occasion. But the celebrations were clouded by the continued political unrest and protests.
“It’s has been a painful battle,” Ortega said during the anniversary. “Painful because we have confronted a conspiracy armed and financed by internal forces we all know and external forces we totally identify.”
Although Ortega has withdrawn the initial proposal on pensions that first drew out protestors, his reaction to protests has caused further outrage. National police and riot officers have been used to clear protestors from the streets, resulting in violence and death. Most recently, a 10-year-old child was killed in the crossfire, according to Al Jazeera.
There has also been reported censorship of information on the protests. According to Al Jazeera, after the first loss of life on April 19th — when 2 civilians and a police officer were killed — several television stations were taken off air.
Amnesty International has accused Ortega’s government of adopting “a strategy of repression, characterized by excessive use of force and extrajudicial executions.” The UN human rights office has also spoken out against the violence, and has launched an investigation regarding two activists who have reportedly gone missing after being in federal custody.
International pressure for Ortega to step down continues to mount.