By Gabriela Selser (dpa)
HAVANA TIMES – Tens of thousands of people peacefully marched through the streets of the Nicaraguan capital on Wednesday, demanding “democracy” as well as “justice” from President Daniel Ortega for the victims of the anti-government protests in mid-April. There was also a smaller counter-march organized by the president.
To the cry of “No to the dictatorship”, the protesters chanted slogans against Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, whom they blame for the death of at least 59 young people, many students, according to non-governmental human rights organizations. The Government recognizes only ten deceased.
“I came to the march because I no longer want this government; I voted for Daniel in 2006 and in 2011, but now I am sad and angry, the police did not have to kill the kids,” said Daisy Bojorge, employee from a pharmacy in the eastern part of Managua.
The demonstration, which stretched for more than six kilometers in a commercial area of Managua, was led by leaders of the University Coalition, which groups four new student movements involved in the recent protests, and peasants who oppose the construction of an interoceanic canal who arrived from the southeast of the country.
Activists from trade unions and business associations, feminists, environmental and human rights groups and members of opposition parties joined the mobilization, the third major anti-government peaceful protest since April 23.
The demonstration was called to demand “justice” from the government, although many participants also called for Ortega to leave office, through a dialogue that should begin in the near future and that will have as mediators and witnesses five bishops of the Catholic Church.
“I just want Ortega to go, no more dictator,” said a protester, who carried a poster with the portraits of the president and the first lady painted with devil’s horns. In other banners, Murillo was exhibited with a black hat, cooking in front of a cauldron and surrounded by esoteric symbols.
The walk passed without confrontations with supporters of the ruling Sandinista Front, who were summoned to a mobilization at the same time and about three kilometers away.
Waving red and black flags of the Sandinista party, and also emblems of Nicaragua, the followers of Ortega met on the avenue “from Bolívar to Chávez”, in the old center of the capital, with posters asking for “peace for Nicaragua” and “No to violence.”
“We are going to be gathered in prayers, in prayer, in devotion and with a lot of spiritual strength to ask for and decree peace,” said the vice president, summoning the mobilization, which was also massive and peaceful.
The crisis in Nicaragua began on April 17 with a student protest against a reform of the Social Security Law, which increased the contributions of workers and companies. However, it led to a wave of demonstrations due to the violent action of the police and Ortega’s paramilitary forces.
On Wednesday, a group of journalists, writers, photographers and media owners issued a public statement demanding guarantees to practice their profession, calling on the government to “stop the repression” and censorship.
“We reject all aggression – direct or indirect – against journalists from any of the communications media, and we demand of the State and of society a zero tolerance policy for attacks against journalists.”
The journalists condemned the death of reporter Angel Gahona, killed on April 21 while covering protests live in the Caribbean coast city of Bluefields, and the attack and destruction of Radio Dario, a station critical of the Government in the city of Leon.
“We demand zero acts of aggression against journalists, plus no type of reprisals on the part of the State against the media for the simple fulfillment of their sacred duty to inform,” stressed the statement.
They also demanded the “cessation of secrecy in the state communication policy” and the restitution of the right to public information enshrined in the Constitution and in the Law of Access to Public Information.
The document was signed among others by Jaime Chamorro Cardenal, director of the newspaper “La Prensa”; Carlos Fernando Chamorro, director of the publication “Confidential”, and Fabio Gadea, owner of “Radio Corporación”, all critics of the Government.
It was also signed by Anibal Toruno, director of “Radio Dario”; Argentina Olivas, of “Radio Vos”, Mariano Valle, of Channel 12, and Miguel Mora, director of “100% Noticias” (Channel 15), censored several days during the protests.