By Gabriela Selser (dpa)
HAVANA TIMES – Student, business and civil society leaders demanding the resignation of the Government of Nicaragua called today to “intensify the civic and peaceful protest,” after the violence that occurred on Wednesday and that according to the Police left 15 dead and 218 wounded.
In a statement read at a press conference, the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy blamed President Daniel Ortega for the attack on a huge opposition demonstration in Managua, which it described as “the worst massacre in times of peace.”
“We call for intensifying the different forms of civic and peaceful protest,” such as fighting for university autonomy, reinforcing and organizing street protests and roadblocks and strengthening the collection centers for medicines, blood donations and food, the text indicated.
It is about “redoubling efforts on all fronts of struggle” to achieve a change of government and “build a democratic country through peaceful means,” the signatories said.
According to the Alliance, since the protests began in mid-April there have been “more than 100 deaths, and over a thousand injured, thousands of detainees and hundreds of tortured and disappeared.”
They warned that, after the events of yesterday, “dialogue will only be possible if the conditions set forth by the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua, mediator in the negotiations, are met and if there are international guarantors.”
In a statement released early Thursday, the Bishops condemned the actions of “armed groups linked to the Government against the civilian population” and warned that the national dialogue, which was suspended on May 18 due to lack of consensus, “cannot be resumed” under these conditions.
“We want to make it clear that the National Dialogue cannot be resumed as long as the people of Nicaragua continue to be denied the right to demonstrate freely and continue to be repressed and killed,” the Bishops’ text indicated.
The crisis in Nicaragua began in April with a protest by students over a reform of the Social Security law, which affected thousands of workers, retirees and employers. It worsened immediately after the violent action of the police and paramilitaries against the civic protests.
According to Amnesty International, the conflict left 83 dead and 868 wounded from April 18 to May 24. The government only recognizes 39 dead, including 15 killed on Wednesday.
In a press conference with government media, the deputy director and acting chief of the Police, Francisco Díaz, said that 218 wounded were reported, among them 36 police officers “injured by firearms”.
In line with the accusations of President Ortega and VP Murillo, Díaz attributed the violence to “criminal groups” and denounced attacks in Managua on the National Baseball Stadium, the building of the Ministry of the Family Economy, the ruling party’s Radio Ya and the headquarters of Caruna finances, linked to the Government.
For its part, the non-governmental Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh) reported that 16 people died and 88 more were wounded yesterday in Managua and in the interior.
Meanwhile, in a video on Twitter, the OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro, condemned “the murders committed yesterday by the repressive forces and armed groups and we sympathize with the families of the victims.” We call on the State to stop the violence of these repressive perpetrators. ”
Almagro also said that “free elections” are “the only solution” to solve the crisis in Nicaragua, the most serious in its recent history. Since the conflict began, this is the strongest appeal made to Ortega by Almagro, whom the Nicaraguan opposition accuses of protecting.
Soon after, the government formalized the resignation of the president of the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE), Roberto Rivas, who last December was sanctioned by the United States for corruption and violations of human rights.
In a joint statement released in Managua, the Foreign Ministry and the Organization of American States (OAS) indicated that the measure seeks to “continue working to strengthen institutionality” and “democratic harmony in the country.”
They did not mention if in resigning Rivas received the blessing of the OAS and the government of Ortega to keep his bank accounts and vast real estate distributed in several countries, according to journalistic investigations.
Meanwhile, the US State Department expressed its condemnation of “the violent response of the Nicaraguan Government to the peaceful marches of Mother’s Day in Managua and other cities” and “the beating of journalists and attacks against local television and radio stations.”
Washington’s statement was added to a pronouncement also approved today in the European Parliament, which “condemned the brutal repression and intimidation of peaceful demonstrators in Nicaragua and called for an electoral reform that leads to fair and credible elections.”