Over the past seven weeks, Nicaragua has transformed from one of the more peaceful countries in South America to one of the most dangerous. People are afraid to leave their homes at night, and residents in the town of Masaya, the epicenter of the resistance movement, are living only on donated food, water, and medicine, according to the Miami Herald.
It all began when Nicaraguans started protesting a change in the pension reform law that would increase contributions while decreasing benefits. President Daniel Ortega later scrapped the reform law, saying it would be rewritten. However, that did little to quell the protesters, who shifted gears into protesting the Ortega administration, reported Inquisitr. Many Nicaraguans are now calling for Ortega and his wife to step down, but that appears to be unlikely.
Meanwhile, the protests have taken a bloody and violent turn, with the death toll over 113 people, more than 1,000 injured, and hundreds arrested. Former education minister Humberto Belli described the current situation in the country.
“We are going through very dark days… The people are out in the street demanding that Ortega leave, but he has shown an unexpected ability to kill. We see more blood every day—three, four, five people killed on a daily basis. This has no end.”
President of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights said that there is a human rights crisis in the country, as Ortega “has turned it into a massacre.”
— Thomas van Linge (@ThomasVLinge) June 5, 2018
The Center said that a doctor at a public hospital in Managua has reported that the Ministry of Health has told hospitals to turn away protesters, even if they have life-threatening injuries. Additionally, the Center has received reports of jailed protesters being released with “signs of severe beatings.”
City hall in father's town, #Granada #Nicaragua on fire. First hand accounts/publications from neighboring Central American countries: 20 people injured, adolescent dead. Hereditary trauma is real even if you are 1st gen. In tears. Sorry for bein candid but this is real. pic.twitter.com/EX6Mywdcfr
— Brigette Lugo (@lalatinamerican) June 6, 2018
Although the government is blaming “right-wing gangs” for the violence at protests, Nicaraguans point to the government as initiating the violence on peaceful protesters. For example, a 15-year-old protester was reportedly executed by police during a peaceful Mother’s Day protest in Masaya, detailed the Wall Street Journal. Another man, Edgar Guevara, rode his motorcycle to the Mother’s Day protest and was shot in the chest three times when he tried to keep paramilitary forces from nearing a family with children. Edgar’s sister, Arelis, said that justice can only be served through Ortega leaving his post as president.
“We’re looking for justice so that my brother’s death doesn’t go unpunished, and none of the other deaths, either, because we know who the murderers are… I think the only way there can be justice is if [Ortega] leaves power.”