HAVANA TIMES – Tensions rose this morning as Nicaragua’s vice president, Rosario Murillo, called on government supporters to attend a rally “for peace, love and coexistence” in Managua, almost at the same time of a national protest march announced last week by university students, anti-canal rural population and other business and non-governmental organizations demanding the departure of President Daniel Ortega, reported dpa news.
In statements to government television stations, the first lady also said that the pro-government activity will be held this afternoon on the avenue called “from Bolivar to Chavez”, in the old center of Managua.
Public employees of all kinds are encouraged to attend with transportation provided. Not participating can bring consequences including a loss of employment, many believe.
“We are going to be gathered in prayers, in prayer, in devotion and with great spiritual strength to ask for and decree peace,” exclaimed Murillo, in her usual religious harangue.
The site of the official demonstration is located about two kilometers from the Metropolitan Cathedral, from where a “great national march” will begin, also called for today by the students who have staged intense protests since April 18th.
The National Police issued a statement saying they will provide protection to the opposition march, at the request of the opposition Movement for Nicaragua (MpN), one of the co-organizers of the protest. It will be the first time that the police guard a non-official demonstration.
Murillo also acknowledged the “immense effort of the Catholic bishops (members of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua) to ensure optimal conditions for the national dialogue”, still without an agreed upon date, agenda or list of participants. The bishops offered to act as mediator and witness of the conversations between the Government and civil society.
The crisis in the country began with a protest by university students against a reform of Social Security law, which increased the contributions of workers and companies and put a tax on retirement pensions. The protests spread to several cities in the country because of the violent action of the Police and government shock forces against the peaceful demonstrators, which left dozens dead, injured and detained.