HAVANA TIMES – A group of unknown gunmen attacked the facilities of the University of Engineering (UNI) in the Nicaraguan capital today, after students barricaded themselves inside. During the assault, another group set fire to the facilities of the nearby official radio station “Nueva Radio Ya “, reported dpa news.
Channel 15 TV (independent) and channel 4 (official) broadcast images of the radio station in flames, an important means of communication of the governing Sandinista Front party, whose presidential family also controls most of Nicaragua’s TV stations.
Spokespeople of the students who occupied the UNI denied any responsibility in the attack and fire at the “New Radio Ya”, located in a busy commercial area of Managua.
“We have nothing to do with the burning of the facilities” of the radio, said university spokesperson Lyris Solis. “We repudiate those acts,” she added in a message through social media.
The headquarters of the radio station, emblematic means of communication of the ruling Sandinista Front party, is located one block from the UNI and just opposite the Central American University (UCA, Jesuit). All universities remain closed since the unrest broke out in april.
Channel 4 blamed the attack on “right-wing vandal groups”, alluding to the protesters against Daniel Ortega’s government, but channel 15 said they were “mobs of the Sandinista Youth and paramilitaries.”
Riot police, who had been in their barracks in recent days, came to the scene along with a Fire Department unit, while many people ran in terror among vehicles trapped in traffic.
Rosario Murillo, vice president, first lady, government coordinator and main spokesperson, expressed “her solidarity with the brothers of La Nueva Radio Ya, burned this afternoon,” in what she described as a “hate attack”, reported the official site www.19digital .com.
“First of all, our fraternal solidarity to all the brothers and sisters of the New Radio Ya, who suffered a hate attack today. That hatred that had cost us so much to eradicate from our Nicaragua, we had successfully eradicated from the hand of God,” said Murillo.
The attack on the UNI occurred before noon on the part of people in civilian clothes who detonated mortars (homemade bombs) and firearms against its facilities. The Police did not appear on the scene.
Minutes before, the entrenched students had made known in a press conference a “manifesto” announcing that they are fighting for university autonomy and against the student leadership in UNI, linked to the ruling Sandinista Front and the Sandinista Youth.
The hooded youths identified themselves as members of the previously unknown “Movement for UNI University Autonomy” and not linked to the April 19 Movement (M19A), which has directed the protests against Ortega since April.
However, they said they share the demands of the M19A such as the “cessation of repression, the struggle for the democratization of the country and the punishment of those responsible for the murders” of young people.
The UNI is located in one of the main commercial areas of Managua and is also very close to the Metrocentro roundabout, where there are frequent anti-government demonstrations.
The UNI facilities were the scene of the first student protests that began on April 17. Riot police and government strike forces attacked university students with tear gas and rubber bullets and lead bullets.
With the occupation of the UNI, now there are four universities “taken” by students, who seek to pressure the Government to negotiate the departure of Ortega from power, as leaders of the M19A have said.
The crisis in Nicaragua, which has left 79 dead and more than 800 injured according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), broke out in April with a protest by students for a Social Security reform, but it quickly extended after the deadly attacks of the Police and paramilitaries against civilians.