Nicaragua sees bloodiest clashes yet after months of protest
Bill Van Auken
11 July 2018
Nicaragua saw its bloodiest clashes yet over the weekend, after nearly three months of protests, as security forces and armed government supporters moved to forcibly dismantle barricades erected by protesters.
The most violent clashes took place south of the capital of Managua in the towns of Diriamba and Jinotepe, where 35 people were reported killed. Another three died in the northern province of Matagalpa. Among the dead were protesters as well as several members of the police and paramilitary government supporters.
The government laid siege to the towns at dawn on Sunday, bringing in bulldozers to clear barricades from a key road linking Managua to the country’s south and the Costa Rican border. Security forces employed rubber bullets and live ammunition to quell the protesters.
Nicaragua has been gripped by nationwide protests since April 18, when President Daniel Ortega of the Sandinista Front for National Liberation announced pension cuts and increases in social security contributions dictated by the International Monetary Fund.
Initial demonstrations by students were met with deadly force and, as the protests have continued, their focus has become a demand for the ouster of Ortega and Rosario Murillo, who is both his wife and vice-president.
According to human rights groups, the number of people killed in clashes since April has risen to more than 310. The government has acknowledged only 47 deaths.
The protests and barricades have largely crippled Nicaragua’s economy. After the government forces demolished the barricades in Diriamba and Jinotepe, some 350 cargo trucks were able to pass after being stuck for a month.
An incident that took place in Diriamba on Monday may…