Ortega Says He Won’t Leave as Protests Continue in Nicaragua

By Gabriela Selser (dpa)

Ortega and his wife/VP on Wednesday May 30, 2018 in Managua.

HAVANA TIMES – Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega warned Wednesday that he will not abandon the government, responding to the demands of his opponents who have urged him to withdraw from power. Meanwhile new incidents left at least two dead and more than a dozen injured after a massive opposition march.

“Nicaragua belongs to us all and here we all stay,” said the president, speaking before a few thousand supporters gathered on an avenue of Managua as he referred for the first time to the call for his eventual exit from the Government.

“Nicaragua is not the private property of anyone, the owner of Nicaragua is all Nicaraguans, regardless of our political, religious and ideological thoughts, God gave this land to all,” he said.

Ortega said he understood “the pain of mothers” who lost their children in the clashes since April, but maintained that “this immense pain cannot lead to the destruction of Nicaraguan families, cannot lead to death and war again.”

“We are living in times when hate is opening its claws,” he said, referring to the demands of students, business people and civil society for him and his wife/VP to withdraw from the government and hold early elections.

A pro-government rally on May 30th in Managua. Scrrenshot: el19digital.com

“Hate, the devil, are opening their claws to destroy a country that had peace, a Nicaragua that was admired in the world for its capacity for reconciliation,” he said.

Ortega spoke after, in other sectors of Managua, hundreds of thousands of people, many of them women dressed in black, marched peacefully to demand “justice” for their dead children and demand the resignation of the president.

At the end of the march, governing party paramilitaries attacked the protesters with firearms and homemade bombs. There were no official figures on victims and injuries among the protesters, but channel 15 TV indicated, citing medical sources, that “the massacre left several dead and dozens of wounded”, several of them due to bullet wounds.

Meanwhile, the assistant director of the police, Francisco Díaz, said that five police officers and seven civilians were injured by “criminal rightwing groups” after a rally in support for the government. Two of the civilians were members of the pro-government Sandinista Youth and died later, he said.

The acting police chief added that unknown people also caused damage to the new baseball stadium in Managua and burned down what was left of the installations of the official radio station Nueva Radio Ya.

Almost simultaneously, violent groups attacked the installations of channel 15 TV (home of 100% Noticias) with stones. In Leon, a couple hours northwest of Managua, the transmitting plant of Radio Darío was damaged. Both media are critical of the Government.

The television station, which was censored in April for broadcasting student protests, broadcast live the attack of men who stoned the windows of the building. The manager of the channel, Miguel Mora, blamed President Daniel Ortega for the attack.

A massive march took place in Managua on Wednesday May 30th (Nicaraguan Mother’s Day), led by mothers of sons killed in the government repression of peasceful protests. in April and May. Photo: screenshot from 100% Noticias.

The home of Radio Darío, which has now been left off the air, had been attacked and set on fire by plain clothes Ortega forces on April 20, three days after the start of student protests against the government.

The protests against Ortega began with a reform of Social Security that touched the pension system, and became more acute after the violent action of the Police and paramilitaries against unarmed citizens.

According to the government, 24 people had died through yesterday as a result of this crisis, but Amnesty International (AI) has recorded at least 83 deaths since the protests began on 17 April.

Meanwhile, the Government of Nicaragua agreed Wednesday to create an international group of experts to investigate the violence during the recent protests.

The government’s decision was expressed in a document signed by the OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro, the Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Paulo Abrao, and the Nicaraguan Foreign Minister, Denis Moncada, informed the IACHR in Washington.

The mandate of the Interdisciplinary Group of International Experts (GIEI) will be six months, but may be extended by agreement of the parties, as stated in the document.

The creation of the GIEI was one of the 15 recommendations of a team from the autonomous entity of the OAS that visited Nicaragua. The group will be composed of four people “of high technical level and recognized background in the protection of human rights” selected by the IACHR, it was indicated.