Nicaragua’s president daniel ortega under pressure: over the weekend, large numbers of people again took to the streets in the central american country to protest the planned increase in social security contributions.
At least 25 people have died and dozens more have been injured in clashes between protesters, government supporters and security forces, according to human rights activists.
Nicaragua is the second poorest country in latin america, with a minimum wage of 170 US dollars per month. Social security contributions are to be increased by up to 22.5 percent for more than 700 workers.000 employees rise. But the protests are also directed against pension cuts. These are the most violent social protests to date against the government of president ortega.
Demonstrators hurled stones at officials and erected barricades in the capital managua. Police fired rubber bullets into the crowd and used trangenic gas. Numerous students barricaded themselves in university buildings. A reporter covering the protests was also reportedly killed in the town of bluefields.
The nicaraguan bishops’ conference called on the government to withdraw the controversial reform. "To correct decisions is a sign of humanity, to listen is the way of prudence, to seek peace everywhere is wisdom," the bishop’s statement read.
In view of the violent protests, the government showed a willingness to talk. "Our president, commander daniel, is ready to return to the negotiating table," said ortega’s wife and vice president rosario murillo. "There is no decision yet, it is only a proposal that can still be revised."
The employers’ association, however, called on the government to first stop the repression of the demonstrations by security forces and pro-government hit squads. "We call on the government to immediately ensure that no more blood is spilled," the association’s statement read.
Former rebel commander ortega had already ruled after the victory of the sandinista revolution from 1985 to 1990 and returned to power in 2007. Ortega has abandoned his socialist ideals and is now pursuing a more neoliberal economic course. Critics accuse him of establishing an authoritarian family dynasty at the head of state and funneling public funds through dark channels into the pockets of his clan.